The rise of generative AI, heralded by the arrival of ChatGPT, has at once inspired awe and fear. The technology seems poised to transform society, but how, exactly, remains unclear. Luckily, two intrepid alumni of the Knight Science Journalism Program are here to help us make sense of it all.
In June, financial journalist Leslie D’Monte (‘11) published his debut book “AI Rising: India’s Artificial Intelligence Growth Story,” an account of the current AI revolution and its impacts in south Asia. D’Monte describes the book — co-authored with tech consultant Jayanth Kolla — as challenging but rewarding to write. Sukumar Ranganathan, Editor-in-Chief of the Hindustan Times, called it an “everyman’s guide to AI.”
“If you’re yet to figure out how these AI developments will transform your lives and work, and whether AI will take away your job, or even become self-aware, this book is for you,” says D’Monte. “AI Rising” was published by Jaico Publishing House.
Meanwhile, a new book from Carey Goldberg (‘02) examines our AI future from a health angle. “The AI Revolution in Medicine: GPT-4 and Beyond” — co-written with Peter Lee, the chief of research at Microsoft, and Zak Kohane, the founding chair of Harvard Medical School’s biomedical informatics department — tells readers what they need to know about how AI is poised to transform medicine. Goldberg and her co-authors, who had months of early access to GPT-4, ponder how the state-of-the-art chatbot could improve diagnoses, accelerate research and more.
“I got sucked into the book project just days after quitting as Boston bureau chief of Bloomberg News,” says Goldberg, who will also serve on the editorial board of “NEJM AI,” a new specialty journal from the publishers of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Goldberg, a former Boston bureau chief for the New York Times, says she’s interested in turning her focus to the “ever-more-real science of longevity,” among other things.
In his latest book, Reto Schneider (‘98) takes on an age-old question: Why do some people seem incapable of changing their minds? The Zurich-based journalist, now deputy editor-in-chief at NZZ Folio, describes “Die Kunst des klugen Streitgesprächs” (“The Art of Clever Arguing”) as a book “about deceptions, flawed thinking and the limits of rationality…. It makes the case that the origin of most of our opinions is highly dubious.”
Schenider’s book deconstructs familiar controversies — misconceptions about biological differences between men and women, myths about the common cold — and gets at the root causes of why we disagree.
“Why is it so hard for us to change our minds?” Schneider asks. “There is an amazingly simple answer: We don’t have opinions, we are our opinions.”
Here’s what KSJ alumni are writing, a compendium by Federico Kukso (’16):
Carrie Arnold (‘21): “Kidney doctors push to protect patients by including dialysis machines in emergency stockpile,” STAT.
William Booth (’87), “Restoring this rare medieval ship means putting 2,500 pieces back together,” Washington Post.
Rebecca Boyle (‘22): “Auroras Are the Sun’s Special Nighttime Light Show,” Atlas Obscura.
Teresa Carr (’18): “Fancy Multivitamins Cost $700 a Year. This $15 Option Is Just as Good,” The New York Times.
Zack Colman (’16): “Wealthy oil nation lays groundwork for ‘eye-popping’ climate fund,” Politico (w Karl Mathiesen).
Pablo Correa (’13): “The love for science changed the face of a Colombian sidewalk,” El País (in Spanish).
Christopher Cox (‘21): “The Trillion-Gallon Question,” The New York Times Magazine.
Tim De Chant (’19): “Fun while it lasted: The room-temperature superconductor claim is probably bunk,” TechCrunch.
Herton Escobar (’07): “Weapons of Mass Disinformation,” Jornal da USP (in Portuguese).
Dan Falk (‘12): “Everything You Need to Know About the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse,” Smithsonian Magazine.
Teresa Firmino (’09): “The Portuguese forest hides more species of oaks than previously thought,” Público (in Portuguese).
Andrada Fiscutean (’20): “Why whistleblowers in cybersecurity are important and need support,” CSO.
Richard Fisher (’20): “The atomic bomb marker inside your body,” BBC Future.
Giovana Gerardi (’15): “Amazon countries agree to avoid forest collapse, but disagree on how to do it,” Agência Pública (in Portuguese; w/ Anna Beatriz Anjos).
Virginia Gewin (‘22): “As the Salton Sea Shrinks, Agriculture’s Legacy Turns to Dust,” Civil Eats.
Sarah Gilman (‘21): “What water gives,” The Last Word On Nothing.
Jeremy Hance (‘22): “Amid government inaction, Indonesia’s rhinos head toward extinction,” Mongabay; “Making tracks: how linking patches of wilderness is saving Borneo’s wildlife,” The Guardian.
Daniela Hirschfeld (’10): “Science and traditional knowledge: a gap still to be overcome,” SciDev (in Spanish; w/ Claudia Mazzeo and Zoraida Portillo).
Federico Kukso (’16): “Small and exceptional: this is the first fossil named in honor of Messi,” Agencia SINC (in Spanish).
Usha Lee McFarling (‘93): “‘Ancient DNA’ tools and 23andMe database uncover African American ancestries of thousands,” STAT (Subscription required).
Jyoti Madhusoodanan (‘21): “Discrimination May Hasten Menopause in Black and Hispanic Women,” Scientific American.
Emily Mullin (‘22): “Injecting a Gene Into Monkeys’ Brains Curbed Their Alcohol Use,” Wired.
George Musser (’15): “How AI Knows Things No One Told It,” Scientific American.
Valeria Román (‘05): “Gabriel Rabinovich, the Argentine scientist who revolutionizes cancer therapies,” Infobae (in Spanish).
Sushma Subramanian (‘22): “In Brazil, Beauty Is a Right. Are They On to Something?” New York Times.
Fabio Turone (’17): “Helping science journalists and scientists learn from each other,” Nature Italy (w/ Daniela Ovadia).