Friday, November 24, 2017

Five top books on late-stage capitalism

Marie Myung-Ok Lee is a staff writer for The Millions. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Nation, Slate, Salon, Guernica, Poets & Writers, and The Guardian. Her novel is forthcoming with Simon & Schuster (when she finally finishes it). She teaches fiction at Columbia and shares a hometown with Bob Dylan. One of five books on late-stage capitalism she tagged at The Millions:
Weapons of Math Destruction (2016) by Cathy O’Neil

O’Neil has worked both as an academic and as a quant for a hedge fund, which puts her in a unique position to investigate how computer algorithms (many of them secret and proprietary) and “big data” are part of a new, non-human way to evaluate things like public school teacher performance and hiring prospects. Many of these algorithms, she contends, are based on “poisonous assumptions,” and—surprise, surprise—in aggregate mostly affect and penalize the poor, who have to face the faceless numbers with little recourse, while the rich use their cronyism, nepotism, and old-boy networks to get ahead—all the while pretending American economic life is a meritocracy.
Read about another title on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue