I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
The Numerati examines the bright side, the dark side, and most importantly the human side, of big data.
Having read Big Data, Super Crunchers, The Signal the Noise, Naked Statistics and The Numerati somewhat recently I liked The Numerati the best by a significant margin.
The author is not a supercruncher, which I think was a good thing. Baker keeps humanity always in scope while investigating the details of big data. Even though Baker is not a supercruncher, I found this the most technically interesting of the books, delving into multivariate vector spaces without getting bogged down in equations or just telling stories. Each time a bit of technical information was presented, how that technology would impact people was also thoughtfully considered. I also felt I learned more about the subject from The Numerati than all the other books combined.
Baker uses examples that are more realistic and representative than several of the other books on the subject. The narration is clear and good, adding emphases or emotion quite nicely, but for some reason the frequency range of the reader’s voice grated on me at first and took some getting used to but after a few hours it was fine.
An excellent book well worth the listen. Not very technical, and a lot is left out. The most frustrating is the almost total lack of discussion of feedback, neuron death, and connectivity changes. I never found this tedious, indeed I would love two more volumes. Even if the authors theories are utterly wrong, anyone interested in intelligence or AI would benefit from reading this book. The author is a bit of a salesperson, a bit conceited, but may very well be correct, and is, in any case, quite interesting.
This is not just another global warming hysteria book. This book focuses on solutions and how to motivate the solutions needed. It focuses on each of several various proposals and the current strengths, weaknesses, and future outlooks of each proposal. The book focuses on realities that seem to elude most books on global warming. Like corn ethanol is not an efficient method to get energy from sunlight; it is just the technology that has the votes of a bunch of farm states. The book's main point is that a long term decreasing cap and trade system for carbon is the best way to make progress on reducing greenhouse gasses. The book avoids the issue of how to set the cap; which is an important aspect of the system. This was much easier with sulfur dioxide; which was better understood and was better able to be measured. This was really the only weakness in the book. Otherwise it was a excellent overview of the technologies (and the weaknesses of each). This is truly a must read for anyone who wants to understand which solutions make sense and which solutions will just make some people very rich.
This is great read on the history of Google, it's founders (Larry Page and Sergey Brin), and search technology. In the early days of the internet if you had typed in "newspaper," you would not have gotten "New York Times" or "LA Times" because they didn't have "newspaper" in its title. You had to know exactly what key words would generate the results you wanted. It's amazing to think how far search engines have come -- as you type, they predict what you want and populate key words for you. It is due to Google's extreme focus on technology and goals (speed, measurement, refinement, and openness). And there are many more amazing Google technologies that work seamlessly into our lives, which I have forgotten about -- Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Translate....
There is a lot of reference to "Googley" people and culture and the company's motto of "don't be evil." I think some readers will find it as a bias towards Google. I think it simply describes a workforce obsessively dedicated to doing what they love. For example, many might argue that Google's entry into China was a major stumble and the book doesn't place much accountability on the executives of Google. I think it was daring that Google did that. Selling technology in China is a high-risk proposition. Corruption and copyright infringements turn many companies away from China. Google had to know failure was very likely. Google took a chance to do something for the people of China. Although they censored results as required by the Chinese government, the users were informed on the page whenever results were censored. It was a small step... but an important step to reflect the value of openness -- the Chinese people were told when they weren't getting everything they wanted to see because the government was censoring it.