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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

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  •  
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 07-25-14
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 07-25-14 Member Since 2015
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    "ALGORITHM"

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle me this: 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
  •  
    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
  •  
    Mike Atlanta, GA, United States 12-13-13
    Mike Atlanta, GA, United States 12-13-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Thought Provoking"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    If you are interested in tech - yoou will like this book.


    Were the concepts of this book easy to follow, or were they too technical?

    Easy to follow


    Any additional comments?

    OK - but not WOW...

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas 12-08-13
    Thomas 12-08-13
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    "Surprisingly Entertaining for Nonfiction"
    What did you love best about Automate This?

    The author of Automate This struck a good balance between technical content, engaging story telling, issues of relevance to understanding our changing world, and topics that are just interesting even if not significant. Topics include automated stock trading, medical diagnoses, musical composition, and others. The performance was so good it never caught my attention, it simply delivered the content to my ears without causing a single distraction.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gregory M. Kreiger 08-07-13 Member Since 2013
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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


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tony 08-19-14
    Tony 08-19-14 Member Since 2017
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    "I got Al's go rhythm ?...wait..."
    If you could sum up Automate This in three words, what would they be?

    One of the best treatise on the impact of technology to modern lives.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The computers and the wizards programmers


    What does Walter Dixon bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Incredible insights and the ability to reduce highly techie stuff into thought even I can comprehend


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

    No - way too dense , a couple chapters at a time was fine?


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher 07-31-14
    Christopher 07-31-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Kept me interested beginning to end"
    What did you love best about Automate This?

    It was very informative and presented in a way that kept me entertained. I left this book knowing two things; 1) I will read it again. 2) I will be looking into more detail about some of the topics that were covered, such as music composed by algorithms.


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

    If you enjoyed this, also try Ghost in the Wires by Kevin Mitnick.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    wiznut 07-30-14
    wiznut 07-30-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Algorithms Journey"
    Where does Automate This rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top 10 so far on the enlightenment scale. My personal favorite Highlights: The History and evolution of Algorithms, our high level of dependency on them, organ donor data optimization threw them.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I have an understanding of how they are a possible tool for wonderful things as well as bad. The old story goes, " You don't go after the hammer store if someone uses it in a crime or for ill purpose." It's how the tool is used that will define it's value to our future.


    What does Walter Dixon bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The tone and pace worked well with my listening routine.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The move from Wall Street cash cow band wagons, to do thinks that mattered to society was refreshing to here about.


    Any additional comments?

    I enjoyed the journey.

    1 of 1 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

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • mr Peter Mo
    United Kingdom
    10/19/17
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    "Enlightening"

    Even though I was expecting a different concept, this book pleasantly surprised me and it has a lot to offer. It opened my eyes to some aspects of automation I had not consciously considered before and it inspired me to further develop my coding skills.
    I actually listened to it at 1.25x of speed and it was just perfect.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Alev Haddadieh
    United Kingdom
    4/26/16
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    "fascinating book.."

    Developments and the application of the algorithmsn in the last 10 to 15 years have been fascinating..

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jamie
    Nottingham, United Kingdom
    12/8/13
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    "A terrific history of how automation impacts"
    Would you listen to Automate This again? Why?

    Probably not ... definitely a good listen and a fascinating perspective of how technology has been at the forefront of stock markets (primary focus book) and the battles and struggles to contain this genie

    Also slightly terrifying into how simple mistakes can bring down our global society


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Not a character book as such


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Gary
    Bristol, United Kingdom
    10/22/13
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    "Software, Quant or Algorithmic Engineers are smart"
    If you could sum up Automate This in three words, what would they be?

    Opportunities Software-Engineering Smart


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

    Wall Street meets Steve Jobs (Apple Story); clever people spotting opportunities and have the problems solving skills to progress them let alone the technical skills to do it themselves PLUS the ability to ignore / step around people saying NO (it can't be done)


    Which character – as performed by Walter Dixon – was your favourite?

    Thomas Peterffy


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

    Smile, a lot.


    Any additional comments?

    Very useful in my line of work given that I work with numerous PHD data scientists and mathematicians. Not I know what the heck they are talking about. :-)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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