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Hello World by Hannah Fry

Published March 2, 2019

Hello World by Hannah Fry

Book info

  • Title Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms
  • Author Hannah Fry
  • Year 2018
  • Genres Nonfiction, Science, Technology, Psychology

You are accused of a crime. Who would you rather determined your fate – a human or an algorithm? An algorithm is more consistent and less prone to error of judgement. Yet a human can look you in the eye before passing sentence. Welcome to the age of the algorithm, the story of a not-too-distant future where machines rule supreme, making important decisions – in healthcare, transport, finance, security, what we watch, where we go even who we send to prison. So how much should we rely on them? What kind of future do we want? Hannah Fry takes us on a tour of the good, the bad and the downright ugly of the algorithms that surround us. In Hello World she lifts the lid on their inner workings, demonstrates their power, exposes their limitations, and examines whether they really are an improvement on the humans they are replacing.

Review

I listened to the audiobook of this, read by Hannah Fry herself, and I’m glad I chose to do it this way because I feel like it needed the calm explanatory voice of Dr Fry, with her enviable ability to get across quite complex things in a simple and efficient manner. The crux of the book is exploring how the many algorithms that affect our daily lives are flawed and what we might need to consider going about our day to day business as we use them.

I thought it was a thorough book in terms of subject matter, covering topics I hadn’t really considered such as police prediction tools and the image recognition going on in pathology labs. But equally, I felt it was lacking a little on conclusions. I appreciate this is an evolving and quickly changing subject, but I felt like I could have done with a few more concrete opinions than simply presenting the facts.

Having said that, though, there is a lot of use in presenting these facts anyway, and I think it will be eye opening to a lot of people. I consider myself quite tech-savvy, and knew quite a lot of what was being spoken of, but there were still surprises for me and moments of shock. You have to be careful not to go too far down the path of worrying Skynet will happen, but equally be aware of the consequences of relying too heavily on machines to do the work for us.

Interesting, thought-provoking, I could have listened to several hours more.

Rating: 4 / 5

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