Are you a concerned citizen of the modern world? Do you ever worry that algorithms are stealing your data? Do you secretly have little idea what algorithms and data actually are? Then Hello World is for you ... This book illustrates why good science writers are essential. 'We have a tendency to overtrust anything we don’t understand,' Fry says. And if we don’t understand it, those difficult questions will be answered by those who do – pharmaceutical companies, malign governments and the like. It’s time to pull back the curtain on the algorithms that shape our lives. Because, as Fry says, 'the future doesn’t just happen. We create it.'
...Hannah Fry, a mathematician...has produced is a stylish, thoughtful and scrupulously fair-minded account of what the software that increasingly governs our world can and cannot do ... The best chapters in Hello World deal with crime and justice. Algorithms are already pervasive in policing. The Kent force uses a package called PredPol, which can forecast where in the county crime is likely and so direct its patrols. Durham constabulary has a piece of artificial intelligence that can calculate the risk that suspects will reoffend ... Probably the most annoying thing a critic can do to a writer is to chastise them for leaving things out. Of course they do. That’s what writing is. All the same, this book is scarcely 200 pages long, and I would very much have liked to read more of Fry’s insights into the way algorithms work in politics, advertising and social media...Still, Hello World ranks alongside Timandra Harkness’s Big Data and Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons of Math Destruction as one of the best books yet written on data and algorithms.
Denver police acted quickly and violently when facial-recognition software identified financial advisor Steve Talley as the perpetrator of two area bank robberies. But precisely because that computerized identification proved erroneous—and costly and painful for Talley—Fry highlights this episode as symptomatic of a problem growing ever more inescapable in a world remade by computer algorithms ... A lucid and timely analysis.