Automate This

Automate This

How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World

Book - 2012
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The rousing story of the last gasp of human agency and how today's best and brightest minds arte endeavouring to put an end to it.

It used to be that to diagnose an illness, interpret legal documents, analyse foreign policy, or write a newspaper article you needed a human being with specific skills-and maybe an advanced degree or two. These days, high-level tasks are increasingly being handled by algorithms that can do precise work not only with speed but also with nuance. These 'bots' started with human programming and logic, but now their reach extends beyond what their creators ever expected.

In this fascinating, frightening book, Christopher Steiner tells the story of how algorithms took over - and shows why the 'bot revolution' is about to spill into every aspect of our lives, often silently, without our knowledge.

The May 2010 'Flash Crash' exposed Wall Street's reliance on trading bots to the tune of a 998-point market drop and $1 trillion in vanished market value. But that was just the beginning. In Automate This , we meet bots that are driving cars, penning haiku, and writing music mistaken for Bach's. They listen in on our customer service calls and figure out what Iran would do in the event of a nuclear standoff. There are algorithms that can pick out the most cohesive crew of astronauts for a space mission or identify the next Jeremy Lin. Some can even ingest statistics from baseball fames and spit out pitch-perfect sports journalism indistinguishable from that produced by humans.

The interaction of man and machine can make our lives easier. But what will the world look like when algorithms control our hospitals, our roads, our culture, and our national security? What happens to businesses when we automate judgement and eliminate human instinct? And what role will be left for doctors, lawyers, writers, truck drivers, and many other?

Who knows - maybe there's a bot learning to do your job this minute.

Publisher: New York : Portfolio/Penguin, 2012.
ISBN: 9781591844921
Characteristics: vi, 248 p. ; 24 cm.

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ranXerox
Nov 08, 2012

Not a bad place to begin (though I think Super Crunchers is better) if you want to know where the world's heading, but much of this smells of pure promotion for the start ups he's invested in. A lot of glib and glitzy stuff, with a complete absence of deeper analysis on the ramifications of how this stuff will transform the labour market of ALL professions. His solution is basically " we need better math teachers at the high school level", but can't bring himself to talk about how their pay is crap or the constant abuse they're subject to by politicians. A shallow book, but an easy read for the uncritical who want some anecdotes on this "new" thing...

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ranXerox
Nov 08, 2012

ranXerox thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

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