Through the technology embedded in almost every major tech platform and web-enabled device, algorithms make a staggering number of everyday decisions for us. In his new book, Kartik Hosanagar surveys the brave new world of algorithmic decision-making and reveals the potentially dangerous biases they can give rise to as they increasingly run our lives. He makes the compelling case that we need to arm ourselves with a better, understanding of the phenomenon of algorithmic thinking. And he gives us a route in, pointing out that algorithms often think a lot like their creators.
"Algorithms are in use all across the digital landscape to analyze data and determine preferences, and their suffusion of daily life raises questions of reliability and what impact they'll have on our future. In examining the effect of these programs, professor of technology Hosanagar takes readers through the origins of artificial intelligence, from simple algorithms to today's deep-learning machines. Looking at the interactions between humans and algorithms, he explains which factors influence their utility and our trust in them. Self-driving cars, diagnostic tools, and stock-trading AIs are just a few of the examples of applications that will shape human life going forward, but Hosanagar also focuses on algorithms in particular, those used in social media that affect us on a more personal level. Especially relevant to current political hot topics, Hosanagar's outstanding introduction to algorithms will appeal to and inform readers interested in learning more about the systems that determine what they're exposed to online.--Kenneth Otani Copyright 2010 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Hosanagar, a Wharton professor of technology and digital business, attempts, with mixed success, to explain his field to a lay audience impacted by "algorithmic decision-making." He covers overly familiar terrain to begin with, discussing the increasing role of artificial intelligence in online commerce, social media, and news reporting to demonstrate the topic's importance. Where he adds value is in using his expertise to discuss how algorithms work, and how the designs of some, such as Amazon and Netflix's personalization algorithms, reduce diversity of choice for consumers. The inherent complexity of algorithms, however, presents an obstacle to comprehension that Hosanagar never fully overcomes. In a concluding section, Hosanagar proposes a bill of rights for people affected by algorithms (that is to say, almost everyone), a well-intentioned idea that comes across as impractical. Making accessible to the average person a "description of the data used to train" algorithms and "an explanation regarding the procedures used by the algorithms," to pick two of his suggestions, would be a daunting task. Nonetheless, Hosanagar deserves credit for valiantly attempting, throughout this thoughtful treatise, to widen understanding of a technology central to modern society. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
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