Monday, September 12, 2016

Math is racist

A new book titled Weapons of Math Destruction has gotten a lot of publicity, and here is a representative excerpt:
Algorithms are being used to determine how much we pay for insurance (more if your credit score is low, even if your driving record is clean), or what the terms of our loans will be, or what kind of political messaging we’ll receive. There are algorithms that find out the weather forecast and only then decide on the work schedule of thousands of people, laying waste to their ability to plan for childcare and schooling, never mind a second job.

Their popularity relies on the notion they are objective, but the algorithms that power the data economy are based on choices made by fallible human beings. And, while some of them were made with good intentions, the algorithms encode human prejudice, misunderstanding, and bias into automatic systems that increasingly manage our lives. Like gods, these mathematical models are opaque, their workings invisible to all but the highest priests in their domain: mathematicians and computer scientists. Their verdicts, even when wrong or harmful, are beyond dispute or appeal. And they tend to punish the poor and the oppressed in our society, while making the rich richer.
No, credit scores do not punish the poor. Lots of poor ppl have higher credit scores than rich ppl. You can get a high credit score by paying your bills, borrowing money, and making the necessary timely payments.

Credits scores allow me and millions of others to easily buy things online, and when traveling. There is no easier alternative. Vendors are eager to sell me things, but just want some assurance that they will get paid.

Math is racist in the same sense that the truth is racist.

This book is leftist nonsense. It does not deserve the good reviews it has. See rare negative review for how bad it is.

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