Data & Society > our work > press coverage > When Big Data Becomes Bad Data

ProPublica | 09.02.15

When Big Data Becomes Bad Data

Sorelle Friedler, Solon Barocas

D&S fellow Sorelle Friedler and D&S affiliate Solon Barocas were both cited in an article in ProPublica discussing when data collection results in discriminatory business decisions.

Software that makes decisions based on data like a person’s ZIP code can reflect, or even amplify, the results of historical or institutional discrimination.“[A]n algorithm is only as good as the data it works with,” Solon Barocas and Andrew Selbst write in their article “Big Data’s Disparate Impact,” forthcoming in the California Law Review. “Even in situations where data miners are extremely careful, they can still affect discriminatory results with models that, quite unintentionally, pick out proxy variables for protected classes.”

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