Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World

Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World

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by Christopher Steiner
     
 

ISBN-10: 1591844924

ISBN-13: 2901591844920

Pub. Date: 08/30/2012

Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover

The rousing story of the last gasp of human agency and how today’s best and brightest minds are endeavoring to put an end to it.

It used to be that to diagnose an illness, interpret legal documents, analyze foreign policy, or write a newspaper article you needed a human being with specific skills—and maybe an advanced degree or two. These days,

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Overview

The rousing story of the last gasp of human agency and how today’s best and brightest minds are endeavoring to put an end to it.

It used to be that to diagnose an illness, interpret legal documents, analyze 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 games 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 judgment and eliminate human instinct? And what role will be left for doctors, lawyers, writers, truck drivers, and many others?

Who knows—maybe there’s a bot learning to do your job this minute.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
2901591844920
Publisher:
Portfolio Hardcover
Publication date:
08/30/2012
Edition description:
NE
Pages:
256

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Wall Street, The First Domino 11

2 A Brief History of Man and Algorithms 53

3 The Bot Top 40 75

4 The Secret Highways of Bots 112

5 Gaming the System 126

6 Paging Dr. Bot 146

7 Categorizing Humankind 163

8 Wall Street Versus Silicon Valley 184

9 Wall Sreet's Loss is a Gain for the Rest of us 198

10 The Future Belongs to the Algorithms and their Creators 212

Acknowledgments 221

Notes 227

Index 235

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Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Christopher Steiner's book will show you in an easily and enjoyably read series of chapters not only how algorithms have come to rule much of our world but also will leave you questioning the ramifications for society's future. On the individual level, if you haven't really experienced trying to write computer code you should. Try it; the phrase "computer literacy" and "Automate This" will take on a dauntingly totally new and threatening meaning. On the societal level the ability to address immensely complex problems carries with it the benefits and dangers of any new technology. It is probably safe to assume that much of the "chatter" we hear about as giving warnings of terrorist activities has been discovered by algorithms patiently listening for and discerning certain patterns of words and connections. That effect of the use of "bots" is beneficial. But if the housing crisis was partly due to the misapplication of algorithms in pursuit of profit very many people would find that effect dangerous in the extreme. A final thought: How many University departments of Computer Science require students to successfully take courses in ethics and civics to graduate?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really wanted this book to have more technical depth to it, something I could use as a lead to dig deeper on my own. It seemed almost superficial in places. And the conclusions are little more than suppositions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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