Outnumbered is a journey to the dark side of mathematics, from how it dictates our social media activities to our travel routes. Algorithms are running our society, and as Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal has revealed, we don't even realize how our data has been used against us. David Sumpter investigates whether mathematics is crossing dangerous lines when it comes to what we can make decisions about.
Our increasing reliance on technology and the internet has opened a window for mathematicians and data researchers to gaze through into our lives. Using the data they are constantly collecting about where we travel, where we shop, what we buy, and what interests us, they can begin to predict our daily habits, and increasingly we are relinquishing our decision-making to algorithms. Are we giving this up too easily?
Without understanding what mathematics can and can't do it is impossible to get a handle on how it is changing our lives.
In this book, David Sumpter takes an algorithm-strewn journey to the dark side of mathematics. He investigates the equations that analyze us, influence us and will (maybe) become like us, answering questions like:
Who are Cambridge Analytica, and what are they doing with our data?
How does Facebook build a 100-dimensional picture of your personality?
Are Google algorithms racist and sexist?
Why do election predictions fail so drastically?
Are algorithms that are designed to find criminals making terrible mistakes?
What does the future hold as we relinquish our decision-making to machines?
Featuring interviews with those working at the cutting edge of algorithm, Outnumbered explains how mathematics and statistics work in the real world, and what we should and shouldn't worry about.
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About the Author
David Sumpter is Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Uppsala, Sweden. Originally from London, but growing up in Scotland, he completed his doctorate in Mathematics at Manchester, and held a Royal Society Fellowship at Oxford before heading to Sweden. His scientific research covers everything from the inner workings of fish schools and ant colonies, the analysis the passing networks of football teams, segregation in society to machine learning and artificial intelligence.
David has written for The Economist, The Telegraph, Current Biology, Mathematics Today and FourFourTwo magazine, amongst others. He has been awarded the IMA's Catherine Richards prize for communicating mathematics to a wider audience. David's first book was Soccermatics: Mathematical Adventures in the Beautiful Game.
Table of Contents
1. Where are we going?
2. People Who Agree With You also Think That…
3. Let's Make Lots of Money
4. The Scary Green Wrinkle effect
5. Bad Climate
6. The Self-fulfilling Fallacy
7. Crime Numbers
8. We Need to Know Everything About You
9. The Social Observatory
10. The Do No Evil Brain
11. Out of Our Minds
12. Back to Reality