Hello World (Pen­guin), by Han­nah Fry

Paradise - - Living | Books -

“Al­go­rithm: a pro­ce­dure or for­mula for solv­ing a prob­lem, based on con­duct­ing a se­quence of spec­i­fied ac­tions.” Dr Han­nah Fry is an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in math­e­mat­ics at Univer­sity Col­lege London. She works along­side physi­cists, com­puter sci­en­tists, ar­chi­tects and ge­og­ra­phers to study pat­terns in hu­man be­hav­iour. She is also a me­dia dar­ling, hav­ing ap­peared in BBC doc­u­men­taries in­clud­ing Cli­mate Change by Num­bers and Cal­cu­lat­ing Ada: The Count­ess of Com­put­ing. In this book, Fry takes read­ers in­side the al­go­rithms that shape the in­sti­tu­tions of our ev­ery­day lives to re­veal how they work, their ben­e­fits, lim­i­ta­tions and po­ten­tial. If you were, for ex­am­ple, ac­cused of a crime, who would you pre­fer to de­ter­mine your fu­ture – an al­go­rithm or a fel­low hu­man be­ing? The al­go­rithm will be more con­sis­tent, less prone to er­ror, but a hu­man will be able to look you in the eye be­fore de­ter­min­ing your fate. Ac­cord­ing to Fry, this is just one dilemma of many we may face in the age where al­go­rithms rule over im­por­tant de­ci­sions in health­care, crime, trans­port and money. Ac­cord­ing to Tim Har­ford, author of The Un­der­cover Econ­o­mist, com­put­ers used to be tools, then they were toys, and now they’re all around us. You couldn’t ask for a bet­ter guide to this be­wil­der­ing new world than Han­nah Fry.

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