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Showing posts from December, 2016

Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O'Neil

Weapons of Math Destruction (2016) by Cathy O'Neil

Solid work of practical ethics, covering the rights and wrongs of applied statistics in general, but particularly our mass, covert automation of business logic in schools, universities, policing, sentencing, recruitment, health, voting... Much to admire: she is a quant (an expert high-stakes modeller) herself, understands the deep potential of modelling, and prefaces her negative examples with examples of great models, methods of math construction - the moneyball wonks, the FICO men, in mid-2011, when Occupy Wall Street sprang to life in Lower Manhattan, I saw that we had work to do among the broader public. Thousands had gathered to demand economic justice and accountability. And yet when I heard interviews with the Occupiers, they often seemed ignorant of basic issues related to finance... They are lucky to have her!

A 'Weapon of Math Destruction' is a model which is unaccountably damaging to many people's lives.…

what I said to you in 2016

Been reading, Q4 2016

(c) Uno Due Tre Fuoco #3 (2012) by Ekaterina Panikanova

This page is related to that page. You're reading something constructed using a rhetorical practice, something informed both directly and indirectly by the entire history of composition up until this point, from the Sophists to Derrida. But you're navigating it using pure logical statements, using spans of text or images that, when clicked or selected, get other files and display them on your screen. The text is based in the rhetorical tradition; the links are based in the logical tradition; and somewhere in there is something worth figuring out.

...the entire history of Western pedagogy [is] an oscillation between these two traditions, between the tradition of rhetoric as a means for obtaining power — language as just a collection of interconnected signifiers co-relating, without a grounding in "truth," and the tradition of seeking truth, of searching for a fundamental, logical underpinning for the universe, u…

Checklist for toxic algorithms

Based on comments in O'Neil's Weapons of Math Destruction. Full review here.

Is the subject aware they are being modelled? Is the subject aware of the model's outputs? Is the subject aware of the model's predictors and weights? Is the data the model uses open?Is it dynamic - does it update on its failed predictions?
ScaleDoes the model make decisions about many thousands of people?Is the model famous enough to change incentives in its domain?Does the model cause vicious feedback loops?Does the model assign high-variance population estimates to individuals?
DamageDoes the model work against the subject's interests?If yes, does the model do so in the social interest?Is the model fully automated, i.e. does it make decisions as well as predictions?Does the model take into account things it shouldn't? Do its false positives do harm? Do its true positives?Is the harm of false positives symmetric with the good of true positives?

Note that "Inaccuracy" i…

Curiosity: a new fragrance by Philip Ball.

—why is the sea salty?
—have animals souls, or intelligence?
—has opinion its foundation in the animate body?
—why do human beings not have horns?
—how is it that sound in its passage makes its way through any obstacle whatever?
—how is it that joy can be the cause of tears?
—why are the fingers of unequal length?
—why, if you have intercourse with a woman after she has lain with a leper, will you catch the disease while she will escape?
—what reason is there for the universality of death?
—why do we need food so frequently, or at all?
—why are the living afraid of the bodies of the dead?
—how is the globe supported in the middle of the air?
—why does the inflow of the rivers not increase the bulk of the ocean?
—why, if a vessel be full and its lower part open, does water not issue from it unless the upper lid be first removed?
—when one atom is moved, are all moved? (since whatever is in a state of motion moves something else, thus setting up infinite motion.)
—why d…

notable wordwordword

dragon-king (n.): An extreme event among extreme events: roughly, an outlier of a Pareto distribution, even. An elaboration on Taleb's black swan metaphor for unforeseeable extreme events. Not sure if it adds much, since the black swan is distribution-independent and Taleb doesn't fixate on power laws iirc.
chef's arse (n.): Painful chafing of the buttocks against each other; attends exercise in hot environments.
groufie ( n.): group selfie, obvs. No less contemptible for the awkward swerve around "groupie".
detaliate (mangled v.): To explain. Seen in this Quora answer by a non-native English speaker (possibly Romanian). I want to appropriate it: to detaliate is to respond to casual comments with a fisking.
consing: (n.): To save on memory allocation by comparing new values to existing allocations and just storing a hash to the existing one if it's a hit. From Lisp's cons cells, a basic key-value data structure.
sadcore: ( n.): Slow indie. Journo term: avoided…