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Weapons of Math Destruction (First Year Read, 2021)

A guide to the 2021 First Year Read pick, Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O'Neil.

AI in Criminal Justice

“[F]airness is squishy and hard to quantify. It is a concept. And computers, for all of their advances in language and logic, still struggle mightily with concepts. ... So fairness isn’t calculated into WMDs. And the result is massive, industrial production of unfairness. If you think of a WMD as a factory, unfairness is the black stuff belching out of the smoke stacks. It’s an emission, a toxic one.” (pp. 94-95, emphasis in the original)

 

AI and the Justice System


Algorithmic Bias

Mathematical Models and Inequality

“[M]athematical models can sift through data to locate people who are likely to face great challenges, whether from crime, poverty, or education. It's up to society whether to use that intelligence to reject and punish them--or to reach out to them with the resources they need. We can use the scale and efficiency that make WMDs so pernicious in order to help people. It all depends on the objective we choose.” (p. 118)