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Weapons of Math Destruction

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Cathy O’Neil is the author of the blog mathbabe.org. She was the former Director of the Lede Program in Data Practices at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Tow Center and was employed as Data Science Consultant at Johnson Research Labs. She has just published a new book Weapons of Math Destruction and her other recent books are Doing Data Science: Straight Talk from the Frontline and On Being a Data Skeptic.

She earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard and taught at Barnard College before moving to the private sector, where she worked for the hedge fund D. E. Shaw. She then worked as a data scientist at various start-ups, building models that predict people’s purchases and clicks. O’Neil started the Lede Program in Data Journalism at Columbia and is the author of Doing Data Science. She appears weekly on the Slate Money podcast.

Her work was recently reported in the Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/sep/01/how-algorithms-rule-our-working-lives

and on Radio 4 programme More or less 4th September edition http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07qc93b

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.

This talk is part of the Educational Leadership, Policy, Evaluation and Change (ELPEC) Academic Group series.

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