Literature Opinion

IA Book Club: Machines Behaving Badly

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Professor Robyn Cosford examines the moral complexities of AI in Professor Toby Walsh's insightful new book, 'Machines Behaving Badly'. Are we ready for the future?

Machines Behaving Badly: The Morality of AI is the latest book by Professor Toby Walsh, a Laureate Fellow and Scientia Professor at UNSW.

As a world-leading researcher in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), he explains in layman's terms the issues surrounding morality in AI, what it actually is and how it is already being used in our daily lives. The book raises important questions such as: who is accountable for the actions of an autonomous AI? What limits should be placed on such an intelligence? And what happens if an autonomous AI harms or kills a person, purposefully or accidentally?

On the journey to find answers to these questions, Professor Walsh introduces us to some people in the industry, the companies involved, and the issues and proposed "robot laws" for robots in the realm of autonomy. He compares humans and robots, discussing the perceived strengths and weaknesses of each, and addresses the absence of the human concept of "fairness" in the use of AI algorithms. Privacy concerns and the potential of AI to help combat climate change are also explored.


Having examined the complexities of AI and ethics, Prof Walsh concludes that machines can liberate us from the "4 Ds": the dirty, the dull, the difficult, and the dangerous. He suggests that, rather than aiming to become super-intelligent immortal beings, we should embrace our creativity, fallibility and mortality.

Toby's book is an engaging, informative and enjoyable read, well-illustrated with real-life examples and historical context. It offers readers a sense of understanding, even if they may not agree with all of the author's personal and world views.

As a medical practitioner in a field where technology and AI are rapidly being adopted, I am honoured to review this book, which will have a prominent place on my bookshelf.

'Machines Behaving Badly: The Morality of AI' is available from Booktopia for $32.99 RRP (paperback).

This book was reviewed by an IA Book Club member. If you would like to receive free high-quality books and have your review published on IA, subscribe to Independent Australia for your complimentary IA Book Club membership.

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IA Book Club: Machines Behaving Badly

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