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Title Weapons of Math Destruction
Author Cathy O'Neil
Publisher Broadway Books
Release Date 2016
Category BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Total Pages 259
ISBN 9780553418835
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

Longlisted for the National Book Award New York Times Bestseller A former Wall Street quant sounds an alarm on the mathematical models that pervade modern life -- and threaten to rip apart our social fabric We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives--where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance--are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated. But as Cathy O'Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they're wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination: If a poor student can't get a loan because a lending model deems him too risky (by virtue of his zip code), he's then cut off from the kind of education that could pull him out of poverty, and a vicious spiral ensues. Models are propping up the lucky and punishing the downtrodden, creating a "toxic cocktail for democracy." Welcome to the dark side of Big Data. Tracing the arc of a person's life, O'Neil exposes the black box models that shape our future, both as individuals and as a society. These "weapons of math destruction" score teachers and students, sort r sum s, grant (or deny) loans, evaluate workers, target voters, set parole, and monitor our health. O'Neil calls on modelers to take more responsibility for their algorithms and on policy makers to regulate their use. But in the end, it's up to us to become more savvy about the models that govern our lives. This important book empowers us to ask the tough questions, uncover the truth, and demand change. -- Longlist for National Book Award (Non-Fiction) -- Goodreads, semi-finalist for the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards (Science and Technology) -- Kirkus, Best Books of 2016 -- New York Times, 100 Notable Books of 2016 (Non-Fiction) -- The Guardian, Best Books of 2016 -- WBUR's "On Point," Best Books of 2016: Staff Picks -- Boston Globe, Best Books of 2016, Non-Fiction

Title Weapons of Math Destruction
Author Cathy O'Neil
Publisher Crown
Release Date 2016-09-06
Category Political Science
Total Pages 288
ISBN 9780553418828
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A former Wall Street quant sounds the alarm on Big Data and the mathematical models that threaten to rip apart our social fabric—with a new afterword “A manual for the twenty-first-century citizen . . . relevant and urgent.”—Financial Times NATIONAL BOOK AWARD LONGLIST • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • The Boston Globe • Wired • Fortune • Kirkus Reviews • The Guardian • Nature • On Point We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives—where we go to school, whether we can get a job or a loan, how much we pay for health insurance—are being made not by humans, but by machines. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules. But as mathematician and data scientist Cathy O’Neil reveals, the mathematical models being used today are unregulated and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination—propping up the lucky, punishing the downtrodden, and undermining our democracy in the process. Welcome to the dark side of Big Data.

Title Weapons of Math Destruction
Author Cathy O'Neil
Publisher Penguin UK
Release Date 2016-09-06
Category Technology & Engineering
Total Pages 272
ISBN 9780141985428
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

A former Wall Street quant sounds an alarm on the mathematical models that pervade modern life - and threaten to rip apart our social fabric We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives - where we go to school, whether we get a loan, how much we pay for insurance - are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated. And yet, as Cathy O'Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and incontestable, even when they're wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination. Tracing the arc of a person's life, O'Neil exposes the black box models that shape our future, both as individuals and as a society. These "weapons of math destruction" score teachers and students, sort CVs, grant or deny loans, evaluate workers, target voters, and monitor our health. O'Neil calls on modellers to take more responsibility for their algorithms and on policy makers to regulate their use. But in the end, it's up to us to become more savvy about the models that govern our lives. This important book empowers us to ask the tough questions, uncover the truth, and demand change.

Doing Data Science by Cathy O'Neil

Title Doing Data Science
Author Cathy O'Neil
Publisher "O'Reilly Media, Inc."
Release Date 2013-10-09
Category Computers
Total Pages 408
ISBN 9781449363895
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

Now that people are aware that data can make the difference in an election or a business model, data science as an occupation is gaining ground. But how can you get started working in a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary field that’s so clouded in hype? This insightful book, based on Columbia University’s Introduction to Data Science class, tells you what you need to know. In many of these chapter-long lectures, data scientists from companies such as Google, Microsoft, and eBay share new algorithms, methods, and models by presenting case studies and the code they use. If you’re familiar with linear algebra, probability, and statistics, and have programming experience, this book is an ideal introduction to data science. Topics include: Statistical inference, exploratory data analysis, and the data science process Algorithms Spam filters, Naive Bayes, and data wrangling Logistic regression Financial modeling Recommendation engines and causality Data visualization Social networks and data journalism Data engineering, MapReduce, Pregel, and Hadoop Doing Data Science is collaboration between course instructor Rachel Schutt, Senior VP of Data Science at News Corp, and data science consultant Cathy O’Neil, a senior data scientist at Johnson Research Labs, who attended and blogged about the course.

