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 troublingly, 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 a "toxic cocktail for democracy". Welcome to the dark side of big data.
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 paroles, and monitor our health.
O'Neil calls on modelers to take more responsibility for their algorithms and on policy makers to regulate their use. But in the end, it's up to us to become savvier about the models that govern our lives. This important book empowers us to ask the tough questions, uncover the truth, and demand change.
©2016 Cathy O'Neil (P)2016 Random House Audio
"Weapons of Math Destruction opens the curtain on algorithms that exploit people and distort the truth while posing as neutral mathematical tools. This book is wise, fierce, and desperately necessary." (Jordan Ellenberg, University of Wisconsin-Madison, author of How Not to Be Wrong )
"Weapons of Math Destruction shines invaluable light on the invisible algorithms and complex mathematical models used by government and big business." (Astra Taylor, author of The People's Platform)
O'Neil makes a strong case for the increasing importance of ethics in data science. The evidence for discrimination, whether intentional or not, is compelling. This book is a must for data professionals and anyone concerned with growing inequality in the economy.
I LOVED the ENTIRE premise surrounding this book. It was an AMAZING book. Offering a WEALTH of knowledge in a well organized format. As complex as the main topic of the book is, the author gave great simplifying examples, in areas that may be foreign to a non-mathematician. This book makes me want to become a data scientist to better help in the areas of inequity within government practices. I WILL recommend to EVERYONE! EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT READ!
I like Cathy's writing and analysis. I wish they had gotten a professional reader though, it would have made it more enjoyable. It's not as if Cathy is awful or anything, she is just not professional.
The story is presented in a series of topics disclosures that compare by theme, data models can be made and used in ways that can damage society and make bad situations worse. Cathy O'Neil reveals how data models can be relied on with good intentions in mind, and by ignorance, dismissal or narrow-sightedness, can misrepresent, injure and derail people and societal function-ability.
While the author makes some compelling points about the use of big data and how people can get caught up in "pernicious feedback loops," understand going in that she is an Occupy Wall Street sympathizer and has a strong left wing stance. Unfortunately I didn't understand this before my purchase and could have saved myself a lot of time by just reading a pamphlet instead.
While I would consider myself a centrist and am open to a lot of the arguments made by the left, some of this was just hard to stomach. (To be clear, she makes some valid points and gives the listener some interesting things to think about). The author is clearly out to prove a point about how the poor, minorities, and women are being kept down by The Man, which is now essentially labeled as "weapons of math destruction" or WMD's. The answer as usual is bigger government, more regulation & oversight, and socialist tendencies in order to provide justice.
In my view, the real answer lies somewhere in the middle and not on the fringes. If you're an OWS sympathizer, voted for Bernie, or think that capitalism stinks, this book is for you. If not, buyer beware and understand beforehand that you're going to be challenged to listen to 8+ hours of how everyone except the wealthy and privileged are being oppressed by WMD's.
Also, her narration is not the best. Kind of tedious at times.
I enjoyed the book. There are a lot of great anecdotal examples which are enlightening, and sometimes scary. I would have liked a more wholistic view the problem but it would require a much more detailed study.
Most of the stories present data skewed for her design.
A honest review from an open minded person.
A cold fish.
all of em.
What a waste of money.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.