Data skeptic Cathy O’Neil uncovers the dark secrets of big data, showing how our "objective" algorithms could in fact reinforce human bias.

Why you should listen

In 2008, as a hedge-fund quant, mathematician Cathy O’Neil saw firsthand how really really bad math could lead to financial disaster. Disillusioned, O’Neil became a data scientist and eventually joined Occupy Wall Street’s Alternative Banking Group.

With her popular blog, O’Neil emerged as an investigative journalist. Her acclaimed book Weapons of Math Destruction details how opaque, black-box algorithms rely on biased historical data to do everything from sentence defendants to hire workers. In 2017, O’Neil founded consulting firm ORCAA to audit algorithms for racial, gender and economic inequality.

What others say

“When there is wrongdoing in fields that are both complex and opaque, it often takes a whistle-blower to inform the public. That’s exactly what former quant trader turned social activist Cathy O’Neil has become for the world of Big Data.” — Time, August 29, 2016

Cathy O'Neil’s TED talk