AI, Ethics, and Geoethics (CS 5970)

Module 2: Weapons of Math Destruction Introduction


  • (30 min) Read the chapter
  • (30-60 min) Discussion on slack
  • (5 min) Grading declaration


Read the introduction to Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil.  As with our other book, for OU students, there is a physical copy of the available in the Bizzell Library and potentially one in the Youngblood Library.  You can login to the OU libraries to see the status of the copies.  Unfortunately there is no electronic copy available for the library, so you either need to share the library copy or purchase it online (Dr. McGovern read the kindle version).  


This discussion will happen in the #weapons-of-math-destruction channel

As with all assignments, we are going to have an active discussion on slack!  Make sure you follow all the classroom rules of conduct and always be respectful, even if you disagree.

If we were in a room together, the conversation would be free-flowing.  I want our conversation to be in that same spirit.  I have seeded the discussion with a few questions of my own but I want you to add your own questions and thoughts to the discussion!  Remember to use threading to make it easier to keep track of what is happening in the discussion.

The following are the initial questions.  Feel free to use some of these if they are not already created by a fellow student.  And please add your own!

  • Do we have WMDs like the teacher example happening in today’s schools?  K-12 or higher education?  How do they affect you as students?
  • Reflect on this statement:  “And the victims? Well, an internal data scientist might say, no statistical system can be perfect. Those folks are collateral damage. And often, like Sarah Wysocki, they are deemed unworthy and expendable. Forget about them for a minute, they might say, and focus on all the people who get helpful suggestions from recommendation engines or who find music they love on Pandora, the ideal job on LinkedIn, or perhaps the love of their life on Think of the astounding scale, and ignore the imperfections.” (page 21, Introduction, Weapons of Math Destruction)


  • OU students: After you have engaged in a lively discussion with your fellow students, complete the canvas declaration titled “Module 2: WMD Intro discussion”