George Adamopoulos 2021 visited the school on October 1 to present a copy of his new book to Headmaster Mike Downey. Entitled Artificial General Intelligence, the book explores a subject that has become an all-consuming interest for George. He recently recounted to us the process that led to the book’s publication.
Q. What inspired you to write this book?
A. I’ve always wanted to write a book, so a big part of it was a personal challenge. However, when I started looking into programming algorithms for financial trading with the Python programming language, I was pulled in to learn more about narrow artificial intelligence systems. Through my research, I realized that very few average folks were literate about the industry of artificial intelligence. For example, my dad, who’s a knowledgeable electrical engineer, had no clue about this technology. I wanted to share the knowledge with him and with everyone else out there in the simplest way possible and a book was the best way to do that.
Q. We know you are the president of the Space Club, but your interests are obviously broader than that. How long have you been interested in the subject of AI?
A. I’ve been interested in computers ever since I can remember. I was the programmer of the robotics team at Selwyn since Grade 5. I started learning how to code more seriously in middle school, thanks in part to my friend Denis Dariotis. My interest in AI began when I started to code deep learning systems, and I started to hear more and more about AI as I got more advanced in programming.
Q. Did you do any more in-depth research specifically for the book?
A. Absolutely! My last two summers were largely dedicated to research and writing.
Q. Did it take you long to write the book?
A. From start to finish, it took around three years to write this book. I first got the idea in Grade 9 on a debating trip, and slowly began writing the book. The first draft, which was around 300 pages long, took a year to write. Unfortunately, I had to scrap that entire draft and start over again. The published version was written and edited in about two years.
Q. How was it published?
A. I self-published my book. I am still working on getting my book published through a traditional publisher, but it is hard to do especially since I am young. Amazon offers a great service where authors can publish books on their store and Amazon will print and ship any orders.
A. After around a month and a half, I’ve sold around 80 copies in the following countries: Canada, the United States, the UK, and Germany.
Q. Does AI represent the culmination of all technological creations? Is it the last machine humans will need to invent?
A. That is a story that is still being written. My book was meant to help give the average Joe a chance to understand the issues to participate in the writing of the story. I believe that AI has and will continue to change the world. It’s hard to predict to what capacity that will happen and in what timeframe.
Q. Do you believe it is possible to build AI that will be safe and will never pose a threat to humankind?
A. I believe it is possible to build safe AI. However, all the organizations developing AI and the governments around the world need to set out concrete rules and regulations. This needs to be done as soon as possible.
Q. Do you have ambitions to go into this field in your professional life?
A. I certainly do! I got a taste for artificial narrow intelligence when I started programming a few years ago. I find nothing more exhilarating than working on AI. I think that it is the field that will likely see the fastest advancement in my lifetime.
Q. Where are you planning to attend university?
A. I am currently in the process of applying to some universities in the United States. Princeton, in particular, has always been my dream school. I plan to study computer science or operations research.