February Science Book Club: "Weapons of Math Destruction"

February 8, 2020 - 11:00am

The February Science Book Club selection is "Weapons of Math Destruction" by Cathy O'Neil. Copies of the book are in stock at Boneshaker at 20% off list price. The book is also readily available from the Hennepin County Library and as an audiobook.

"We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives—where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance—are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated. But as Cathy O’Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination: If a poor student can’t get a loan because a lending model deems him too risky (by virtue of his zip code), he’s then cut off from the kind of education that could pull him out of poverty, and a vicious spiral ensues. Models are propping up the lucky and punishing the downtrodden, creating a “toxic cocktail for democracy.” Welcome to the dark side of Big Data."

The Boneshaker Science Book Club is free and open to the public. We meet the first Saturday of the month from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., unless we don't, so please check the calendar in case a fast one has been pulled (Note: I'll be traveling the first Saturday in February, hence this being the following weekend). The books we read will be science-related, but hopefully accessible to those without an academic background in science. We seek to select titles that are in line with Boneshaker's mission of social justice.

Note from host: I'll bring coffee to share!