The Shame Machine by Cathy O'Neil

Title The Shame Machine
Author Cathy O'Neil
Publisher Penguin UK
Release Date 2022-03-22
Category Social Science
Total Pages 272
ISBN 9781802060324
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

'With moral clarity and powerful storytelling, Cathy O'Neil reverse engineers the 'shame machine,' revealing its inner workings and inciting nothing short of a cultural reckoning that has the potential to blow this machine to bits' - Ruha Benjamin Shame is being weaponized by governments and corporations to attack the most vulnerable. It's time to fight back Shame is a powerful and sometimes useful tool. When we publicly shame corrupt politicians, abusive celebrities, or predatory corporations, we reinforce values of fairness and justice. But as best-selling author Cathy O'Neil argues in this revelatory book, shaming has taken a new and dangerous turn. It is increasingly being weaponized -- used as a way to shift responsibility for social problems from institutions to individuals. Shaming children for not being able to afford school lunches or adults for not being able to find work lets us off the hook as a society. After all, why pay higher taxes to fund programmes for people who are fundamentally unworthy? O'Neil explores the machinery behind all this shame, showing how governments, corporations and the healthcare system capitalize on it. There are damning stories of rehab clinics, reentry programs, drug and diet companies, and social media platforms -- all of which profit from 'punching down' on the vulnerable. Woven throughout The Shame Machine is the story of O'Neil's own struggle with body image and her recent weight-loss surgery, which awakened her to the systematic shaming of fat people seeking medical care. With clarity and nuance, O'Neil dissects the relationship between shame and power. Whom does the system serve? How do current incentive structures perpetuate the shaming cycle? And, most important, how can we all fight back?

Data Feminism by Catherine D'Ignazio

Title Data Feminism
Author Catherine D'Ignazio
Publisher MIT Press
Release Date 2020-03-31
Category Social Science
Total Pages 328
ISBN 9780262358538
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

A new way of thinking about data science and data ethics that is informed by the ideas of intersectional feminism. Today, data science is a form of power. It has been used to expose injustice, improve health outcomes, and topple governments. But it has also been used to discriminate, police, and surveil. This potential for good, on the one hand, and harm, on the other, makes it essential to ask: Data science by whom? Data science for whom? Data science with whose interests in mind? The narratives around big data and data science are overwhelmingly white, male, and techno-heroic. In Data Feminism, Catherine D'Ignazio and Lauren Klein present a new way of thinking about data science and data ethics—one that is informed by intersectional feminist thought. Illustrating data feminism in action, D'Ignazio and Klein show how challenges to the male/female binary can help challenge other hierarchical (and empirically wrong) classification systems. They explain how, for example, an understanding of emotion can expand our ideas about effective data visualization, and how the concept of invisible labor can expose the significant human efforts required by our automated systems. And they show why the data never, ever “speak for themselves.” Data Feminism offers strategies for data scientists seeking to learn how feminism can help them work toward justice, and for feminists who want to focus their efforts on the growing field of data science. But Data Feminism is about much more than gender. It is about power, about who has it and who doesn't, and about how those differentials of power can be challenged and changed.

Title The Oxford Handbook of Ethics of AI
Author Markus Dirk Dubber
Publisher Oxford Handbooks
Release Date 2020
Category Business & Economics
Total Pages 896
ISBN 9780190067397
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

This interdisciplinary and international handbook captures and shapes much needed reflection on normative frameworks for the production, application, and use of artificial intelligence in all spheres of individual, commercial, social, and public life.

