It’s Us Versus the Algorithms

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In “Weapons of Math Destruction” Cathy O’Neil writes about how corporations and governments use mathematical models to make significant and sometimes harmful decisions about our lives. O’Neil says that she worries about the losers of these models, whose lives become worse without their ever knowing why. When writing the book became depressing and stressful, O’Neil drew strength from playing music with her friends in a bluegrass group called the TomTown Ramblers. Sheila Kolhatkar, who writes about business and technology for The New Yorker, visited O’Neil on a Sunday night during band practice to talk algorithms, burritos, and bluegrass.