Book thoughts: “Genius Makers” by Cade Metz

Alice Heiman
2 min readMay 3, 2023

I recently listened to Genius Makers: The Mavericks Who Brought AI to Google, Facebook, and the World by Cade Metz. It was a well-needed overview of the history of Artificial Intelligence, where we follow some of the most prominent researchers in the field. Although AI is dubbed artificial, the book made the science of intelligent systems more human to me. It was enlightening learning about the actual people behind the latest breakthroughs and hearing their struggles and challenges. And it made me wonder: are we creating thinking machines or machines that think?

AI already takes many decisions today. Algorithms lie at the basis of our modern and effective society. What I find exciting is the ability of these machines to find patterns in tremendous amounts of information. Where we humans only see long strings of numbers, computers see knowledge.

However, problems could arise if we depend entirely on these programs. Where we let the machines think for us rather than together with us. The author and brain coach Jim Kwik calls this phenomenon Digital Deduction. Rather than thinking ourselves, we turn to technology for answers which harm our cognitive capacities.

What I found most surprising in Genius Makers is how AI is also about creating machines that think. Algorithms that do not work for us but along with us. Such as the Go-playing program AlphaGo that not only won over a world champion but also gave novel insights into how to play this age-old game.

AI, like most things, is a tool. It can be used and abused, do good and evil. Everyone should have the ability to join the debate and give their insights into how to mold this technology. Because to we solely want to create thinking machines or machines that can truly think?