The many problems with automated decision making

I have written about automated decision making or machine learning for Computer Weekly, in particularly the numerous problems with using it. The biggest set of issues is summed up nicely by Joanna Bryson of Bath and Princeton universities: “The reason machine learning is working so well is it is leveraging human culture. It’s getting the bad with the good.”

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You can charge £10 a month online, unless you’re the FT

Researching a training course I’m delivering tomorrow at City Lit,* I’ve found that publishers with a paywall tend to charge about £10 a month/£120 annually for online access – with the exception of the Financial Times. It charges £276 a year for its basic digital service (often discounted to £208 as an introductory offer), but as well as a source of news and comment, it also works as a lightweight business intelligence tool covering major companies and industries.

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Bristol date for free training on using data to make more money from freelancing: 9 August

My Using data to make more money from freelancing course, which has now run twice at Equity’s headquarters in London, has a new date and location: Wednesday 9 August at Unite’s office in Bristol.

As usual with Federation of Entertainment Union courses, you can attend for free if you are a freelance member of one of the following unions: Equity, the Musicians’ Union, the National Union of Journalists and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.
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Britain’s shrinking councils: Blackpool, Ceredigion… Kensington and Chelsea

According to recently-released data from the ONS, there were 4.82 million more people in the UK on this date in 2016 than on 30 June 2006, an increase of 7.9%. Many cities and big towns are growing much faster, with Manchester, Coventry, Peterborough, Luton, Milton Keynes, Slough and Bournemouth all up by more than 15%.

But 22 top-tier council areas (unitaries or county councils) have actually seen a fall in population over that decade. With one exception, they fall into two groups. Some are badly-off remote rural areas including Cumbria, Na h-Eileanan Siar (the Western Isles) and Ceredigion in Wales. Others are badly-off urban and suburban areas in the north of England and Scotland including Blackpool, Knowsley and Sefton on Merseyside and several authorities around Glasgow – although not the City of Glasgow itself, which grew 8.2%.

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Keeping paper voting: right policy, wrong reason

In six days, Britons will use stubby little pencils to put crosses next to people’s names on pieces of paper. In each of 650 areas, the person with the most crosses becomes a member of parliament. If more than half of those MPs come from one party, that party forms a government and its leader is prime minister. It’s easy to understand and trust.

If someone hacks your bank account, you will notice and will probably be able to get recompense. If someone hacks an election, you are unlikely to know unless your votes was published – which would rather undermine the concept of a secret ballot. Also, we can all understand people counting pieces of paper. Very few of us, including apparently many NHS organisations, can say likewise for computer security. Continue reading “Keeping paper voting: right policy, wrong reason”