Thursday, September 22, 2016

Why Anyone Who Cares About Democracy Should Be Listening To Cathy O'Neil


From Ms. O'Neil's recent interview with Jacobin about her book 'Weapons Of Math Destruction, How Big Data Increases Inequality And Threaten's Democracy':

"...I wrote the book because I think there is considerable harm being done by destructive algorithms, and as a mathematician I’m in a unique position to explain those harms. I worked as a hedge fund quant during the 2008 financial crisis and as a data scientist at the height of the big data revolution. So I have been living behind the scenes, and I know how this stuff works.

At the same time, I’m an occupier. I joined Occupy in October 2011, forming and facilitating the alternative banking group, which has met weekly at Columbia University since then. Our weekly discussions have established a lens through which I’ve learned to examine the world, especially as it connects to money and power.

So now when I come across an automated decision-making system, I always wonder who is benefiting from that system, and who is suffering. And the conclusion I keep coming to when considering systems that rely on algorithms, is that poor people, black and brown people, and the mentally ill are consistently being shut out by these algorithmic black-box structures..."

Ms. O'Neil's thoughts regularly appear over on left side-bar under the title of her blog 'Math Babe'. 

It's stuff well worth paying attention to.

And, just in case you missed it, Ms. O'Neil's book is a best-seller with a bullet in....Canada.


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