Real Data or Embedded Opinions?

In this era of big data, more and more companies conduct business based on information that is gathered and run through algorithms. In a recent Ted Talk, mathematician and data scientist Cathy O’Neil asks the troubling question, “What if the algorithms are wrong?”

O’Neil finds fault with the way we subjectively gather and interpret data. Data is often touted as objective, but in reality, bias is consciously or subconsciously injected. O’Neil believes algorithms are little more than opinions embedded in code, where someone or a small group decides in advance what’s important and what’s not.

A cautionary note to big data devotees: if diversity and inclusion are your goal, using popular, data-driven tools in your hiring process may be making your job harder. If the pool from which the data is gathered lacks diversity, you’re only seeing a small part of the truth.