Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Book Review - The Master Algorithm How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World by Pedro Domingos

Finished The Master Algorithm by Pedro Domingos, a book I was so excited to get to that I went with ebook->text-to-speech because I couldn’t locate an audiobook copy.  Loved it.  Highly recommended as a modern introduction to what’s up in the world of machine learning.  It’s not a history book that tries to say “Here’s how it all got started 70 years ago”, but it does dip backward in time to provide context when necessary.  The authors got no problem stating his opinions, not afraid to say “And here’s why he’s completely wrong” about men like Marvin Minsky, Doug Lenat and Ray Kurzweil.

The book does get pretty heavy into the computer science at points (especially after glossing over some of the earlier schools of thought and digging deeply into Bayesian networks), so it’s hard to follow in audio and I’m not sure how quickly somebody without a math and/or CS background will get lost in the details.  Suffice to say he doesn’t hand wave over anything and say “This technique kind of works like this.”  He shows examples, and the math for how those examples work.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given how I pick these books, he eventually overlaps with Life 3.0, talking about the potential AI apocalypse, the rise of the machines, singularity, unemployment, basic income and all those other modern issues that show up in the headlines these days.  But it’s not the premise of the book, like with Life 3.0.  This one is rooted in implementation.  He even provides links to his own “master algorithm” project (called Alchemy) with encouragement to go off and build your own.

No comments: