O carte utilă despre statisticile care ne influențează viața – Weapons of Math Destruction

Pe vremuri când făceam eu la facultate analiză statistică în SPSS nu credeam că interpretarea unor cifre de către un program ne poate influența viața așa de mult. După aceea am intrat în lumea asta a marketingului online și am văzut că fiecare clic poate fi contorizat, analizat și interpretat. Și totuși, când am citit Arme matematice de distrugere mi-a picat fața la unele faze. Cartea prezintă felul în care algoritmii matematici, sau WMD, cum le zice Cathy O’Neil, ne influențează viața, de la facultatea unde suntem admiși, creditele pe care le facem, joburile la care suntem acceptați și așa mai departe. Se aplică mai ales la americani, dar începem să simțim și noi efectele.

Am dat peste carte la Eftimie, deși mai citisem niște recenzii pe afară. El a dat destule exemple faine din carte încât m-a convins că merită citită, doar că eu fiind mai leneș ocupat mi-a luat cam 3 luni să o citesc. Personal prefer titlul în engleză, Weapons of Math Destruction, la fel ca și textul, în varianta originală. De asta și citatele sunt luate din versiunea în engleză.

Despre cum Universitățile din State își falsifică rezultatele examenelor pentru a se plasa mai sus într-un clasament creat de o revistă:

If the U.S. News list had turned into a moderate success, there would be no trouble. But instead it grew into a titan, quickly establishing itself as a national standard. It has been tying our education system into knots ever since, establishing a rigid to-do list for college administrators and students alike. The U.S. News college ranking has great scale, inflicts widespread damage, and generates an almost endless spiral of
destructive feedback loops. While it’s not as opaque as many other models, it is still a bona fide WMD.

Some administrators have gone to desperate lengths to drive up their rank. Baylor University paid the fee for admitted students to retake the SAT, hoping another try would boost their scores—and Baylor’s ranking. Elite small schools, including Bucknell University in Pennsylvania and California’s Claremont McKenna, sent false data to U.S. News, inflating the SAT scores of their incoming freshmen. And Iona College, in New York, acknowledged in 2011 that its employees had fudged numbers about nearly everything: test scores, acceptance and graduation rates, freshman retention, student-faculty ratio, and alumni giving. The lying paid off, at least for a while. U.S. News estimated that the false data had lifted Iona from fiftieth to thirtieth place among regional colleges in the Northeast.

Despre cum programele folosite de Poliție pentru reducerea infracționalității discriminează locuitorii cartierelor sărace:

But most crimes aren’t as serious as burglary and grand theft auto, and that is where serious problems emerge. When police set up their PredPol system, they have a choice. They can focus exclusively on so-called Part 1 crimes. These are the violent crimes, including homicide, arson, and assault, which are usually reported to them. But they can also broaden the focus by including Part 2 crimes, including vagrancy, aggressive panhandling, and selling and consuming small quantities of drugs. Many of these “nuisance” crimes would go unrecorded if a cop weren’t there to see them.

These nuisance crimes are endemic to many impoverished neighborhoods. In some
places police call them antisocial behavior, or ASB. Unfortunately, including them in the model threatens to skew the analysis. Once the nuisance data flows into a predictive model, more police are drawn into those neighborhoods, where they’re more likely to arrest more people. After all, even if their objective is to stop burglaries, murders, and rape, they’re bound to have slow periods. It’s the nature of patrolling. And if a patrolling cop sees a couple of kids who look no older than sixteen guzzling from a bottle in a brown bag, he stops them. These types of lowlevel crimes populate their models with more and more dots, and the models send the cops back to the same neighborhood.

This creates a pernicious feedback loop. The policing itself spawns new data, which justifies more policing. And our prisons fill up with hundreds of thousands of people found guilty of victimless crimes. Most of them come from impoverished neighborhoods, and most are black or Hispanic. So even if a model is color blind, the result of it is anything but.

Despre cum Facebook, Google și alte companii importante din online pot manipula opinia publică, alegerile și pot împinge oamenii către anumite acțiuni:

The company’s own researchers have been looking into this. During the 2010 and 2012 elections, Facebook conducted experiments to hone a tool they called the “voter megaphone.” The idea was to encourage people to spread word that they had voted. This seemed reasonable enough. By sprinkling people’s news feeds with “I voted” updates, Facebook was encouraging Americans—more than sixty-one million of them—to carry out their civic duty and make their voices heard. What’s more, by posting about people’s voting behavior, the site was stoking peer pressure to vote. Studies have shown that the quiet satisfaction of carrying out a civic duty is less likely to move people than the possible judgment of friends and neighbors.
At the same time, Facebook researchers were studying how different types of updates influenced people’s voting behavior. No researcher had ever worked in a human laboratory of this scale. Within hours, Facebook could harvest information from tens of millions of people, or more, measuring the impact that their words and shared links had on each other. And it could use that knowledge to influence people’s actions, which in this case happened to be voting.
That’s a significant amount of power. And Facebook is not the only company to wield it. Other publicly held corporations, including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and cell phone providers like Verizon and AT&T, have vast information on much of humanity—and the means to steer us in any way they choose.

Și mai sunt o mulțime de informații picante despre programele astea ce analizează informații și ne influențează viața fără ca noi să ne dăm seama. O lectură faină, dar nu e chiar de weekend, aveți nevoie de ceva timp pentru a procesa tot ce e în carte.

Weapons of Math Destruction e 32 de lei la Nemira, 36 lei pe eMag sau 40 lei pe Libris


2 Comentarii

    • Probabil 20%, domeniul s-a schimbat mult, dar nu trebuie sa gândești așa, facultatea îți dă un start, îți așează cunoștințe practice și teoretice, după aceea e obligația ta să menții pasul. În toate domeniile apar lucruri noi.

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