Review of Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil

This is a great read on the implications of big data. Cathy O’Neil discusses how algorithms distort the truth and exploit people, despite their positioning as “neutral” tools. She discusses their impact across different domains, including advertising, education, justice, employment, finance and social media.

Cathy O’Neil argues that algorithms and big data exacerbate existing inequalities in society, pushing everyone into more tightly defined silos. Automated systems do not change by themselves unless someone intervenes (that is, they codify and perpetuate the past). Humans and human thinking evolve over time, so can be more future oriented than algorithms better reflecting how society evolves and changes.

While automation has great benefits for some aspects of our lives, it also poses and existential risk in other more important areas. As society and businesses become more and more short-term and short-sighted, let’s keep our minds open to the bigger picture.

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