Cathy O’Neil is a data skeptic who uncovers the dark secrets of big data. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, which was also a semifinalist for the National Book Award. She is a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion and founded the company ORCAA, an algorithmic auditing company. She helps companies understand and mitigate their risks around the algorithms they employ and that are used against them.
Starting as a professor at Barnard College, where she published a number of research papers in arithmetic algebraic geometry, Cathy later switched over to the private sector. She worked as a quantitative analyst for the hedge fund, D.E. Shaw, in the middle of the credit crisis, and then for RiskMetrics, a risk software company that assesses risk for the holdings of hedge funds and banks. She then left finance and started working as a data scientist in the New York start-up scene, building models that predicted people’s purchases and clicks.