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From Facebook and Google to Fake News and Filter-bubbles - The Algorithms That Control Our Lives
'Fascinating' Financial Times
Algorithms are running our society, and as the Cambridge Analytica story has revealed, we don't really know what they are up to.
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 and what interests us, they can begin to predict our daily habits. But how reliable is this data? Without understanding what mathematics can and can't do, it is impossible to get a handle on how it is changing our lives.
In this book, David Sumpter takes an algorithm-strewn journey to the dark side of mathematics. He investigates the equations that analyse us, influence us and will (maybe) become like us, answering questions such as:
Who are Cambridge Analytica? And what are they doing with our data?
How does Facebook build a 100-dimensional picture of your personality?
Are Google algorithms racist and sexist?
Why do election predictions fail so drastically?
Are algorithms that are designed to find criminals making terrible mistakes?
What does the future hold as we relinquish our decision-making to machines?
Featuring interviews with those working at the cutting edge of algorithm research, including Alex Kogan from the Cambridge Analytica story, along with a healthy dose of mathematical self-experiment, Outnumbered will explain how mathematics and statistics work in the real world, and what we should and shouldn't worry about.
A lot of people feel outnumbered by algorithms - don't be one of them.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
Sumpter's [...] expertise and sceptical approach are brought alive with fascinating examples including Banksy and Space Invaders. * Financial Times * [David Sumpter] reckons with the sheer scales of the systems that manage much of our digital lives. Step by step he details the maths that underpins each of these systems, laying out the straightforward, if advanced, calculations that govern their outcomes - and their limitations. * Guardian * An important message. * Popular Science * As millions slowly wake up to the pitfalls of handing over their digital lives, Sumpter combines engaging hands-on demonstrations with stories from insiders to shed light on precisely how data alchemists seek to persuade and predict us, and whether their almighty algorithms are all they're hyped up to be. -- John Burn-Murdoch, data journalist, Financial Times You've heard about these algorithms that run your life and you want to know two things: how exactly do they work? And how much should I worry? With a refreshing mix of in-depth knowledge and personal honesty, David Sumpter answers both those questions. * Timandra Harkness, writer, comedian and broadcaster, and author of Big Data * A stellar book about the application of mathematics to the real world. Each chapter tells a fascinating story, and David's warm and witty style demonstrates that a mathematician can be so much more than just a machine for turning coffee into theorems. A riveting read. -- Kit Yates, Senior Lecturer, Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Bath