How do mathematics, statistics and algorithms monitor and control our lives? What shouldn’t we worry about, and what ought to concern us? In this book, mathematician David Sumpter undertakes a first-hand exploration of the algorithmic world we now inhabit.
Algorithms are running our society and we don’t really know what they are up to.
Our increasing reliance on technology and the internet has opened a window for mathematicians and data researchers to gaze through into our lives. Using the data they are constantly collecting about where we travel, where we shop, what we buy and what interests us, they can begin to predict our daily habits. But how reliable is this data? Without understanding what mathematics can and can’t do, it is impossible to get a handle on how it is changing our lives.
In this book, David Sumpter takes an algorithm-strewn journey to the dark side of mathematics. He investigates the equations that analyse us, influence us and will (maybe) become like us, answering questions such as:
How does Facebook build a 100-dimensional picture of your personality?
Are Google algorithms racist and sexist?
Why do election predictions fail so drastically?
Are algorithms that are designed to find criminals making terrible mistakes?
What does the future hold as we relinquish our decision-making to machines?
Featuring interviews with those working at the cutting edge of algorithm research along with a healthy dose of mathematical self-experiment, Outnumbered will explain how mathematics and statistics work in the real world, and what we should and shouldn’t worry about.
A lot of people feel outnumbered by algorithms – don’t be one of them.
About the Author
David Sumpter is Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Uppsala, Sweden. Originally from London, but growing up in Scotland, he completed his doctorate in Mathematics at Manchester, and held a Royal Society Fellowship at Oxford before heading to Sweden. His scientific research covers everything from the inner workings of fish schools and ant colonies, the analysis the passing networks of football teams, segregation in society to machine learning and artificial intelligence.
David has written for The Economist, The Telegraph, Current Biology, Mathematics Today and FourFourTwo magazine, amongst others. He has been awarded the IMA’s Catherine Richards prize for communicating mathematics to a wider audience. David’s first book was Soccermatics: Mathematical Adventures in the Beautiful Game.