Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Power

The Author Mr. Rajiv Malhotra actually has a deep background in AI. In fact, he has a Ph.D. in computer science with a specialty in AI from the University of Princeton. So yeah, I would say he is pretty qualified to write a book on this topic.  

The author discusses 5 major topics in the book, or 5 major battlegrounds as he calls it. The book is divided into 2 parts, in the first part, the author discusses Algorithm Vs. Being, covering the first four battlegrounds, that are the battle for jobs, for world domination, for the agency, and the battle for self.  The second part is about Battleground India, which talks about Indians Technological dependence, the possibility of India becoming a digital colony, and some other topics. 

AI is already here, as the author demonstrates by the ability of Big Tech firms like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to map your complete profile and subtly but surely shaping your behaviour as per their ideological belief system and they becoming more and more intrusive and effective day by day.

His analysis of where our country stands in the AI sweepstakes is a matter of fact and prescient – it is a scenario, which should disturb all Indians. A country, which emerged as a software power, is now reduced to the level of importing all sophisticated IT technology. How our giants in the field of IT industry failed the country by not investing in R&D. The comparison with China is both stark and frightening. China is competing with the US in the field of AI and has surpassed the US in many areas. In contradistinction, we are at least 5 to 7 years behind them.

The Third Chapter of the book, which I found to be the most interesting to read, talks about the Battle for World Domination. About the US-China trade war, which is more than a trade war. The author talks about how China and the US have deeply invested in Artificial Intelligence and if not stopped, how they will dominate the world. Especially China. China is now the world leader in robotics, with more robots than the US and Europe combined! It leads to using AI surveillance and facial recognition for monitoring its citizens and also citizens of Zimbabwe and Pakistan, with whom China has surveillance contracts. 

The author’s analogies are, as always, brilliant. He compares China to the British East India Company. One making several colonies by war while another making digital colonies without shedding a drop of blood. 

 A few topics feel repetitive though like AI doesn’t need emotions to act as it does. Perhaps the author wanted the reader to know the importance of this fact. 

One thing the author didn’t talk about, but I genuinely would like to know is how the depletion of natural resources will affect AI. Perhaps a stupid question, but it is one I want to know about nonetheless. 

It might seem like the book only focuses on negativity and only talks about how AI is harmful. While that is almost true, the author is also working on a sequel, which will give us solutions for all these problems. This book will be a little tough to read for beginners and gizmophobics but with a little bit of self researching, one should not have a problem. I highly recommend every person to read this book.


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