Occupying Wall Street–It’s All About the “Attack of the Killer Algorithms”–The Unfair and Marketin
Posted Oct 03 2011 2:39pm
I have been watching the news coverage just like everybody else and seen the frustration and a united grouping of no one cause, just a society of frustrated citizens and yes it is here and you can’t hide it and that is what I see the movement to be. Nobody has come along and dug and deeper though to really see how this all came about and bottom line is the math.
Math and algorithms have been used by investment bankers and many others in business to re-arrange the money in the US and the world. This has been a slow progressive movement and pretty much worked behind the scenes for those who are not into math, but this is what it is. I am not talking about technologies and software that is developed to make life better and make us smarter, but rather the dark side that is math and algorithms that are created for profit only that have an impact on the every day life of consumers. I think the protesters are making this point, although again nobody has dug deep here to see how we got to this point.
Speaking of Michael Moore, let’s go back and revisit a scene from “Sicko” to where he interviews a woman who’s claim was denied because she forgot to put down in her medical history that she, way back in time had a yeast infection. This is an algorithm used to query and sort data that created this. Was she given the benefit of the doubt that she could have forgotten something that happen years ago – no. Instead it was analytical algorithms that gave the insurance company a fine line not including one speck of data to deny her claim for her surgery.
Furthermore, was the woman the party that submitted the claim for this? No, it was her doctor who submitted to the insurance company and thus it was time to meet the sales numbers, cut costs and start cranking out numbers. This is where math and bad ethics hurt people. We all have items as such more than likely in our files from years ago that are nominal but again when it comes to poking around and denying a claim, data is used against consumers when they no part of even entering any of it that is used for such analytics.
Above was just one example of how this has grown behind the scenes and has lead to the insanity that exists today. In healthcare this is critical as people get denied care and services and it adds to the nightmares that doctors face all over the country today with averaging $83,000 a year to handle all of this. Do we all have “perfect” data health histories, no. Do the insurers think this exists? It certainly sounds like it when analytics are used and these sight of this fact. The next movie Michael made was about Capitalism and it did well and it certainly moved people and did the job, but again one last question, what do we fight against? I saw this in the papers that he was frustrated that everyone was moved but no action. Plain and simple, the consumers didn’t know what the enemy was, the results and consequences are in the news every day, but what do you fight and how do you fight against it?
As time has marched on and with current focus on transparency, and I might add too the translation of this word is over worked and misconstrued in many circles too, some of this and others are starting to speak out. We are right back to the math, whether it be the financial district or healthcare. Again I will say this is not to denounce good technologies and good solid analytics at all as we need that to find cures and treatments for sure, but it’s about those who carved out an analytical hole in the process to make money only. Our government has bee slow to keep up and that’s not any secret by any means and playing catch up is hard and creates another set of problems in just the process of doing so. Wendell Potter on the healthcare side has been a great advocate and help and gosh who better to listen too than someone who worked in that environment and talks about the brain washing that takes place while there. They forget that in the numbers game there are people’s lives attached to these numbers, again we are back to the math.
Let’s move over and talk a bit about the financial end of things here too as this is where it all begins and everything else rolls down from here to include healthcare. Our SEC functions with one hand behind their back as they have never had audit tables to track transactions, huh? Yes that is true and the industry has not done a very good job regulating itself. This thrived under the former Presidency as “they didn’t want to do math” either and it was easier to just turn a blind head. This was well evidenced by the fact that when the Obama folks moved in, the had to update and clear all the Windows 98 computer out of the White House. Does that sound scary, yes it is, but that’s what the Bush office had in there and how little attention they paid to technology. The geeks all know this and we chat on the web and but perhaps it has not been fully recognized in the public eye yet.
Trading software is all about algorithms and who can create one that out performs the next one as far as the math and speed of the data. There has been no regulation in this area and back in August of 2009 when Madoff was all over the wires I suggested at that time that perhaps we needed a Department of Algorithms and here we are a couple years later, nothing done.
Remember when one guy went to jail over algorithms and their use? I often wonder if this guy did a a real trial with enough “peers” available to full comprehend this case and again I’m not disputing the case or outcome here, but with the inability of many to comprehend the complex match today, were there enough peers there on the jury?
