Saturday, October 22, 2016

opinions embedded in math

--- Cathy O'Neil, author of Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, in an interview with IEEE Spectrum, October 2016

Quote in context

One of the things that makes big data so attractive is the assumption that it’s eliminating human subjectivity and bias. After all, you’re basing everything on hard numbers from the real world, right? Wrong. Predictive models and algorithms, says O’Neil, are really just “opinions embedded in math.” Algorithms are written by human beings with an agenda. The very act of defining what a successful algorithm looks like is a value judgement; and what counts as success for the builders of the algorithm (frequently profit, savings, or efficiency) is not always good for society at large.