Troubleshooting algorithms: A book review of Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil


  • Pauline Berry McMaster University



Fact: we no longer control our lives, algorithms do. Mortgage-backed securities, college rankings, online advertising, law enforcement, human resources, credit lending, insurance, social media, politics, and consumer marketing; algorithms live within each one of these – collecting, segmenting, defining, and planting each one of us into arbitrary, unassailable buckets. The algorithms and the data that feed this process is what data scientist and international bestselling author, Cathy O’Neil, calls Weapons of Math Destruction (WMDs). In her captivating and frankly, bone-chilling account of the power amassed by algorithms, O’Neil sheds much needed light into the seemingly omnipotent world of destructive algorithms.


Keywords: algorithms, algorithmic transparency, algorithmic bias, communications, public relations, ethics, data, predictive models