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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
My Cell Phone Can Think: A Textbook on Artificial Intelligence is an educational book for children and young adults written by Michiro Negishi. Most kids are familiar with cell phones and their uses, which have expanded far beyond making and receiving telephone calls. What most kids and adults don’t consider is that their phones are miniature computers complete with artificial intelligence. How did we get from the giant mainframes of the 20th century to the slim device that is carried in back pockets and relied upon for just about everything at a moment’s notice? In his informative and fascinating book, Negishi introduces the basics behind today’s new computer programs that actually learn from their experiences and are able to expand their abilities. He starts with a look at how people think and make inferences, and how neurons in the brain perform these functions. From there, he shows how researchers were able to set up Artificial Neural Networks that perform in much the same way.
My Cell Phone Can Think is a thought-provoking work that breaks down the complexities behind the advances in AI and presents them in an orderly and relatively easily understood format. At the end of each chapter, he gives the reader review questions to ensure they’ve understood the basic premises covered and are prepared for the next chapter. This is not a dumbed-down computer science book for kids. The diligent reader, who has sufficient interest and enthusiasm, will find this book provides an excellent and fairly thorough introduction to computing.
I enjoyed reading this book. At times, I did find it to be challenging and to require some rereading to totally get the material covered. That said, I’m most impressed with how deeply the author delves into a complicated subject and how well he presents it for a young audience. In his appendix, I was pleased to discover a glossary, list of references and recommended college-level textbooks for further reading. He also mentions another Artificial Intelligence book for children written by an 11-year-old boy and his father, which he describes as “lucid and charming” and that sounds like a book also worth looking into. My Cell Phone Can Think: A Textbook on Artificial Intelligence is most highly recommended.