October 12, 2020

Racism as a predictive model

I found this text in the book Weapons of Math Destruction”.

Racism, at the individual level, can be seen as a predictive model whirring away in billions of human minds around the world. It is built from faulty, incomplete, or billions of human minds around the world. It is built from faulty, incomplete, or generalized data. Whether it comes from experience or hearsay, the data indicates that certain types of people have behaved badly. That generates a binary prediction that all people of that race will behave that same way.

Needless to say, racists don’t spend a lot of time hunting down reliable data to train their twisted models. And once their model morphs into a belief, it becomes hardwired. It generates poisonous assumptions, yet rarely tests them, settling instead for data that seems to confirm and fortify them. Consequently, racism is the most slovenly of predictive models. It is powered by haphazard data gathering and spurious correlations, reinforced by institutional inequities, and polluted by confirmation bias. In this way, oddly enough, racism operates like many of the WMDs I’ll be describing in this book.

Reminded me of George Bush Jr. quote Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions.”


Books Ideas


Previous post
Everyday beauty, countries and people In Tokyo, I always like visiting the “Muji Found” stores. These stores display handcrafted objects of everyday use from around the world. I
Next post
The little phone I was fond of my iPhone 5s. I continued using it as as a travel phone even after I got a newer model. It felt nice holding it - little but solid.