Title Technically Wrong Sexist Apps Biased Algorithms and Other Threats of Toxic Tech
Author Sara Wachter-Boettcher
Publisher W. W. Norton & Company
Release Date 2017-10-10
Category Computers
Total Pages 240
ISBN 9780393634648
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

“An entertaining romp that tells us where and why the tech industry, once America’s darling, went wrong, and what it might do to recover its good graces.” —Tim Wu, author of The Master Switch Buying groceries, tracking our health, finding a date: whatever we want to do, odds are that we can now do it online. But few of us realize just how many oversights, biases, and downright ethical nightmares are baked inside the tech products we use every day. It’s time we change that. In Technically Wrong, Sara Wachter-Boettcher demystifies the tech industry, leaving those of us on the other side of the screen better prepared to make informed choices about the services we use—and to demand more from the companies behind them. A Wired Top Tech Book of the Year A Fast Company Best Business and Leadership Book of the Year

Shape by Jordan Ellenberg

Title Shape
Author Jordan Ellenberg
Publisher Penguin
Release Date 2021-05-25
Category Mathematics
Total Pages 480
ISBN 9781984879066
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

An instant New York Times Bestseller! “Unreasonably entertaining . . . reveals how geometric thinking can allow for everything from fairer American elections to better pandemic planning.” —The New York Times From the New York Times-bestselling author of How Not to Be Wrong—himself a world-class geometer—a far-ranging exploration of the power of geometry, which turns out to help us think better about practically everything. How should a democracy choose its representatives? How can you stop a pandemic from sweeping the world? How do computers learn to play Go, and why is learning Go so much easier for them than learning to read a sentence? Can ancient Greek proportions predict the stock market? (Sorry, no.) What should your kids learn in school if they really want to learn to think? All these are questions about geometry. For real. If you're like most people, geometry is a sterile and dimly remembered exercise you gladly left behind in the dust of ninth grade, along with your braces and active romantic interest in pop singers. If you recall any of it, it's plodding through a series of miniscule steps only to prove some fact about triangles that was obvious to you in the first place. That's not geometry. Okay, it is geometry, but only a tiny part, which has as much to do with geometry in all its flush modern richness as conjugating a verb has to do with a great novel. Shape reveals the geometry underneath some of the most important scientific, political, and philosophical problems we face. Geometry asks: Where are things? Which things are near each other? How can you get from one thing to another thing? Those are important questions. The word "geometry"comes from the Greek for "measuring the world." If anything, that's an undersell. Geometry doesn't just measure the world—it explains it. Shape shows us how.

The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser

Title The Filter Bubble
Author Eli Pariser
Publisher Penguin
Release Date 2011-05-12
Category Technology & Engineering
Total Pages 304
ISBN 9781101515129
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

An eye-opening account of how the hidden rise of personalization on the Internet is controlling-and limiting-the information we consume. In December 2009, Google began customizing its search results for each user. Instead of giving you the most broadly popular result, Google now tries to predict what you are most likely to click on. According to MoveOn.org board president Eli Pariser, Google's change in policy is symptomatic of the most significant shift to take place on the Web in recent years-the rise of personalization. In this groundbreaking investigation of the new hidden Web, Pariser uncovers how this growing trend threatens to control how we consume and share information as a society-and reveals what we can do about it. Though the phenomenon has gone largely undetected until now, personalized filters are sweeping the Web, creating individual universes of information for each of us. Facebook-the primary news source for an increasing number of Americans-prioritizes the links it believes will appeal to you so that if you are a liberal, you can expect to see only progressive links. Even an old-media bastion like The Washington Post devotes the top of its home page to a news feed with the links your Facebook friends are sharing. Behind the scenes a burgeoning industry of data companies is tracking your personal information to sell to advertisers, from your political leanings to the color you painted your living room to the hiking boots you just browsed on Zappos. In a personalized world, we will increasingly be typed and fed only news that is pleasant, familiar, and confirms our beliefs-and because these filters are invisible, we won't know what is being hidden from us. Our past interests will determine what we are exposed to in the future, leaving less room for the unexpected encounters that spark creativity, innovation, and the democratic exchange of ideas. While we all worry that the Internet is eroding privacy or shrinking our attention spans, Pariser uncovers a more pernicious and far- reaching trend on the Internet and shows how we can- and must-change course. With vivid detail and remarkable scope, The Filter Bubble reveals how personalization undermines the Internet's original purpose as an open platform for the spread of ideas and could leave us all in an isolated, echoing world.

