Regulating data science with explanations

Data science has an increasing impact on our lives, and not always for the better. People speak of “Big Data”, and demand regulation, but they don’t really understand what that would look like. I work in one of the few areas where data science is regulated, so I want to discuss one particular regulation and its consequences.

So, it’s finally time for me to publicly admit… I work in the finance sector.

These regulations apply to many different financial trades, but for illustrative purposes, I’m going to talk about loans. The problem with taking out a loan is that you need to pay it back plus interest. The interest is needed to give lenders a return on their investment, and to offset the losses from other borrowers who don’t pay it off. Lenders can increase profit margins and/or lower interest rates if they can predict who won’t pay off their debt, and decline those people. Data science is used to help make those decline decisions.

The US imposes two major restrictions on the data science. First, there’s anti-discrimination laws (a subject I might discuss at a later time) (ETA: it’s here). Second, an explanation must be provided to people who are declined.

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Link Roundup: September 2022

In case anyone is interested, this month I wrote “How to tell if you’re allosexual, if you’re a journalist“, about low quality articles that seem intended to exploit SEO.

that female athlete doesn’t look feminine enough | Pervert Justice – Gatekeeping trans women from sports ultimately results in gatekeeping cis women as well.  I think this pragmatic argument isn’t the most satisfying, because it doesn’t make a positive case for the inclusion of trans women–but it is, after all, still correct.

Fixing My Brain with Automated Therapy | Jacob Geller (video, 53 min) – Jacob tried five different therapy apps, and talks about the history of teletherapy.  Plenty of interesting discussion, for instance, about how teletherapy constrains the kind of therapy.  He echoes what I’ve said about Eliza–this technology will be cheap, but bad.  More people could have access to therapy this way, and that’s a good thing… but it’s not good therapy.

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Talking about media you haven’t seen

Among people who are close to me, I am renowned for not liking movies or TV. If you’ve ever read my reviews of TV/movies, you’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg, as I generally do not like things enough to watch them in the first place. I think it’s great living this way, I can only imagine how many lifetimes I have saved by not watching all that stuff. It’s a shame that I waste that extra time by watching media criticism instead.

That’s right, I enjoy video essays that analyze media that I have never watched, and do not have any intention of ever watching. And I’m sure I’m not alone. In the past six years, YouTube media criticism has emerged as a popular genre—as well as an influential source of progressive commentary.

What’s incredible about these videos, is that they appear to have solved one of my lifelong struggles. How do we have a discussion about unshared media—media that not everyone in the audience has experienced?

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Origami: Cootie catcher deluxe

Cootie catcher deluxe

Cootie catcher deluxe, designer unknown

Back when I was going to origami meetups, somebody showed me a design which they called the Cootie Catcher Deluxe.  It’s a variation on the cootie catcher, aka the fortune teller.  There’s some additional ornamentation where your fingers would go–which makes it non-functional as a fortune teller–but I’m not complaining.  Anyway, they couldn’t remember how they made it, and I couldn’t find any mention of it on the internet.  So here we have a legit reverse-engineering problem.  Those are fun.

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