Thursday, February 21

Harvard Book Store Presents (Past Events)Special Events Archive

John Brockman

John Brockman


Possible Minds:
25 Ways of Looking at AI

Tickets on sale now

This event includes a book signing

Harvard Book Store welcomes one of the nation’s leading science editors JOHN BROCKMAN—founder of The Edge Foundation, Inc. and editor of Know This, This Idea Must Die, This Explains Everything, and other volumes—for a presentation of his latest book, Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI.

This event will be a 90-minute program, featuring lightning talks from twelve experts—MARY CATHERINE BATESON, GEORGE CHURCH, KATE DARLING, PETER GALISON, NEIL GERSHENFELD, CAROLINE JONES, DAVID KAISER, SETH LLOYD, HANS ULRICH OBRIST, ALEX PENTLAND, STEVEN PINKER, and STEPHEN WOLFRAM—each offering a different perspective on the topic of artificial intelligence.

About Possible Minds

“Artificial intelligence is today’s story—the story behind all other stories. It is the Second Coming and the Apocalypse at the same time: Good AI versus evil AI.”  —John Brockman

More than sixty years ago, mathematician-philosopher Norbert Wiener published a book on the place of machines in society that ended with a warning: “We shall never receive the right answers to our questions unless we ask the right questions . . . The hour is very late, and the choice of good and evil knocks at our door.”

In the wake of advances in unsupervised, self-improving machine learning, a small but influential community of thinkers is considering Wiener’s words again. In Possible Minds, John Brockman gathers their disparate visions of where AI might be taking us.

The fruit of the long history of Brockman’s profound engagement with the most important scientific minds who have been thinking about AI—from Alison Gopnik and David Deutsch to Frank Wilczek and Stephen Wolfram—Possible Minds is an ideal introduction to the landscape of crucial issues AI presents. The collision between opposing perspectives is salutary and exhilarating; some of these figures, such as computer scientist Stuart Russell, Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn, and physicist Max Tegmark, are deeply concerned with the threat of AI, including the existential one, while others, notably robotics entrepreneur Rodney Brooks, philosopher Daniel Dennett, and bestselling author Steven Pinker, have a very different view. Serious, searching, and authoritative, Possible Minds lays out the intellectual landscape of one of the most important topics of our time.


“While the [Possible Minds] authors disagree on the answers, they agree on the major question: what dangers might AI present to humankind? Within that framework, the essays offer a host of novel ideas . . . Enlightening, entertaining, and exciting reading.” —Publishers Weekly

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John Brockman

John Brockman is a cultural impresario whose career has encompassed the avant-garde art world, science, books, software, and the Internet. The founder and publisher of the online salon Edge (, he is the editor of the Edge Question book series, which includes This Idea is Brilliant, Know This, This Idea Must Die, This Explains Everything, This Will Make You Smarter, and other volumes. His other books include The Third Culture and By the Late John Brockman. He is the founder of the international literary and software agency Brockman, Inc. and lives in New York City.

Photo Credit: Tobias Everke