29 October 2018
7:00 pm
Tech&Society: “Weapons of Math Destruction”
Debate, Conference
Espacio Fundación Telefónica

Tech&Society: “Weapons of Math Destruction”


Aspen Institute España and Fundación Telefónica held a new conference on October 29th within the Tech & Society cicle with Cathy O’Neil, author of “Weapons of maths destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy”.

Big Data makes the difference in many different sectors, increasing companies’ competitiveness or improving their decisions making process. Insurance companies, banks (when granting loans) or human resources departments are example of daily usage of algorithms in pursuit of efficiency. However, for Cathy O’Neil, the design of these formulas brings important questions to the table: Allow algorithms equal opportunities? Make sense under a democratic system? Perpetuate inequalities? Big Data evaluates risks, checks our health, assigns profiles and highlights one candidate over others, but why are they not transparent? Are they under some kind of regulation? Welcome to the darkest side of Big Data.

Our guest to this new Tech&Society session, Cathy O’Neil, is a northamerican mathematician, author of mathbabe.com blogsite and author of some data science books, the last one, “Weapons of Math Destruction” was nominated for National Book Award 2016.


Cathy O’Neil

Cathy O’Neil earned a Ph.D. in math from Harvard, was a postdoc at the MIT math department, and a professor at Barnard College where she published a number of research papers in arithmetic algebraic geometry. She then switched over to the private sector, working as a quant for the hedge fund D.E. Shaw in the middle of the credit crisis, and then for RiskMetrics, a risk software company that assesses risk for the holdings of hedge funds and banks. She left finance in 2011 and started working as a data scientist in the New York start-up scene, building models that predicted people’s purchases and clicks.

She wrote Doing Data Science in 2013 and launched the Lede Program in Data Journalism at Columbia in 2014. She is a regular contributor to Bloomberg View and wrote the book Weapons of Math Destruction: how big data increases inequality and threatens democracy. She recently founded ORCAA, an algorithmic auditing company.

The conference was held in english and translated simultaneously.

In colaboration with:

Capitan Swing negro

More information

  • Cathy O'Neil
Espacio Fundación Telefónica
  • Debate
  • Conference