Our increasing reliance on technology and the Internet has opened a window for mathematicians and data researchers to gaze through into our lives. Using the data they are constantly collecting about where we travel, where we shop, what we buy, what interests us, they can begin to predict our daily habits, and increasingly we are relinquishing our decision making to algorithms - are we giving up this up too easily?
The media report daily on some new way our privacy is being violated, but without understanding what mathematics can and can't do it is impossible to get a handle on how it is changing our lives.
Outnumbered is a journey to the dark side of mathematics, from how it dictates our social media activities to our travel routes. David Sumpter investigates whether mathematics is sucking the mystery out of life, making everything too predictable and crossing dangerous lines when it comes to what we can make decisions about.
This book shows how maths impacts all parts of our lives: from the algorithms that decide whom we interact with to the statistical methods that categorise us as potential criminals. It tests financial algorithms that purport to generate money from nothing and reveals that we are constantly manipulated by the maths used by others, from algorithms choosing the news we hear to automated hospital waiting lists deciding whether we receive treatment.
Using interviews with those people working at the cutting edge of mathematical research, Outnumbered explains how maths and stats work in the real world and what we should and shouldn't worry about.