How Algorithms Are Shaping Our lives And How We Can Stay in Control
Through the technology embedded in almost every major tech platform and every web-enabled device, algorithms and the artificial intelligence that underlies them make a staggering number of everyday decisions for us, from how we purchase products (Amazon’s “People who bought this also bought”), select movies to watch (Netflix’s recommendations), to whom we date or marry (Shaadi.com or Tinder matches) and where we invest our money (Paytm). We’ve even delegated life-and-death decisions to algorithms–decisions once made by doctors, pilots, and judges. Although AI-based algorithms contribute vastly to human progress, their unpredictability represents a great threat as well.
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, deeper, more nuanced 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—that is, like you and me.
Hosanagar draws on his experiences designing algorithms professionally–as well as on history, computer science, and psychology–to explore how algorithms work and why they occasionally go rogue, what drives our trust in them, and the many ramifications of algorithmic decision-making. He examines episodes like Microsoft’s chatbot Tay, which was designed to converse on social media like a teenage girl, but instead turned sexist and racist; the fatal accidents of self-driving cars; and even our own common, and often frustrating, experiences on services like Netflix and Amazon. A Human’s Guide to Machine Intelligence is an entertaining and provocative look at one of the most important developments of our time and a practical user’s guide to this first wave of practical artificial intelligence.
About the Author
Kartik Hosanagar is the John C. Hower Professor of Technology and Digital Business and a professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The co-founder of four different ventures, he was recognized in 2011 by Poets & Quants as one of the “Top 40 Business Professors Under 40.” His writing has appeared in Wired, Forbes, and the Harvard Business Review, and his past consulting and executive education clients include Google, American Express, Citigroup and SunTrust Bank. Hosanagar earned his PhD in Management Science and Information Systems from Carnegie Mellon University.