Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom – A Review

Title: Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies

Author: Nick Bostrom

In “Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies”, philosopher Nick Bostrom delves deep into the future of machine intelligence, its ascendancy and the existential risks associated with its potential dominance over humanity. A blend of technical exposition, speculative scenarios and philosophical musing, the book is a rigorous exploration of a future where machines may surpass humans in general intelligence.


  1. Thorough Exploration: Bostrom offers an exhaustive examination of how superintelligent entities might come into existence. He doesn’t settle for just one possible pathway but considers a range, from whole-brain emulation to artificial general intelligence.
  2. Existential Risks: The book stands out for its detailed discussion of the potential dangers of uncontrolled or poorly-controlled superintelligence. These concerns have since been echoed by many leading figures in tech and science.
  3. Control Problem: One of the book’s major contributions is its discussion of the “control problem”: if and when we create a superintelligent entity, how do we ensure it acts in ways beneficial to humanity? This raises complex issues about goals, ethics and the limits of human foresight.
  4. Philosophical Depth: Bostrom does not merely stay in the realm of technology. He engages with profound philosophical questions about values, consciousness and the very future trajectory of life in the universe.


  1. Speculative Nature: The topic by its very nature is speculative and while Bostrom is careful in his reasoning, the scenarios painted still rely on numerous assumptions. Not every reader will be convinced by all the potential paths and pitfalls he outlines.
  2. Dense and Technical: Bostrom’s approach is rigorous and, at times, can be dense, especially for those unfamiliar with AI or philosophy. Some sections might be challenging for the general reader.
  3. Focus on Dystopia: While Bostrom rightly points out the potential perils of superintelligence, some critics feel he might give less attention to the potential upsides and benefits, painting a more dystopian picture than is strictly necessary.
  4. Control Solutions: The solutions and strategies offered to the control problem are still in their infancy and often come across as abstract. Concrete steps are harder to define, though this is, in part, a reflection of the current state of the field.


“Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies” is a seminal work in the field of AI safety and philosophy. Bostrom’s methodical and thorough approach to the topic makes it a must-read for anyone interested in the future of artificial intelligence and its intersection with humanity. While it may be dense and speculative in parts, it challenges the reader to think deeply about our relationship with technology and the potential paths our future may take.