The best books I read in 2017 – generally released in other years – are below (in no particular order). Where I have reviewed, the link leads to that review.
- Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things (2013): In a world where so much attention is on technology, a great discussion of the need to consider the psychology of the users.
- David Epstein’s The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance (2013): The best examination of nature versus nurture as it relates to performance that I have read. I will write about The Sports Gene some time in 2018.
- Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy (2016) – Although O’Neil is too quick to turn back to all-too-flawed humans as the solution to problematic algorithms, her critique has bite.
- Kasparov’s Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins (2017) – Deep Thinking does not contain much deep analysis of human versus machine intelligence, but the story of Kasparov’s battle against Deep Blue is worth reading.
- Gerd Gigerenzer, Peter Todd and the ABC Research Group’s Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart (1999) – A re-read for me (and now a touch dated), but a book worth revisiting.
- Pedro Domingos The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World (2015) – On the list for the five excellent chapters on the various “tribes” of machine learning. The rest is either techno-Panglossianism or beyond my domain of expertise to assess.
- Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths’s Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions (2016) – An excellent analysis of decision making, with the benchmark the solutions of computer science. As they say, “the best algorithms are all about doing what makes the most sense in the least amount of time, which by no means involves giving careful consideration to every factor and pursuing every computation to the end.”
- William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life – Simply awesome, although I suspect of more interest to surfers (that said, it did win a Pulitzer). I also read a lot of great fiction during the year. Fahrenheit 451 and The Dice Man were among those I enjoyed the most.