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Hello World

How to Be Human in the Age of the Machine
Narrated by: Hannah Fry
Length: 6 hrs and 51 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (782 ratings)

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Summary

Random House presents the audiobook edition of Hello World by Hannah Fry. 

You are accused of a crime. Who would you rather determined your fate - a human or an algorithm?

An algorithm is more consistent and less prone to error of judgment. Yet a human can look you in the eye before passing sentence. 

You need a liver transplant to save your life. Who would you want in charge of organ allocation?

An algorithm can match organ donors with patients, potentially saving many more lives. But it may send you to the back of the queue. 

You’re buying a (driverless) car. One vehicle is programmed to save as many lives as possible in a collision. Another promises to prioritise the lives of its passengers. Which do you choose? 

Welcome to the age of the algorithm, the story of a not-too-distant future where machines rule supreme, making important decisions - in health care, transport, finance, security, what we watch, where we go, even whom we send to prison. So how much should we rely on them? What kind of future do we want?

Hannah Fry takes us on a tour of 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 humans they are replacing.

©2018 Hannah Fry (P)2018 Random House Audiobooks

Critic reviews

"Wise, sharp and witty, the definitive guide to living in the age of social media, algorithms and automation.'' (Adam Rutherford)  

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A very well balanced and informative view

The impact of computing on society, equally showing pros and cons. Compelling, informative and scientific.

As opposed to many other publications under this topic this book provides a balanced view of what "algorithms" do to society. Often this topic is tackled by die-hard proponents, promising paradise on earth by means of intelligent machines or fear mongering opponents, predicting our extinction by a rogue AI.
This book instead offers facts. Real world examples if what algorithms can do and cases in which they failed, in addition to scientific studies and papers outlining just what exactly algorithms are capable of and what they will never achieve.

Hannah beautifully manages to convey complex topics such as Bayesian probability in simple words and keep the listener engaged whilst ensuring what is said is precise and scientifically sound.

In a old where it feels as though everything must be black and white, one is either for it or against it, it is especially valuable for a book to be so balanced and "Grey" in the best way.

I personally think this is a must read. For everyone. Algorithms interact with everyone and it's only going to increase in the future. Particularly those people unfamiliar with the workings and limitations of computers will find a highly accurate and easy to understand outline of algorithmic capabilities in this book.

It was so worth it to renew my audible subscription to get this book.

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Great read

What an interesting and eye-opening audiobook. I deeply enjoyed this book, highly recommend to anybody as it is very easy to follow with great explanations.

2 people found this helpful

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Fascinating, thought-provoking and terrifying 😨

Always been a fan since the early days of Radio 4's "Curious Cases" and had been looking forward to this.

It's really good. Educational and makes you think, and the section describing how China uses social media is *literally* something out of Black Mirror.

I see it as a companion piece to Yuval Noah Harari's "Homo Deus". Dr. Fry talks about the science, Harari discusses the consequences. Both are excellent.

And plus, listening to the Audible version means you get Hannah Fry's Lauren-Bacall-if-she-came-from-Essex voice breathing at you for several hours. Which is nice.

1 person found this helpful

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Just brilliant

I have always appreciated the work of Hannah Fry since I first heard of her, but this book was more than anything I could have asked for. It’s a book full of tons of little story’s I will be repeating to my friends (only if I haven’t already made them buy themselves).

Undoubtedly worth using my audible free trial for this. If I had to sum it up in a phrase: MIND EXPANDING. And her voice is amazing. This book will give you something to say at every family dinner for the next year or so. Well done Hannah! :)

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Wow! What a great listen

I was really looking forward to this book being released and I wasn’t disappointed.

I have read a lot of books already about ‘big data’, artificial intelligence and algorithms, but the difference with Dr Fry’s work is that it weaves in human stories alongside the description of the technology. Many of the examples given in the book are well established, such as Deep Blue beating Gary Kasparov at chess, but the book discusses as much about Kasparov’s emotional response to Deep Blue’s strategy as much as the algorithm behind it. This really brings home the idea that the future of this technology is as much about the human condition as it is about the technology itself.

This book has something for everyone irrespective of whether you are looking for an introduction to the subject or already have a good understanding. The narration is excellent and the book flows so easily that I ended up listening to the whole thing in one day.

