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Cathy O'Neil

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Friday, October 20, 2017 - 11:35am

I was on WBUR’s Open Source with Christopher Lydon – a show I regularly listened to when I lived in Somerville – last night discussing Max Tegmark’s new book, Life 3.0. Other guests were Erik Brynjolfsson and Yarden Katz. Here’s the episode: Intelligence By Design

Friday, October 20, 2017 - 11:35am
I was on WBUR’s Open Source with Christopher Lydon – a show I regularly listened to when I lived in Somerville – last night discussing Max Tegmark’s new book, Life 3.0. Other guests were Erik Brynjolfsson and Yarden Katz. Here’s the episode: Intelligence By Design
Wednesday, October 4, 2017 - 5:10pm

Image: Maurizio Pesce

Have you heard? Someday we will live in a perfect society ruled by an omnipotent artificial intelligence, provably and utterly beneficial to mankind.

That is, if we don’t all die once the machines gain consciousness, take over, and kill us.

Wait, actually, they are going to take some of us with them, and we will transcend to another plane of existence. Or at least clones of us will. Or at least clones of us that are not being perpetually tortured for our current sins.

These are all outcomes that futurists of various stripes currently believe. A futurist is a person who spends a serious amount of time—either paid or unpaid—forming theories about society’s future.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 - 5:10pm
I’m very happy with an essay that just came out this morning with Boston Review, on futurism: Know Thy Futurist Also, my newest Bloomberg View column came out this morning, about how we’re having the wrong conversation about personal data: The Equifax Hack Started the Wrong Conversation For the rest of my Bloomberg View columns, […]
Monday, September 25, 2017 - 11:35am
My latest Bloomberg View article is out. I interviewed Michal Kosinski, gaydar algorithm author, about the ethical responsibilities of data scientists: ‘Gaydar’ Shows How Creepy Algorithms Can Get Read my other Bloomberg View columns here.
Thursday, September 14, 2017 - 5:05pm
The paperback edition of my book just came out last week, so I’ve been on a tear with interviews, and I’m also doing two public events in New York City in the next week. I wanted to tell you about it in case you have time to come! I’ll be at the Brooklyn Book Festival […]
Wednesday, September 13, 2017 - 11:35am

My latest Bloomberg View column is out, in which I try to imagine an internet optimized for citizens rather than consumers: Facebook and Google, Show Us Your Ad Data   For other columns, take a look here.

Monday, September 11, 2017 - 11:35am
I have a new and disgusting if useful way of thinking about weight loss. You’re welcome in advance. A couple of weeks into the starvation diet and right after my surgery, I complained to my husband that all my weight loss – something like 20 pounds or so at the time – had been taken […]
Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - 11:35am
My newest Bloomberg View column just came out: We’re Losing the War on Opioids For older columns, click here.
Thursday, August 31, 2017 - 11:35am
So, I’m learning to eat again. Like a newborn child perhaps, but worse, since I have all sorts of memories of how much I can eat and what I like to eat that are misleading. A Bayesian prior that I can’t easily shake. Pescatarian For example, once I was cleared to eat ground meat, I […]
Wednesday, August 30, 2017 - 11:35am

Researchers and politicians are trying to make "black boxes" more accountable.

Computer algorithms play an increasingly important role in running the world -- filtering news, assessing prospective employees, even deciding when to set prisoners free. All too often, though, their creators don’t make them adequately accountable to the people whose lives they affect.

It’s thus good to see some researchers and politicians starting to do something about it.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 11:35am
This is a guest post by Becky Jaffe. One way to disarm the dangerous ideology of white supremacy is to teach and learn Black history inside and outside of the classroom. Here is a personal list I compiled from my own collection of books and documentaries I would like to share with you. I have […]
Wednesday, August 23, 2017 - 7:40am
It went up this morning, I hope you like it: The era of blind faith in big data must end
Saturday, August 19, 2017 - 11:35am
Hello, friends! I’m here to give you an update on my recovery from bariatric surgery. Swimming and biking I’ve been cleared to swim and bike and take baths, and I’ve been swimming and biking – mostly biking and taking baths – every day since I got the news, which was on Tuesday. A small bummer: […]
Friday, August 18, 2017 - 11:35am
I wrote a piece for Bloomberg View this week, here’s how it starts: We’re having the wrong conversation about women in tech. We need to decouple two very different issues that have arisen amid the commotion about diversity at Google: biological differences between genders, and bias against females working in tech and more generally in […]
Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 11:35am
This is a guest post by Michael J. Barany, a postdoc in History at Dartmouth. One year ago, I wrote a post for the Scientific American Guest Blog arguing against the widespread truism that mathematics is everywhere. The post laid out the history of mathematics as a special and exclusive kind of knowledge wielded by privileged elites. I […]
Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 11:30am

The Trump administration has taken on three ambitious statistical projects: tracking down cases of voter registration fraud, identifying racism in college admissions and developing an algorithm for “extreme vetting” of visa applications.

These would all be very tricky even for a trained professional. I doubt the president’s people are up to the task.

Sunday, August 6, 2017 - 11:35am
I’ve started to get emails from concerned friends checking up on me, so it’s high time I give an update on my condition over here: I’m doing great!! I’ve been eating really carefully, and enjoying every single (tiny) bite. I dream of bean soup, perfectly seasoned. I am, in fact, well on my way to […]
Friday, August 4, 2017 - 11:35am

For all its absurdity, the debate over Obamacare has accomplished something positive: It has educated people that insurance is really about risk pooling -- as in you need both healthy and sick people to participate if it’s going to be affordable for the sick.

Some believe that universal government health coverage is the only way to guarantee such risk-sharing. They will be all the more right in the age of big data.

Sunday, July 30, 2017 - 11:30am
I’m happy to report I’m off pain meds, which makes thinking enormously easier. I want to share observations and comments I’ve accumulated while high over the past week before I forget them: 1. Pain There are lots of online resources, like this one, which tell you what to expect after bariatric sleeve surgery. When they […]
Cathy O'Neil is the author of the blog and several books, including Weapons of Math Destruction.