The Loop

Available January 25, 2022. Order a copy today!

Artificial intelligence is changing the world as we know it and creating new risks every day. But the real danger isn’t the machines: it’s our own brains. We have evolved to make decisions using shortcuts, biases, and hidden processes. In The Loop, journalist Jacob Ward reveals how we are feeding those habits into technology that makes choices for us. The result is a narrow loop where each generation will continue to lose the power to make decisions for itself, an ever-more-dangerous future it’s not too late to avoid. .

Beginning with the latest science about how our brains make decisions, The Loop reveals how the most obvious patterns in our behavior—patterns an algorithm will use to make decisions about what’s best for us—are not the ones we want to perpetuate. Ward then explains how AI works (and how it doesn’t), launching us on a world tour of the ongoing, real-world experiment of artificial intelligence. Inside Silicon Valley, local police departments, university labs, military facilities, museums, and more, he shows us how AI is already reshaping the way we make decisions in everything from big business and war, to entertainment and parenting, laying bare the dangers of writing our worst instincts into our machines for the sake of short-term profit and efficiency.

Just as politics, marketing, and finance have all exploited the weaknesses in our human programming, artificial intelligence is poised to use the patterns of our lives to manipulate us in irresistible and invisible ways. The Loop is a call to look at ourselves more clearly—our most creative ideas, our most destructive impulses, the ways we help and hurt one another—so we can put only the best parts of ourselves into the thinking machines we create.

Please consider ordering a copy today.

Meanwhile, here’s a few selections from my other recent written work.


The New York Times Magazine

The Geno-Economists Say D.N.A. Can Predict Our Chances of Success

The New Yorker

We Are All Larry David

Popular Science

America’s Last, Lonely Humanoid Robot

One Man’s $10M Garage Workshop

The Trials and Torments of Space School

How to Move a Human without Killing It

Who Is to Blame When a Robot Car Crashes?


Maps and the Death of Local Knowledge

Redesigning the Worst City Park in New Jersey

The Rise of Courtroom Animations


How the McMenamin Brothers Conquered Portland

How-Tos from our Favorite Bands: My Morning Jacket

How-Tos from our Favorite Bands: People Under the Stairs

Five Teenagers Turned a Fire Station into a Concert Hall

Build Your Own Backyard Olympics

This Is the Only Fun Thing to Do in Fresno, and It’s Amazing


The Horror of Building San Francisco International Airport

How MacDonald’s Design Department Colonizes the World

The San Francisco LGBT Center is the Nation’s First “Out” Architecture

The Lawyers That Make Every Suburb Look the Same


A Mall that Straddles the US-Mexico Border

The First Library of the 21st Century

The San Francisco Street That Went Terribly Wrong

The Industry Standard

Black Executives Excluded from the Web’s Riches

The Curious Business of Naming Web Companies

Why Planned Parenthood Can’t Find a Developer

Al Sharpton’s Advertising Showdown

The Founder Who Almost Didn’t Make It