Home > Uncategorized > Algorithms Fail in England Screening of Students, US Police Work

Algorithms Fail in England Screening of Students, US Police Work

August 23, 2020


Over the past few weeks there has been an ongoing turmoil over the way Great Britain used algorithms to determine whether students were accepted to colleges in lieu of the standardized tests that are a major element of the decision. The result was that many of the students from their equivalent to our public schools that serve working class and poor children had an inordinate level of rejection. The immediate response was to blame the algorithms… but as the article noted, algorithms do not come out of thin air;

“What happened [with the exams] is that a political choice was made to minimize grade inflation. That’s a political choice, not a tech one.”

The article also noted that these algorithms are far more pervasive than we think. In the name of efficiency and dispassionate selection they are used to sort people and, with the advent of facial recognition software, used to identify potential criminals. The problem is that the algorithms are all based on the assumption that the past is the best predictor of the future and that culture and individual abilities are immutable.

Add an emerging awareness of algorithms’ impact on our lives to the list of items the pandemic is bringing to light.

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