This is not a book about Dan Brown’s character, Robert Langdon and his fight against the Illuminati in Angels & Demons. This is The Numerati, a slight spin on very advanced mathematics and high performance computing, the future of shopping, medicine, safety, sex, voting and yes …. even work.
The Numerati is a great read regarding the impact of advanced analytics across the board. I was impressed with mathematicians Baker interviews and the surprising number who eventually work for IBM or the NSA. Baker has written a book about how the best mathematicians are changing the way we live by processing amazingly vast amounts of data and simply detecting patterns. The data comes via mouse-clicks, cell phone calls and credit card purchases just to name a few.
It sounds simple. On the surface with today’s high performance computing and powerful consumer technologies. But Baker shows how mathematicians are working to draw upon extremely high levels of computational power to deliver products and solutions that will dramatically impact our lives.
At the same time some of the projects mentioned seems more ‘wonderland’ in design. Yet consider the amount of data created by the Large Hadron Collider for example, the emerging world of Big Science is just starting to take off.
Chapters tackle different subjects (mentioned above) and as others. Many have indicated the shopping chapter is the best of the book. It was very enjoyable to read. Some of the ideas and inventions about health were interesting, some ideas a bit hard to wrap around your brain – like the ability of a floor tile to detect if your elderly father has a change in an existing medical condition. Another example, how a computer can analyze a sequence of video (over time) and determine in your are prone to suffering Parkinson’s disease.