Features of Algorithms to Live By PDF
Algorithms to Live By PDF-A fascinating exploration of how computer algorithms can be applied to our everyday lives, helping to solve common decision-making problems and illuminate the workings of the human mind
All our lives are constrained by limited space and time, limits that give rise to a particular set of problems. What should we do, or leave undone, in a day or a lifetime? How much messiness should we accept? What balance of new activities and familiar favorites is the most fulfilling? These may seem like uniquely human quandaries, but they are not: computers, too, face the same constraints, so computer scientists have been grappling with their version of such problems for decades. And the solutions they’ve found have much to teach us.
In a dazzlingly interdisciplinary work, acclaimed author Brian Christian (who holds degrees in computer science, philosophy, and poetry, and works at the intersection of all three) and Tom Griffiths (a UC Berkeley professor of cognitive science and psychology) show how the simple, precise algorithms used by computers can also untangle very human questions. They explain how to have better hunches and when to leave things to chance, how to deal with overwhelming choices and how best to connect with others. From finding a spouse to finding a parking spot, from organizing one’s inbox to understanding the workings of human memory, Algorithms to Live By transforms the wisdom of computer science into strategies for human living.
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Description of Algorithms to Live By PDF
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Brian Christian (born 1984 in Wilmington, Delaware) is an American non-fiction author, poet, programmer and researcher, best known for the two bestselling books The Most Human Human (2011) and Algorithms to Live By (2016).
Christian competed as a “confederate” in the 2009 Loebner Prize competition, attempting to seem “more human” than the humans taking the test, and succeeded. The book he wrote about the experience, The Most Human Human, became a Wall Street Journal best-seller, a New York Times editors’ choice, and a New Yorker favorite book of the year. He was interviewed by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show on March 8, 2011.
In 2010, Christian collaborated with film director Michael Langan on a short film adaptation of Christian’s poem “Heliotropes,” which was published in the final issue of Wholphin magazine.
In 2016, Christian collaborated with cognitive scientist Tom Griffiths on the book Algorithms to Live By, which became the #1 bestselling nonfiction book on Audible and was named an best science book of the year and an MIT Technology Review best book of the year.
His awards and honors include publication in The Best American Science and Nature Writing and fellowships at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Yaddo, and MacDowell. Beginning in 2012, Christian has been a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2016 Christian was named a Laureate of the San Francisco Public Library.
In 2020, Christian published his third book of nonfiction, The Alignment Problem, which looks at the rise of the ethics and safety movement in machine learning through historical research and the stories of approximately 100 researchers. The Alignment Problem was named a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for best science and technology book of the year
Early life and education
Christian is a native of Little Silver, New Jersey. He attended high school at High Technology High School in Lincroft, NJ.
Christian holds a degree from Brown University in computer science and philosophy, and an MFA in poetry from the University of Washington.
In 2014, Vanity Fair magazine reported that The Most Human Human was the “night-table reading” of Elon Musk.
Reading The Most Human Human inspired the playwright Jordan Harrison to write the play Marjorie Prime. The play was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and was released as a feature film in 2017.
The Most Human Human also inspired filmmaker Tommy Pallotta’s 2018 documentary More Human Than Human, in which Christian appears.
In 2018, Algorithms to Live By was featured as an answer on the game show Jeopardy!.
In 2021, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote in Fast Company that The Alignment Problem was one of the “5 books that inspired” him that year.
The Most Human Human, 2011, Doubleday, International Standard Book Number 978-0307476708
Algorithms to Live By, 2016, Henry Holt, International Standard Book Number 978-1250118363
The Alignment Problem, 2020, Norton, International Standard Book Number 978-0393635829
Dimensions and Characteristics of Algorithms to Live By PDF
Listening Length 11 hours and 50 minutes Author Brian Christian, Tom Griffiths Narrator Brian Christian Whispersync for Voice Ready Audible.com Release Date April 19, 2016 Publisher Brilliance Audio Program Type Audiobook Version Unabridged Language English Identification Number B01D24NAL6
- Book Name : Algorithms to Live By PDF
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Shiri Dori-Hacohen “[The original title of this review was: “Great book, though a few inaccuracies & bold claims”. See below for two updates on the review and why I changed the title.]
I’m a little over halfway with this recently published book, which I’m really enjoying so far – and I expect to enjoy it all the way to the end. A lot of great and unexpected insights here, and it seems that the authors did a good job explaining extremely complex algorithms and showing their applicability to real life (though it’s hard for me to tell how good their explanations are to a novice, since I’m an expert in the field – I have two masters in Computer Science and working on my PhD, and was familiar with 90% of the algorithms described before opening the book).
My biggest quibble with this book (and the reason they lost a star) is that I noticed a few annoying/sloppy inaccuracies, which makes [made! – see below for updates] me ever so slightly doubt the accuracy and veracity of other areas of the book that I’m less familiar with. The other issue is the boldness of their (otherwise very interesting) conjectures.
