Hello World

by Hannah Fry
Hello World
by Hannah Fry

This account of our relationship with technology and machines, data and algorithms, has made such an impact on me that it has coloured and informed my understanding and reaction to developments in healthcare, transport, finance, justice and the arts, ever since.

You are accused of a crime, the author asks. Who would you rather determined your fate – a human, or an algorithm? An algorithm is more consistent and less prone to an error of judgement. Yet a human can look you in the eye before passing sentence.

What are the real risks of driverless cars? Should we trust artificial intelligence with cancer screening rather than trained medics? What are the implications highlighted by the Cambridge Analytica case?

Mathematician Hannah Fry demonstrates the power of algorithms and their reach throughout society today. She reveals their limitations, and asks whether they really are an improvement on the humans they are replacing.

She writes in a very accessible and compelling way. You don't want to put the book down, and are breathless at the revelations, but you need to have time to ponder and process all the information she is sharing. It is fascinating and terrifying, intriguing and worrying and it will leave you "outraged, provoked, and challenged". It's brilliant and I hope you'll read it!

Review date: January 2020