The Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases In inequality and Panic Levels
“WELL-FIGURED TO THE NEEDS OF DISCIPLINE”: Algorithms, Deep Learning and the Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases inequality and threatens democracy, by Martin Johns, Alex Kornfeld and Michael Norton. In “WELL-FIGURED TO THE NEEDS OF DISCIPLINE: HOW BIG datas AND PROXIES IMPROVE inequality and threaten democracy,” Martin Johns, Alex Kornfeld and Michael Norton point out that despite claims by policy makers that algorithms can improve healthcare, safety, and the economy, these programs have been slow to make it into the mainstream. They further detail how these policies are implemented, and why the major companies that rely on algorithm models have not adapted them for use in areas such as combating financial discrimination. They also detail how the political clout of certain industries is preventing the government from enacting regulatory policies that would benefit ordinary citizens. Finally, they offer several recommendations for reform.
There has been an explosion of technologies designed to make everyday tasks easier. One popular example is the widespread use of Google’s search engine as a platform for crowdsourced research. This crowdsourcing has come under fire from several quarters, because although it produces some valuable information, it has also generated a lot of nonsense. In the case of Google’s search engine, this meant search results were systematically flawed by using fake or inaccurate data. Similarly, in the case of Facebook’s social networking platform, popular claims that it was hacked, and therefore must be closed, are not supported by evidence.
The same goes for credit scores. A major problem has been made worse by a combination of factors. One is that credit scores have been increasing steadily since the 1980s. Two is that companies have used unscrupulous tactics in order to increase their gains. Three is that these companies’ practices have been unlawful or at least not revealed. These include practices like identity theft and price discrimination, which are illegal.
However, perhaps the most fundamental issue is the damage to reputation. A major problem has been made worse by a combination of factors. One is that companies have used unscrupulous tactics in order to increase their gains. Two is that these companies’ practices have been unlawful or at least not revealed. Three is that these practices have been unlawful or at least not revealed.
If the problem of big data and its effects on the reputation is not understood, the problem of its effect on credit scores will not be fully appreciated. For example, imagine that one wants to raise his or her credit score. Assuming (perhaps) that the person wants to do so for reasons other than boosting profits, it is plausible to suppose that the person would want to avoid making purchases where the credit score will be negatively affected. In such a situation, people who make impulsive purchases, such as driving fast cars, using credit cards when they don’t really need them, and living beyond their means are likely to be the targeted consumers. In fact, they may be the target population for all of the preceding decisions.
Such individuals will find themselves at the mercy of creditors, who will start calling frequently, and possibly denying people’s accounts. Even more likely, they will get into legal conflicts with their creditors over the credit score. When this happens, there may be a sudden, negative rise in the credit score, which will be reflected in higher interest rates, fewer credit lines, and lower credit scores. Eventually, people will find that it is no longer financially feasible to make even the most basic payments on credit cards, mortgages, and automobile loans.
We are already seeing such weaponry in action as it relates to mortgage lending. According to Edward P.auri, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, there has been a “perfect storm” of bad debt in America over the past two years. This includes residential real estate, student loans, commercial real estate, and credit card debts. As such, many analysts believe that this perfect storm of destruction is being driven by a variety of forces that are being fueled by various forms of mathematics.
When it comes to combating these instruments of destruction, those engaged in the arms industry have some interesting options, such as developing new tools, or trying to change the incentives that are associated with the use of these weapons. Those engaged in the manufacturing, banking, and insurance industries also have some weapons of their own in the form of special software, credit scoring systems, and even the collection of consumer data. With a combination of better regulation and incentives, there is little doubt that this sort of warfare against the common man will continue to become ever more prevalent.