When they are secretive, important, and destructive, I’ve coined a term for these algorithms: “weapons of math destruction.”
In measurement, we like to think of numbers, algorithms, and data as agnostic pieces of a puzzle. But are they? Algorithms, as data scientist Cathy O’Neil explains, are designed to answer questions and to solve problems. Therefore, the underlying assumptions that inform the questions being asked need to be examined too. Whomever is defining success and designing the algorithm is making decisions that can affect outcomes. This month’s video is from a TED Talk, and it brings up a lot of interesting questions that data scientists—and measurement experts—need to keep in mind when drawing conclusions based on data and algorithms.