Industrial robots, self-driving cars, customer-service chatbots and Google’s algorithmic predictions have brought the topic of artificial intelligence into public debate. Why is AI the source of such intense controversy and what are its economic, political, social and cultural consequences?

Tracing the changing fortunes of artificial intelligence, Elliott develops a systematic account of how automated intelligent machines impact different spheres and aspects of public and private life. Among the issues discussed are the automation of workforces, surveillance capitalism, warfare and lethal autonomous weapons, the spread of racist robots and the automation of social inequalities. Elliott also considers the decisive role of AI in confronting global risks and social futures, including global pandemics such as COVID-19, and how smart algorithms are impacting the search for energy security and combating climate change.

Making Sense of AI provides a judiciously comprehensive account of artificial intelligence for those with little or no previous knowledge of the topic. It will be an invaluable book both for students in the social sciences and humanities and for general readers.