Weapons of Maths Destruction: DIKW

While reading “Weapons of Math Destruction” by Cathy O’Neil, I read about an interesting case where a man by the name of Kyle Behm was having trouble finding work. He was an accomplished student, yet he found he was being “red-lighted” by almost every medium wage job he applied to. This is because most of these companies apply the same kind of personality tests to “weed out” those they feel are unworthy to be hired by them. Later in the chapter, Cathy compares and contrasts this situation to NBA scouting. She wrote about how NBA scouts can use their data to scout a player, and if they get something wrong, they can go back, analyze what they did wrong, and try to fix it. It’s important for these teams to constantly change they’re scouting systems so they don’t miss out on the next multi million dollar player for their franchise. Basically, both NBA teams and the mentioned employers have filters they can use to decide whether they want somebody to work with them. The difference between the two is that the medium wage employers don’t have the incentive to change their selection formula if they get something wrong. They aren’t trying to hire million dollar valued people like LeBron James.

I’m a big fan of sports, so obviously this was intriguing to me. To better understand how these NBA teams select players, I believe I can apply the DIKW framework to this process. The data would be the individual players basic stats. How many points he scores, and so on. Information would be a perceived markup of how that player would perform for the team on the court. Knowledge would be how to determine wether or not this player would be a good fit for the team (with past experience included). Finally, wisdom would be the the actual decision on whether or not to pursue this player for the team.


What Is Technology -Stephen J. Kline

In 1985, Stephen J. Kline wrote a brief article about technology. In it, he defined technology in his own words, and he described how humans interact with it. While reading this article, I found one of his talking points interesting. In the last pages in the article, he talked about sociotechnical systems of use. He defines this as “a system using combinations of hardware, people (and usually other elements) to accomplish tasks that humans cannot perform unaided by such systems – – to extend human capacities”. I think what he means by this is that sociotechnical systems of use are what we as humans use to help us accomplish tasks. In essence, isn’t that what most of us generally consider to be the main purpose of technology? We as a species are always dedicating to improving ourselves. We create things that makes tasks “easier” for us. There are even specific (mostly high paying) jobs dedicated solely to finding ways to better the human race. I think the constant maintaining of this mutual “betterment” of us as a species is essential for us to exist. It appears that Mr. Kline had similar thoughts to me, as he wrote this excerpt later in the article. “Without sociotechnical systems, we humans might not exist as a species, and if we did, we would be relatively powerless, few in number, and of little import on the planet.” I think this sentence shows just how important the ability to engage with technology is to our success as a species.