Models are opinions embedded in mathematics.
Algorithms control almost everything we do on the internet, from Google search, Netflix movie recommendations, our Facebook news feed, Job applications, etc. Algorithms are mathematical models used to solve a set of problems or to perform computational instructions. American Mathematician and Author Cathy O’Neil write about the impact of big data algorithms on increasing preexisting inequality in the world. In Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, she calls these algorithms Weapons of Math Destruction.
WMDs, are mathematical models or algorithms that claim to quantify important traits: teacher quality, recidivism risk, creditworthiness but have harmful outcomes and often reinforce inequality, keeping the poor poorer and the rich richer.
Cathy defines algorithms as opinions embedded in code. These algorithms are being weaponized, and she argues that the algorithms are becoming more Widespread, Mysterious, and Destructive. She sights examples of how the WMDs are being used in various fields such as teacher assessment, predictive policing, insurance, the justice system, microtargeting politics, money lending, and how the algorithm decisions can lead to increasing inequality, reinforcing racism, and harming the poor.