Discrimination algorithms

Posted to Statistics  |  Tags: , ,  |  Nathan Yau

Claire Cain Miller for the Upshot on when algorithms discriminate:

There is a widespread belief that software and algorithms that rely on data are objective. But software is not free of human influence. Algorithms are written and maintained by people, and machine learning algorithms adjust what they do based on people’s behavior. As a result, say researchers in computer science, ethics and law, algorithms can reinforce human prejudices.

I bring this up often, because I apparently still hold a grudge, but I will always remember the time I told someone I study statistics. He responded skeptically, “Don’t computers do that for you?”

In the words of Jeffrey Heer: “It’s an absolute myth that you can send an algorithm over raw data and have insights pop up.”


Life expectancy changes

The data goes back to 1960 and up to the most current estimates for 2009. Each line represents a country.

Marrying Age

People get married at various ages, but there are definite trends that vary across demographic groups. What do these trends look like?

Divorce and Occupation

Some jobs tend towards higher divorce rates. Some towards lower. Salary also probably plays a role.

Most popular porn searches, by state

We’ve seen that we can learn from what people search for, through the eyes of Google suggestions: state stereotypes, national …