Artificial Intelligence is the new buzzword. Not many understand it. But they do understand that it is something that will define our collective future. Not many easy-to-read books are available on the subject. As most are written for the subject matter experts. Rajiv Malhotra is a great communicator. He puts across his points in a way that laypersons can understand. So, I wanted to read this book of his Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Power – 5 Battlegrounds.

Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Power by Rajiv MalhotraWhen the book landed in my hands, it was a huge volume. I wondered how much time I need to keep aside for it. I started reading about the five battlegrounds that the author has chosen to organize his book around. They talk about economic development, jobs, emerging power structures, psychological controls, ethics, and finally India’s future.

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The book is written primarily for the Indian audience and specifically consumers and regulatory authorities. It focuses on three main geographies – The western world which is the hub of all digital things at the moment. Be it innovation or technology deployment. Second is China, which has developed its technical edge more or less independent of the western world. That allows it to have total control over its digital assets. This gives China complete freedom as well as a strategic advantage as the world outside would have limited or no access to its data. The third is India, the country for which this book is written. Most of the rest of the world is not taken into consideration.

Read More – Being Different also by Rajiv Malhotra

Lost Opportunity

The author tries to tell the Indian Government and Indians about the lost opportunity in artificial intelligence for India. By allowing the big tech companies to have access to the data of their citizens it has given them a lot of control for creating big impacts like influencing the election process. This means your population can be strategically and psychologically influenced by selling their data. It also talks about the risks of passing these controls in the way of digital colonization.

Read More – Never Lost Again by Bill Kilday

There is nothing much I disagree with the author on. However, I think he looks at only one aspect of the Artificial-Intelligence driven future of this world. It totally misses out on the benefits that we get from social media platforms or from free tools of the technology giants. To look at either just the benefits or just the risk is a partial view of the situation. I agree that benefits are better known than the risk. But do any of us want to go back to the pre-internet era? I doubt.

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Speed of Technology changes

Second, it ignores the speed of technology changes. In my own life of fewer than 50 years, I have seen so many waves of technology. Each new one has the potential of obliterating the existing ones. We do not even know what is going on in the labs of the rest of the world. We have no clue how nature will turn the tables. It took one pandemic to make India the vaccine hub of the world. Rajiv Malhotra being based in America has access and understanding of the western world. That becomes his barometer to measure his own country of origin.

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I did not find solutions to the problems mentioned. Where they are mentioned, they are more for the government. Maybe for big technology companies. As an individual, if we can do anything to guard our own interests is what I wanted to know. We are obviously taking benefits of these freely available platforms and apps, including earning our livelihood from them.

Read More – Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Academic write-up

The book is written in an academic manner, with chapter summaries and a long conclusion. There are a lot of data charts and illustrations to emphasize the point that author wants to make. They do make the reading easy. Language is simple and impactful. The book is too long with too many repetitions. I think it could have easily been half its current size. And still, say what it wants to say.

Cover design is the simplest you can have. I wonder if it was designed in a hurry or auto-generated.

Read More – Geek Nation by Angela Saini

Having said that, this book Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Power – 5 Battlegrounds is a good introduction for people who do not understand the potential of artificial intelligence on them and society.

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