CRF Blog

Interview of the Day: Cathy O’Neil

by Bill Hayes

The Los Angeles Times interviews Cathy O’Neil, author of Weapons of Math Destruction.

When did you first realize that big data could be used to perpetuate inequality?

I found out that the work I was doing on tailored advertising was a mechanism for for-profit colleges to find vulnerable, single black mothers. Find their pain points and promise them a better life if they signed up for online courses, which in the meantime loaded them up with debt and gave them a useless education. I was like, “That’s not helping anyone; that’s making their struggles worse, and it’s happening on my watch because I am the one building the technology for this to work very efficiently.” [more]