Cathy O’Neil is the author of “Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy”. Having read her book, I think she would make an excellent and timely guest on the Waking Up Podcast, especially given Sam’s interest in the topic of AI. Her premise, in a nutshell, is that algorithms have a tendency to reflect our own biases, too often magnifying them to unprecedented degrees as they become integrated into widely used systems. Rarely are they evaluated for unintended consequences following adoption, or even tested in the first place to ensure they are actually tracking variables the algorithm’s creators assume are correlated with the desired outcome. For example, it is assumed by many employers that a poor credit history (algorithm) is a proxy for future job performance, when in fact research indicates a poor credit history is much more likely to mean a person encountered a major health crisis, was laid off when his/her company was downsized or went out of business, or was the victim of some other unfortunate life event beyond his/her control. I have heard other guests discussing the topic of AI/technology touch on this, but I don’t recall a podcast that focused largely/entirely on this problem and its consequences for society.
Yes! This would be so interesting. Cathy’s book demonstrates the collision of ethics and the algorithms destined to take over our daily lives. This would be a great podcast.