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Stephen Baker
Stephen Baker has written for BusinessWeek for over twenty years, covering Mexico and Latin America, the Rust Belt, European technology, and a host of other topics, including blogs, math, and nanotechnology. But he’s always considered himself a foreign correspondent—an approach that was especially useful as he met the Numerati. “While I came from the world of words, they inhabited the symbolic realms of math and computer science,” Baker says. “This was foreign to me. My reporting became an anthropological mission.”

Baker has written for many publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe. He won an Overseas Press Club Award for his portrait of the rising Mexican auto industry. He is the coauthor of, featured by the New York Times as one of fifty blogs to watch. He’s also launching

Baker will embark on a national author tour in support of The Numerati this fall. Cities will include New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle.

Entries by Stephen Baker

How I Shamelessly Exploited Twitter (and Don't Anymore)

(0) Comments | Posted November 9, 2013 | 3:30 PM

Five years ago, I was the Twitter guy at BusinessWeek. I wandered around the the offices telling colleagues to tweet. Now, as the new Twitter stock soars, I barely tweet anymore. The reason: Much as I'd like to, I don't participate anymore in the "nugget economy."

I'll explain. When you...

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Baseball Playoffs Begin: Moneyball Season Over

(1) Comments | Posted October 3, 2011 | 4:05 PM

It's time to forget Moneyball and statistical analysis. The 162-game baseball season, the six-month marathon in which statistics have the time to work their magic, is over. As play-offs begin, managers might as well return to their divining rods or the study of patterns on the bottom of...

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As Computers Get Smart, We're Getting Dumb

(4) Comments | Posted September 29, 2011 | 2:14 PM

Rules are dumb. We all know it. Each of us has a magnificent brain, the most intricately engineered known artifact in the universe, and yet in a world of rules, we're not trusted to exercise our judgment.

For the last half century, it's been the computer that enforces countless inflexible...

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How Could IBM's Watson Think That Toronto Is a U.S. City?

(103) Comments | Posted February 16, 2011 | 9:08 AM

IBM's Jeopardy machine was so dominant -- until the very end of the second day of the man-machine match, when it made what looked like a clueless mistake. It suggested Toronto as a "US city." And now instead of bowing before the new model of machine intelligence, masses of Jeopardy...

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My Jeopardy Battle Against IBM's Watson

(28) Comments | Posted February 8, 2011 | 10:45 AM

"Help me Obi-wan Kenobi! You're my only hope." Watson's voice echoed through the improvised Jeopardy studio at IBM Research, just north of New York City. It was a mid-summer practice round for IBM's Jeopardy computer. But the game was halted while technicians made adjustments to Watson's sound system. Like a...

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What IBM's Jeopardy Machine Can Teach Us: Humility

(7) Comments | Posted January 20, 2011 | 4:48 PM

Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, Jeopardy's two greatest champions, have brains packed with facts. In one Final Jeopardy, Rutter actually recalled that President James Garfield's wife was named Lucretia. And he deduced from this that the Mediterranean island that shared a nickname with a 19th century...

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How IBM's Jeopardy Computer Is Dumb

(1) Comments | Posted January 12, 2011 | 12:25 PM

Last week I wrote about how Watson, IBM's Jeopardy computer, is "smarter" than Google. But there are plenty of things that throw the computer for a loss. In researching my book, Final Jeopardy, which amounts to a "biography" of Watson, I got a feel for how...

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Why IBM's Watson Is Smarter Than Google

(16) Comments | Posted January 8, 2011 | 10:00 AM

While working on my book about IBM's Jeopardy-playing computer, the most common question I encounter is this: Doesn't Google already answer questions?

The short answer is no. Google depends on our brains in two ways: It gets us to think like a computer when formulating our query, picking...

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