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Let's discuss WEAPONS OF MATH DESTRUCTION by Cathy O'Neil
Algorithms -- their power, their opacity, their unintended consequences -- are in the news today. Big data from the pervasive data collection strategies used by big companies make possible decision-making and policy enforcement by impersonal rules and computer processes. The problem is, as Cathy O'Neil points out in her powerful book with the catchy title, many of the algorithms used today are based on bad data and sloppy mathematical processes and can damage people's lives. The subtitle of O'Neil's book is How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. She illustrates her points with anecdotes about such things as teacher evaluation based on student exam performance, college ranking, online ads leading people to predatory subprime loans and for-profit colleges, sentencing people convicted of crimes, setting personalized insurance rates, and Facebook's influence on its users' moods, votes, and encouragement of addictive behavior. Cathy O'Neil is a mathematician and data scientist. She attended UC Berkeley and then received a PhD in Mathematics from Harvard in 1999. She has held faculty posts at MIT and Barnard College. She worked for four years in the finance industry including two years at a hedge fund. Her disenchantment with the world of finance led to her employment with the Occupy Wall Street movement. Two earlier books (Doing Data Science) and Being a Data Skeptic) precede this one. Weapons of Math Destruction published in 2016 was nominated for the 2016 National Book Award in Non-Fiction and has received attention and praise from social critics. Some typical comments include: "This book is wise, fierce and desperately necessary. ... Though terrifying, it's a surprisingly fun read. ... O'Neil's analysis is superb; her writing is enticing; and her findings are unsettling." Come and engage in a discussion of this book and the larger issues that it addresses.

Janna's House

508 Dogwood Drive · Chapel Hill, nc

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This is a casual and friendly book club that meets monthly at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill. We alternate between fiction and non-fiction selections and choose our books democratically via polls. Book suggestions are always welcome and appreciated! Flyleaf Books offers a 20% discount on books selected for our discussions!

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