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Submission + - Weapons of Math Destruction Author: Models are Opinions Embedded in Math (latimes.com)

dangle writes: The LA Times has an interview with "Weapons of Math Destruction" author Cathy O'Neil discussing her concerns about the social consequences of ill-considered mathematical modeling. She discusses the example of a NYC Department of Education algorithm designed to grade school teachers that no one outside of the coders had access to. "The Department of Education did not know how to explain the scores that they were giving out to teachers," she observes. "...(T)he very teachers whose jobs are on the line don’t understand how they’re being evaluated. I think that’s a question of justice. Everyone should have the right to know how they’re being evaluated at their job," she argues. Another example discussed is a Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services risk-modeling algorithm developed by SAS to score children according to their risk of being abused so that social workers can better target their efforts. Depending on the ethical considerations, such an algorithm could intentionally overweight factors such as income or ethnicity in a way that could tip the balance between right to privacy and protection of abused minors one way or another. "I want to separate the moral conversations from the implementation of the data model that formalizes those decisions. I want to see algorithms as formal versions of conversations that have already taken place," she concludes.

Submission + - Pioneering astronomer Vera Rubin dies at 88 (www.cbc.ca)

Mikkeles writes: Vera Rubin, a pioneering astronomer who helped find powerful evidence of dark matter, has died, her son said Monday. She was 88.

Vera Rubin found that galaxies don't quite rotate the way they were predicted, and that lent support to the theory that some other force was at work, namely dark matter.

Rubin's scientific achievements earned her numerous awards and honours, including a National Medal of Science presented by then-president Bill Clinton in 1993 "for her pioneering research programs in observational cosmology." She also became the second female astronomer to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

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