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Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions


Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions

ratings:
4.5/5 (318 ratings)
Length:
11 hours
Released:
Apr 19, 2016
ISBN:
9781480560352
Format:
Audiobook

Description

A fascinating exploration of how computer algorithms can be applied to our everyday lives, helping to solve common decision-making problems and illuminate the workings of the human mind

All our lives are constrained by limited space and time, limits that give rise to a particular set of problems. What should we do, or leave undone, in a day or a lifetime? How much messiness should we accept? What balance of new activities and familiar favorites is the most fulfilling? These may seem like uniquely human quandaries, but they are not: computers, too, face the same constraints, so computer scientists have been grappling with their version of such problems for decades. And the solutions they've found have much to teach us.

In a dazzlingly interdisciplinary work, acclaimed author Brian Christian and cognitive scientist Tom Griffiths show how the simple, precise algorithms used by computers can also untangle very human questions. They explain how to have better hunches and when to leave things to chance, how to deal with overwhelming choices and how best to connect with others. From finding a spouse to finding a parking spot, from organizing one's inbox to understanding the workings of human memory, Algorithms to Live By transforms the wisdom of computer science into strategies for human living.

Released:
Apr 19, 2016
ISBN:
9781480560352
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

Brian Christian is the author of The Most Human Human: What Artificial Intelligence Teaches Us About Being Alive, which was a Wall Street Journal bestseller and a New Yorker favorite book of the year. Alongside Steven Pinker and Daniel Kahneman, he was shortlisted for the Best Book of Ideas prize in the UK.



Reviews

What people think about Algorithms to Live By

4.5
318 ratings / 39 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    A very interesting primer on the sort of "real-life problems" that have parallels with computer science problems, explained elegantly without numbers and formulae, opting for the better approach of explaining the rationale behind the problems, their assumptions and how they lead to a desired output. Highly recommended for everyone looking to improve in practical matters, this book throws in a good number of questions to ponder about in our lives, expectations and how we go about reaching them
  • (4/5)
    Thought provoking on multiple levels.Decisions, while part and parcel of the human condition, are increasingly being foisted onto computers. In order to accomplish this, the complexity of the decision must be manipulated to allow the machine to come to a "good' decision however "good" has been defined. Turns out that deconstructing decision making for computers can teach humans a thing or two about decision best practices. Authors Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths apply the problems and solutions of algorithm construction to humans and provide us with a manual of how to streamline some of the messy conundrums we can find ourselves in. It's a good book and I learned a great deal about computers processes. And I did learn a number of interesting insights into human decision making. What I did not appreciate with the book was a subtle implied superiority of computers versus humans. I supposed I shouldn't be surprised as both authors are heavily involved in the artifical intelligence community but I am of the mind that the loss of data required in reversion to the mean/median can often entail the loss of the most interesting data. Plus the restricting of inputs/options which the authors labeled as a computational 'kindness' can be anything but (why does the US presidental election come to mind here?). So while I can most definitely recommend this book to just about anyone it is a recomendation that comes with reservations.
  • (4/5)
    First off, I'm a computer scientist, so a lot of these principles were old hat. However, in many cases I hadn't made the connection to human behavior.The books takes you through a variety of basic computer science theory, then explains how it relates to real life (your own decisions or tasks, sports, games, or life in general). I appreciated having these connections pointed out, but often the chapters got bogged down in example after example. After several pages covering one example, the last thing I needed was yet another example.The book was not a light, enjoyable read. It required effort, concentration and a good deal of willpower to continue. I would have preferred a lighter handling of each section with more takeaways. If you're looking for an entertaining yet helpful trip through the overlap between computer science and your behavior, look elsewhere.
  • (4/5)
    Best consumed in short bursts. I was conflicted with this book. I either loved it or I hated it. Sometimes both in the same reading session.The authors attempt to take the highly specialized world of algorithms, explain them in common terms the college educated should track with, then relate them to modern life, and then make the jump to explaining social behaviors. I would grade those three as A+, C-, and F.In the end I found I really enjoyed reading this book when I took a single chapter at a time, and just focused on the front half of the chapter explaining common algorithms in depth. I fast forwarded through some bits to keep from getting frustrated. so in summary: Best consumed in short bursts.
  • (5/5)
    This book is not what I expected, but it was better! I hadn't thought about many of the concepts in this, or analyzed my logic when it came to making decisions in these types of situations. Many of the theories were described in new ways, and I recommend taking your time reading this to really consider the points made. This is not a single-sitting type of read, but it raised interesting questions and insights into my own thinking. Definitely a worthy read...!
  • (5/5)
    Great summary of computers and algorithms that are used in everyday life