Tag Archives: The Formula

The Formula: How Algorithms Solve all our Problems … and Create More by Luke Dormehl – mini review

The Formula: How Algorithms Solve all our Problems … and Create MoreThe Formula: How Algorithms Solve all our Problems … and Create More by Luke Dormehl

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Seems like a lifetime ago, but there used to be a computer language called ALGOL…short for Algorithm Language (language names meant something back then). And mearly a lifetime ago, programmers – that’s what coders where called, in the day – had to develop algorithms to generate pseudo-random numbers, quickly sort lists, compile programs (code) into the most efficient space given memory and operations per second limitations. This is not about those kinds of algorithms.

What Dormehl does do is pull together – using at least one external reference, be it book or article, per page, and more than a smattering of pop culture drops – what big and little data mining are doing for and to your world. Online dating? Matching algorithms. Shopping? Please. Some Big Brothers aren’t even trying to hide – surely you’ve noticed that if you hop over to social media after searching on Amazon that coincidentally, precisely what you were just searching for is right there! And less obvious, you feed is what BB thinks it should be sending you…not necessarily what you would be actually interested in.

I don’t use a Kindle, or the Kindle app, to read ebooks because I don’t like the interface. But I also don’t want Amazon trying to figure out how much time I spend reading a page, or whether I even bother with the Introduction. I have no allusions that CrApple is not sending my data to their payers, but theirs is not the only app I use.

Where we need to worry, other than being herded to buy what they want us to buy, is whether entities and agencies are relying on these revolving, and artificially tweaked algorithms to make decisions that affect our lives and rights. Get tagged on a “no fly” list? The burden of proof is on the innocent.

Good stuff that could have been lightened with less lightening. Use foot or end notes…it’s okay, and gratuitous pop refs in an attempt to moisture the topics are distracting. Trust that your readers are a bit sharper than a news channel viewer.

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