MPH’s bestselling book titles for June 2020

AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order

Author: Kai-Fu Lee

THROUGHOUT artificial intelligence’s (AI) 70-year history, the field has had only one breakthrough, argues investor and former head of Google China Kai-Fu Lee: Deep learning. “So why you might ask, why do we see all these headlines about AI doing cancer diagnosis, beating [humans at] Go, beating [humans at] chess, and doing all kinds of amazing things?” he said at an Oct 9 event for Quartz and Retro Report’s “What Happens Next” project. “The reason is these are mere applications that were run on top of the one breakthrough.” The deep-learning breakthrough happened in 2012, when two parallel ideas merged during an AI competition called the ImageNet challenge.

Princeton University Prof Fei-Fei Li had spent years collecting and organising images with the idea that showing algorithms more data was more important than crafting the perfect learning algorithm. At the University of Toronto, Prof Geoff Hinton and PhD students Alex Krizhevsky and Ilya Sutskever used Li’s data to supercharge their neural networks, a fringe idea at the time that took inspiration from how the brain used distributed neurons to form larger ideas.

The Toronto team entered the ImageNet challenge with their neural network, and became the first team to break 75% accuracy in the competition. The world took notice.

Starting the following year, every winning team used this neural network approach called deep learning. Google hired Hinton, Sutskever and Krizhevsky, and soon deep learning was everywhere. Lee thinks that this breakthrough will remain AI’s biggest for years to come. “Do not think that this is going to be a renaissance age with a zillion discoveries,” he said. “There was one discovery and lots of applications built on that discovery.”

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

Author: Lori Gottlieb

A VIVACIOUS portrait of a therapist from both sides of the couch. With great empathy and compassion, psychotherapist, The Atlantic columnist and contributing editor Gottlieb (“Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr Good Enough”, 2010, etc) chronicles the many problems facing the “struggling humans” in her stable of therapy patients.

The intimate connection between patient and therapist established through the experience of psychic suffering forms the core of the memoir, as the author plumbs the multifaceted themes of belonging, emotional pain and healing.

“Therapists…deal with the daily challenges of living just like everyone else…Our training has taught us theories and tools and techniques, but

whirring beneath our hard-earned expertise is the fact that we know just how hard it is to be a person,” she writes.

Through Gottlieb’s stories of her sessions with a wide array of clients, readers will identify with the author as both a mid-40s single mother and a perceptive, often humorous psychotherapist.

In addition to its smooth, conversational tone and frank honesty, the book is also entertainingly voyeuristic, as readers get to eavesdrop on Gottlieb’s therapy sessions with intriguing patients in all states of distress.

She also includes tales of her appointments with her own therapist, whom she turned to in her time of personal crisis. Success stories sit alongside poignant profiles of a newly married cancer patient’s desperation, a divorced woman with a stern ultimatum for her future, and women who seem stuck in a cycle of unchecked alcoholism or toxic relationships.

These episodes afford Gottlieb time for insightful reflection and self-analysis, and she also imparts eye-opening insider details on how patients perceive their therapists and the many unscripted rules psychotherapists must live by, especially when spotted in public (“often when patients see our humanity, they leave us”).

Throughout, the author puts a very human face on the delicate yet intensive process of psychotherapy, while baring her own demons. Saturated with self- awareness and compassion, this is an irresistibly addictive tour of the human condition.

Chosen Ones Author: New York

Times bestselling author Veronica Roth

ROTH’S successful adult debut (following the bestselling young adult “Divergent” series) puts the popular trope of the teenage “chosen one” under the microscope and delves into both the societal impacts of young shoulders carrying the weight of saving the world and the psychological strains of such a responsibility.

Fifteen years ago, Sloan Andrews was one of the five “Chosen Ones” selected by prophecy to defeat the Dark One, a powerful evil that killed thousands of people. Navigating adult life after the defeat of the Dark One has been a struggle.

Sloan is dogged by the media, plagued by PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and encouraged to just get over it by her fellow Chosen One boyfriend.

On the 10th anniversary of the Dark One’s defeat, one of the five Chosen Ones dies, leading to revelations about the evil they thought they’d defeated and forcing Sloan to face secrets from her past.

The inclusion of news reports and government documents initially slow the pace, though they help build a complex fantastical world. Roth handles heavy topics, including mental health and racism, with great care, and once the story picks up, readers will be delighted by both the magical adventure and the diverse cast.

This is a thoughtful, well-crafted twist on a genre staple.