Discrimination algorithms

July 10, 2015

Topic

Statistics  /  , ,

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.”