- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Portfolio (August 30, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1591844924
- ISBN-13: 978-1591844921
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 139 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #309,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World Hardcover – August 30, 2012
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The Arab Spring of 2011 did not surprise analyst Bueno de Mesquita, who in May 2010 predicted that Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak would fall within a year—basing his prediction on the workings of an algorithm. As readers follow Steiner in his whirlwind tour of algorithm applications, they will marvel at the versatility of a mathematical tool understood only by a small circle of experts. Readers peer over the experts’ shoulders long enough to trace the decision-tree logic of an individual algorithm and to follow the cascading dynamics of the linked algorithms that drive the “bots” now handling everything from putting astronauts into space to matching compatible personalities venturing into the dating scene. Steiner acknowledges that a world reliant on bots must cope with new challenges—flash crashes on Wall Street, unemployment among accountants, dangerously powerful technocrats. Still, Steiner remains hopeful that resourceful computer whizzes will weave algorithms that will enrich and safeguard our future. An accessible foray into computer programming that has become a hidden but pervasive presence. --Bryce Christensen
“[Steiner] excels in bringing a dry subject to life.”
"As readers follow Steiner in his whirlwind tour of algorithm applications, they will marvel at the versatility of a mathematical tool understood only by a small circle of experts. Readers peer over the experts’ shoulders long enough to trace the decision-tree logic of an individual algorithm and to follow the cascading dynamics of the linked algorithms that drive the “bots” now handling everything from putting astronauts into space to matching compatible personalities venturing into the dating scene…. An accessible foray into computer programming that has become a hidden but pervasive presence."
—Bryce Christensen, Booklist
“Algorithms are affecting every field of human endeavor, from markets to medicine, poker to pop music. Read this book 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
“Christopher Steiner knows how to find terrific stories and tell them well. He has written a lively narrative with humans at its center. To be sure, its subject is important, but the book is also fun.”
—Randall Stross, author of Planet Google and The Launch Pad
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It's also highly offensive that he wrote a 200 page fluffy text on the vast subject of machine learning and put icing on the cake by peppering it with advertisements for companies that he's affiliated with. At the start of chapter 2 he says "all one needs to do is head to Y Combinator's Hackers News message board, which has grown into one of the more infuential Web sites in the world". Not only is this completely false, he received a grant from Y Combinator for his start up, which we know because he included similarly transparent advertisements earlier in the book. Are you kidding me?
It shouldn't come as a huge surprise that someone who wrote a book called "$20/gal..." is more interesting in attracting attention than conveying information. But skip this one. There's no reason to encourage authors to write cash-grab drivel like this.
Automate This is about the stories and business applications of machine learning. It’s a pleasant reading for both people in the field and others. Practitioners will find interesting applications of machine learning, although without any technical details. People outside of the field will get a feeling of what can be done with data mining algorithms.
Out of the second chapter, about the history of man and algorithms, I found the book really enjoying. Steiner’s book is also telling the story of Quants moving from the finance industry to the Silicon Valley. In summary, Automate This is an excellent book about machine learning, without mentioning it (the author uses the word “automated” for machine learning). Highly advised to anyone interested in knowing how machine learning is changing our world.
The author, lacking a more meaningful approach to this subject matter, decided to dramatize it as if to catch our attention. Duly noted, and poorly received.