In Our Own Image

In Our Own Image 6x9We humans have love-hate relationships with many things. One of the oldest and most complex is our relationship with Artificial Intelligence, or ‘AI’. In Our Own Image explores our ties with AI. Zarkadakis investigates AI’s origins in ancient myth, through literary classics such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to the sci-fi blockbusters of today. Our fascination with AI is, argues the author, hardwired into our brain, and it tells a huge amount about what it means to be human. This book argues that we are on the brink of a new industrial revolution where Artificial Intelligence will turn science fiction into science fact. Ultimately, says Zarkadakis, the future of AI has profound implications for the future of society, politics and humanity itself.

There are two core arguments here – firstly that the quest for Artificial Intelligence is due to our evolutionary emotional make-up as primates – that is to say it’s impossible to separate our desire to construct intelligent machines from the deepest primal instincts that define us. This book backs up this standpoint with case studies from cognitive archaeology, as well as literature and cinema. Secondly, that consciousness is probably impossible to code into a conventional computer. Many notable scientists argue that machine consciousness will occur due to exponentially increasing computing power (according to Moore’s Law). However, Zarkadakis disagrees, as he approaches the subject of AI from four main angles;

  • Cognitive archaeology and neuroscience – why do we feel compelled to produce artefacts with intelligence that look and behave like us; what are the cognitive aspects of our brain that make us who we are; and what do we now about the neural basis of consciousness;
  • Literature – how do conflicting narratives of AI shape our thinking, expectations and understanding of it, for example fear (Frankenstein, Matrix) versus love (Bicentennial Man, AI Movie);
  • Philosophy –how the dichotomy between empiricism and idealism, as well as conflicting ideas about the nature of mind and intelligence, have had a “lock-in” effect in the development of modern computer technology;
  • Technology – the evolution of modern computers from ancient automata and robots, to future cyborgs and androids; and how AI will accelerate innovation in the era of big data and the internet of things.

In Our Own Image also asks questions such as how AI could influence our politics, economy and society. Could big data together with AI help transform civilisation for the better? Or will AI machines take over the world, and if so under what circumstances?


See a short video where I explain the three main questions about Artificial Intelligence addressed in the book. And the page from Penguin’s Newsletter with additional info.


Read the reviews for In Our Own Image.

IOOI Book cover

The UK Edition (Rider Books)


“In Our Own Image” is published in the UK (Rider Books), USA (Pegasus Books), Japan (NIkkei Business Publications), and China (China Citic Press).



US Edition by Pegasus Books. Order now from Amazon.

UK Edition by Rider Books Buy now from Amazon.


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