Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Why Some People Believe Algorithms Rule the World

     As discussed in class, there are different types of algorithms that are well-known around the world.  The two types of algorithms are known as computational algorithms and just plain algorithms.  Computational algorithms are known as being "big data" sets, hidden, or even recursive, while plain algorithms are known to be self-contained, step-by-step set of operations that are to be performed (ex., algebra equations, recipes).  Before discussing these terms in class, I can honestly say that I had never taken the time to actually think about the actual context of an algorithm, or how it could even possibly "rule the world" like said to be in an article written by Arnie Cooper, on
     A guy by the name Christopher Steiner, discussed throughout the written article about how when he wrote his book Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World, he wanted to aim on Wall Street primarily.  Instead of focusing on different electronic training networks, he wanted to explore the power of algorithms and the spread that it had on Wall Street and even the touch it holds today on young innovators. 
     Steiner is said to believe that those who design algorithms are "the preeminent entrepreneurs of this generation".  While some may disagree with the statement made by Steiner, he continues to explain himself by saying, "It’s people who are able to write code, not just any code—you’re average developer’s going to make a nice salary—but if that person innovates with code that "solves a problem" the opportunities are huge. This is why places like Y Combinator and all these other seed funding enterprises are booming. If you have the skills, the startup costs are basically zero. It’s your own time. This is not rocket science to use that old cliché; it’s a skill you get by putting time into the medium. It’s not something you need to learn at MIT."
     In addition, Steiner didn't want to give off the impression that he was telling people to not go to college, however; he believes that learning quantitative concepts can build up opportunities to stand out in the job field. He states, "people who are in the sweet spot of the job market right now have two to three years experience in the newest coding languages."
     There are many different things that occurred within algorithmic trading that allowed for people to see all of the different layers of software, specifically within algorithms that nobody honestly really knows how one works from the other. Steiner argues that many people don't realize that algorithms are actually doing a lot more than just automating stock trades.  For example, most people don't realize how customer service requests are taken care of, and "when people call these big companies like their health insurer or telecom company, they’re actually being categorized, sliced, diced and parsed by a bot."
     It is clear to see that Steiner has a different outlook on algorithms than most people do.  It takes people like him to be open to seeing and realizing different sides and pointing out the positives that result.  Overall, I not only enjoyed this article, but was very intrigued by the idea of an algorithm and how it truly plays into our everyday life.

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