October 30, 2023
Cathy O’Neil, chief executive officer of ORCAA, will present the lecture “Auditing Algorithms” as Susquehanna University’s Claritas Distinguished Lecture in the Sciences at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8, in Stretansky Concert Hall in the Cunningham Center for Music and Art.
O’Neil’s lecture will scrutinize the notion that algorithms are “following the math” and instead understand the human values that algorithms intentionally or unintentionally adopt, either through the training data, the definition of success or contextual use or misuse. O’Neil will discuss how to think critically about such design decisions and contexts to anticipate such problems proactively, and to head off problematic choices before they become harmful to the stakeholders of the system. With most or all bureaucracies becoming automated, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
O’Neil earned a doctorate in math from Harvard University and worked as a math professor at Barnard College before transitioning to the private sector, working as a quant for the hedge fund D.E. Shaw and as a data scientist in the New York startup scene. O’Neil is the chief executive officer of ORCAA, an algorithmic auditing company, and a member of the Public Interest Tech Lab at the Harvard Kennedy School. She is a regular contributor to Bloomberg Opinion and in 2016 wrote the book “Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy.” Her new book, “The Shame Machine: Who Profits In The New Age Of Humiliation,” was released last year.
George E. ’64 and Margaret Lauver ’66 Harris endowed the Distinguished Visitor Program at Susquehanna University. This program is designed to facilitate scholarly lectures, seminars or residencies by nationally acclaimed figures in business, government or education, focusing on topics of public interest.