Austin Computer Book Club

May: Weapons of Math Destruction

"Weapons of Math Destruction" by Cathy O'NeilOur book for May will be Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, written in 2016 by Cathy O’Neil.

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 shocking book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination: If a poor student can’t get a loan because a lending model deems him too risky (by virtue of his race or neighborhood), 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.

Where to find a copy of this title:

The meetup will be on Tuesday, May 22 at 6:30PM at our usual location: the ActiveProspect office, 4203 Guadalupe in Hyde Park.

Be sure to RSVP on Meetup so we’ll have plenty of pizza and drinks for everyone.

See you there!

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