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Cathy O'Neil

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 7:40am
I’m back from Ireland. It was as magical as I’d hoped. We had such a blast and I’ll always remember the trip, and also how much more mature Wolfie is than me in the context of long lines at airports, even though he’s only 8 (his words: “Of course I do get impatient, mom, but […]
Monday, June 26, 2017 - 5:20pm
First of all, forgive me if I’m blathering on, I’ve been hanging out with an 8-year-old for a week so I’m kind of starved for adult conversation. And even if you can’t actually answer me in real time, your comments are very welcome. Second of all, I would like to comment on traveling in general. […]
Sunday, June 25, 2017 - 7:40am
In my previous post, I explained how my trip to Dublin with my son Wolfie came to be. Now I want to tell you what we’ve done so far. Day 1 – complaints We started with the standard squished-in-the-airplane for 7 hours, then spend forever getting luggage, then find slow shuttle bus to car rental, […]
Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 5:10pm
I’m here in Dublin with my son Wolfie for a week. It’s absolutely amazing. To understand why you’ll need to know how we decided to come here in the first place. It all started on St. Patrick’s Day, which my son happened to have off, and on which I happened to be procrastinating, so we […]
Monday, June 19, 2017 - 11:40am

This is a guest post, converted from a letter to me, by Derek Osborne, a father of four and active participant in his community with a strong belief that real change happens at the local level. Derek is a data scientist at Intel where he works on a team that utilizes machine learning techniques to optimize the workforce at Intel. Prior to working at Intel, he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in Biophysics.

I moved to Hillsboro, Oregon four years ago with my wife and three kids after finishing my Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. Like many parents when choosing a home, I checked on the school scores of the nearby elementary schools and there was a large variance in the Zillow school scores that are taken from greatschools.org

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 - 11:40am
My newest Bloomberg View column is out! What’s Wrong With Letting Tech Run Our Schools You can see all my Bloomberg columns here.
Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - 7:42am

I’ve got a new Bloomberg View column out: A Mathematician’s Secret: We’re Not All Geniuses   See all my Bloomberg View columns here.

For each certified genius, there are at least a hundred great people who helped achieve such outstanding results. You don’t have to be a genius to become a mathematician. If you find this statement at all surprising, you’re an example of what's wrong with the way our society identifies, encourages and rewards talent.
Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - 11:40am
Nerds, you’re in luck! We’ve designed Stacks Project Hoodies and they’re for sale. Please tell all your nerd friends to sign up by June 16th so we’ll have them printed in time for the Stack Project Workshop taking place in Michigan at the end of July. Here’s the Google form, have at it! Thanks to […]
Thursday, June 1, 2017 - 11:40am
I ranted against Silicon Valley “entrepreneurs” in my latest Bloomberg View column: Don’t Expect Tech to Care About Your Problems: Interplanetary travel is way more fun than accountability.   See all my Bloomberg View columns here.
Thursday, May 25, 2017 - 11:40am

What if Fox News decided to address its gender and racial discrimination issues by entrusting personnel decisions to an algorithm? It’s a fascinating thought experiment -- and one that helps illustrate the dangers of putting too much trust in big data.

The channel’s problems won’t end with the passing of founder Roger Ailes, 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 - 11:42am
I’ve gone and done it, folks: I’ve designed a “Period Equity (tampon) Hat” for my friend Laura Strausfeld, who is speaking later today at a cool rally in D.C.: Rally for Safe Feminine Care Products in Washington, DC! Anyway, here’s the hat, tell me what you think:   I had to learn a new technique […]
Monday, May 22, 2017 - 5:30pm
This is a guest post by Eugene Stern, originally posted on his blog sensemadehere.wordpress.com.   “Why am I surrounded by statistical illiterates?” — Roger Mexico in Gravity’s Rainbow Oops, they did it again. This weekend, the New York Times put out this profile of William Sanders, the originator of evaluating teachers using value-added models based […]
Sunday, May 21, 2017 - 5:10pm
My newest Bloomberg View Column: Donald Trump’s Path-Independent Theory of Mind: How the U.S. president is like a Google ad test You can see all of my Bloomberg View columns here.
Friday, May 19, 2017 - 7:40am
My newest Bloomberg Column about politically driven data finagling: Unreliable Data Can Threaten Democracy Also, you can see all my Bloomberg columns here.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017 - 7:40am
I’m a bit behind with posting my latest gargantuan knitting project. I call it the 100 Day Blanket because I bought the yarn on the day after the election in an effort to counterbalance my wildly unbalanced thoughts and emotions, and I finished it 100 days after the inauguration. It was a very successful coping […]
Monday, May 15, 2017 - 11:40am
My latest Bloomberg View column, probably my favorite so far: Don’t Grade Teachers With a Bad Algorithm
Friday, May 12, 2017 - 4:36pm

Israeli historian Yuval Harari is getting a lot of attention with a dramatic vision of the future, in which humans merge with technology to evolve beyond themselves and ultimately colonize outer space -- potentially making our generation one of the last of Homo Sapiens.

I'm hoping this is more of a cautionary tale than a roadmap for the development of our species.

Harari is a book-writing rock star, whose volume "Sapiens" won praise from the likes of Barack Obama and Bill Gates. In his follow-up, "Homo Deus," he makes a lot of speculative statements in a way...

Wednesday, April 5, 2017 - 2:40pm

Graphics courtesy of meta-chart.com

My buddy Brian Conrad alerted me yesterday to a very welcome three-way intersection:

So, anyone surprised? I’m not. But I am excited. Here’s what we’ve got on Ravelry:

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 9.18.17 AM

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 11:28am

Maybe it’s not so bad to have algorithmic overlords -- at least when they are pressured into protecting people rather than exploiting them.

Earlier this week, Facebook declared that it will no longer let certain kinds of advertisers engage in racial profiling. Specifically, it will prohibit credit, housing, and employment advertisers from using “ethnic affinity” categories -- marketing profiles that correlate strongly with race -- in deciding whom to exclude from their audience.

The reform didn’t happen out of the blue. Pressure came first from a ProPublica investigative experiment last October, in which the news organization successfully submitted to Facebook a housing advertisement...

Friday, January 6, 2017 - 9:51am

Yesterday I wrote a post about the unsurprising discriminatory nature of recidivism models. Today I want to add to that post with an important goal in mind: we should fix recidivism models, not trash them altogether.

The truth is, the current justice system is fundamentally unfair, so 

Cathy O'Neil is the author of the blog mathbabe.org and several books, including Weapons of Math Destruction.