Let’s venture on to another area of the big business of selling out data. We are just a product out there and our data just marketed and this is way out of hand with data being matched that should not go any further than a number crunch. We have digital illiterates who don’t know how to use it and get it down to individual levels and with flawed data make bad decisions on bad data. The absolute biggest example of all of this is none other than the Governor of the State of Arizona who in what I saw in the news has to be right up at the top of the ladder in this department. When she could not find a million and a half in that huge budget for transplant patients, well we all read about it in the news.
The Arizona Governor gets the dunce hat for sure with math. They don’t come any dumber than her in my opinion and as Keith Obermann covered she used analytics provided by a subsidiary of United Healthcare to make her decisions…seeing some of what I am saying about the math yet? It can be spun for profits so again don’t always think the the math we see today is always accurate.
People that write code and the algorithmic formulas like to share and increase value and education, it is just a natural but the rest of the world and the Jan BrewerSociety for the Digital Illiterate can endeavor to educate themselves up a notch to participate and continue to live with the values of the 70s and I think too are totally bliss to how when appears to others, maybe time for a wake up call here? The state still likes doing business with United with awarding contracts.
Recently in the news too there’s another company that thinks combing flawed data on the web along with your credit ranking can do a risk analysis to determine if you will take your prescriptions and get this, they are marketing and selling this to big pharma and insurance companies, which I hope are smart enough to see through this scheme to use algorithms to make money only, as that’s what it is is when they go beyond crunching numbers and bring it down to an individual level. Heck even Netflix says their algorithm is 60% correct, so where in the heck does FICO get to over sell this. Again, this is one example of why the folks are there at Occupy New York, they are tired of unfair marketing and skewed numbers and stats being used again them. They may not know it, but this is at the bottom of it.
One other item from a while back that Rachel Maddow pointed out with the GOP and their digital illiteracy is their pledge that they made and the fact that they left the real authors names on there, lobbyists. What vote of confidence does this create? None and yet these folks still stomp around with projecting numbers and budgets and I feel if they can’t this simple item correct that everyone uses in the business world today, the rest has to be much worse.
Whether they know it or not, this is what the occupation is all about and there needs to be a real call for action here to take people to task. Granted technology has replaced jobs and that was happening anyway and this is not an attack on technology but rather speaking out on those who accelerated and abused technology with looking only for profit dollars without any sense of giving anything back in their march to triumph. There are those who have so this not attacking everyone by any means just the abusers. Remember this has had a very long roll here and remember the 8 years of the White House computers using Windows 98 when you begin to think too critically of our current White House too, they had a mess larger than imaginable and they are working their way through it. They also have some wrong folks in leadership roles and hopefully are working to get more digital literate leaders in place soon. No wonder Boehner cries all the time but he could do more to help himself too with knowledge and coming out of the 70s. Heck these folks are totally out of touch on what IT infrastructure costs today, so they don’t do much.
Everyone wants to create behavioral analytics on us, why not start collecting and publicizing them on the bankers, the people in Congress as their voices and decisions affect all of us, much more important to know than what the janitor at the hospital is going to do as his decisions don’t impact the rest of us.
How does the Supreme Court gather all their data for decisions to avoid unintended consequences? I bet they don’t get it all.
Listen in below and I think you will agree this is a big part of what Occupy New York is all about and the fact that we have those in executive positions that can’t do anything as they are digitally illiterate and sit in denial.
So this is how I view the Occupation of New York and if you have any better opinions send them on, but deep down when you see what created all of this, it was and is the math and this is why the high levels of frustration exist as nothing gets done until the math is changed or altered, so this is a call to correct what has been done all for the sake of making money and get the math done right so we can work with real situations and not have extreme marketing for profits rule the roost and further create additional levels a disparity for all of us.
Sitting around on social networks all day is not going to do it either and let’s re-evaluate their real value too while we are at it. They belong here but not with what the financials have done with creating over rated value where it does not belong. It’s a side show with over rated values and it has taken over the entire focus our economy as we can’t live on algorithms alone, we need a mix with good human ethics. Check this video out below as Kevin Slavin states, “algorithms have teeth”…the folks that write for shear profits and marketing know this and they also know that they can use math to influence you, whether is it accurate or not.
Data scraping algorithms and the sale of data has taken the value of human lives in the US and misappropriated what a human life is worth. There’s only so much we can project and predict out there and the unknown exists for all of us, but again the problem of those who are math illiterate in positions of authority and get swayed by flawed data are killing us as well as those who put it out there to abuse.
The sooner we come to this reality the sooner those folks occupying Wall Street can go home and look forward to a better future. This is is true under root of this entire situation in this country and the world and denial sadly is still ruling. BD