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Automate This: How Algorithms Took Over Our Markets, Our Jobs, and the World
     

Automate This: How Algorithms Took Over Our Markets, Our Jobs, and the World

4.0 4
by Christopher Steiner
 
How the rise of computerized decision-making affects every aspect of business and daily life
 
The bot takeover began with high frequency trading on Wall Street, and from there it spread to all manners of high-level tasks—such as diagnosing illnesses or interpreting legal documents. There is no realm of human endeavor safe from algorithms that

Overview

How the rise of computerized decision-making affects every aspect of business and daily life
 
The bot takeover began with high frequency trading on Wall Street, and from there it spread to all manners of high-level tasks—such as diagnosing illnesses or interpreting legal documents. There is no realm of human endeavor safe from algorithms that employ speed, precision and nuance.
 
In this fascinating book, 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. We meet bots that are driving cars, penning haikus, and writing music mistaken for Bach’s. They listen in on customer service calls and figure out what Iran would do in the event of a nuclear standoff. On Wall Street, pre-programmed algorithmic deals are executed by machines faster than any human could—leaving human investors at a severe disadvantage. 
 
But what will the world look like when algorithms control our hospitals, our roads, and our national security? Is a stock market controlled by high-speed trading bots worth investing in? And what role will be left for doctors, lawyers, writers, truck drivers, and many others?
 

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[Steiner] excels in bringing a dry subject to life.”
Financial Times
"As readers follow Steiner in his whirlwind tour of algorithm applications, they will marvel at the versatility of a mathematical tool understood only by a small circle of experts. Readers peer over the experts’ shoulders long enough to trace the decision-tree logic of an individual algorithm and to follow the cascading dynamics of the linked algorithms that drive the “bots” now handling everything from putting astronauts into space to matching compatible personalities venturing into the dating scene…. An accessible foray into computer programming that has become a hidden but pervasive presence."

—Bryce Christensen, Booklist

“Algorithms are affecting every field of human endeavor, from markets to medi­cine, poker to pop music. Read this book if you want to understand the most powerful force shaping the world today and tomorrow.”
—Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist, MIT; coauthor of Race Against the Machine

“Christopher Steiner knows how to find terrific stories and tell them well. He has written a lively narrative with humans at its center. To be sure, its subject is important, but the book is also fun.”
—Randall Stross, author of Planet Google and The Launch Pad

Kirkus Reviews
A look at the rise of algorithms and how they can be found in nearly every aspect of modern life. An algorithm, writes engineer Steiner ($20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better, 2010), is simply "a set of instructions to be carried out perfunctorily to achieve an ideal result. Information goes into a given algorithm, answers come out." The author examines what information goes in and, more importantly, what answers emerge. Although much of the narrative focuses on Wall Street and how algorithms have changed how stocks are traded, Steiner also discusses other industries, including health care, sports betting and even music recording. For example, the author writes about how an algorithm was used to help unravel a musical mystery: the composition of a unique chord struck at the opening of the Beatles' 1964 song "A Hard Day's Night." However, instead of using the story as a brief example of what algorithms can do, Steiner drags out the tale for pages, dissecting every minute detail. But in other sections, he glosses over some algorithms readers may be most familiar with, such as the one Netflix uses to suggest movies or the algorithms that connect users of an online dating site. Perhaps the book's oddest turn is the cheerfulness with which Steiner describes how algorithms will eventually replace millions of workers, pointing out that since June 2009, "corporations have spent 26 percent more on technology and software but haven't raised their payrolls at all." His advice for readers? "Get friendly with bots," and learn to write new algorithms. Unsatisfying survey of an issue that will be increasingly important in the coming years.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781591846529
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/27/2013
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
386,560
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.62(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
“[Steiner] excels in bringing a dry subject to life.”
Financial Times

 
"As readers follow Steiner in his whirlwind tour of algorithm applications, they will marvel at the versatility of a mathematical tool understood only by a small circle of experts. Readers peer over the experts’ shoulders long enough to trace the decision-tree logic of an individual algorithm and to follow the cascading dynamics of the linked algorithms that drive the “bots” now handling everything from putting astronauts into space to matching compatible personalities venturing into the dating scene…. An accessible foray into computer programming that has become a hidden but pervasive presence."
—Bryce Christensen, Booklist

“Algorithms are affecting every field of human endeavor, from markets to medi­cine, poker to pop music. Read this book if you want to understand the most powerful force shaping the world today and tomorrow.”
—Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist, MIT; coauthor of Race Against the Machine
 
“Christopher Steiner knows how to find terrific stories and tell them well. He has written a lively narrative with humans at its center. To be sure, its subject is important, but the book is also fun.”
—Randall Stross, author of Planet Google and The Launch Pad

Meet the Author

Chris Steiner is the author of $20 Per Gallon, a New York Times bestseller. His writing has appeared in Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and more. He holds an engineering degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a masters in journalism from Northwestern University. Steiner lives in Evanston, Illinois, with his family.

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