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The doomsday calculation : how an equation that predicts the future is transforming everything we know about life and the universe

Author: William Poundstone
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown Spark, 2019. ©2019
Edition/Format:   Print book : English : First editionView all editions and formats
Summary:
In the 18th century, the British minister and mathematician Thomas Bayes devised a theorem that allowed him to assign probabilities to events that had never happened before. It languished in obscurity for centuries until computers came along and made it easy to crunch the numbers. Now, as the foundation of big data, Bayes' formula has become a linchpin of the digital economy. But here's where things get really  Read more...
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Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: William Poundstone
ISBN: 9780316440707 0316440701
OCLC Number: 1101988935
Description: x, 306 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Contents: Diana and Charles --
Part I: Consider the lemming. How to predict everything ; Riddle of the sphinx ; The minister of Tunbridge Wells ; A history of grim reckoning ; Twelve reasons why the doomsday argument is wrong ; Twenty-four dogs in Albuquerque ; Baby names and bomb fragments ; Sleeping beauty ; The presumptuous philosopher ; Tarzan meets Jane ; The shooting room ; The metaphysics of gumball machines --
Part II: Life, mind, universe. The simulation hypothesis ; The Fermi question ; The princess in the tower ; Two questions for an extraterrestrial ; Pandora's box ; Life and death in many worlds ; 1/137 ; Summoning the demon ; You are here.
Responsibility: William Poundstone.

Abstract:

In the 18th century, the British minister and mathematician Thomas Bayes devised a theorem that allowed him to assign probabilities to events that had never happened before. It languished in obscurity for centuries until computers came along and made it easy to crunch the numbers. Now, as the foundation of big data, Bayes' formula has become a linchpin of the digital economy. But here's where things get really interesting: Bayes' theorem can also be used to lay odds on the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence; on whether we live in a Matrix-like counterfeit of reality; on the "many worlds" interpretation of quantum theory being correct; and on the biggest question of all: how long will humanity survive? The Doomsday Calculation tells how Silicon Valley's profitable formula became a controversial pivot of contemporary thought. Drawing on interviews with thought leaders around the globe, it's the story of a group of intellectual mavericks who are challenging what we thought we knew about our place in the universe. The Doomsday Calculation is compelling reading for anyone interested in our culture and its future.

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