Weapons of Math Destruction
Please read the Introduction and Chapter 6 of Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O'Neil. Then include in your reflection the following:
- Explain in your own words what properties constitute O'Neil's definition of a Weapon of Math Destruction.
- Give an example of a weapon of math destruction outside of what O'Neil discusses that you find important. (You might need to do a little research/searching to find one.) If you are comfortable, please share an example of an WMD (or at least an algorithm) that has affected you personally, either in a positive or negative way. (Note that the algorithm can be extraordinarily simple - it doesn't need to be run on a deep learning neural net. As a quick example, consider the algorithms professors use to compute your final grade in a course. Note, you might not always know for sure when your life has been affected by a WMD, as that is the nature of WMDs, but you might have some hunches.)
In your reflection you should also reflect more generally on the reading. You can write about what you found meaningful or thought provoking, or you can use the following as prompts:
- Do you like O'Neil's definition of a WMD? If not, what should be added/taken away/modified?
- Some of you are likely thinking about jobs, or even on the job search right now. Did the reading change how you are thinking or approaching your job search (either currently or in the future)?
- Why do you think there are so many WMDs in our society today? What incentivizes their creation?
Further Optional Reading
Cathy O'Neil's book Weapons of Math Destruction is available as an e-book or physical copy from the Middlebury College Library.