This book in a talkative-colorful style tours through many creators and applications in various sub-fields of this big, emerging part of our lives. It shows in a general and non-tech way how a set of ideas or a body of knowledge is mapped onto a high-speed decision system. (Sometimes, the system is building knowledge as it goes.) The story about the evolution of call centers, and how a "bot" quickly reads the caller's personality from a few word usages and sentence structures, to route the call to the right type of response (and responder) was very telling. It is typical of the way our interactions with business (even fleeting ones) are increasingly mapped from the first milliseconds, to improve the customer service experience (or manipulate us, or introduce a ruthless efficiency to reduce the call center workforce, etc., there being many dimensions, depending on how one might like to look at it). That data is, of course, stored and continuously analyzed. This book is pretty friendly toward the purveyors of these changes. Other audios loosely in this genre include "Super Crunchers" and "Dark Pools."
This title is a good start, the first three chapters are a useful look at the history of algorithms and new developments. I found the last several chapters lagging and devoted to stories of Ivy league and student immigrants cornering wall-street with somewhat questionable programming and tactics. I think the author could have done better by elaborating on algorithms used in different industries other than by wall street, facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, such as science, journalism, etc.
Excellent even if slightly terrifying listen. Steiner offers multiple illustrations of the double edged nature of automation for the humanity it "serves." Trading algorithms allow investment houses to cash in on market imperfections. A robot pharmacist fills prescriptions flawlessly. A computer program composes new symphonies in the styles of long dead masters. Those of us who earn a living through the application of specialized knowledge are under siege. Algorithms that synthesize our elaborate decision trees enable computers to do a hard day's work in the blink of an eye.
In Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World, Christopher Steiner drags readers screaming into a brave new world where humans use computers to make complex decisions. I use an algorithm to help my students write better. The program gives comments on grammar, spelling, and content. Other uses are being found in medicine, news reporting, foreign policy analysis, and all sorts of other work. The brave new world of bots is upon us and Steiner aptly tells readers what, when, why, and how they will come to make our lives different - sometimes better and sometimes not so much. The narration of Walter Dixon is a plus.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
With the sub-title—"How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World", Christopher Steiner’s "Automate This" is hyperbolic. Tech geeks are trending toward rule of the world but humans remain too complicated and diverse for this generation of code hackers to dominate the world. Social and political science have not reached a state of measurement and predictable outcome that reaches Karl Popper’s criteria for science. Popper’s requirement for empirical falsification is not true with social and political algorithms; at least, not as reliable, reproducible experiments. Social and political analysis, even with the use of algorithms, is not science.
Of particular interest is Steiner’s explanation of algorithm impact on jobs. Like the industrial revolution, the world’s work force will dramatically change with continued automation. More product production will be automated through algorithms that manipulate machines to do the work formerly done by humans. Steiner believes primary growth industries will be ruled by technology. No jobs will be unaffected by algorithms. Steiner notes that even medical services for common colds and routine visits will be served by algorithmic analysis and drug prescription services. Code hackers will be offered the greatest job opportunities. Call centers will become bigger employers but even those jobs will be increasingly handled by algorithms that minimize employee involvement. A conclusion one may draw from Steiner’s book is that middle managers of call centers, sales people for algorithmic products, teachers, personal service providers, and organization executives will be in demand but many traditional labor positions will disappear.
Steiner’s book is a recruitment tool for today’s and tomorrow’s code hackers. That is where jobs will be. Steiner suggests that young and future populations should plan to acquire basic math skills, learn to code, and plan for a future of automation and exploration.
Great story about how the use of algorithms has evolved...from trading on Wall Street to diagnosing medical disorders. By listening to this book, I learned that bots can do far more than I originally thought. High energy narration too.
I generally listen to nonfiction. I would rate this in the highest category of the books to which I have listened. I try to save "5" for the top 10% rather than 20%. It is a very timely book since the use of algorithms is really picking up steam in our economy. It was a well constructed and fun narrative.
While I found the stories great examples and helpful to understand how algorithms are used a greater number of examples with a bit less time spent on each would have enhanced my experience a bit. Nonetheless, I rated it a 5 on both overall and story.
This is a book for beginners. You don't need a PhD in math to understand the concept that a bunch of PhD quants are trying to replace almost every mental task you perform using computer logic.
It made me realize how visionary Kurt Vonnegut's classic piece of fiction, "Player Piano" really was.
p.s. audible. - I never read the same category of nonfiction twice. Your algorithms should know that and recommend books that are different rather than one I just read, not the same. Hire a better breed of quant. :)
This book is exciting, inspiring and at the same time frightening. Computers and the people who understand them are helping humanity and at the same time gaining a huge edge over people who don't understand and use computers and have the capital to take advantage of their capabilities.
Every late middle school or early high school student should read this book. Their life's trajectory would certainly change to include a more technical education.
For those of us who are on the other end of life's spectrum it makes one wonder whether life has any safe professions or havens for our children and grandchildren. Will half of our doctors be replaced by computers?
When one spends eight to twelve years after high school in study to become a professional is it possible to see all of that work become obsolete with the perfection of a few computer algorithms? But think --- of all of the benefit to humanity from more accessible and accurate medical treatment for everyone on the receiving end instead of the dispensing end of the medical profession. And on it goes.
In the future truck convoys of driverless trucks are likely to deliver our goods in half the time at a fraction of the current cost with no accidents --- and at the same time displace a million truck drivers.
Think of NYC with twenty thousand automated driverless taxi cabs that are incapable of taking the slowest route or blowing a horn or violating a safety law or even having a collision of any sort. Complete safety. Reduced cost. No noise. Displaced drivers.
Read or listen to this book or ----- stick your head in the sand and be intentionally ignorant of the future --- your choice. The change is in progress. Part is history but the exciting part is what is to come.
The history, I did not know how far back we used algorithms, especially in the stock market.
The narrator for the story was a perfect match.
This is my first.
The future, and how our lives can be made better.