The Formula

The Formula

How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems – And Create More

Perigee, 2014 more...

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Scientific
  • Eye Opening


Technology writer Luke Dormehl doesn’t speak for or against the growing influence of algorithms in your work and your life. Rather, he discusses the many ways algorithms, machine learning and “artificial intelligence” affect you in both areas. He discusses dating sites, algorithms that predict social and antisocial behavior, how algorithms will affect the job market, and how they define you to marketers, researchers, potential employers and even to yourself. He covers the positives and the possibilities for solutions to threatening problems, while warning of the many ways algorithms might also diminish human actions. He finds that the accelerating role and importance of algorithms could mean a different, perhaps reduced, role for humans in the future. This 2014 report remains important because it speaks to larger questions about the era of smart machines. getAbstract recommends it to futurists, investors, VCs and anyone who wants to consider what the future might look like.


The Double-Edged Algorithm

“Algorithms are little more than a series of step-by-step instructions, usually carried out by a computer.” Increasingly, they determine or influence many facets of life – from what you watch and buy, to whom you date and where you work. Often, algorithms advise you wisely. After all, they can parse volumes of data incomprehensible to the human brain. In doing so, however, they leave people unsure of why or how their advice was formed or how they reached their decisions.

Your “Algorithmic Self”

Everything you do online – every search, purchase and website you visit – quantifies you and builds your digital persona. Your activities in the physical world add to your algorithmic self. “Loyalty card data,” in-store cameras and facial recognition software link to your Facebook account to enable targeted ads. On the phone, technology tries to improve your customer service experience by sensing your emotional state based on your speech patterns. Your complaint goes to the call center operator best equipped to help you due to his or her matching “personality type.”

Algorithms at Work

About the Author

Filmmaker, author and speaker Luke Dormehl specializes in technology and its human impact.

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