Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Weapons of Math Destruction Cover Art

Weapons of Math Destruction

Author: Cathy O'Neil
Publisher: Crown
ASIN: 0553418815

About This Book

In Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, a former Wall Street quant sounds an alarm on the mathematical models that pervade modern life. This is about the "dark side" of Big Data.

This is the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives—where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance—are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated.

But O’Neil finds that the opposite is true. She states that the models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, she shows how they reinforce discrimination: If a poor student can’t get a loan because a lending model deems him too risky (by virtue of his zip code), he’s then cut off from the kind of education that could pull him out of poverty, and a vicious spiral ensues. Models are propping up the lucky and punishing the downtrodden, creating what she calls a “toxic cocktail for democracy.” 

Tracing the arc of a person’s life, O’Neil exposes the black box models that shape our future, both as individuals and as a society. These “weapons of math destruction” score teachers and students, sort résumés, grant (or deny) loans, evaluate workers, target voters, set parole, and monitor our health. O’Neil calls on modelers to take more responsibility for their algorithms and on policy makers to regulate their use. This book can help all of us to become more savvy about the models that govern our lives and empower us to ask the tough questions, uncover the truth and demand change.

 

Tags/Keywords

privacy, discrimination, big data


 
 
 

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