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Publisher's Summary

"This colorful page-turner puts artificial intelligence into a human perspective. Through the lives of Geoff Hinton and other major players, Metz explains this transformative technology and makes the quest thrilling." (Walter Isaacson, author of The Code Breaker)

Recipient of starred reviews in both Kirkus and Library Journal

The Untold Tech Story of Our Time

What does it mean to be smart? To be human? What do we really want from life and the intelligence we have, or might create?

With deep and exclusive reporting, across hundreds of interviews, New York Times Silicon Valley journalist Cade Metz brings you into the rooms where these questions are being answered. Where an extraordinarily powerful new artificial intelligence has been built into our biggest companies, our social discourse, and our daily lives, with few of us even noticing.

Long dismissed as a technology of the distant future, artificial intelligence was a project consigned to the fringes of the scientific community. Then two researchers changed everything. One was a 64-year-old computer science professor who didn’t drive and didn’t fly because he could no longer sit down - but still made his way across North America for the moment that would define a new age of technology. The other was a 36-year-old neuroscientist and chess prodigy who laid claim to being the greatest game player of all time before vowing to build a machine that could do anything the human brain could do.

They took two very different paths to that lofty goal, and they disagreed on how quickly it would arrive. But both were soon drawn into the heart of the tech industry. Their ideas drove a new kind of arms race, spanning Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and OpenAI, a new lab founded by Silicon Valley kingpin Elon Musk. But some believed that China would beat them all to the finish line.

Genius Makers dramatically presents the fierce conflict between national interests, shareholder value, the pursuit of scientific knowledge, and the very human concerns about privacy, security, bias, and prejudice. Like a great Victorian novel, this world of eccentric, brilliant, often unimaginably yet suddenly wealthy characters draws you into the most profound moral questions we can ask. And like a great mystery, it presents the story and facts that lead to a core, vital question:

How far will we let it go?

©2021 Cade Metz (P)2021 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

"A must-read, fully-up-to-date report on the holy grail of computing." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

"With well-crafted storytelling and extensive research, Metz captures the thrill and promise of technological innovation." (Booklist)

"In Genius Makers, Cade Metz delivers the definitive take on how AI technology came to be and what its arrival will mean for us humans. The book relies on tireless reporting and delightful writing to bring to life one of the most surprising and important stories of our time. If you want to read one book to understand AI, this is the one." (Ashlee Vance, New York Times best-selling author of Elon Musk

"Genius Makers is an enthralling, definitive modern history of artificial intelligence. Cade Metz's detailed narrative reveals the crucial decisions made by executives, developers and investors - and foreshadows the disproportionately large effect they will have on our futures." (Amy Webb, author of The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity)

What listeners say about Genius Makers

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Very informative

I would have given it 5 stars, but the author has a severe case of TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome), and couldn’t help but express it over and over again. I found this extremely annoying.

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great book on a challenging topic

I really enjoyed Genius Makers and I recommend it to anybody interested in AI or deep learning

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  • Lee Ward
  • 2021-03-17

One of the best contemporary books on AI

The theme is to explain to non-experts what artificial intelligence is in 2021. Metz tells a stories about the "AI Movement," each chapter a standalone citing notable people and detailing the systems they've been building. Narration is an exemplar of pacing, really moves you forward.

Chapters range in length from 16 to 40 minutes, each a separate narrative. I advise to treat each chapter as a formal lecture. With the partial exception of Geoffrey Hinton, you're not getting much background on any of the geniuses. I didn't feel strong emotion connection to anybody cited so this clearly doesn't fall into the same category as a Michael Lewis book.

I believe we the listening public are waiting for visceral books having to do with AI that'll make us feel goosebumps and even cry. But this is essentially a survey course. Metz makes aspects of AI more accessible and you can take what he says to the bank. If you were looking for a memoir or biography, I think you'd be at peril of wanting your credit back.

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