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Publisher's Summary

How will artificial intelligence change our world within 20 years? 

A Financial Times Best Book of the Year

“This inspired collaboration between a pioneering technologist and a visionary writer of science fiction offers bold and urgent insights.” (Yann LeCun, winner of the Turing Award; chief AI scientist, Facebook)

“Amazingly entertaining.... Lee and Chen take us on an immersive trip through the future.... Eye-opening.” (Mark Cuban)

AI will be the defining development of the 21st century. Within two decades, aspects of daily human life will be unrecognizable. AI will generate unprecedented wealth, revolutionize medicine and education through human-machine symbiosis, and create brand-new forms of communication and entertainment. In liberating us from routine work, however, AI will also challenge the organizing principles of our economic and social order. Meanwhile, AI will bring new risks in the form of autonomous weapons and smart technology that inherits human bias. AI is at a tipping point, and people need to wake up — both to AI’s radiant pathways and its existential perils for life as we know it.

In this provocative, utterly original work, Kai-Fu Lee, the former president of Google China and bestselling author of AI Superpowers, teams up with celebrated novelist Chen Qiufan to imagine our world in 2041 and how it will be shaped by AI. In ten gripping short stories, they introduce readers to an array of eye-opening 2041 settings, such as:

  • In San Francisco, the “job reallocation” industry emerges as deep learning AI causes widespread job displacement.
  • In Tokyo, a music fan is swept up in an immersive form of celebrity worship based on virtual reality and mixed reality.
  • In Mumbai, a teenage girl rebels when AI’s crunching of big data gets in the way of romance.
  • In Seoul, virtual companions with perfected natural language processing (NLP) skills offer orphaned twins new ways to connect.
  • In Munich, a rogue scientist draws on quantum computing, computer vision and other AI technologies in a revenge plot that imperils the world.

By gazing toward a not-so-distant horizon, AI 2041 offers urgent insights into our collective future — while reminding listeners that, ultimately, humankind remains the author of its destiny.

©2021 Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Qiufan (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“An invaluable and entertaining vision of the future.” (Ray Dalio, number one New York Times best-selling author of Principles)
 

“To say that AI 2041 is enlightening and valuable, is to understate its significance.... AI 2041’s scientific fiction gives us a way to open our eyes to what is actually going on all around us and where things are heading.” (John Kao, Forbes) 

“By blending imaginative storytelling and technical expertise, Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Qiufan bring to life a vision for AI that addresses both our curiosity and our fears. Read this captivating book to better understand how and when certain technologies are likely to mature, and what that could mean for all of us.” (Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft)

What listeners say about AI 2041

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The Matrix of audiobooks

This book should be listened to. It’s amazing how the production of this book came along. This is now the standard for all audiobooks. The story’s from Africa to Asia to Europe and Australia. Each narrator infused their own accents to convey the authenticity of the story, after which the author braking down the story to give feedback on the AI storyline. I got this book because am an investor & need a dose of fresh perspective. However, I was rewarded with great knowledge & a glimpse into our future. On my last day of listening to this book, I saw on the morning news, one of the new technology being rolled out to those smart watches about shared healthcare information. What was amazing is that it was in the book before I even saw it on the news. You should listen to this book. Just brilliant production of an audiobook. The Matrix of audiobooks.

7 people found this helpful

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Great tech, great storylines, great performance

In an age where Black Mirror episodes practically write themselves every day in our media, AI 2041 is a wonder. The stories are shaped by new technologies, but they are genuine human-interest stories, not “tech stories.” The best of them really are touching.

The performances are also remarkable - Sissy Spacek performing To Kill a Mockingbird is the standard I judge by, and these are all on that order.

Finally, Dr. Lee’s analysis that follows each story is sharp, clarifying of the science behind the wonder, but without drowning a potentially non-tech audience in the Science. His interpretations are warm, balanced-but-positive (not Black Mirror) and engaging.

These are great, well written/translated stories, with sharp, 2021-tech and wonderful performances — placing it among the best of the hundreds of Audible books I’ve listened to. It’s that good.

3 people found this helpful

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Merging Accurate Technological Analysis with Engaging Fiction

With forty years of experience in AI research and product development from Apple, Microsoft, and Google, Kai-Fu partners with Quifan, a former Google colleague who went into the field of science fiction writing, to first create a prediction of AI's impact on humanity through prose with researched analysis. It shows our world in the coming decades, twenty to be exact, providing an accurate and engaging depiction of what life could look like alongside AI.

No matter your competency with AI, this is a fun read that both entertains as well as educates. The analysis after each chapter paired with the emotionally-gripping fictional world the chapter presents helps the reader step into 2041 and truly understand the implications of these technological advances, showing that: "Imagination indeed shapes the world". This book has a wonderful format, switching from fiction to nonfiction expertely to convey factual information with emotional resonance.

