Forget Big Brother. That’s so 1984. The 21st century is the era of Big Data—and algorithms—that increases inequality and threatens democracy. In this edition of Smart Talk, mathematician Cathy O’Neil joins Andrew Mazzone to discuss how countless algorithms are standing in for human control and judgment, in ways that are not always evident, transparent or beneficial.
When Google tells us what to believe and Facebook tells us what’s news, mathematical models are creating a toxic cocktail for democracy. Smart Talk shines a light on the dark side of models that are opaque, unregulated and often wrong.
Cathy O’Neil is a data scientist and author of the blog mathbabe.org. She earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard and taught at Barnard College before moving to the private sector, where she worked for the hedge fund D. E. Shaw. Dr. O’Neil started the Lede Program in Data Journalism at Columbia and is the author of Weapons of Math Destruction, which was nominated for a National Book Award.