Algorithms to Live By is a self-help book authored by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths. It is a fascinating exploration of us humans and how we tick. It is the product of an author and a cognitive scientist that show how computer algorithms can be applied to our lives. Another similar book by Brian is titled The Alignment Problem. Furthermore, if you want to read more by the author, consider The Most Human Human.
Brian has narrated the book on his own. While he has a calm voice and it is easy to listen to him, he can get boring occasionally. Part of it is due to the subject matter and also because of his monotonous voice.
Our lives are limited in the sense of time and space. All these limits give rise to a particular set of problems. What should we do with this limited time and what should we avoid? How much messiness should we deal with? What should the balance be between new and familiar activities? These questions seem like they are unique problems facing humans. In reality, computers have to deal with certain dilemmas also. They have the same constraints and thus have to effectively utilize their allocated resources.
The answers that the scientists have devised for computers can also provide insight for humans. They explain how to have better hunches and when to trust your intuition. Also, they tell us when to leave things to chance. This book converts computer science wisdom into a strategy for human beings.
This is a complex book that requires a lot of concentration to understand. While the concepts discussed are technical, the author uses suitable examples that make our job easier. Some familiarity with concepts of probability, optimization, and randomness is required.
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