Remember the 2008 financial crisis and the “dark financial arts” that caused it? According to P.S.R. keynoter Cathy O’Neil, there are parallels between those calamitous days and the use of big data today. In her new book, “Weapons of Math Destruction,” O’Neil, a Harvard-trained mathematician who used to ply her talents on Wall Street, argues that the “discriminatory and even predatory way in which algorithms are being used in everything from our school system to the criminal justice system is really a silent financial crisis.” To solve the problem, O’Neil has proposed a Hippocratic Oath for mathematicians and a host of regulatory reforms that she’ll outline in Thursday’s opening plenary session.
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