If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future
by Jill Lepore
***Shortlisted for the 2020 Financial Times Business Book of the Year Award***
Recommendations from our site
“I’m very interested in efforts to use computers to understand society because I think we’re going through that debate again, in talking about AI. And some of the visions that people have had for using AI to understand what’s going on now are just like the visions that were around in the 1960s, except with faster computers, and more data. So it’s a very good object lesson in why you should be cautious about any forecasts about the future.” Read more...
The Best Economics Books of 2020
Diane Coyle, Economist
“What Jill Lepore has done here is unearthed a company that most people had forgotten about. Simulmatics Corporation was actively looking at and developing some of the things that we now associate with big data predictive analysis: Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, all the various scandals and worries to do with harnessing technology to predict human behaviour and indeed to win elections. So it’s a history, but one with great relevance for today…I think one of the reasons why it’s a shortlisted book is that it is beautifully written. Jill Lepore is a wonderful writer. The book also has this nice relevance, bringing a historical fact into the new light of today and saying, ‘Look, here are some of the issues that this rather simple, early, pioneering version was raising in the 1960s and that are still relevant.’” Read more...
The Best Business Books of 2020: the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award
Andrew Hill, Journalist