Note: Many of the ideas below were adapted from their original form in Cathy O’Neil’s “Weapons of Math Destruction”, which discusses the devastating impacts of statistical models. If you’re interested in learning more about how your life gets turned into data, I highly recommend it.
The Big Data revolution has promised changes in many domains, from the economy to education. Companies such as Google and Facebook use complex statistical models to tailor content towards individual users, and even the U.S. government is beginning to use data science to inform public policy and legislation.
But not all these changes are for the better. In some cases, reliance on statistical models contributes to gross injustices. This is particularly evident in the recidivism models used for prison sentencing.