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Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World

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Walter Dixon

7 Hours 42 Minutes

Gildan Media

September 2012

Audio Book 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 are driving cars, penning haiku, and writing 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 this minute.

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  • Sherry L.

    Excellent, engaging, informative. Throughly enjoyed this book.i personally didn’t feel it started out slow, perhaps because I never had any pre-existing knowledge of algorithms so I found the whole book incredibly interesting. Narration was perfect.

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  • Victor D.

    A basic introduction to AI through a bunch of anecdotes.

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  • viola

    Interesting read about the role of algorithms in our lives and future trends. The beginning is a bit slow but the pace picks up as the author moves past Wall Street and music industry.

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  • B. K. J.

    Impeccable research & reporting, but stocks & music minutia made for slow beginning. However, pace quickened & I was hooked as surely as we’re all being hooked by algorithmic bots every day! Recommended reading for every high school student!

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  • Bobby D.

    Decent book with some really interesting case studies.

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  • Osman Raidhan

    Not gonna lie feel violated by algorithms haha. Book is in depth on the history and possible future of algorithms and its kinda scary, to pin humans down as binary and easy to understand is untrue in my opinion but who knows what the future holds!

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  • Gina Welsh

    Digestible and broad content, informative. Great introduction to the world of algorithms.

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  • Anonymous

    Very engaging.

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