A Citizen's Guide to Artificial Intelligence

A Citizen's Guide to Artificial Intelligence

By John Zerilli

With John Danaher, James Maclaurin, Colin Gavaghan, Alistair Knott, Joy Liddicoat and Merel Noorman

A concise but informative overview of AI ethics and policy.





A concise but informative overview of AI ethics and policy.

Artificial intelligence, or AI for short, has generated a staggering amount of hype in the past several years. Is it the game-changer it's been cracked up to be? If so, how is it changing the game? How is it likely to affect us as customers, tenants, aspiring homeowners, students, educators, patients, clients, prison inmates, members of ethnic and sexual minorities, and voters in liberal democracies? Authored by experts in fields ranging from computer science and law to philosophy and cognitive science, this book offers a concise overview of moral, political, legal and economic implications of AI. It covers the basics of AI's latest permutation, machine learning, and considers issues such as transparency, bias, liability, privacy, and regulation.

Both business and government have integrated algorithmic decision support systems into their daily operations, and the book explores the implications for our lives as citizens. For example, do we take it on faith that a machine knows best in approving a patient's health insurance claim or a defendant's request for bail? What is the potential for manipulation by targeted political ads? How can the processes behind these technically sophisticated tools ever be transparent? The book discusses such issues as statistical definitions of fairness, legal and moral responsibility, the role of humans in machine learning decision systems, “nudging” algorithms and anonymized data, the effect of automation on the workplace, and AI as both regulatory tool and target.


$40.00 X ISBN: 9780262044813 232 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


John Danaher, James Maclaurin, Colin Gavaghan, Alistair Knott, Joy Liddicoat, and Merel Noorman.


  • A Citizen's Guide to Artificial Intelligence is a text that ought to be read widely. The book's subject matter is highly relevant and it provokes many probing questions that deserve further consideration on the part of the reader and broader society. [... ] It's a book that one could recommend to any individual without feeling guilty about sharing an overly complex topic. Zerilli et al. are exemplary in the clarity of their explanations of AI and its influence on society.

    London School of Economics blog


  • “With the explosive expansion of cloud computing capacity, mobile communication technologies, and the internet of things over the past couple of decades, AI systems have become an increasingly unavoidable—indeed pervasive—part of our everyday lives. And yet, many of us have very little idea of how these technologies actually work, or of where, when, and how they are being used by law enforcement agencies, private companies and governments. The authors of A Citizen's Guide to Artificial Intelligence do a masterful job of opening a public conversation that promises to redress this troubling knowledge gap. The book casts an interdisciplinary floodlight on how algorithmic tools are being used in areas ranging from health care, law and social services to social media and business, and it explains the basic technical components of AI in a jargon-free manner. Likewise, it broaches many of the crucial ethical issues surrounding AI applications such as privacy, bias, accountability, and autonomy in an equally clear and accessible way. This work is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the moral, legal, political, and economic stakes of the use of AI systems in a connected human world increasingly, though often unwittingly, entangled in such technologies.”

    David Leslie

    Ethics Team Lead, Alan Turing Institute