Consider the case of Amazon.com, which has been browbeaten by the mayors of Boston, Chicago, and New York into providing its Prime same-day delivery service in low-income neighborhoods previously denied this benefit. A recent report in Bloomberg BusinessWeek revealed that Amazon froze out certain ZIP codes, such as Roxbury or the South Side of Chicago, areas inhabited by large numbers of black people.
Amazon told Bloomberg that too few customers lived in the areas, or that making deliveries there would cost too much. There’s no evidence the company was motivated by racial animus; it was motivated by math. Amazon holds billions of sales records collected from millions of customers, and it doesn’t make a move without crunching those numbers. It’s “big data” at its biggest, the kind of statistical analysis used these days to make key decisions at every major company on Earth.
But there’s more to life than big data. Sometimes, software should be overridden by common sense. After all, single moms in poor neighborhoods might derive more benefit from same-day service than pampered millennials in trendy ZIP codes. So a chastened Amazon has expanded its same-day service offerings to the neglected neighborhoods.
It was a minor embarrassment, easily resolved. But bigger controversies are brewing. Even the fairest software can produce biased results. And it’s not clear that we can do much about it
E' questo è il ruolo della politica.
definire cosa è socialmente deiderabile edrientare i mzzi ai fini.
e la dice anche lunga sul fatto di quegli intermediari che diventano de facto delle risorse essenziali per la vita delle persone.