Synopses & Reviews
“The place to go if youre really interested in this version of the quest for creating Artificial Intelligence (AI).”—Seattle Times
For centuries, people have dreamed of creating a machine that thinks like a human. Scientists have made progress: computers can now beat chess grandmasters and help prevent terrorist attacks. Yet we still await a machine that exhibits the rich complexity of human thought—one that doesnt just crunch numbers, or take us to a relevant Web page, but understands us and gives us what we need. With the creation of Watson, IBMs Jeopardy! playing computer, we are one step closer to that goal.
But how did we get here? In Final Jeopardy, Stephen Baker traces the arc of Watsons “life,” from its birth in the IBM labs to its big night on the podium. We meet Hollywood moguls and Jeopardy! masters, genius computer programmers and ambitious scientists, including Watsons eccentric creator, David Ferrucci. We see how a new generation of Watsons could transform medicine, the law, marketing, even science itself, as machines process huge amounts of data at lightning speed, answer our questions, and possibly come up with new hypotheses. As fast and fun as the game itself, Final Jeopardy shows how smart machines will fit into our world—and how theyll disrupt it.
“Like Tracy Kidders Soul of a New Machine, Bakers book finds us at the dawn of a singularity. Its an excellent case study, and does good double duty as a Philip K. Dick scenario, too.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Bakers narrative is both charming and terrifying . . . an entertaining romp through the field of artificial intelligence—and a sobering glimpse of things to come.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
Every day we produce loads of data about ourselves simply by living in the modern world: we click web pages, shop with credit cards, and make cell phone calls. Companies like Yahoo! and Google are harvesting an average of 2,500 details about each of us every month. Who is looking at this data and what are they doing with it? Journalist Stephen Baker explores these questions and provides us with a fascinating guide to the world we're enteringand to the people controlling that world. The Numerati have infiltrated every realm of human affairs, profiling us as workers, shoppers, voters, potential terroristsand lovers. The implications are vast. Privacy evaporates. Our bosses can monitor our every move. Retailers can better tempt us to make impulse buys. But the Numerati can also work on our behalf, diagnosing an illness before we're aware of the symptoms, or even helping us find our soul mate. Entertaining and enlightening, The Numerati shows how a powerful new endeavorthe mathematical modeling of humanitywill transform every aspect of our lives.
Every day, people create loads of data about themselves just by living in the modern world. Now, a group of mathematicians is sifting through this data to profile individuals and manipulate behavior without anyone even realizing it.
"Steve Baker puts his finger on perhaps the most important cultural trend today: the explosion of data about every aspect of our world and the rise of applied math gurus who know how to use it." --Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired Magazine (Wired Magazine )
An urgent look at how a global math elite is predicting and altering our behavior -- at work, at the mall, and in bed
Every day we produce loads of data about ourselves simply by living in the modern world: we click web pages, flip channels, drive through automatic toll booths, shop with credit cards, and make cell phone calls. Now, in one of the greatest undertakings of the twenty-first century, a savvy group of mathematicians and computer scientists is beginning to sift through this data to dissect us and map out our next steps. Their goal? To manipulate our behavior -- what we buy, how we vote -- without our even realizing it.
In this tour de force of original reporting and analysis, journalist Stephen Baker provides us with a fascinating guide to the world we're all entering -- and to the people controlling that world. The Numerati have infiltrated every realm of human affairs, profiling us as workers, shoppers, patients, voters, potential terrorists -- and lovers. The implications are vast. Our privacy evaporates. Our bosses can monitor and measure our every move (then reward or punish us). Politicians can find the swing voters among us, by plunking us all into new political groupings with names like "Hearth Keepers" and "Crossing Guards." It can sound scary. But the Numerati can also work on our behalf, diagnosing an illness before we're aware of the symptoms, or even helping us find our soul mate. Surprising, enlightening, and deeply relevant, The Numerati shows how a powerful new endeavor -- the mathematical modeling of humanity -- will transform every aspect of our lives.
STEPHEN BAKER has written for BusinessWeek for over twenty years, covering Mexico and Latin America, the Rust Belt, European technology, and a host of other topics, including blogs, math, and nanotechnology. But he's always considered himself a foreign correspondent. This, he says, was especially useful as he met the Numerati. "While I came from the world of words, they inhabited the symbolic realms of math and computer science. This was foreign to me. My reporting became an anthropological mission." Baker has written for many publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe. He won an Overseas Press Club Award for his portrait of the rising Mexican auto industry. He is the coauthor of blogspotting.net, featured by the New York Times as one of fifty blogs to watch.
The thrilling history and behind-the-scenes story of Watson, the computer created by IBM scientists to take on two masters of Jeopardy!, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, in a fast-paced look at how smart machines will change our world.
About the Author
Stephen Baker has written for BusinessWeek for over twenty years, covering Mexico and Latin America, European technology, and a host of other topics, including blogs, math, and outsourcing. He has also written for the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, and the Wall Street Journal and is the co-author of Blogspotting.net.
Table of Contents
1. The Germ of the Jeopardy Machine 19
2. And Representing the Humans 42
3. Blue J Is Born 62
4. Educating Blue J 81
5. Watsons Face 104
6. Watson Takes On Humans 124
7. AI 148
8. A Season of Jitters 170
9. Watson Looks for Work 189
10. How to Play the Game 210
11. The Match 232
Sources and Further Reading 267
About the Author 269