For example, the authors misunderstand and misquote the 2-minute rule from David Allen’s Getting Things Done, claiming the rule tells you to perform any less than 2-min task immediately when it occurs to you – and essentially simplifying the entire GTD system into the 2-min rule, which is in fact a tiny part of GTD (pg. 105-106). In fact, however, Allen does not suggest that at all – that would distract you from whatever you’re currently engaged with, i.e. require a context switch (the costs of which the authors discuss at length). Instead, you should write that task down and add it to your intray, just like any other task. The 2-minute rule is applied later, while clearing your intray (which can be anytime in the next 48 hours). The point of the 2-minute rule is that the time spent on adding this task into your otherwise-extremely-flexible GTD system, and then tracking it in said system, would take longer than two minutes. This type of tracking is akin to what the authors refer to as “meta-work”, and thus performing the 2-min task at inbox clearing time saves you an equal or greater amount of meta-work later. This is completely in line with the type of scheduling suggestions that the authors discuss. I’m not familiar with the other popular advice books the authors quote in the scheduling chapter or in the others chapters (e.g. the empty-your-closet type books they discuss in chapter 4), so I don’t know if there are other such mischaracterizations, but it makes me suspect there might be. And I get that they’re trying to differentiate their own advice from “all the other pop books out there”, but if they’re going to explicitly cite other books, they should try not to misrepresent them.
Also, when discussing the Gittins rule and the multi-armed bandit problem, they say that a machine with a 0-0 record has “a Gittins index of 0.7029. In other words, something you have no experience with whatsoever is more attractive than a machine that you know pays out seven times out of ten!” (pg. 40). However, their own table on the same page clearly shows that a machine with a 7-3 record has a Gittins index of 0.7187, making such a machine ever so slightly superior to a 0-0 one. After some more reading I realized that what they meant was that a machine with a 0-0 record and *uncertainty* is better than a *certain payout* of 70% (i.e. guaranteed to payout 7 out of 10), but that was not what the text implied.
To be clear, these inaccuracies in and of themselves aren’t huge – but they planted a seed of doubt in my mind [which is not as big anymore – see below] as to whether there were other such misrepresentations or inaccuracies in the book that I simply hadn’t caught, and detracted from my enjoyment of the book.
The other concern I have with this book is that several chapters end with provocative suggestions that aren’t actually empirically-backed. These conjectures are cool, but I’d have liked to see scientists be more careful about making such bold claims, or at least couching them in the need for more research to establish whether they were entirely true. One example here was the discussion about the decline of aging supposedly being a result of simply having a larger history to remember (pgs 103-104). This is a fascinating conjecture, and one that deserves to be studied properly, but they are basing it on some research work that was not age-related. I suspect the authors may be on to something, at least in the context of “normal aging” cognitive decline as opposed to, say, alzheimer-related decline. However, as stated in the text, the conjectures are stated a bit too strongly for my tastes (“But as you age, and begin to experience these sporadic latencies, take heart: the length of the delay is partly an indicator of the extent of your experience.”, pg 104). I’d hate to see anyone making decisions based on them – potentially missing an earlier diagnosis, say, of alzheimer’s, because the authors claimed that cognitive decline is totally normal.
Quibbles and concerns notwithstanding, I’m definitely enjoying the book and I think it’s a great addition to the new genre of what’s being called by some “science-help”. It’s also a good read for people who are tired of the same-old, and thirsty for some advice that’s off the beaten path. Algorithms to Live By PDF.
The rest of the book was as good as I expected.
Additionally, I sent this review to the lead author (Brian Christian) in case he wanted to address these issues. I was delighted to receive a very thoughtful response from him! They will be fixing the Gittens rule description in the paperback edition, to make it clearer to the reader. The author respectfully disagreed with me on the other two issues (GTD 2 minute rule & cognitive decline).
Given what I saw in the email, I’d say the intentions behind the book definitely merit 5 stars (even though I still disagree on their presentation of those two topics). However, I’ll leave the original title & rating of 4 stars as it stands for the original hardcover edition, and for consistency’s sake. As I originally said, the book stands as an excellent addition to the genre, and also likely as a great first exposure into Computer Science if you’ve never had any.
Apparently, this review is now listed as the top most helpful review on (cool!). The book has been so successful that the first author (Brian Christian) recently informed me that the book is now on its third printing, which means that the Gittins index issue mentioned above is now fixed in the current and future editions. As for the other issues I had, they are more subjective in nature, and not large enough in and of themselves to merit the original (harsher) title of the review. Again, for completeness’ sake and to avoid rewriting history, I leave the original review as its stands and the original title is listed below the new title, with only a few comments in brackets leading readers to these updates in the bottom.”
Wolfcrow “Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths Algorithms to Live By PDF
There are predictably a number of readers who will look at this title and shy away, thinking that a book with “algorithms” in its title must be just for techies and computer scientists. There will be others who pride themselves on being technologically astute who think they know all about algorithms already. Both groups are wrong. Both will be astounded and profoundly affected by the human applications Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths make in this book for all of us. I should qualify that; it is a book for anyone who has ever had difficulty in such tasks as “when to stop looking” (for an apartment, for instance); how to schedule a busy family’s priorities; how to clean out the garage; how to stop thinking about a problem; how to network. In fact, all the day-to-day problems that follow us from waking up to going to bed are addressed here by the human use of algorithms. I confess that I was grateful for the definition of “algorithms” early in the book; it is one of those words that everyone uses but many of us would have been hard put to explain. Notice I wrote “would have been” because this book explains it all so clearly that neophytes can understand it and technological people will not feel they are being patronized. And all of us who really use this book (not just read, but use) will find it has made our lives more productive, better organized, and essentially, much happier. Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths are geniuses at combining cutting edge philosophy with information we can use to make our lives richer.”
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