Larry's Reviews > The Fear Index

The Fear Index by Robert   Harris
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's review
Mar 06, 2012

really liked it
Read from March 06 to 21, 2012

The trouble with books in which the main character is either succumbing to madness or merely seems like he's going crazy is that you largely have his word for which one is happening. Alex Grossman is a billionaire who has devoted his staggeringly impressive mathematical talents to creating an artificial intelligence (one that learns) for his hedge fund trading company. (The company already shows steady investment returns of 87%, so wanting more is a combination of ego and greed, but especially ego.) But what if the artificial intelligence grows into something independent of its creator (or what if he is the ongoing fly in the ointment due to mental illness)? Harris writes very well, so the tension is maintained, whereas in lesser hands it would have flagged. The question posed by a former colleague about Grossman's mental state--does creating a greed machine that can anticipate economic trends better than humans undermine one's psyche--is germane enough givven our collective experience with hedge traders.

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03/08/2012 page 78

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