“Welcome to the dark side of Big Data”.

This is how Cathy O’Neil introduces her fascinating and deeply disturbing portrait of powerful bureaucracies ceding control of the most intimate decisions of our lives to hyper-empowered computer models in Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy.

It opens the curtain on algorithms that exploit people and distort the truth while posing as neutral mathematical tools. Tracing the arc of a person’s life, the author 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.

Written in an entertaining and accessible way, this book calls on modellers to take more responsibility for their algorithms and on policy makers to regulate their use. In the end, though, it’s up to us to become more savvy about the models that govern our lives. A must read for the 21st-century citizen (005.7 ONE)

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