Weapons of Math Destruction

How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy

Paperback, 288 pages

English language

Published Sept. 5, 2017 by Broadway Books.

ISBN:
9780553418835
OCLC Number:
932385614

View on OpenLibrary

4 stars (20 reviews)

A former Wall Street quant sounds an alarm on the mathematical models that pervade modern life — and threaten to rip apart our social fabric

We live in 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 as Cathy O’Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, 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 …

10 editions

Review of 'Weapons of Math Destruction' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

My greatest Twitter achievement is that I raved about this book in a tweet and Cathy O'Neil liked it. Maybe I was easily persuaded by O'Neil's writing because I'm an aspiring data scientist hell bent on working for social good. Maybe it's because I've spent years in social justice activism. Or maybe it's because this is just a damn good book. O'Neil walks us through several algorithms wreaking havoc on society -- from hiring to scheduling to performance evaluations. Even if you, like me, were craving more technical material, O'Neil name drops the algorithms and you can simply do a quick Google search on them. This is the kind of popular data science book we need.

Review of 'Weapons of Math Destruction' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

A WMD, Weapon of Math Destruction, is an algorithm that is a block box (opaque), used at scale, and damages the lives of people, generally poor minorities. Cathy O'Neil goes through a lot of detail describing several of these WMDs and how they are ruining people's lives. Hate Clopening? (working at Closing and then Opening up the next morning). It's likely an algorithm created that schedule. Hate the fact that employers now use opaque personality tests to look for mental illness while you're applying for a job? Another WMD.

This book is important, and I think it should be read by anyone concerned about how Big Data can be used to harm us all. As someone whose future career depends upon algorithmic learning, statistics, and mathematics, I can say this book was eye opening. I'm used to hearing about the power of algorithms and modeling, but really, a model is …

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