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For many, technology offers hope for the future—that promise of shared human flourishing and liberation that always seems to elude our species. Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies spark this hope in a particular way. They promise a future in which human limits and frailties are finally overcome—not by us, but by our machines.

Yet rather than open new futures, today's powerful AI technologies reproduce the past. Forged from oceans of our data into immensely powerful but flawed mirrors, they reflect the same errors, biases, and failures of wisdom that we strive to escape. Our new digital mirrors point backward. They show only where the data say that we have already been, never where we might venture together for the first time.

To meet today's grave challenges to our species and our planet, we will need something new from AI, and from ourselves.

Shannon Vallor makes a wide-ranging, prophetic, and philosophical case for what AI could be: a way to reclaim our human potential for moral and intellectual growth, rather than lose ourselves in mirrors of the past. Rejecting prophecies of doom, she encourages us to pursue technology that helps us recover our sense of the possible, and with it the confidence and courage to repair a broken world. Vallor calls us to rethink what AI is and can be, and what we want to be with it.

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Oxford University Press Inc
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