The second year of the post-Trump book club founded by the Seattle Review of Books and Seattle Weekly officially begins this Wednesday at Third Place Book Seward Park.
This month, for a change of pace, we're talking about something not specifically related to Trump, Russia, or the Republican Party. Instead, our choice, Cathy O'Neil's Weapons of Math Destruction, is about the rise of data and algorithmic systems. It's probably hard for you to place a priority on data management when the whole world is falling apart around you. But O'Neil argues that our faulty mechanisms of data management are exacerbating our problems.
Obviously, algorithms are responsible for the spread of "fake news" on Facebook, and the ability of Russians to interfere with the outcomes of the 2016 presidential election. But O'Neil points out that data can enhance pre-existing structures of racism and classism, creating a negative feedback loop that accidentally "proves" the problems that data collection is intended to solve.
This is important stuff, and it will be a big part of the conversation as we move toward the 2018 midterm elections. Weapons of Math Destruction is available for 20% off at Third Place Books right now, though no purchase is necessary to join us for the book club. I hope to see you there.