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Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 30, 2012
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“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
—Randall Stross, author of Planet Google and The Launch Pad
- Hardcover : 256 pages
- Product Dimensions : 6.35 x 0.89 x 9.33 inches
- Item Weight : 1.15 pounds
- Publisher : Portfolio Hardcover (August 30, 2012)
- Reading level : 18 and up
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B00D9T9IQG
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,889,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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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.
Artist or marketer or strategist = must-read.
The book opens with the story of Thomas Peterffy, one of the first people to get rich using algorithms. He is one of the major innovators in automated trading, developing algorithms that compare security factors and issue buy and sell orders whenever the market is right. This system is much more efficient than using traders in the pit, sidestepping the human element and performing Peterffy's trades at the speed of light. In 1987, Peterffy directly connected the NASDAQ terminal to his trading computer. This scheme was perfect until the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) shut down the operation, insisting that he couldn't tap directly into the NASDAQ cable, because it gave him an unfair advantage over human traders. Not wanting to lose millions of dollars, Peterffy wasted no time in making a machine that could read prices off the NASDAQ terminal using a camera, and type in orders via a machine that physically typed out commands on a keyboard. Because this technology was so new, there wasn't any way that the FTC could insist on having to get a human to type out commands.
Steiner shows how Algorithms are being used to write prescriptions to overcome the limitations of human doctors. These prescriptions will be handled by IBM's `Watson', a computer famous for beating Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings. Watson now has algorithms that can `read' your expressions and determine what a patient is trying to say. By overcoming bias and easy answers, Watson can find out if a patient has a rare disease that human doctors would not normally detect.
In another example, Steiner explains how Jason Brown, a guitar-playing mathematician, used algorithms and audio equipment to figure out the exact notes of the opening chord to the Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night." Until a few years ago, nobody had ever been able to figure out exactly what notes lead guitarist George Harrison was playing. Brown discovered that the recording was actually a combination of notes played simultaneously by Harrison and John Lennon on guitar, and George Martin on the piano. Now, Pandora and other music recommendation sites use the same kind of algorithms to figure out what kind of music you're likely to listen to.
The information is presented in lay terms for anybody interested in data and programming, and Steiner presents entertaining and inspiring anecdotes that build the background for the algorithms. Steiner's optimism about the future of us and algorithms along with his concise explanations make the book very enjoyable to read and easy to understand. `Automate This' does a great job of explaining the uses and possible innovations for algorithms, from Wall Street to music to social media.
Top reviews from other countries
That said, the book suffers from a couple of troubling flaws. First, the narrative almost exclusively focuses on the development and use of algorithms in the United States, as if it’s the font of all global computing and algorithmic innovation. And second, and more problematic, is the almost total absence of any critical analysis of algorithms, the logic and rational instrumentality underpinning their use, and their wider effects on social and economic systems. Sure, the use of algorithms has its benefits, but there are also all kinds of risks and social, political and economic consequences to their use, including wide-scale economic restructuring and job losses. Occasionally Steiner acknowledges some of these risks and effects, usually in a throwaway sentence, before quickly moving on, with the suggestion that the benefits out-weigh the risks and better algorithms will address most present shortcomings. No serious attention is paid to forms of algorithmic governance or their uses in surveillance, social sorting, filtering and profiling, nor the inherent contradictions in rendering labour redundant and therefore unable to buy the goods and services algorithms create. The result is an interesting and largely optimistic book that lacks analytic depth and critical reflection. Nonetheless I have recommended it to several folk, with the warning to keep that caveat in mind.
And the last remark. I do write these reviews with my professional background that I cannot and don't want to escape from - marketing. And as a marketer I bet the book would gain a lot from including a marketing dedicated chapter, as algorithms together with "Big Data" will clearly shape the future of mass marketing operation routines especially in businesses like telco, banking, retail and many more. "Algorithms applications in marketing" it's an idea for the book that I hereby publically proclaim in a hope of some talented writer getting inspired.
I read this book following on from "The Great Acceleration" (which I would recommend). This book was referenced a few times in the book, but past the key points mentioned in that book, this added little value.
If you're interested in automation and machine learning but not technical, this is a good overview, past that I'd look to other books to inspire you.
Esto no es sólo miel sobre hojuelas, ya que si bien te explica todo lo bueno de ellos, también te cuenta casos en los que los algoritmos han tenido algún mal funcionamiento y han alterado la información de la que estaban a cargo. Y esto aunque podría ser complicado de entender, el autor lo hace de una manera bastante sencilla para que la gente que no sepa nada de inteligencia artificial, programación, etc. Lo entienda sin mayor problema. Si bien de repente es algo técnico en su forma de explicar un problema, como lo va explicando, va esclareciendo las dudas que podrían haberse generado por la falta de conocimientos respectivos al área de la que se está hablando.
Es un libro orientado a todo el público y me parece que es bastante sencillo de leer porque te hace sumérgirte en él y casi no soltarlo hasta que lo termines, aparte de que tiene ejemplos con los que te puedes identificar, el primero y más sencillo es un ejemplo sobre como el algoritmo de Amazon tiene un problema que infla de sobremanera sus precios con el afán de hacer que los precios de algunos artículos estén parejos. Este ejemplo me atrapó porque dije "Claro. Sí me ha pasado... ¿Por qué pasa?" Y seguí leyendo.
Recomendado para un viaje en carro corto (2 a 4 horas).