Opinion
4 Sep 2018 01:41pm

Between the Lines: Doug LaBahn

Doug LaBahn, a member of Xero’s practice leadership team and author of The Pacesetters, shares his book choices

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Caption: A useful book choice for escaping a deserted island

MY FAVOURITE BOOK IS… Les Misérables. A classic story of humans and redemption, it was adapted into a successful musical. “All human life is here,” said its producer, Cameron Mackintosh.

THE BOOK I LEARNED THE MOST FROM IS… The Machine that Changed the World. This management classic, which was first published in 1990, was the first book to reveal Toyota’s lean production system that is the basis for its enduring success.

MY DESERT ISLAND BOOK WOULD BE… Boatbuilding: A Complete Handbook of Wooden Boat Construction. I want to get off the island as soon as possible, so I think this book might help.

THE LAST BOOK I READ WAS… 212 The Extra Degree: Extraordinary Results Begin with One Small Change. A colleague recommended this book to me. It makes an excellent point that the difference between being great versus being just like everyone else is usually achieved by doing a few things a little better than everyone else.

I WISH… Norman Foster would write a book. The architect is behind iconic buildings such as the Apple Park in California and the Philological Library in Berlin. But my favourite is his design of the Gherkin, which inspired a wave of impressive buildings and forever changed the London silhouette.

Economia reviews

Prediction Machines: The simple economics of artificial intelligence
By Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans and Avi Goldfarb


Few, if any, areas of technology seem to exercise people quite like artificial intelligence (AI). Put bluntly, the thought of machines learning to think for themselves scares the common sense out of many observers.

This makes it a rich area for a certain sort of apocalyptic commentator keen to push bleak predictions of a future of jobless servitude to a master race of automatons. It makes a welcome change therefore to read Prediction Machines, which seeks to restore a sense of everyday order and even ordinariness to the AI debate.

The three economist authors take the steam out of the issue by presenting it as simply a matter of machines getting better at making predictions. And they rely on some basic economic theories to explain how this is already happening. Potentially able to relax even hardcore AI conspiracists, this is highly recommended.

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