Hannah Fry - mathematician and media star - takes us inside the algorithms that shape the institutions of our everyday life, revealing how they work, their benefits, limitations and their hidden potential.
You are accused of a crime? Who would you rather decides your future – an algorithm or a human?
Before making your decision, bear in mind that the algorithm will always be more consistent, and far less prone to an error of judgement. Then again, at least the human will be able to look you in the eye before determining your fate. How much fairness would you be willing to sacrifice for that human touch?
This is just one of the dilemmas we face in the age of the algorithm, where the machine rules supreme, telling us what to watch, where to go, even who to send to prison. As increasingly we rely on them to automate big, important decisions – in crime, healthcare, transport, money - they raise questions that cut to the heart of what we want our society to look like, forcing us to decide what matters most. Is helping doctors to diagnose patients more or less important than preserving our anonymity? Should we prevent people from becoming victims of crime, or protect innocent people from being falsely accused?
Hannah Fry takes us on a tour through 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 human systems they replace.
About the Author
Hannah Fry is an Associate Professor in the mathematics of cities from University College London. In her day job she uses mathematical models to study patterns in human behaviour, and has worked with governments, police forces, health analysts and supermarkets. Her TED talks have amassed millions of views and she has fronted television documentaries for the BBC and PBS; she also hosts the long-running science podcast, ‘The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry’ with the BBC.
"Hello World is a gem of accessible science writing. With eloquence and charm, Hannah Fry outlines the maths of computer algorithms and explains how they are transforming fields such as health, justice, transport and the arts. She is a wise guide to the benefits - and horrors of our increasingly data-driven world." -- Alex Bellos, author of Alex's Adventures in Numberland
"Computers used to be tools, then they were toys, and now they're all around us. You couldn't ask for a better guide to this bewildering new world than Hannah Fry, who fills Hello World with wit, storytelling and superbly clear insight. Bravo!" -- Tim Harford, author and presenter of The Undercover Economist and more recently Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy.
"Hello World is an action-packed, quick read during which you will be outraged, provoked, and challenged. The numerous, meticulously researched examples reveal the astonishing new world we're living in, one where secret decisions with ambiguous goals are deciding our individual and collective fates. Welcome to the modern world of big data, you're quite possibly screwed." -- Cathy O'Neil, author of Weapons of Math Destruction
"Expertly told, wise and with a lightness of touch, Hannah Fry's brilliant exploration of how we live our lives in the age of AI will prompt arguments in pubs and over dinner tables for years to come. " -- Adam Rutherford
"Hello World is a brisk and friendly guidebook to the algorithms all around us" -- Jordan Ellenberg