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Outnumbered: From Facebook and Google to Fake News and Filter-bubbles – The Algorithms That Control Our Lives

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  218 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Algorithms are running our society, and as the Cambridge Analytica story has revealed, 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
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Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published April 19th 2018 by Bloomsbury Sigma
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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 ·  218 ratings  ·  33 reviews


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Start your review of Outnumbered: From Facebook and Google to Fake News and Filter-bubbles – The Algorithms That Control Our Lives
Brian Clegg
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book contains some impressive and important content - so I struggled initially to understand why I found it difficult to get on with. More on that in a moment.

Applied mathematician David Sumpter takes apart our current obsession with algorithms, information bubbles, AI and fake news, showing that all too often what we read about it is more hype than reality. Whether he is dealing with the impact (or otherwise) of Cambridge Analytica on elections, or the ability of algorithms to out-think
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Kunal Medhe
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018
After the recent spat of Cambridge Ananlytica, I was eager to know whether Facebook or internet can really change or reinforce my voting behavior; are we so naive. We all know about filter bubbles that trap us on various social media sites and shopping websites, but this book goes ahead to discuss about how algorithms used by Tech giants go ahead to manipulate human behavior and decisions. No, it does not go on the path of a conspiracy theory or something but rather tries to explain concepts ...more
Kyle
Aug 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a timely, clear read on filters, connections and capitalism in the internet age.

It does suffer from the academic problem. It's written by someone with actual academic discipline, which means they have no interest in saying something inflammatory or have delusions of grandeur on having discovered the Theory of Everything. The statements are measured, based on evidence and scientifically conservative in their judgements. They're also moderately dull.

If you have a contemporary
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Mukil Ganesan
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Demystified most of the myths around bad influences of algorithms in our day to day lives. A well researched book on algorithms, AI, and computational mathematics. Gave a new perspective of how things are actually working. Facebook is not influencing our emotions.
Cambridge analytica did not majorly help with the elections.
Google algorithms are not actually racist.

You’d get to know how these truths are unearthed in this book. A great read!!
Sandipan Mondal
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Breaks through the hype and hyperbole. A good read. Actually, an important read, to think clearly about the topics of artificial intelligence and algorithms that are increasingly more important in society and in our lives.
Abhay
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
#alsoliked
I loved this book, learnt a lot about how FB and Google algorithms rule our online lives
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Brandon Gray
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Suffers a bit from a mismatch of the material and the marketing. (Which is not Sumpter’s fault) The marketing algorithm said to focus on the ominous and dark side of algorithms. (And to put the title in Red, which is more threatening)
The author seems almost pitted against this tendency to let our imaginations and fear carry us away. MAYBE this title is a sly commentary on this tendency, but it’s more likely .. just marketing.

The actual material of the book is demystifying algorithms and in the
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Rodney
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outnumbered is a critical and sober overview of the use of algorithms in various areas, including social media, politics, criminal justice, and e-commerce. Using real-world examples, the author clearly explains how these algorithms actually work and he does so in way that doesn't require an advanced understanding of the underlying math (linear algebra, geometry, stats).

Outnumbered identifies what's real and what's hype in artificial intelligence and machine learning while acknowledging the grey
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Marcelo
"Outnumbered" is a no-hype-included book about algorithms.

That happens for three reasons: 1) the author knows what he's talking about and shows it by testing his explanations in his own code; 2) the author gets baffled at what he sees as a sensationalistic approach in the public debate about it; and 3) the author isn't trying to sell you anything.

He isn't afraid to swim against the current and make very to-the-point criticism to sites I appreciate, like FiveThirtyEight. In fact, his
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Marie
Sep 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: media
"Algorithms are used everywhere to help us better understand the world. But do we really want to understand the world better if this means dissecting the things we love and losing our personal integrity?"

"We love to have heroes and villains, geniuses and idiots, to see things in black and white, and not in the grey reality of probabilities."

"Facebook has obtained a series of patents that allows the company to systematically collect, process and analyse our emotional state."

"During the Us
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Mandeep Singh
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
On a recent visit to Oxford bookstore in delhi,I stumbled upon this book and began to read it straight out of the store.I read this book in about 5 sittings and I was tired at the end of each one them,trying to comprehend logic and math behind complex algorithms.

