A Turing Award-winning computer scientist and statistician shows how understanding causality has revolutionized science and will revolutionize artificial intelligence
"Correlation is not causation." This mantra, chanted by scientists for more than a century, has led to a virtual prohibition on causal talk. Today, that taboo is dead. The causal revolution, instigated by Judea Pearl and his colleagues, has cut through a century of confusion and established causalitythe study of cause and effecton a firm scientific basis. His work explains how we can know easy things, like whether it was rain or a sprinkler that made a sidewalk wet; and how to answer hard questions, like whether a drug cured an illness. Pearl's work enables us to know not just whether one thing causes another: it lets us explore the world that is and the worlds that could have been. It shows us the essence of human thought and key to artificial intelligence. Anyone who wants to understand either needs The Book of Why.
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About the Author
Judea Pearl is a Professor of Computer Science at UCLA. The author of three highly influential scholarly books, he is a winner of the Alan Turing Award, often considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for computer science. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and was one of the first ten inductees into the IEEE Intelligent Systems Hall of Fame. He has received numerous awards and honorary doctorates, including the Rumelhart Prize (Cognitive Science Society), the Benjamin Franklin Medal (Franklin Institute) and the Lakatos Award (London School of Economics). He is the founder and president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.
Dana Mackenzie is a Ph.D. mathematician turned science writer, and has written for such magazines as Science, New Scientist, Scientific American, Smithsonian, Nautilus, and Discover. His book, The Big
Splat, or How Our Moon Came to Be, was named a Booklist Editors' Choice and selected as an Audiobook of the Year for 2010 by Audible.com. He received the 2012 Communication Award (Joint Policy Board for Mathematics) and the 2015 Chauvenet Prize for mathematical exposition (Mathematical Association of America). He lives in Santa Cruz, CA.
Table of Contents
Introduction Mind over Data 1
Chapter 1 The Ladder of Causation 23
Chapter 2 From Buccaneers to Guinea Pigs: The Genesis of Causal Inference 53
Chapter 3 From Evidence to Causes: Reverend Bayes Meets Mr Holmes 93
Chapter 4 Confounding and Deconfounding: Or, Slaying the Lurking Variable 135
Chapter 5 The Smoke-Filled Debate: Clearing the Air 167
Chapter 6 Paradoxes Galore! 189
Chapter 7 Beyond Adjustment: The Conquest of Mount Intervention 219
Chapter 8 Counterfactuals: Mining Worlds That Could Have Been 259
Chapter 9 Mediation: The Search for a Mechanism 299
Chapter 10 Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and the Big Questions 349