Weidenfeld & Nicolson is publishing a book about artificial intelligence (AI) by BuzzFeed science correspondent Tom Chivers following a three-way auction.
Paul Murphy, editorial director at Weidenfeld & Nicolson, bought UK and Commonwealth rights in The Rationalists: Artificial Intelligence and the Geeks Who Want to Save the World from Will Francis at Janklow & Nesbit. It will publish in hardback, e-book and audio in June 2019.
W&N has pitched The Rationalists as "a book about the cutting edge of our thinking on intelligence and rationality right now by the people who stay up all night worrying about it", executed with Chivers' "easy style, humour and wonderful storytelling ability".
Murphy said what really makes the book stand out is the author's original take on the subject. As well as AI and AI risk, it focuses on the community of people who are trying to think rationally about intelligence, explaining why they are worried, and why they may be right or wrong to be. It isn't about the future, W&N explains "it doesn’t try to guess how many of us are going to be put out of work by AI, or what the operating system in your house might be able to do in 10 years’ time".
"What made this really stand out from other books about AI, which tend to focus on the technology and its economic impact, was Tom’s completely original perspective on the subject," said Murphy. "He brings vividly to life the story of the people at the forefront of thinking about AI with his easy style, humour and wonderful storytelling ability, getting to the heart of some of the key issues along the way. Tom is a unique new voice in narrative non-fiction, and I am hugely excited to welcome him to the list and to publish his first book."
Chivers said: "I’m excited about the chance to work with W&N. They publish some of the best science writers in the world, and their books are beautifully presented and thoughtful. And I’m also excited about the chance to tell the story of the rationalist movement, which has important things to say not just about artificial intelligence but also about thought, about charity, and about what it means to be human."