In Chapter 3 (spoiler warning!), two twins, one who we learn is born with Asperger's, each get assigned a personal AI partner that adapts in order to meet their specific needs in education. As their story progresses, both kids take drastically different paths in life. We follow their emotional struggles as AI takes over important roles in the world of investing and art, the two career paths they've chosen. The children, Golden Sparrow and Silver Sparrow, learn to work with their AI companions to combine skills and open new avenues for human creativity and connection in their fields of passion, rather than succumb to their fear that they've been replaced by AI. Their human teachers and parents, rather than becoming obsolete as AI replaces many of their past responsibilities, work with the AI for the betterment of the children, giving an optimistic outlook on real AI applications to benefit rather than rob our agency in our growth as individuals, showing how AI can remove menial tasks and allow humans to grow in "critical thinking, creativity, empathy, and teamwork."

The two boys, Silver Sparrow and Golden Sparrow, clash at first, their disparate personalities butting heads. Their AI partners grow with them, taking on disparate personalities of their own. This adaptation transforms their education to meet individual needs, personalizing each child's preferred method of learning in the most efficient way, and it breaks down many barriers currently in place in the hard-to-scale education system. It frees up their teachers time to connect, taking data provided by the AI to coax artistic genius from Silver Sparrow, who for a long time remained closed off due to his Asperger's, allowing him space to connect and create inspiring art. We see into a future where AI can help children with neurodiverse needs thrive in our world as well as how AI will compliment skills rather than take away opportunities. Golden Sparrow takes a less artistic approach to life after he gets adopted into a family who grills him to become a top-performer in the world of investing, and his parents use his AI to drill him daily until he can become successful...only to find once he reaches his goal that he's become far surpassed by AI doing his job better and faster. In a reunion with his brother, he learns not to let this discourage him, and in the end they combine their adapted AI, one trained to see the world mathematically, the other artistically, in order to forge a stronger connection between them and make amends after being estranged for many years. Silver Sparrow, who avoided physical contact his whole life, has grown thanks to the support of his AI companion — and as he reunites with his brother, they are able to share a hug. The chapter is heartwarming and gives hope for the future of our children.

A wonderful read, a must-have for any enthusiast of AI.

Cheers
Kurt Bunker - BiFrost Bridge Studios

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent, accessible scientific fiction

As an AI researcher and scifi fan, I found this book to be just technical enough to keep me enthralled, but not overly technical so as to drive away non technical people.

Loved every bit of it.

2 people found this helpful

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Absolutely terrible audiobook.

Terrible performance and narrators. Bad actors simply reading the text.
The book is written like a research thesis to undergrad students. Not like a book to the general public. Could not get past the first chapter. Shame on Peter Diamandis for recoing this.

1 person found this helpful

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Cute idea for an approach, but overly simple

The author takes a creative approach in trying to create visions of what technology might be in the future, but he loses the listener by getting to far into the storytelling part in trying to convey his ideas. It was this approach that drew me to the book, but I was let down by his execution.

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DARING, INFORMATIVE AND ENTERTAINING!

This book is extremely unique in the way it combines cutting edge / future AI technology with entertaining science fiction writing. There are 10 fictional short stories set in the year 2041, with accompanying analysis explaining the current and future development of the technologies which form part of the story. The stories are really creative and some had me riveted to learn what would happen. Many topics are covered, including autonomous vehicles, deep fakes, AI assistants, autonomous weapons, and data privacy. I especially appreciate how the authors included other dimensions of the various technologies, above and beyond the purely technical capabilities / requirements. For example, in the chapter on job loss / placement relating to AI, the issues of UBI, the non-financial aspects of work and some of the political considerations were highlighted. But most of all, the authors were daring in their effort to combine a vision of what AI might look like in 2041 with the technical analysis provided by one of the leading authorities in AI. It was because of this combination and how the authors pulled it off that my overall rating is a 5. Bravo!

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Different approach that falls short

Interesting format of combining AI stories with a companion technology explanation. As a software technologists and sci-fiction reader, the book misses in both areas. The stores were not well developed and was benign compared to other sci-fiction. I found myself focusing on just the explanations which had some interesting information. For people familiar with AI, this was not significantly insightful.

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not what I expected from Kai-Fu Lee. I wanted fact

not what I expected from Kai-Fu Lee. I wanted facts, not fiction from the best

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Creative way to explain ai capabilities but…

Not sure it worked well though. I find myself focusing on just the explanations which is worth 4 stars in and of itself as a stand-alone book. I suppose the stories could be a little bit better.