EP 254 Beware of the Weapons of Math Destruction

 As a child, mathematics was Cathy O’Neil’s passion: ‘math provided a neat refuge from the messiness of the real world’.  After teaching for a time, she began to apply her math wizardry for players on Wall Street and saw first hand how dangerous mathematical models, or as she titles her book, ‘Weapons of Math Destruction’ can be.  They may look cleansed and pure, but according to her, they contain the goals and biases of those who create them. And they tend to stack the deck against the poor and dispossessed who have always been discriminated against, no matter who or how the counting is done.  In the book and in this episode of the podcast, she explains how algorithms now dictate everything from teacher evaluations to bank credit ratings to predictive policing and we need to understand how they are designed, by whom and for what ends. This is particularly important in an age when THE growth industry in this country is predicting our behavior and selling it to marketers of all types.  Given her concerns, we felt she offered another perspective of analytics which gives you much to consider after listening to our previous podcast with Rebecca Costa.