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Cathy O'Neil

  • ... racism is the most slovenly of predictive models. It is powered by haphazard data gathering and spurious correlations, reinforced by institutional inequities, and polluted by confirmation bias.

  • Big Data processes codify the past. They do not invent the future. Doing that requires moral imagination, and that’s something only humans can provide. We have to explicitly embed better values into our algorithms, creating Big Data models that follow our ethical lead. Sometimes that will mean putting fairness ahead of profit.

  • Without the Electoral College ... every vote would be worth exactly the same. That would be a step toward democracy.

  • In a system in which cheating is the norm, following the rules amounts to a handicap.

  • The math-powered applications powering the data economy were based on choices made by fallible human beings. Some of these choices were no doubt made with the best intentions. Nevertheless, many of these models encoded human prejudice, misunderstanding, and bias into the software systems that increasingly managed our lives. Like gods, these mathematical models were opaque, their workings invisible to all but the highest priests in their domain: mathematicians and computer scientists. Their verdicts, even when wrong or harmful, were beyond dispute or appeal. And they tended to punish the poor and the oppressed in our society, while making the rich richer.

  • In our largely segregated cities, geography is a highly effective proxy for race.

  • It's a standard thing you hear from startup people — that their product is somehow improving the world. And if you follow the reasoning, you will get somewhere, and I'll tell you where you get: You'll get to the description of what happens to the winners under the system that they're building.

    • Cathy O'Neil
  • Every system using data separates humanity into winners and losers.

    • Cathy O'Neil
  • The public trusts big data way too much.

    • Cathy O'Neil

Cathy O'Neil, U.S. mathematician, data scientist, writer


Full name: Cathy Helen O’Neil.