Title The Alignment Problem Machine Learning and Human Values
Author Brian Christian
Publisher W. W. Norton & Company
Release Date 2020-10-06
Category Science
Total Pages 496
ISBN 9780393635836
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

A jaw-dropping exploration of everything that goes wrong when we build AI systems and the movement to fix them. Today’s “machine-learning” systems, trained by data, are so effective that we’ve invited them to see and hear for us—and to make decisions on our behalf. But alarm bells are ringing. Recent years have seen an eruption of concern as the field of machine learning advances. When the systems we attempt to teach will not, in the end, do what we want or what we expect, ethical and potentially existential risks emerge. Researchers call this the alignment problem. Systems cull résumés until, years later, we discover that they have inherent gender biases. Algorithms decide bail and parole—and appear to assess Black and White defendants differently. We can no longer assume that our mortgage application, or even our medical tests, will be seen by human eyes. And as autonomous vehicles share our streets, we are increasingly putting our lives in their hands. The mathematical and computational models driving these changes range in complexity from something that can fit on a spreadsheet to a complex system that might credibly be called “artificial intelligence.” They are steadily replacing both human judgment and explicitly programmed software. In best-selling author Brian Christian’s riveting account, we meet the alignment problem’s “first-responders,” and learn their ambitious plan to solve it before our hands are completely off the wheel. In a masterful blend of history and on-the ground reporting, Christian traces the explosive growth in the field of machine learning and surveys its current, sprawling frontier. Readers encounter a discipline finding its legs amid exhilarating and sometimes terrifying progress. Whether they—and we—succeed or fail in solving the alignment problem will be a defining human story. The Alignment Problem offers an unflinching reckoning with humanity’s biases and blind spots, our own unstated assumptions and often contradictory goals. A dazzlingly interdisciplinary work, it takes a hard look not only at our technology but at our culture—and finds a story by turns harrowing and hopeful.

Too Smart by Jathan Sadowski

Title Too Smart
Author Jathan Sadowski
Publisher MIT Press
Release Date 2020-03-24
Category Social Science
Total Pages 256
ISBN 9780262538589
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

Who benefits from smart technology? Whose interests are served when we trade our personal data for convenience and connectivity? Smart technology is everywhere: smart umbrellas that light up when rain is in the forecast; smart cars that relieve drivers of the drudgery of driving; smart toothbrushes that send your dental hygiene details to the cloud. Nothing is safe from smartification. In Too Smart, Jathan Sadowski looks at the proliferation of smart stuff in our lives and asks whether the tradeoff—exchanging our personal data for convenience and connectivity—is worth it. Who benefits from smart technology? Sadowski explains how data, once the purview of researchers and policy wonks, has become a form of capital. Smart technology, he argues, is driven by the dual imperatives of digital capitalism: extracting data from, and expanding control over, everything and everybody. He looks at three domains colonized by smart technologies' collection and control systems: the smart self, the smart home, and the smart city. The smart self involves more than self-tracking of steps walked and calories burned; it raises questions about what others do with our data and how they direct our behavior—whether or not we want them to. The smart home collects data about our habits that offer business a window into our domestic spaces. And the smart city, where these systems have space to grow, offers military-grade surveillance capabilities to local authorities. Technology gets smart from our data. We may enjoy the conveniences we get in return (the refrigerator says we're out of milk!), but, Sadowski argues, smart technology advances the interests of corporate technocratic power—and will continue to do so unless we demand oversight and ownership of our data.

Title Quantum Theory Groups and Representations
Author Peter Woit
Publisher Springer
Release Date 2017-11-01
Category Science
Total Pages 668
ISBN 9783319646121
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

This text systematically presents the basics of quantum mechanics, emphasizing the role of Lie groups, Lie algebras, and their unitary representations. The mathematical structure of the subject is brought to the fore, intentionally avoiding significant overlap with material from standard physics courses in quantum mechanics and quantum field theory. The level of presentation is attractive to mathematics students looking to learn about both quantum mechanics and representation theory, while also appealing to physics students who would like to know more about the mathematics underlying the subject. This text showcases the numerous differences between typical mathematical and physical treatments of the subject. The latter portions of the book focus on central mathematical objects that occur in the Standard Model of particle physics, underlining the deep and intimate connections between mathematics and the physical world. While an elementary physics course of some kind would be helpful to the reader, no specific background in physics is assumed, making this book accessible to students with a grounding in multivariable calculus and linear algebra. Many exercises are provided to develop the reader's understanding of and facility in quantum-theoretical concepts and calculations.

