Weapons of Math Destruction
Weapons of Math Destruction

Weapons of Math Destruction

Cathy O'Neil
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Book description
New York Times Bestseller

'Fascinating and deeply disturbing' - Yuval Noah Harari, Guardian Books of the Year

'A manual for the 21st-century citizen ... accessible, refreshingly critical, relevant and urgent' - Federica Cocco, Financial Times

A former Wall Street quant sounds an alarm on the mathematical models that pervade modern life - and threaten to rip apart our social fabric.

We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives - where we go to school, whether we get a loan, how much we pay for 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.

And yet, as Cathy O'Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and incontestable, even when they're wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination. Tracing the arc of a person's life, O'Neil exposes the black box models that shape our future, both as individuals and as a society. These "weapons of math destruction" score teachers and students, sort CVs, grant or deny loans, evaluate workers, target voters, and monitor our health.

O'Neil calls on modellers 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.

'A manual for the 21st-century citizen ... accessible, refreshingly critical, relevant and urgent' (Federica Cocco, Financial Times)

'O'Neil's book offers a frightening look at how algorithms are increasingly regulating people ... masterly' (Clay Shirky, The New York Times Book Review)

'Opens the curtain on algorithms that exploit people and distort the truth while posing as neutral mathematical tools. This book is wise, fierce, and desperately necessary' (Jordan Ellenberg, author of How Not to Be Wrong)

'A vital crash course in why we must interrogate the systems around us and demand better' (Cory Doctorow)

'Cathy O'Neil has a story to tell, and it is a story about you ... what she reveals is fascinating' (Danny Dorling, Times Higher Education)

Product details
More Information
ISBN 9780141985411
Format Paperback
Pages 272
Publication date 19 June 2017

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