Cathy O'Neil is out for blood. Her target? Big data. That was the message she delivered to privacy pros during her keynote address yesterday here at Privacy. Security. Risk. 2016, and she asked for help in her mission. To be clear, what O'Neil really aims to destroy are the algorithms employed in the name of utilizing big data to make decisions, algorithms she calls weapons of math disruption, or WMDs, which she says have very real negative impacts on vulnerable populations. But it's not so much the algorithms themselves that are the problem. We, as human beings plugging in the data and creating the algorithms, are the problem. "It's about fairness. We as technologists try to put those questions at arm's length, and we try to act as if the algorithm is somehow elevated above moral values, but it's not.”
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