TED Radio Hour: Numbers

Data, statistics and algorithms dominate every aspect of our lives. But how accurate are they, and how fair? On this week's show, TED speakers explore the ups and downs of relying too much on the numbers.

Mathematician Cathy O'Neil says algorithms embed existing bias into code -- with potentially destructive outcomes. Everyone should question their fairness, not just computer scientists and coders.



Facial analysis technology is often unable to recognize dark skin tones. Joy Buolamwini says this bias can lead to detrimental results -- and she urges her colleagues to create more inclusive code.


For years, Alan Smith analyzed the most reliable demographic data in the U.K. - the census. He noticed people's perceptions conflicted with reality, and wondered if there was a way to bridge the gap.



 We need statistics to make fair policy decisions, but there are a lot of bad stats out there. Data journalist Mona Chalabi says you need skepticism and a list of questions to face any dubious stat.


As New Jersey Attorney General, Anne Milgram transformed the most dangerous city in her state. She changed a criminal justice system based on gut and instinct to one supported by data and statistics.