Author Cathy O’Neil to discuss how big data increases inequality and threatens democracy. Saturday, September 26
Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch will be closed Tuesday, September 29 due to the Presidential debate.

Cathy O’Neil on Democracy

Important decisions that affect our lives are made every day. Increasingly, those decisions are made not by humans but by computers.  In theory, this should lead to more fairness since everyone is judged by the same rules, and bias is eliminated. In reality, the algorithms that are used to make these decisions are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable…even when they’re wrong. 

These algorithms regularly reinforce discrimination or are built on historical data that punishes the downtrodden based on information as innocuous as their zip code. Tracing the arc of a person’s life, O’Neil exposes the black box models that shape our future as individuals and as a society.  These “weapons of math destruction” score students and teachers, sort resumes, grant (or deny) loans, evaluate workers, target voters, set parole, 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 more savvy about the models that govern our lives. This important book empowers us to ask the tough questions, uncover the truth, and demand change.   

Cathy O’Neil is an American mathematician and the author of the blog mathbabe.org and several books on data science, including Weapons of Math Destruction.  She is the former Director of the Lede Program in Data Practices at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism’s Tow Center and was employed as a Data Science Consultant at Johnson Research Labs.

Space is limited. Registration is required.

Sat, Sep 26 | 2pm | Online Event