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
"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)
Not a mainstream reader.
"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.
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. :)
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!
Yes, I would try another book by the author or one narrated by Walter Dixon.
Made it sound less like a history text book.
Yes- there is a lot of valuable recent history in here that is easy to take for granted.
Showing how pervasive the use of algorithms has become.
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.
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.
Decrease the repetition throughout the book.
Go deeper into the topics and eliminate the repetition of many of the examples.
Appropriate, technical, accurate.
Not many redeeming qualities. The concepts were interesting but inadequately presented.
The book reads as if it was written in the early 1990s. There was little new or revolutionary about the use of algorithms (or "bots"). While there may have been some "oh, that is interesting" moments for some, nothing presented really changed one's perspective. It was a disappointment.
Avid audiobook addict!
Very interesting information. Amazing how many jobs can be done extremely well using algorithms.
If you are interested in tech - yoou will like this book.
Easy to follow
OK - but not WOW...
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).
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