‘One of the best books yet written on data and algorithms. . .deserves a place on the bestseller charts.’ (The Times)
You are accused of a crime. Who would you rather determined your fate – a human or an algorithm?
An algorithm is more consistent and less prone to error of judgement. Yet a human can look you in the eye before passing sentence.
Welcome to the age of the algorithm, the story of a not-too-distant future where machines rule supreme, making important decisions – in healthcare, transport, finance, security, what we watch, where we go even who we send to prison. So how much should we rely on them? What kind of future do we want?
Hannah Fry takes us on a tour of the good, the bad and the downright ugly of the algorithms that surround us. In Hello World she lifts the lid on their inner workings, demonstrates their power, exposes their limitations, and examines whether they really are an improvement on the humans they are replacing.
A BBC RADIO 4: BOOK OF THE WEEK
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2018 BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE AND 2018 ROYAL SOCIETY SCIENCE BOOK PRIZE
Fry, a University College London math professor, invites readers to examine how algorithms affect their lives. She guides her audience through understanding what algorithms are "simply a series of logical instructions that show how to accomplish a task" and thoughtfully commends on how they are used, such as in the fields of medicine, criminal justice, art, and transportation, to help people make more consistent decisions and to improve public safety. Fry maintains that the most important consideration isn't the technical sophistication and complexity of an algorithm, but the reliability and trustworthiness of the people in charge of it. She cautions that "data and algorithms don't just have the power to predict our shopping habits" but also to "rob someone of their freedom." To this end, she describes instances in which the use of algorithms has gone awry, such as when an FBI expert's confidence in facial recognition technology led to a man being held in a maximum security cell for a crime he didn't commit. These case studies are coupled with difficult questions about how algorithms should be used: for instance, is society willing to give up individualized justice for consistency in sentencing? Throughout, Fry counsels the use of algorithms to complement and enhance human performance, not replace it.This is an intriguing take on a timely topic.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Well written but not critical eniugh
A well written book about algorithms and big data but too glowing and optimistic. Fry doesn’t cover the downsides enough, such as the use of big data by authoritarian regimes to crush descent or the chilling self-oppressive self-censoring effect of being monitoring all the time. The book lacks the kind of balance that is needed.