If Then: How One Data Company Invented the Future (Hardback)Jill Lepore (author)
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Charting the history of Simulmatics, the first corporation dedicated to the prediction of human behavior and manipulation of data, If Then reveals the mid-twentieth century forebears to the companies rising out of Silicon Valley.
Shortlisted for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award 2020
The Simulmatics Corporation, founded in 1959, mined data, targeted voters, accelerated news, manipulated consumers, destabilized politics, and disordered knowledge - decades before Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Cambridge Analytica. Silicon Valley likes to imagine it has no past but the scientists of Simulmatics are the long-dead grandfathers of Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk.
Borrowing from psychological warfare, they used computers to predict and direct human behavior, deploying their "People Machine" from New York, Cambridge, and Saigon for clients that included John Kennedy's presidential campaign, the New York Times, Young & Rubicam, and, during the Vietnam War, the Department of Defence.
In If Then, distinguished Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer, Jill Lepore, unearths from the archives the almost unbelievable story of this long-vanished corporation, and of the women hidden behind it. In the 1950s and 1960s, Lepore argues, Simulmatics invented the future by building the machine in which the world now finds itself trapped and tormented, algorithm by algorithm.
Publisher: John Murray Press
Number of pages: 432
Weight: 680 g
Dimensions: 238 x 150 x 40 mm
'A person can't help but feel inspired by the riveting intelligence and joyful curiosity of Jill Lepore. Knowing that there is a mind like hers in the world is a hope-inducing thing.' - George Saunders
'Jill Lepore writes history like a poet. In If Then she yet again binds lyrical story telling to meticulous archival research to tell a gigantic story from our past. She builds our present, and makes it feel so familiar and yet so contingent.' - Dan Snow
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