Hand To Mouth by Linda Tirado

Title Hand to Mouth
Author Linda Tirado
Publisher Penguin
Release Date 2014-10-02
Category Biography & Autobiography
Total Pages 224
ISBN 9780698175280
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

One of the Best 5 Books of 2014 — Esquire "I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time. Well, not this book, because I never imagined that the book I was waiting for would be so devastatingly smart and funny, so consistently entertaining and unflinchingly on target. In fact, I would like to have written it myself – if, that is, I had lived Linda Tirado’s life and extracted all the hard lessons she has learned. I am the author of Nickel and Dimed, which tells the story of my own brief attempt, as a semi-undercover journalist, to survive on low-wage retail and service jobs. Tirado is the real thing." —from the foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich, New York Times bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed We in America have certain ideas of what it means to be poor. Linda Tirado, in her signature brutally honest yet personable voice, takes all of these preconceived notions and smashes them to bits. She articulates not only what it is to be working poor in America (yes, you can be poor and live in a house and have a job, even two), but what poverty is truly like—on all levels. Frankly and boldly, Tirado discusses openly how she went from lower-middle class, to sometimes middle class, to poor and everything in between, and in doing so reveals why “poor people don’t always behave the way middle-class America thinks they should.”

Title The Internet of Us Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data
Author Michael P. Lynch
Publisher W. W. Norton & Company
Release Date 2016-03-21
Category Philosophy
Total Pages 256
ISBN 9781631491863
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

"An intelligent book that struggles honestly with important questions: Is the net turning us into passive knowers? Is it degrading our ability to reason? What can we do about this?" —David Weinberger, Los Angeles Review of Books We used to say "seeing is believing"; now, googling is believing. With 24/7 access to nearly all of the world’s information at our fingertips, we no longer trek to the library or the encyclopedia shelf in search of answers. We just open our browsers, type in a few keywords and wait for the information to come to us. Now firmly established as a pioneering work of modern philosophy, The Internet of Us has helped revolutionize our understanding of what it means to be human in the digital age. Indeed, demonstrating that knowledge based on reason plays an essential role in society and that there is more to “knowing” than just acquiring information, leading philosopher Michael P. Lynch shows how our digital way of life makes us value some ways of processing information over others, and thus risks distorting the greatest traits of mankind. Charting a path from Plato’s cave to Google Glass, the result is a necessary guide on how to navigate the philosophical quagmire that is the "Internet of Things."

Title The Mathematical Corporation
Author Josh Sullivan
Publisher PublicAffairs
Release Date 2017-06-06
Category Business & Economics
Total Pages 304
ISBN 9781610397896
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

The most powerful weapon in business today is the alliance between the mathematical smarts of machines and the imaginative human intellect of great leaders. Together they make the mathematical corporation, the business model of the future. We are at a once-in-a-decade breaking point similar to the quality revolution of the 1980s and the dawn of the internet age in the 1990s: leaders must transform how they run their organizations, or competitors will bring them crashing to earth--often overnight. Mathematical corporations--the organizations that will master the future--will outcompete high-flying rivals by merging the best of human ingenuity with machine intelligence. While smart machines are weapon number one for organizations, leaders are still the drivers of breakthroughs. Only they can ask crucial questions to capitalize on business opportunities newly discovered in oceans of data. This dynamic combination will make possible the fulfillment of missions that once seemed out of reach, even impossible to attain. Josh Sullivan and Angela Zutavern's extraordinary examples include the entrepreneur who upended preventive health care, the oceanographer who transformed fisheries management, and the pharmaceutical company that used algorithm-driven optimization to boost vaccine yields. Together they offer a profoundly optimistic vision for a dazzling new phase in business, and a playbook for how smart companies can manage the essential combination of human and machine.

Title Algorithms and Autonomy
Author Alan Rubel
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Release Date 2021-05-20
Category Computers
Total Pages 250
ISBN 9781108841818
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

This book examines how algorithms in criminal justice, education, housing, elections and beyond affect autonomy, freedom, and democracy. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.

