"The Doomsday Calculation" By William Poundstone | WAMC

"The Doomsday Calculation" By William Poundstone

Jan 6, 2020

William Poundstone is the author of sixteen books, including "Head in the Cloud," "Rock Breaks Scissors," "Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?," "How Would You Move Mount Fuji?," and "Fortune's Formula." He has written for The Believer, The Economist, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Esquire, Harper's, Harvard Business Review, the New York Times op-ed page and Book Review, Village Voice, and many other publications. He won the 2011 Excellence in Financial Journalism Award.

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.

Poundstone writes about it in "The Doomsday Calculation: How an Equation that Predicts the Future Is Transforming Everything We Know About Life and the Universe."