Artificial intelligence is evolving at a breakneck pace. There are many unknowns about the future, especially in the professional world. What will the world look like in 5, 10, 20, or so years? Will AI make our lives better or worse? There are many questions and concerns, but thankfully, literature, such as the best books on AI I curated below, can provide some insight into what lies ahead.
The selection is equally divided into 10 of the best AI books of fiction and nonfiction, providing perspectives on what may happen, as well as possible solutions or upskilling that we can do to survive the AI revolution. In the list of fiction books, there are futuristic worlds, sentient AIs gone awry, faraway space exploration, AI gods, power struggles, and world dominance — all of which could happen in the future if we’re not careful about the technology we unleash.
The titles in the nonfiction section, meanwhile, focus on the most recent changes as well as the real impact of AI, whether that’s global, historical, economic, mental, or psychological; the biases that AI has on marginalized communities; and what we can do to survive in this AI-dominated world by developing the right skills, and more. These artificial intelligence books will definitely provide a comprehensive understanding of AI technology and what to make of it.
Ahead, let’s explore 20 of the best books on AI that have recently been released to keep you up to date on what’s going on in the realm of AI and beyond.
Best Books on AI: Fiction
The Deep Sky by Yume Kitasei
This science fiction thriller follows Asuka, a member of the crew of The Phoenix, a spaceship bound for space, as it departs from a collapsing Earth. The spaceship’s crew is said to be humanity’s saviors, carrying on the human legacy for the next generation.
But something goes wrong along the way. Some of the ship’s crew are killed, leaving Asuka as the only witness. She’s, however, accused of sabotaging the mission. AI is interwoven throughout the novel, which feels similar to Ready Player One in that the crew can have their own alternate reality while onboard the spaceship.
Counterweight by Djuna
The book focuses on the construction of a space elevator on the island of Patusan, and it explores a lot of politics and ethics. The president of LK, the company responsible for this space elevator, has died. Mac, the current executive in charge, discovers that a lower-ranking worker named Choi may have stolen LK’s past president’s memories using AI technology to gain control of the company.
The book is rife with AI technological tropes, such as storing memories and stealing identities by injecting memories from others into one’s own.
The Death I Gave Him by Em X. Liu
This one is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, with a twist on the characters and the narrative arc.
It follows Hayden, whose father was mysteriously murdered. The killer might have wanted to steal the Sisyphus Formula research, which the father and son developed to prolong life. Hayden now wants to find out who the murderer is, so he devises a clever plan to trap four people inside the lab, which may still contain the killer themself.
All of this is possible thanks to his AI assistant, Horatio. Hayden, like in the original Hamlet, seeks revenge.
A Dream Wants Waking by Lydia Kwa
This book is part science fiction, part fantasy, and it has two narratives running through it. Yinhe, a half-human, half-fox spirit, reincarnates each time they die. They are Yinhe in this lifetime, and they are tasked with retrieving a painting stolen by Gui, a demon who wants to use the painting’s power to summon a god to help him rule the world. This painting has been passed down through many human generations in order for its power to be preserved and used one day. Yinhe met a woman named Ling in one of their previous lives, but they lost her during their next stage of reincarnation.
While that unfolds, in the present time, the government breeds and keeps creatures. In one of its experiments, it unintentionally unleashes an AI machine that becomes clairsentient, eventually assisting Yinhe in their battle against Gui.
AI 2041 by Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Quifan
This genre-bending work features 10 short stories about AI and how it may grow and affect the way we live by the year 2041. These could include future technology, deepfake, AI-assisted learning, virtual reality, and so on. After each story, there’s a commentary or discussion about AI.
Lee is the former CEO of Google China, which is no longer operating in the said country. His deep knowledge of AI is what fuels the technological aspects of novelist Quifan’s stories. It’s an excellent marriage of technology and artistry.
The Archive Undying by Emma Mieko Candon
The story depicts AI gods ruling the planet. Iterate Fractal, an AI deity, ruined a city, but this god has long since died as it became corrupted over time. Its “Relics,” or leftovers, are scattered and are being scavenged and rebuilt by Harbor.
