Weapons of Math Destruction and the hippocratic oath

Don’t mess with the maths – it can shoot you in the foot! -‘You talking to me, you talking to me…’

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Here is a very interesting article on the dangers of the big data hype: http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/computing/software/are-you-making-a-weapon-of-math-destruction.

Author Cathy O’Neil (The mathbabe!) in her book Weapons of Math Destruction (What a name!) states that we should remember that predictive models and algorithms are really just “opinions embedded in math.” Well said, indeed.  After all, maths is annother language – a very powerful one for emotionless, ‘logical’ calculus though.

WeaponsMath r4-6-06.jpg

Maybe time for all to take the  Modeler’s Hippocratic Oath (Derman and Wilmott):

I will remember that I didn’t make the world, and it doesn’t satisfy my equations.

∼ Though I will use models boldly to estimate value, I will not be overly impressed by mathematics.

∼ I will never sacrifice reality for elegance without explaining why I have done so.

∼ Nor will I give the people who use my model false comfort about its accuracy. Instead, I will make explicit its assumptions and oversights.

∼ I understand that my work may have enormous effects on society and the economy, many of them beyond my comprehension.

Author: amitabht

Lecturer, Loughborough University, England

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