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TagJay Cordes

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New Book Takes Aim at Phantom Patterns “Detected” by Algorithms

Human common sense is needed now more than ever, says economics professor Gary Smith

Pomona College economics professor Gary Smith, author with Jay Cordes of The Phantom Pattern Problem (Oxford, October 1, 2020), tackles an age-old glitch in human thinking: We tend to assume that if we find a pattern, it is meaningful. Add that to the weaknesses of current artificial intelligence and “Houston, we have a problem,” he warns: The scientific method tests theories with data. Data-mining computer algorithms dispense with theory and search through data for patterns, often aided and abetted by slicing, dicing, and otherwise mangling data to create patterns. Gary Smith, “Phantom patterns: The big data delusion” at IAI News (August 24, 2020) Many of the patterns so detected are obviously spurious, for example: A computer algorithm for evaluating job…

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Which Career-Limiting Data Mistake Are YOU Most at Risk For?

Award-winning data science author Gary Smith says the odds depend on your relationship to the data

Dr. Smith thinks that the most dangerous error is putting data before theory. Many data-mining algorithms that are now being used to screen job applicants, price car insurance, approve loan applications, and determine prison sentences have significant errors and biases that are not due to programmer mistakes and biases, but to a misplaced belief in data-mining.

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