We follow Sunai, a Relic of Iterate Fractal, as he attempts to prevent Harbor from resurrecting this corrupted AI god from the dead by forcing it into a new mechanical body known as “Engine.”
Fallen by Melissa Scott (December 18, 2023)
This is a space opera/sapphic romance with AI.
It follows Nic, a ship captain, as she uses Ancestral technology to travel to the “adjacent possible” or some kind of alternate reality. Then she’s reunited with Rejane as they work on more Ancestral artifacts, including the AI that previously destroyed the world.
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
This is a science fiction novella featuring space exploration with an AI robot called MurderBot, and it’s told from its own point of view.
This AI robot has developed sentience and its own intelligence and is capable of doing whatever it wants on the ship, including watching TV. Despite the fact that it dislikes the crew onboard, Murderbot saves them when their trip to another planet goes awry.
Emergent Properties by Aimee Ogden
This follows Scorn, a sentient AI robot created by two scientist mothers and has the pronouns ze/zem/zir.
As ze grows, ze begins working as an investigative journalist. Ze travels to the moon to uncover a relevant and timely story. Someone, however, sabotages zir work by erasing zir memory of the 10 days of investigation. With no scientist parents to assist zem, ze must repeat what ze did in order to discover the story ze’s following.
Exadelic by Jon Evans
The plot revolves around Adrian, an employee at a Silicon Valley company. Someone from the military created an AI that identified Adrian as a threat, sparking a conspiracy theory and slandering his reputation. As a result, he became a criminal.
With nothing else to do, Adrian flees for his life, unaware of what may have put him on the watch list. As he digs into this AI technology that implicated him, he instead uncovers far more disturbing information.
The book demonstrates the dangers of AI manipulation.
Best Books on AI: Nonfiction
The book examines the economic, political, environmental, historical, and social effects of AI in society. Crawford categorizes these effects into seven units: labor, data, classification, affect, state, power, and space.
In the introduction, she argues that “AI is neither artificial nor intelligent. Rather, artificial intelligence is both embodied and material, made from natural resources, fuel, human labor, infrastructures, logistics, histories, and classifications.” The development of AI is entirely dependent on a much broader set of political and social structures, according to Crawford. And as a result of the capital required to build AI at scale, as well as the ways in which it optimizes, she argues that “AI systems are ultimately designed to serve existing dominant interests” and that AI is a “power registry.”
With how comprehensive it is, Atlas of AI is one of the best books on AI ever written.
The Coming Wave: Technology, Power, and the 21st Century’s Greatest Dilemma by Mustafa Suleyman
This explores the effects of AI on world order and how we can possibly mitigate its risks. Suleyman compares AI to other human discoveries, such as fire and electricity.
“We could create systems that are beyond our control and find ourselves at the mercy of algorithms that we don’t understand,” Suleyman writes in the prologue. In terms of biotechnology, Suleyman is afraid that “we could manipulate the very building blocks of life, potentially creating unintended consequences for both individuals and entire ecosystems.” These quotations, he admits, were written by an AI, warning everyone that everything could be written by AI soon and demonstrating that “this is what’s coming” if we don’t take action now.
Unmasking AI: My Mission to Protect What Is Human in a World of Machines by Joy Buolamwini
This book reads more like Buolamwini’s memoir, detailing her research on AI. She reveals how AI can have biases based on race, gender, skin color, and disability — the “encoded discrimination and exclusion” in technology. She also argues how AI is a reflection of its creators.
Unmasking AI demonstrates that discrimination against marginalized people occurs not only in society at large but also in the world of AI.
This memoir interweaves the author’s immigrant story from China to the United States with a discussion of AI. She recounts how she found her place as a woman in a male-dominated industry.
The author founded ImageNet, a database of images useful for object recognition and image classification, among others. In this book, she appears to be optimistic about AI. Although it has many drawbacks, she believes that “AI could change the world for the better.” Readers can gain valuable insights from the author’s wealth of experience and knowledge in the tech industry.
In this book, a New York Times reporter investigates and recounts the rise of ClearView AI, a technology that, with a single scan of a person’s photo, can already reveal personal information, such as name, social media handles, names of friends and family members, and more.