Artificial Unintelligence by Meredith Broussard

Title Artificial Unintelligence
Author Meredith Broussard
Publisher MIT Press
Release Date 2019-01-29
Category Computers
Total Pages 246
ISBN 9780262537018
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

A guide to understanding the inner workings and outer limits of technology and why we should never assume that computers always get it right. In Artificial Unintelligence, Meredith Broussard argues that our collective enthusiasm for applying computer technology to every aspect of life has resulted in a tremendous amount of poorly designed systems. We are so eager to do everything digitally—hiring, driving, paying bills, even choosing romantic partners—that we have stopped demanding that our technology actually work. Broussard, a software developer and journalist, reminds us that there are fundamental limits to what we can (and should) do with technology. With this book, she offers a guide to understanding the inner workings and outer limits of technology—and issues a warning that we should never assume that computers always get things right. Making a case against technochauvinism—the belief that technology is always the solution—Broussard argues that it's just not true that social problems would inevitably retreat before a digitally enabled Utopia. To prove her point, she undertakes a series of adventures in computer programming. She goes for an alarming ride in a driverless car, concluding “the cyborg future is not coming any time soon”; uses artificial intelligence to investigate why students can't pass standardized tests; deploys machine learning to predict which passengers survived the Titanic disaster; and attempts to repair the U.S. campaign finance system by building AI software. If we understand the limits of what we can do with technology, Broussard tells us, we can make better choices about what we should do with it to make the world better for everyone.

In Ai We Trust by Helga Nowotny

Title In AI We Trust
Author Helga Nowotny
Publisher John Wiley & Sons
Release Date 2021-08-19
Category Science
Total Pages 200
ISBN 9781509548828
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

One of the most persistent concerns about the future is whether it will be dominated by the predictive algorithms of AI – and, if so, what this will mean for our behaviour, for our institutions and for what it means to be human. AI changes our experience of time and the future and challenges our identities, yet we are blinded by its efficiency and fail to understand how it affects us. At the heart of our trust in AI lies a paradox: we leverage AI to increase our control over the future and uncertainty, while at the same time the performativity of AI, the power it has to make us act in the ways it predicts, reduces our agency over the future. This happens when we forget that that we humans have created the digital technologies to which we attribute agency. These developments also challenge the narrative of progress, which played such a central role in modernity and is based on the hubris of total control. We are now moving into an era where this control is limited as AI monitors our actions, posing the threat of surveillance, but also offering the opportunity to reappropriate control and transform it into care. As we try to adjust to a world in which algorithms, robots and avatars play an ever-increasing role, we need to understand better the limitations of AI and how their predictions affect our agency, while at the same time having the courage to embrace the uncertainty of the future.

Title What Algorithms Want
Author Ed Finn
Publisher MIT Press
Release Date 2017-03-10
Category Computers
Total Pages 257
ISBN 9780262035927
Language English, Spanish, and French
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Book Summary:

The gap between theoretical ideas and messy reality, as seen in Neal Stephenson, Adam Smith, and Star Trek. We depend on—we believe in—algorithms to help us get a ride, choose which book to buy, execute a mathematical proof. It's as if we think of code as a magic spell, an incantation to reveal what we need to know and even what we want. Humans have always believed that certain invocations—the marriage vow, the shaman's curse—do not merely describe the world but make it. Computation casts a cultural shadow that is shaped by this long tradition of magical thinking. In this book, Ed Finn considers how the algorithm—in practical terms, “a method for solving a problem”—has its roots not only in mathematical logic but also in cybernetics, philosophy, and magical thinking. Finn argues that the algorithm deploys concepts from the idealized space of computation in a messy reality, with unpredictable and sometimes fascinating results. Drawing on sources that range from Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash to Diderot's Encyclopédie, from Adam Smith to the Star Trek computer, Finn explores the gap between theoretical ideas and pragmatic instructions. He examines the development of intelligent assistants like Siri, the rise of algorithmic aesthetics at Netflix, Ian Bogost's satiric Facebook game Cow Clicker, and the revolutionary economics of Bitcoin. He describes Google's goal of anticipating our questions, Uber's cartoon maps and black box accounting, and what Facebook tells us about programmable value, among other things. If we want to understand the gap between abstraction and messy reality, Finn argues, we need to build a model of “algorithmic reading” and scholarship that attends to process, spearheading a new experimental humanities.