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Brilliantly informative and enquiring.

Great for computing maths peeps who are interested in the socioeconomic and ethical impact of algorithms.

Great for those outside the specialisms who want to get a sense of algorithms and their impact in society.

Incredibly easy to listen to thanks to the skill of the narrator.

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Excellent and intelligent book.

Contained great insights during a delve into the concepts and misconceptions around algorithms. Teaches you to show reasonable concern and measures admiration for the algorithms running aspects of our everyday lives.

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Nearly, but not quite

I like Hannah Fry as a broadcaster and sought out this book expecting to be educated and entertained by someone who knows their stuff, both the science and the broadcasting.

The science bit was OK, it's not a textbook or a thesis, so it rightly stays some distance from the hardcore details. Except that I felt an editor's hand dumbing it down a fraction. Not patronising or preachy, just not quite enough "I never thought of it like that" moments from an expert who could do that if she wanted to.

The delivery was definitely Hannah Fry - in my mind's eye, a smile is never far from her lips - but I did drift off. There were times when I felt that this was a book commissioned by the publisher, not dragged from the guts of the author. There were moments when I felt bored, because Hannah Fry wasn't anywhere near full stretch.

It is a good book, but perhaps I expected too much. I thought it would be a great book.

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Great, thought-provoking listen

Well narrated by the author, this book prompts us to consider algorithms for what they are - no more and no less. A tool to help humans make good/better decisions, but not god-like creatures to whom we should bow unquestionably. There are lots of real life examples, which bring home the complexity of some of the issues which algorithm design kicks up. Nothing particularly technical and very accessible to the non-tech folk. Thank you Hannah!

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Balanced overview

Hannah is awesome and this book is testament to the research she has done for it.

Not only asking the big questions around automation but also providing possible solutions and giving cause for a mind shift.

If you work in the AI field and need a way to present to others what you do this is a great gift to help others understand.

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  • Mags
  • 19-06-19

entertaining and extremely easy to consume

entertaining and extremely easy to consume. well researched and funny in delivery. concepts easily translated to be relatable and understandable

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  • Ulrik Långström
  • 08-04-19

Painfully shallow

Lots of interesting things are mentioned, but then moves on to the next interesting thing.

I would be interested in a non abridged version, but this one I can't recommend.

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  • Joonas Pihlajamaa
  • 09-02-19

Better for a layman than AI enthusiast

Good and enjoyable treatment of machine learning for the uninitiated. But I have followed the field for some time, so most of the matter was quite familiar already, and I even had heard many of the anecdotes and stories before. So depending on where I come from it might be an excellent book, or just something to pass the time in the train, even though you heard much of it before. Well read by the author as well!

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  • Rene De Paula Jr.
  • 09-02-19

plenty of facts, stories and excellent reflections

great balance between information and reflections, facts and judgement and a refreshing dose of ethical and humanistic concerns

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  • TH
  • 14-09-18

Thoroughly brilliant

This is a brilliant book, balanced, thoughtful and informative. Not alarmist, not uncritical, perfect balance.

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  • Klaas Deforche
  • 10-09-18

Great

Good book. Could have been more in depth but that's maybe because I had read more about the topic before. Thanks to the author for reading the book herself.

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  • Philomath
  • 09-09-18

The age of Machine Learning

This book is a brief overview of machine learning in its current state. What it does well and how it goes wrong. The author is accurate in her assessment that algorithms are far from perfect, and can sometimes miscalculated conclusions in serious issues such as Court Judgement, Facial Recognition, as well as a plethora of other areas.

Her conclusion certainly does not dismiss the take over of human higher functions by artificial intelligence, but is prudent and realistic timetable and explains why algorithms have a way to go.

I was somewhat disappointed, that the different ways machine learning is achieved was not discussed in depth, but understand that such detail may not be as attractive to readers who are new to the subject.

Very good book, recommended to those who are new to the subject, and are interested in AI’s recent achievements.

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  • Robert Gergely
  • 03-09-18

recommended in the most absolute of ways

Really lovely book for statistic nerds but not only plus listening to it with Hannah's voice is a delightful experience. I also intend to buy the paperback version of this