Unlike other books on the subject,it does not go on ranting about how Google and Social Media sites have our data,it does for the first two chapters but then it gets back on track.They have our data,it’s general knowledge but the book
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Govind Rathi
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was very interesting in the first few chapters.Then, it became more technical and I found hard to focus.I read both Outumbered and Freakonomics last week and both these books are brain opening.How data matters more than conventional wisdom is a lesson here. The Author has done applaudable research.I am impressed.
Shaun
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A 5-star solid read for one who may not have any clue what's going on with content curation through algorithms, but it's not really a technical read. I did find it informative, and I'd certainly recommend it to someone who wanted to understand the broader concepts.
Edward Sullivan
Enlightening and insightful, if not always compelling.
Almacola
Apr 11, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Too alarmist
Alok Bhide
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very informative book, though it is a bit lengthy. It's amazing how many algorithms we encounter in our daily life.
Luke Cavanagh
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating read.
Wing
Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first part of the book explains why the fantasy of using principal component analysis, regression modelling, and data collection from social media to create a computerised and high dimensional understanding of human personality that can outperform our own current understanding is just hubris. It lacks sufficient power. Modelling by definition simplifies and are inherently probabilistic. Written by humans, algorithms are not better than our collective wisdom in accuracy. However they are ...more
Richard
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is something of an antidote to the fear of algorithms taking over everything. Sumpter clearly explains many of the mathematical concepts underlying algorithms used by Facebook or Google, then relates his conversations with other experts on those algorithms. The explanations are great and the conversations are interesting, but two issues prevent this book from getting five stars:

At one point, Sumpter discusses Facebook's experiment of showing users more negative news. When this was
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Asiman
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
An apt read for these times of fears over 'fake' news and tall claims made by digital companies. Sumpter takes a close look at technological claims with his magnifying glass and finds that the world is not yet as dangerous as some people claim, e.g. so-called 'fake' news might not be actually wielding as much influence as we have been told, and on the flip-side, technologies might not have yet become as cool as some companies would like us to believe, e.g. algorithms are still not better than ...more
Anisha Singh
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book. My knowledge of statistics being nil and me having a mortal fear of Mathematics, this book was still very interesting and understandable. If you pick this book to know how far Artificial Intelligence is from wiping away humanity, you will be disappointed because the book gives an accurate description of where we are in terms of developing artificial intelligence and that is not very far. While our world does run on algorithms more than ever we are no where close to ...more
Andi Sulasikin
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strongly recommended to those who are interested on the development of algorithms, information bubbles, fake news, and AI (especially neural network & unsupervised learning). There are also talks about Trump's use of the political consultants of Cambridge Analytica (or better to call it Cambridge Hyperbolytica? :D), and the failure of statisticians to predict the UK's Brexit vote.

Briefly, it can be concluded that every algorithm has its limitations. And we should be aware of that. It's
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Melissa
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book is written by a mathematician, so a good third of the book is spent giving a very high level concept of how various algorithms work (again, VERY high level). For that purpose, I'd recommend this book to anyone who's interested in the technical side, without having the deeper education behind it. I did sometimes feel that the author then extrapolates his own judgement of whether an algorithm is effective or not, with no real evidence. This isn't a book that's meant to consider the ethics ...more
Bartczukkuba
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book on data analysis, AI and its impact. The author carefully dismantles hype around the topic and dispels smoke that is generated everyday by the clueless journalists and tech companies' marketing departments. If you want to get a clue what are some real world scenarios where machine learning plays important role, read this book.

Bonus points for Sumpter being liberal without being obnoxious about it - I find this book a less sensationalist, more competent version 'Weapons of math
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gbkMnkii
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
I have found this book quite interesting although I'm not sure who is the audience for it.
I'm from the field, so most of the book did not give me new perspectives but I'm afraid for others it could be pretty "dry".

I think the most interesting part was the last one about AI and the hype surrounded it. I was satisfied to see it written because we are way far from it also. Another hype in the data business it will find its place.
(Read in English.)
Andrew Mcloughlin
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Prem Sylvester
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid summary of the conceptualization and math that goes into the algorithms that are currently widespread. Had some issues with the conclusions Sumpter derives especially reg. filter bubbles and their (imo, observable) effects, but he generally presents a reasonable, insightful picture that's good to work with and build on
Frances Sprei
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a sobering read. I especially liked the chapter about biases. Considering how I can use this in my teaching of ethics to CS students. But I’m still left with a small feeling of him being too positive. Is there something he is missing?
Ayush Kumar
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
David Sumpter delves into the topics of data privacy, data usage, and understanding algorithms that run our world with increasing frequency and alacrity. Sumpter knows his field well, but steers clear of actually digging into the algorithms, focusing more on case studies and educated opinions. This book is a good starting point, but anyone who wants to learn more cannot rely on this book alone.
Sambasivan
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great analysis by the author who is also a mathematician. Topical subject. Go for it.
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