Weapons of Math Destruction: How big data increases inequality and threatens democracy

Like the last post ('Everybody Lies'), Weapons of Math Destruction is written by a data scientist. However, there is a significant difference between the tone of the two texts. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is clearly a bright guy, still fascinated with the potential of big data (although make no mistake, he can see the flaws and potential …

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Everybody lies: what the internet can tell us about who we really are

In the UK, 2018 might come to be seen as an important year in our appreciation of just how significantly data is playing a role in our shaping our lives in ways that are surprising, horrifying and certainly without meaningful consent. We can be grateful of the actions of journalists in the Guardian and Channel …

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Should there be a data science equivalent of the Hippocratic oath?

Yes I'm going to follow up with a couple of book reviews, but I think the following taken from Cathy O'Neil's brilliant Weapons of Math Destruction deserves sharing widely. I will remember that I didn't make the world, and it doesn't satisfy my equations. Though I will use models to estimate value, I will not …

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Are We Building Algorithms of Oppression?

How ideological are the algorithms used in learning analytics? At the core of any learning analytics process is the algorithm. Algorithms are just computational lines of code, so they're neutral, objective, unproblematic. Of course we have to take into account the legal GDPR requirements for privacy and destroying old data etc., but surely we don't …

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What numbers would you need to make a life changing decision?

I want to explore a sensitive matter about a real person who's discovered that he has cancer. I hope that I'm using this to illustrate an important point about the human capacity to interpret risk, but hope I don't lose sight of the humanity of this situation. On the 13th March 2018, the journalist and …

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