I just read Dr Fei Fei Li’s book and I absolutely loved it. I am feeling as AI inspired and optimistic as ever. Cherishing the lessons I learned from this book, here are my 6 favorite:
- How a Mentor Can Change Your Life. One might argue that Dr. Fei Fei Li’s book is an ode to mentors. The way she describes the indelible impact mentors, professors, and even her parents had on her life is spectacular. The way she conveys the power of someone believing in you and taking a chance on you gives goosebumps. She is someone who openly and graciously credits so much of her success to the mentor figures who believed in her.
- The Privilege to be a Mentor/Educator. Li is the ultimate mentor. The way she describes the insatiable curiosity of her students, the bravery to speak up and share a counter perspective, and the way she pushes them because she believes they’re capable of more is an inspiring account for those who are mentors/educators. I found myself considering the parallels between being a great teacher and being a great manager. Ultimately what’s in the best interest of a student’s development and growth is aligned with the greater success of the research group. The same applies within a team setting.
- AI Optimism Emanates from AI Humility. Li embodies unwavering optimism about AI's potential. True to her humanist values, she embraces "techlash" with humility and actively advocates for an interdisciplinary AI landscape where technology empowers, not threatens, humanity.
- History Humanizes AI. Delving into AI's history isn't just about understanding its evolution; it's a crash course in human learning itself. This journey reveals how profoundly AI reflects our own cognitive processes, making its current capabilities seem less mysterious and more deeply intertwined with our humanity. Learning this history is about demystifying the present, appreciating the intricate dance between human and machine learning.
- Find Your North Star. Dr Fei Fei Li’s story is a heroic immigrant story of overcoming adversity, yes, but more than anything it exemplifies the power of having a North Star to drive you in your pursuits. Li humanizes the pursuit, narrating how she initially itched for her own North Star, and then after years of pushing herself she found it. As the field of AI evolved, as she encountered adversity, her North Star propels her forward. Li's story isn't just her own; it's a call to action for us all. It reminds us that finding our North Star, that one thing that ignites our passion and gives meaning to our pursuits, is the key to navigating life's uncertainties.
- Humanity Prevails. Dr. Fei Fei Li’s novel, which one might think is about AI/robots/machines and all things antithetical to being human, really feels like a celebration of humanity. How can someone believing in you change the trajectory of your life? What difference it makes that your parents risked their lives in search of a better future for you and how does that materialize into a life of tremendous impact? How does each human who you work with, learn from, or you believe in contribute to your greater story and the trail of your impact? My favorite example is when Li recalls a hospital stay. She notes how a nurse's care and comfort outshone any technological marvel. It was a simple yet poignant reminder that no machine could ever replace human compassion.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t recommend it more highly.