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Book Review

A Faith-informed Review of Ethan Mollick’s “Co-Intelligence: Living and Working with AI”

Main takeaways:

A Balanced and Well-Researched Reference: “Co-Intelligence: Living and Working with AI” stands out for its thorough research and balanced perspective, setting it apart from many other generative AI books that are often more hype than substance.

Practical Advice with Ethical Insight: The book provides valuable insights into the practical applications of AI and addresses important ethical and societal implications, advocating for transparency and accountability in AI development.

Four Cardinal Rules of Engagement: Dr. Mollick introduces four key guidelines for engaging with AI: invite AI to the table, be the human in the loop, treat AI as a person, and assume it will improve, highlighting the importance of human-AI collaboration.

Faith and Community Engagement: While the book acknowledges ethical challenges, it misses the opportunity to deeply explore the role of faith communities in AI stewardship, an area where collective ethical reflection and community involvement are crucial.


Since the launch of Chat-GPT 3, there has been no shortage of books on Generative AI. Most of them are thin in content and abundant in hype as authors sought to capitalize on the LLM frenzy. Wharton management Professor Ethan Mollick’s Co-Intelligence: Living and Working with AI stands apart from this crop by offering a well-researched perspective that emerges both from experimentation and the latest research on the topic. It quickly became a New York Times best-seller and a reliable resource, especially on the impact of AI in the workplace and its potential implications. For those seeking a measured yet comprehensive assessment of generative AI’s impact on work, this book is a fantastic place to start. Furthermore, the book emerged from an ongoing blog that the author maintains which I recommend adding to your weekly feed.

Book Overview

“Co-Intelligence: Living and Working with AI” explores the evolving relationship between humans and generative artificial intelligence (AI), emphasizing the potential for a collaborative and synergistic future. The author weaves its argument around several key themes, each contributing to a comprehensive understanding of how AI can enhance human capabilities and societal progress.

As a starting point, the author claims that AI is a “general purpose technology” equating it to the steam engine and the Internet. Yet, in the author’s estimation, AI will be even more impactful since unlike previous innovations that replaced manual work, this one replaces and augments human thinking. Initial studies have shown an increase in productivity that ranges between 20-80% which is staggering.

Given this pressing challenge, the author invites us to consider AI as an alien intelligence. That is, it is an unknown and mysterious tool that can augment human intelligence in unprecedented ways. The author goes further, while skirting away any speculation of sentience, that we must treat it as a person. Not necessarily human or machine but something in between.

The book does not shy away from addressing the ethical and social implications of AI. The author discusses concerns related to privacy, security, and bias in AI algorithms. Dr. Mollick underscores the importance of transparency and accountability in AI development, advocating for robust regulatory frameworks to ensure the responsible use of AI technologies. With that said, for a faith-informed audience, his chapter on ethics leaves much to be desired even as it recognizes the existential threat to AI which I shall turn to later in this review.

Dr. Mollick avoids any discussion of superintelligence, preferring instead to focus on the short-term applications of AI. Instead, the author highlights the democratizing effect that it may have, as studies have shown that amateurs and beginners usually have the most to benefit from AI.

He leaves us with four cardinal rules around our engagement with generative AI:

1) Always invite AI to the table – Grow familiar not just to see how it can help but also to assess it as a threat.

2) Be the Human in the loop – take that role seriously, always apply a skeptical lens to AI output, fact check, evaluate, and always take it with a grain of salt.

3) Treat AI as a person – Give it a job or a role, and tell it who it is. Expect it to be unpredictable in a way that a person can be.

4) Assume that it is the worse it will ever be – Expect this technology to get exponentially better in the next few years.

The author also introduces the concept of the “Jagged Frontier”. It emphasizes that while AI excels in certain areas, it still lags behind human intelligence in others, creating a frontier that is not smooth or uniform but jagged. In short, we simply don’t know what AI does well and what does poorly. Hence we must navigate this frontier with deliberate care and cooperation so we can map the areas.

Furthermore, in Dr. Mollick’s estimation, the nature of jobs will change in a way that education and skill will become less valuable. He speculates that this predicament could lead to massive unemployment but also whole new industries. In all this uncertainty, what becomes clear is that learning to work with, around, and despite AI becomes a major skill. The latter one is important as the author encourages to learn what AI does well not just as an enhancement to our abilities but also as a way to understand a worthy opponent and how we can mitigate its impact on our livelihood.

Faith and Community Engagement

As Dr. Mollick reflects on the range of possibilities of AI uses, he arrives at a sensible conclusion. That is, as AI starts being used in many areas, the question shifts from “Can it do it?” to “Should it do it?” For example, it is clear that AI can write well-crafted legal opinions but are we comfortable with that? This realization is crucial and highlights the importance of the work we do at AI and faith. As possibilities multiply, The application of faith wisdom becomes a paramount step in how we decide to use this technology in our world. As religious traditions are knowledge wells of accumulated ethical reflection they now become integral in bending the development of AI towards human flourishing.

Hence, it is disappointing that the author never mentions this possibility in the book.

Instead, following the lead of the technology industry, he shoves ethical issues under the banner of alignment. This definition reduces moral and existential questions to a technical problem. If we can only “align” AI with our values, then it will be safe. It misses the opportunity to dive into deep thinking around these issues.

Another missed opportunity is attending to the role of communities as stewards of AI usage. Most of the experiments described in the book were mostly conducted by the author himself as an individual. This is another area where faith communities can play a vital role. A democratic approach to the development of AI should occur within healthy and flourishing communities that can both assess its power and uncover its limitations.


“Co-Intelligence: Living and Working with AI” by Ethan Mollick stands out as a nuanced, well-researched examination of the evolving relationship between humans and artificial intelligence at work. Unlike many other books on the subject that are heavy on hype and light on substance, Mollick’s work offers a balanced perspective grounded in experimentation and the latest research. While the book could benefit from a deeper engagement with ethical considerations from a faith-informed perspective, it remains a valuable resource for understanding the transformative potential of AI. By advocating for a collaborative approach and offering practical guidelines, Dr. Mollick equips readers with the tools to harness AI’s capabilities responsibly and effectively.

Elias Kruger

Is a Quantitative Analytics Manager and VP at Wells Fargo Bank in Atlanta, and the Founder of AI and Theology which seeks to apply a thoughtful Christian lens to the promise and peril of Artificial Intelligence. Elias holds a Masters of Theology degree from Fuller Seminary, and an MBA from Regent University.

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