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Automate This Audiobook

Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World

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Publisher's Summary

The rousing story of the last gasp of human agency and how today’s best and brightest minds are endeavoring to put an end to it.

It used to be that to diagnose an illness, interpret legal documents, analyze foreign policy, or write a newspaper article you needed a human being with specific skills - and maybe an advanced degree or two. These days, high-level tasks are increasingly being handled by algorithms that can do precise work not only with speed but also with nuance. These "bots" started with human programming and logic, but now their reach extends beyond what their creators ever expected.

In this fascinating, frightening audiobook, Christopher 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, often silently, without our knowledge. The May 2010 "Flash Crash" exposed Wall Street’s reliance on trading bots to the tune of a 998-point market drop and $1 trillion in vanished market value. But that was just the beginning. In Automate This, we meet bots that drive cars, pen haikus, and write music mistaken for Bach’s. They listen in on our customer service calls and figure out what Iran would do in the event of a nuclear standoff. There are algorithms that can pick out the most cohesive crew of astronauts for a space mission or identify the next Jeremy Lin. Some can even ingest statistics from baseball games and spit out pitch-perfect sports journalism indistinguishable from that produced by humans.

The interaction of man and machine can make our lives easier. But what will the world look like when algorithms control our hospitals, our roads, our culture, and our national security? What happens to businesses when we automate judgment and eliminate human instinct? And what role will be left for doctors, lawyers, writers, truck drivers, and many others? Who knows - maybe there’s a bot learning to do your job right this minute.

©2012 Christopher Steiner (P)2012 Gildan Media LLC

What the Critics Say

"Algorithms are affecting every field of human endeavor, from markets to medicine, poker to pop music. Listen to this audiobook 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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (1238 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Tim United States 12-03-13
    Tim United States 12-03-13 Member Since 2011

    Do you read the book before you dislike my reviews?

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Behind the Hamster Wheel"

    "Automate This" is a good primer on how things work behind the scenes. The book is easy to understand by someone that doesn't have a technical background. Christopher Steiner structured his title in a way to help you understand how business is run behind the hamster wheel.

    Many times we interact with bots, even when we don't know it. How many times have you dabbled in online dating and needed to take a survey to find potential matches? Base on your interests and answers, they use algorithms to try to match you with other members that have similar interests.

    We are all being track each time we make a phone call to customer service and when we use our discount cards and whatever else. We are all walking data for bots to understand us better. When I log into my streaming account, it will bring up recommendations titles that I might like. The process of choosing a movie is already made. Soon, we will no longer need to make choices because it will be on the screen.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert North York, Ontario, Canada 06-08-14
    Robert North York, Ontario, Canada 06-08-14
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    "Automated Review"
    Would you try another book from Christopher Steiner and/or Walter Dixon?

    Yes, I would try another book by the author or one narrated by Walter Dixon.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Made it sound less like a history text book.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Yes.


    Was Automate This worth the listening time?

    Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    N/A

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer 05-02-14
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    "I will read this again sometime"
    Would you listen to Automate This again? Why?

    Yes- there is a lot of valuable recent history in here that is easy to take for granted.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Showing how pervasive the use of algorithms has become.


    What about Walter Dixon’s performance did you like?

    Very good.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    not relevant.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is a must-read for anyone who thinks that machines cannot run human society.It starts by describing the history of how the stock market has become dominated by algorithmic programs that do most of the trading and evolve themselves without human participation. Then it branches out to other professions (medicine, customer service, music, and so on) to show how algorithms are reaching into the management of those professions too.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne Gaithersburg, MD, United States 02-11-14
    Anne Gaithersburg, MD, United States 02-11-14
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    "Digitalization for Non-Geeks"

    This is an illuminating and enjoyable survey of how computers are transforming the way we live. Most importantly, it is written for the layperson--it's free from jargon and takes a balanced, journalistic approach to the subject.

    The chapters are alternately frightening (the one showing how computer code can produce music as moving as that of the world's greatest composers) and exciting (the one showing how greatly pharmacies and medical diagnoses can be improved).

    Walter Dixon's narration is first-rate: he has an unusually mellow tone that does not prevent him from inflecting every sentence in such a way that you feel he's connected the book to your brain with an invisible cord. I hope to hear him again in other books.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Patterson Calgary, AB Canada 12-13-13
    Robert Patterson Calgary, AB Canada 12-13-13 Member Since 2016
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    "Good, but too many opinions for my tastes."

    This book had some good stories, and some keen insights when it comes to algorithms.

    However, it also expounds a lot of opinions as facts. Sorry... but there is lots of stuff that Doctors still don't know.

    Additionally annoying is how the Author abuses the word Hacker. He repeatedly used word "Hacker" to represent anyone who writes code to solve a problem.

    With intelligent editing this could have been a better book. (better=less annoying).

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin 01-09-13
    Robin 01-09-13

    Hi all. I'm in my 50's (that's relevant, i think), and I favor fiction. I like the british sensibility, and was introduced to the Forsyte Saga through audible ... loved it! I happen to also like Chinese writers, but they are not well represented yet at audible. Looking to follow readers with similar tastes ...

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "forward thinking ... a fabulous audible find!"

    I rarely listen to non-fiction, but was intrigued by the topic and positive reviews. This is a phenomenal read ... for those of us who tend to be forward thinking and reflective. A look at the driving force behind integral aspects of modern life, and where we are likely headed in the future.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David BELFAST, ME, United States 01-04-13
    David BELFAST, ME, United States 01-04-13 Member Since 2008
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    "A real peek behind the scenes of a world changing"

    The World is changing much faster than we are, Only some can see it and have taken advantage. The rest of us are falling hopelessly behind. Is there anything we can do? Tell friends and parents who "don't do computers" to get up and start running. The Cheese has moved!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janis Fremont, NH, United States 01-25-13
    Janis Fremont, NH, United States 01-25-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Loved it! Fascinating! Listening a second time."
    Where does Automate This rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Non-fiction story line about how math and computers have put us into space-age living environment. This is for everybody, not just math savants and quants.


    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hugenoot 07-23-14
    Hugenoot 07-23-14
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    "Enjoyable, easy and interesting"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Automate This to be better than the print version?

    Can't comment, haven't read the print version


    Would you be willing to try another book from Christopher Steiner? Why or why not?

    Yes, I like his approach to this topic.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I liked the part about music algorithms and psychological profiling most.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I listen to quite a lot of audiobooks, mostly while jogging or doing chores. A crucial feature of an audiobook for me is the effect it has on my mood. Some books are good but make me tense because I feel I should be taking notes or should rather get the print version. I never really felt that way with this book, it was peaceful to read. When something very interesting came up, I just Googled it to read more on the topic and then Tweeted it.


    Any additional comments?

    The author states in the introduction that he originally envisioned this book to be just about algorithms and Wall Street but was convinced by someone he interviewed to look at the world outside Wall Street. I'd say it shows. Stories about Wall Street does dominate, but I wouldn't say these were the boring parts. The only chapter I considered skipping was the one about health care. Overall, I'm very happy I got this audibook.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew Ottawa, ON, Canada 12-18-13
    Matthew Ottawa, ON, Canada 12-18-13 Member Since 2015

    Avid audiobook addict!

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    "Extremely current and informative"

    Very interesting information. Amazing how many jobs can be done extremely well using algorithms.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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