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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.

Comment Re:GB is doing it, China is doing it (Score 2) 83

'Note that China has an extremely flexible definition of "national security"."

Like any state doesn't. Pretty well almost anything that embarrasses the government or makes the state look bad is included, which is a pretty low bar.

It's sad when a social institution - whether it be a nation, the local society of hairdressers and aestheticians, or the church - is considered more important than people, particularly when justice is involved..

Submission + - Matt Taibbi: 'Washington Post' 'Blacklist' Story Is Shameful and Disgusting (rollingstone.com)

MyFirstNameIsPaul writes: From the article:

Most high school papers wouldn't touch sources like these. But in November 2016, both the president-elect of the United States and the Washington Post are equally at ease with this sort of sourcing.

Even worse, the Post apparently never contacted any of the outlets on the "list" before they ran their story. Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism says she was never contacted. Chris Hedges of Truthdig, who was part of a group that won the Pulitzer Prize for The New York Times once upon a time, said the same. "We were named," he tells me. "I was not contacted."

Hedges says the Post piece was an "updated form of Red-Baiting."

"This attack signals an open war on the independent press," he says. "Those who do not spew the official line will be increasingly demonized in corporate echo chambers such as the Post or CNN as useful idiots or fifth columnists."


Comment Re:"Hacked" another word for spyware? (Score 1) 57

I think the real question is: why had an HPE contractor (or anyone else for that matter) downloaded the stats from a Navy personnel db (or the db itself)?

The only thing that comes to mind is that he was employed to cross-check the stats against a very long paper list and decided to do it at home while enjoying a beer and watching Netflix.

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