Reviews elsewhere on the web:
New York Times
Craig Newmark
Eugene Asahara
Brian Ivanovick
Motley Fool
Steve Miller

Ian Ayres

Super Crunchers

We all know that computers are becoming ubiquitous in our society. But you may not realise that they are doing more than just assisting current decision processes. In Super Crunchers Ian Ayres shows how much they are bringing about a huge change in the way decisions are made. The book starts with an example of how the future value of wine may be predicted using a simple formula based on the nature of the growing season - and how this is often beating the expert opinion. Now that so much data is available, the number crunching approach is taking hold in many important areas of our life, such as medicine and government as well as most large businesses.

Naturally the experts resist their place being usurped by a machine, but Ayres shows that often the supposed expert intuition is just no match for data crunching. I felt however, that Ayres could have given more consideration to the other problems of a number crunching approach. For instance, he shows how simple metrics might be used to predict which books will be bestsellers, but even before the use of computers many in the publishing industry deplored the tendency towards a few large firms fighting over a few bestsellers. And Ayres is too dismissive of the idea that as people get to know the algorithms they will try to 'cheat the system' - something against which Google have to fight a continuous battle. But although the book is lacking in such analysis, it's certainly worth reading in order to be prepared for the ever increasing involvement of such data crunching in our lives. info
Hardcover 272 pages  
ISBN: 0719564638
Salesrank: 1171245
Weight:1.19 lbs
Published: 2007 John Murray
Marketplace:New from £11.99:Used from £0.08
Buy from

Product Description
Why would a casino try and stop you from losing? How can a mathematical formula find your future spouse? Would you know if a statistical analysis blackballed you from a job you wanted?

Today, number crunching affects your life in ways you might never imagine. In this lively and groundbreaking new book, economist Ian Ayres shows how today's best and brightest organizations are analyzing massive databases at lightening speed to provide greater insights into human behavior. They are the Super Crunchers. From internet sites like Google and Amazon that know your tastes better than you do, to a physician's diagnosis and your child's education, to boardrooms and government agencies, this new breed of decision makers are calling the shots. And they are delivering staggeringly accurate results. How can a football coach evaluate a player without ever seeing him play? Want to know whether the price of an airline ticket will go up or down before you buy? How can a formula outpredict wine experts in determining the best vintages? Super crunchers have the answers. In this brave new world of equation versus expertise, Ayres shows us the benefits and risks, who loses and who wins, and how super crunching can be used to help, not manipulate us.

Gone are the days of solely relying on intuition to make decisions. No businessperson, consumer, or student who wants to stay ahead of the curve should make another keystroke without reading Super Crunchers.