The author explains why this technology is dangerous and why it should not be adopted by tech companies because it’s bad for privacy and could become a surveillance tool. Hill provides some examples of how this dangerous technology could be used by criminals, saying, “A weirdo at a bar could snap your photo and within seconds know who your friends were and where you lived. It could be used to identify women who walked into Planned Parenthood clinics. It would be a weapon for harassment and intimidation.” She also adds that during protests, police could identify protesters using this AI technology, even in countries like China and Russia that have a history of repressing, if not killing, their citizens.
Four Battlegrounds: Power in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Paul Scharre
The book delves into the “darker side of AI” — how the world’s superpowers, such as the U.S., Europe, and China, are developing AI and integrating it into security and global defense. It also raises the question of how fast AI development might affect democracy.
“AI is changing war, and it is also changing surveillance, disinformation, and other aspects of global peace and security,” Scharre writes in the introduction. He goes on to say that countries all over the world are currently racing to capitalize on AI technology in order to gain advantage. He contends that the advancement of AI technology, its impact on the world, and who decides its fate will all have a significant impact on humanity’s future.
How to Stay Smart in a Smart World: Why Human Intelligence Still Beats Algorithms by Gerd Gigerenzer
With the AI boom, there have been many articles predicting that it may take away our jobs. In this book, however, Gigerenzer shows who’s in charge.
He somewhat offers hope to humans who think that AI will completely come for their jobs. Here, he writes that we shouldn’t fear it. He then reveals the pitfalls of different algorithms and AI technology in different aspects of our everyday lives, such as dating, driving, using apps, etc. “I want to provide you with strategies and methods to stay in charge of your life rather than let yourself get steamrolled,” he writes in the introduction, offering some advice on how to navigate this AI-navigated world smartly.
The Digital Mindset: What It Really Takes to Thrive in the Age of Data, Algorithms, and AI by Paul Leonardi and Tsedal Neeley
But how does one survive in the workplace in an AI-dominated world? The book may be able to help you with that.
In it, the authors outline methods for acquiring the digital skills required to stay current and adapt. The authors want to “help you take that crucial first step on your own path into digital literacy.” These include determining how much technical capability you need, whether you need to learn to code, whether you need to learn about algorithms, what you need to understand Big Data, how to effectively use digital tools, learn about AI, work and collaborate with people remotely, ensure data security, develop skills in a digital economy, and more. The authors argue that having a digital mindset will help you thrive in this ever-changing digital age, particularly in the workplace. The book assures you that it will get you there.
While there has been much coverage of AI’s takeover of our present and future, Runciman argues in this book that we have already been taken over by an “AI” for the past 300 years: states and corporations. And it will get worse if the true AI clashes with states and corporations.
In this book, he takes a different approach to seeing into the future by looking at the past. “For hundreds of years now we have been building artificial versions of ourselves, endowed with superhuman powers and designed to rescue us from our all-too-human limitations,” he writes in the introduction, referring to states and corporations such as the UK, British Petroleum, India, China, U.S., and Amazon. He goes on to say that the interaction of states, corporations, and intelligent machines will shape our future.
I, Human: AI, Automation, and the Quest to Reclaim What Makes Us Unique by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic
As a psychologist, the author approaches the impending AI revolution from a psychological standpoint. He says that even though AI will dominate the world, humans must emphasize what makes us special, such as our creativity and curiosity.
“It is time to look at AI from a human perspective,” he writes, adding that it should include an “assessment of how the AI age is impacting human behavior.” He acknowledges that AI can improve our lives, yet it has many pitfalls, such as the “deployment of algorithms that co-opt or hijack our attention” and how it makes us “impatient, ignorant, and delusional, reinforcing our self-serving interpretations of the world.”
In general, the book focuses on the present — how we got here and what factors may have contributed to it.
The world of AI is rapidly changing, and there are numerous developments underway. The list of the best books on AI above may not possibly cover these future advancements.
Fortunately, there are more books on the subject. Here are 20 books on artificial intelligence, both fiction and nonfiction; 11 of the best books on AI for beginners, business, and beyond; and young adult books about AI.