This week's guest, Cathy O'Neil, wrote a book called Weapons of Math Destruction, which explores how pervasive predictive modeling is becoming and also how bad models influence, sometimes direct, big decisions. Bad in this case means models that are, to the trained eye, laughably inappropriate for their task. Take for example teacher testing, which will make hire/fire decisions on teacher performance based on an absurdly small and biased data set.
We of course also discuss the potential of algorithms and how Cathy set up a company, ORCAA, to audit algorithms to ensure they aren't, as she calls them WMDs! We also dive deep into the why of bad modeling, what it's like to be a math professor on and off airplanes and insurance risk.