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A Wharton professor and tech entrepreneur examines how algorithms and artificial intelligence are starting to run every aspect of our lives, and how we can shape the way they impact us
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 what products we buy, to where we decide to eat, to how we consume our news, to whom we date, and how we find a job. We've even delegated life-and-death decisions to algorithms--decisions once made by doctors, pilots, and judges. 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.
"[Hosanagar's] 'predictability-resilience paradox' is conveyed convincingly. He excels in arguing for an algorithmic bill of rights, one based on the original ideal of self-regulation by government and by individuals . . . Algorthimic decision making and its influence in our lives requires our attention and study."
"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."
"Hosanagar deserves credit for valiantly attempting, throughout this thoughtful treatise, to widen understanding of a technology central to modern society."
"The most useful part of the book is Hosanagar's 'algorithmic bill of rights,' which would give consumers insight into the AI that surrounds them, if not some measure of control."
“As we negotiate the uneasy interactions between man and the intelligent machine, Kartik Hosanagar’s important and very timely book, helps us to understand a world increasingly dominated by often opaque algorithms that take more and more decisions in our lives. His proposal for an Algorithmic Bill of Rights needs to be acted on at the earliest!”
—Nandan Nilekani, Co-founder and Chairman of Infosys
“AI is finally here, from guiding us home on Waze, to helping us choose a restaurant, a book or a job. I believe this will launch a Renaissance of human creativity as mundane tasks become handled by AI. Kartik Hosanagar’s excellent book identifies the growing pains we may experience along the way to this new human advancement.”
—Tim Draper, founding partner of venture capital firm DFJ
"Algorithms and artificial intelligence are overturning the rules of society, but their true impact is still in its infancy. Hosanagar's book is the best guide yet to understanding these digital forces reshaping our lives. Rigorous yet readable, filled with insight and perspective from one of our smartest thinkers about technology."
—Arun Sundararajan, NYU professor and author of The Sharing Economy