Learning about artificial intelligence
June 26, 2014 4:45 PM   Subscribe

I'm currently exploring artificial intelligence as a potential field to go into. What books (fiction or nonfiction), films, or resources would you recommend for learning about artificial intelligence, the possibilities of AI, and its future? What should I know?

I'd love to know whatever is important to know about AI. Current problems / latest developments? Who are the 'new leaders' in the field? Thrun/Norvig/etc. seem to be pretty big, but who are the ones working on interesting stuff now? And what books/resources/etc. are out there?
posted by markbao to Science & Nature (12 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
afaik the standard textbook now is Norvig's, and I would start there, hoping that it would give me enough background to at least be able to read research papers in the field.

Also Stanford, I think has a MOC on AI, which they run once or twice a year: I'd look at that, and whatever else is on Corseura. Sorry if this is all obvious stuff!
posted by thelonius at 5:02 PM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I would do the MOOCs. Take an intro-level programming class before getting into the AI stuff though.
posted by zscore at 5:11 PM on June 26, 2014

Best answer: Tyler Cowen "Average Is Over" to understand the societal impact. Clive Thompson "Smarter Than You Think", especially his discussion of computers and chess and life logging. "The Second Machine Age" by Brynjolfsson and McAfee.
posted by PickeringPete at 5:12 PM on June 26, 2014

Two giants ...

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas R. Hofstadter

The Society of Mind, by Marvin Minsky
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:26 PM on June 26, 2014

I really enjoyed reading this recent article: "The Man Who Would Teach Machines to Think" (it's about AI pioneer Douglas Hofstadter).
posted by alex1965 at 7:21 PM on June 26, 2014

Can you elaborate more about what you mean by Artificial Intelligence? What problems interest you that you hope to tackle with it? It's a very broad term, and I think that the way its used in popular culture only bears a passing resemblance to what researchers mean by it.

As far as textbooks:

* Yes, Russell & Norvig's AIMA is fantastic. I find the algorithms in there to be absolutely beautiful and fundamental. This is what I'd mean if I said "classical AI". If you want to program a computer to play a game like chess, this what you'd start with. (It looks like the 3rd edition contains a lot more of the more modern techniques; I have the 2nd) This book is more upper-level undergrad/graduate level.

* Thrun's Probabilistic Robotics is also quite good. (I'm a roboticist, so I may be biased.) It covers a lot of more of the more modern statistical techniques. If you want to program a robot to interact with the uncertainties inherent in the real world, start here. It also has the bonus of being accessible to a lower-level undergraduate class.

* I wish I had a good introductory machine learning text to recommend...
posted by Metasyntactic at 8:04 PM on June 26, 2014

Being There by Andy Clark is a great read on the philosophical end of things. It was assigned reading for a philosophy class titled "Minds and Machines: Philosophy of Cognitive Science."
posted by Gymnopedist at 8:51 PM on June 26, 2014

I call this field "machine learning", rather than AI, and I think of it as tools and techniques that software engineers can use to solve a certain class of problems. That's only a narrow perspective of a pretty giant topic, perhaps not very glamorous or philosophical, but if you understand it, then you know what powers Google, Netflix, Amazon, etc. -- it's a pretty powerful toolbox. Andrew Ng*'s Coursera course is the kind of thing I'm talking about, though you'll need a substantial math and programming background before that's accessible.

*Coincidentally, he's the founder of Coursera.
posted by PercussivePaul at 10:00 PM on June 26, 2014

Probabalistic Models of Cognition was just posted on Hacker News tonight and looks relevant.
posted by contraption at 10:06 PM on June 26, 2014

The Emperor's New Mind, by Prof. Roger Penrose, a mathematical physicist. It's a very approachable book which covers, among other things, the idea of AI. It's a bit outside his fields of academic study, and I've heard that some of his ideas on cognition are not widely accepted, but it's an interesting read, or at least it was back in my college days.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:43 PM on June 26, 2014

You might want to sign up for the newsletter from Kurzweil.
posted by PickeringPete at 5:50 AM on June 27, 2014

Conway's game of life is a good start. You might also want to look into the work that has been done at the Institute for Advanced Studies: Dyson, Gödel, et. al.
posted by sunslice at 10:40 AM on June 27, 2014

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