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The Sentient Machine

The Coming Age of Artificial Intelligence

The future is now. Acclaimed technologist and inventor Amir Husain explains how we can live amidst the coming age of sentient machines and artificial intelligence—and not only survive, but thrive.

Artificial “machine” intelligence is playing an ever-greater role in our society. We are already using cruise control in our cars, automatic checkout at the drugstore, and are unable to live without our smartphones. The discussion around AI is polarized; people think either machines will solve all problems for everyone, or they will lead us down a dark, dystopian path into total human irrelevance. Regardless of what you believe, the idea that we might bring forth intelligent creation can be intrinsically frightening. But what if our greatest role as humans so far is that of creators?

Amir Husain, a brilliant inventor and computer scientist, argues that we are on the cusp of writing our next, and greatest, creation myth. It is the dawn of a new form of intellectual diversity, one that we need to embrace in order to advance the state of the art in many critical fields, including security, resource management, finance, and energy. “In The Sentient Machine, Husain prepares us for a brighter future; not with hyperbole about right and wrong, but with serious arguments about risk and potential” (Dr. Greg Hyslop, Chief Technology Officer, The Boeing Company). He addresses broad existential questions surrounding the coming of AI: Why are we valuable? What can we create in this world? How are we intelligent? What constitutes progress for us? And how might we fail to progress? Husain boils down complex computer science and AI concepts into clear, plainspoken language and draws from a wide variety of cultural and historical references to illustrate his points. Ultimately, Husain challenges many of our societal norms and upends assumptions we hold about “the good life.”

Amir Husain is an award-winning serial entrepreneur and inventor based in Austin, Texas. He serves on IBM’s Advisory Board for Watson & Cognitive Computing and is the Founder and CEO of SparkCognition, Inc., an award-winning company specializing in cognitive computing software solutions that help businesses and governments better respond to a world of ever-evolving threats. Husain speaks at numerous SXSW, defense, cybersecurity, computer science, energy, and environmental conferences. Amir and SparkCognition’s work has been featured in publications, such as Fast Company, Wired, Forbes, and The New York Times. The Sentient Machine is his first book.

“By situating the conversation around opportunities for AI to improve or extend our lives, this book provides a rational argument and reassurance to general readers fearful of an increasingly AI-infused future.” Library Journal

“In The Sentient Machine, Amir Husain prepares us for a brighter future; not with hyperbole about right and wrong, but with serious arguments about risk and potential.” —Dr. Greg Hyslop, Chief Technology Officer, The Boeing Company

“Should Artificial Intelligence be feared or embraced? Which industries will be transformed next? Should we allow autonomous weapons in the military? Can machines be creative? This book provides a sound, technical perspective while tackling core questions about science, society and humanity. We’re at a crossroads, and I recommend this book to anyone seeking a balanced and reasoned view of the future.” —Professor Bruce Porter, Chairman, Department of Computer Sciences, University of Texas, Austin

“In The Sentient Machine, Amir Husain applies his brilliance to explaining the enormity of the implications of artificial intelligence, but does it with the skill of a mentor guiding his protegés to greater understanding.  As it is emerging, AI may be the most profound force shaping every dimension of human existence in the 21st century.   In this landmark book, Amir Husain lays bare not only the science of AI, but the many sectors in which AI will find a prominent role: from healthcare to warfare, where Mr. Husain is one of the leading theorists on the emerging concept of Hyperwar...warfare in the era of AI.  The Sentient Machine is a must-read for all those who will live with the realities of the ‘AI Century.’” —General John R. Allen, USMC (Ret.) Former Commander, NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan

“Whether you are a business leader, policy maker, or entrepreneur, you need to understand Artificial Intelligence and its power to shape our future. In his brilliantly written book, Amir Husain, one of the world's leading AI experts, will help you gain that understanding.” —John Chambers, Chairman Emeritus, Cisco Systems and Founder and CEO, JC2 Ventures

“Here is the book to read on AI and its implications. ‎Husain takes us through many important ideas that will shape our future, makes the complex simple and does so in clear, highly accessible prose.  Do yourself a favor: buy this book and move into the future.” —John Thornton, Executive Chairman, Barrick Gold, Professor, Tsinghua University and Chairman, The Brookings Institution.

“Husain argues that the only way to deter intentional misuse [of A.I.] is to develop bellicose A.N.I. of our own: ‘The ‘choice’ is really no choice at all: we must fight AI with AI.’ If so, A.I. is already forcing us to develop stronger A.I.” —The New Yorker

“For those puzzled about how artificial intelligence and machine learning may impact their future, this book is a must read.” —Admiral Bobby R. Inman, US Navy, (Ret.), former Director of the National Security Agency, former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency

“Amir Husain’s take on the coming age of AI is refreshing and inspired. He knows the technologies firsthand and has a keen eye for the philosophical and ethical implications, giving his readers the tools they need to assess the stakes. Unfortunately it’s not an option to download this excellent book directly to your brain… yet. For now, I strongly suggest you read it.” —Heather Berlin, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

The Sentient Machine is a must-read for anyone looking to understand how artificial intelligence is poised to transform human society and life. Husain is not only an engineer and entrepreneur, but also a philosopher who thinks deeply about what AI will mean for humanity. Husain's optimistic outlook on the benefits of AI, grounded in an accessible description of the technology, is a welcome salve to many AI fears today.” —Paul Scharre, Director of the Technology and National Security Program, Center for a New American Security and Author of Army of None