As an executive you know time is precious. When you’re reading about AI, you want to skip the “AI-washed” hype and get to the heart of solving your challenges. I’ve compiled a list of books I think will help you break through the clutter, quickly understand the basics, and come away with the tools and analytical frameworks to think about how AI can help you operate your company better.



Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future

by Andrew McAfee & Erik Brynjolfsson , published by W. W. Norton Books

This book makes a powerful case for why executives need to pay attention to AI. It is divided into three parts; if you’re interested in understanding how we came to where we are today in AI you can focus on just the first part – Machine. The authors provide a whirlwind tour of the trends and developments in computational power, data availability, and the algorithms that have made AI practically feasible in solving real-world problems over the last several years. They cite examples from a variety of fields to convincingly make their case. This review from the Wall Street Journal summed it up nicely:

“A book for managers whose companies sit well back from the edge and who would like a digestible introduction to technology trends that may not have reached their doorstep—yet.” — Wall Street Journal



Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for Business: A No-Nonsense Guide to Data Driven Technologies

By Steven Finlay, published by Reletavistic

This short book is a simple and pragmatic introduction for executives about the basics of what AI and ML technologies are, what neural networks and deep learning are, how they work, and the variety of technology, process, and people issues that need to be worked through to successfully deploy these data-driven technologies in the enterprise. The book also provides insights into how predictive models are built and ethical considerations to bear in mind while building them which you will find useful. An appendix at the end of the book provides a list of key questions to ask vendors when considering AI solutions, which you might find yourself referring to often.



Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence

by Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, and Avi Goldfarb, published by Harvard Business Review Press

The key insight of this book is that recent advances in computational power, data availability, and powerful algorithms have made the cost of prediction cheaper. The authors analyze the ramifications of being able to do cheaper predictions to business and strategy with a lot of examples, and show how executives can take advantage of this to do both – run their existing businesses better and innovate to grow. The book also provides a useful analytical framework to help think about enterprise problems to tackle using AI & ML technologies. To illustrate their point about how cheaper predictions can impact business, the authors describe a fascinating thought experiment about how Amazon’s business could change if it could elevate the accuracy of its predictions to a point where it could engage in ‘anticipatory shipping’ instead of waiting for you to place an order. Overall, this book will leave an executive reader with a lot of tangible and actionable ideas to consider applying AI in your business.

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Photo by Gabriel Sollmann on Unsplash

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