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Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World | [Christopher Steiner]

Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World

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.
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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 (1085 )
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  •  
    Gregory M. Kreiger 08-07-13 Member Since 2013

    Runner

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    "Interesting, but not magnetic."
    If you could sum up Automate This in three words, what would they be?

    Interesting, slow, boring


    Would you recommend Automate This to your friends? Why or why not?

    It depends on their interests. If you are in to automation, you would probably find it interesting. However, it you dislike technology, you would not like the book.


    What aspect of Walter Dixon’s performance would you have changed?

    His performance was fine.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonny Liverpool, United Kingdom 08-01-13
    Jonny Liverpool, United Kingdom 08-01-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Very informing...Really enjoyed it."

    An excellent introduction to how mathematics and geeks are slowly controlling everything. I found it to be fascinating to listen to and very helpful in how I structure my own business and investment strategies. Make me wish I paid more attention to my maths teacher in school.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Henry 06-21-13
    Henry 06-21-13
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    "Automation everywhere."
    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    It's surprising how algorithms will or already do affect our daily lives.


    Did Automate This inspire you to do anything?

    It inspired me to learn to code more.


    Any additional comments?

    Everyone needs a little bit of understanding of how automated algorithms affect them.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benedict 06-13-13
    Benedict 06-13-13 Member Since 2015

    Benedict

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    "New viewpoint indeed ..."

    I had completed listening to this book just prior to the political scandals about the NSA and IRS coming to the surface. This book explains how using so-called computer "algorithms" are used by governments and corporations in our lives.

    Nothing we can do to make these things go away!

    The best part of the book is the author's work in explaining algorithms and their new place in our world so clearly.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric 05-23-13
    Eric 05-23-13
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    "An exposé on the computer programs in our lives"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, I have, it's well done.


    What other book might you compare Automate This to and why?

    Perhaps, "In the Plex," but I haven't had time to listen to / read that one yet; "In the Plex" is about Google's rise.


    What about Walter Dixon’s performance did you like?

    His narration is convincing.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    I wouldn't make a film of this book.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael PASADENA, CA, United States 05-15-13
    Michael PASADENA, CA, United States 05-15-13 Member Since 2005
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    "Well Done"

    This is a deep and complete book. I am a programmer and I was very inspired by what this book covers.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael J. Thomas Rochester Hills, MI 05-02-13
    Michael J. Thomas Rochester Hills, MI 05-02-13
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    "Great examples of Algorithms at work today"
    Where does Automate This rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I loved all of the examples of algorithms at work and the story was told very well.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Canton, GA, United States 04-05-13
    William Canton, GA, United States 04-05-13 Member Since 2009

    SW Engineer

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    "old SW Engineer Loves it"

    As a SW Engineer that is getting long in the tooth (punch card days), this book inspired me to rethink my next project/effort. BOT's are the bomb......

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mario 02-25-13
    Mario 02-25-13

    Personality: Intellectually Driven

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    "Eye opening!"

    This is an eye opening information and its analysis is nothing but trivial. Nevertheless the author manage to presented in a excellent style and pace. Highly recommended!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Henri 07-26-15
    Henri 07-26-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Great examples of bots"

    Great examples of how far the world already is by implementing bots. I do not share the opinion that there is only a future for engineers. I think to be able to program is a valuable skill, but to be able to innovate current systems is even more valuable and this requires different skills to learn. The world will change a lot the coming years and this book provides a nice intro to think about it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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