Computer Science & Electrical Engineering

AI Snake Oil: What Artificial Intelligence Can Do, What It Can’t, and How to Tell the Difference

From two of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in AI, what you need to know about AI—and how to defend yourself against bogus AI claims and products


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Sep 24, 2024
28 b/w illus. 2 tables.
Computer Science & Electrical Engineering
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Confused about AI and worried about what it means for your future and the future of the world? You’re not alone. AI is everywhere—and few things are surrounded by so much hype, misinformation, and misunderstanding. In AI Snake Oil, computer scientists Arvind Narayanan and Sayash Kapoor cut through the confusion to give you an essential understanding of how AI works and why it often doesn’t, where it might be useful or harmful, and when you should suspect that companies are using AI hype to sell AI snake oil—products that don’t work, and probably never will.

While acknowledging the potential of some AI, such as ChatGPT, AI Snake Oil uncovers rampant misleading claims about the capabilities of AI and describes the serious harms AI is already causing in how it’s being built, marketed, and used in areas such as education, medicine, hiring, banking, insurance, and criminal justice. The book explains the crucial differences between types of AI, why organizations are falling for AI snake oil, why AI can’t fix social media, why AI isn’t an existential risk, and why we should be far more worried about what people will do with AI than about anything AI will do on its own. The book also warns of the dangers of a world where AI continues to be controlled by largely unaccountable big tech companies.

By revealing AI’s limits and real risks, AI Snake Oil will help you make better decisions about whether and how to use AI at work and home.

Awards and Recognition

  • A Publishers Weekly Fall Science Preview Top 10