Cathy O’Neil is a enthusiastic algorithm activist – working tirelessly towards exposing the malicious effects some algorithms have on the society and ultimately – on humanity. She calls these algorithms Weapons of Math Destruction – they are non-transparent mathematical models, scaled or scalable, and they have ill effects on those who are already disadvantaged in our society. Many times, we humans do not even see this effect, because it works hidden in the automated algorithms we are trained to trust without a doubt. This is why we need Cathy – to shed light on some of the wickedness hidden right under our noses.
“It’s the age of the algorithm, and we have arrived unprepared” – Cathy O’Neil
Cathy is the founder of ORCAA, a company that specialises in algorithmic auditing and risk consulting. The company aims to help companies and organizations towards fair use of algorithms, developing rigorous methodology, and set the standards for algorithmic auditing. She earned a PhD. in mathematics from Harvard and did her postdoc at MIT. She has also worked as a professor at Barnard College.
Her latest book Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy expertly exposes the “dark side” of Big Data. In the book, she calls on mathematical modelers to take more responsibility for their algorithms and policy makers to regulate their use.
Aside from the book, she has also written Doing Data Science in 2013 and launched the Lede Program in Data Journalism at Columbia in 2014. She is a regular contributor to Bloomberg. Before ORCAA, she has worked in the private sector as a data analyst and data scientist.