Tag Archives: public policy book club

Public Policy Book Club – Weapons of Math Destruction

Math DestructionOn the evening of Monday, April 24th, the Public Policy Book Club will be discussing “Weapons of Math Destruction” by Cathy O’Neil.  The meeting will start at 6:00pm.  If you are interested in joining, please email winter.fedyk@gov.sk.ca for further details.

You can also check out policybookclub to see what other books are on the reading list.

From the publisher:

We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives—where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance—are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated.

But as Cathy O’Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination: If a poor student can’t get a loan because a lending model deems him too risky (by virtue of his zip code), he’s then cut off from the kind of education that could pull him out of poverty, and a vicious spiral ensues. Models are propping up the lucky and punishing the downtrodden, creating a “toxic cocktail for democracy.” Welcome to the dark side of Big Data.

Tracing the arc of a person’s life, O’Neil exposes the black box models that shape our future, both as individuals and as a society. These “weapons of math destruction” score teachers and students, sort résumés, grant (or deny) loans, evaluate workers, target voters, set parole, and monitor our health.

O’Neil calls on modelers to take more responsibility for their algorithms and on policy makers to regulate their use. But in the end, it’s up to us to become more savvy about the models that govern our lives. This important book empowers us to ask the tough questions, uncover the truth, and demand change.

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Public Policy Book Club – Pre-Suasion

presuasionOn Monday, March 27th, the Public Policy Book Club will be discussing “Pre-Suasian: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade” by Robert Cialdini.  If you are interested in joining, email winter.fedyk@gov.sk.ca. You can also check out policybook.club to see what other books are on the reading list.

From the publisher:

The author of the legendary bestseller Influence, social psychologist Robert Cialdini shines a light on effective persuasion and reveals that the secret doesn’t lie in the message itself, but in the key moment before that message is delivered.

What separates effective communicators from truly successful persuaders? Using the same combination of rigorous scientific research and accessibility that made his Influence an iconic bestseller, Robert Cialdini explains how to capitalize on the essential window of time before you deliver an important message. This “privileged moment for change” prepares people to be receptive to a message before they experience it. Optimal persuasion is achieved only through optimal pre-suasion. In other words, to change “minds” a pre-suader must also change “states of mind.”

His first solo work in over thirty years, Cialdini’s Pre-Suasion draws on his extensive experience as the most cited social psychologist of our time and explains the techniques a person should implement to become a master persuader. Altering a listener’s attitudes, beliefs, or experiences isn’t necessary, says Cialdini—all that’s required is for a communicator to redirect the audience’s focus of attention before a relevant action.

From studies on advertising imagery to treating opiate addiction, from the annual letters of Berkshire Hathaway to the annals of history, Cialdini draws on an array of studies and narratives to outline the specific techniques you can use on online marketing campaigns and even effective wartime propaganda. He illustrates how the artful diversion of attention leads to successful pre-suasion and gets your targeted audience primed and ready to say, “Yes.”

Public Policy Book Club – The Nordic Theory of Everything

nordicOn Monday, February 27th, the Public Policy Book Club will be discussing “The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life” by Anu Partanen.  If you are interested in joining, email winter.fedyk@gov.sk.ca. You can also check out policybook.club to see what other books are on the reading list.

From the publisher:

Impassioned and timely, this big think book by a Finnish journalist who is now a U.S. citizen asks Americans to consider the Nordic way of life as a means of nurturing a happier, saner, and fairer society.

At a May 2012 conference on social mobility, where experts discussed whether people worldwide were attaining a better life than their parents’, Ed Miliband, the leader of the British Labour Party, made a surprising quip: “If you want the American dream, go to Finland.” For decades, the country best known for opportunity had been the United States. No longer, said Miliband.

Anu Partanen, however, had recently left Finland and moved to America for the love of her life, a man who would ultimately become her husband. Their relationship flourished, but she found that navigating the basics of everyday life—from health insurance and taxes to education and child care—was much more complicated and stressful than anything she had encountered in her homeland. At first she attributed her crippling anxiety to the difficulty of adapting to a freewheeling new culture. But as she got to know Americans better, she discovered that they shared her deep apprehensions. To understand why life in Finland is so drastically different from the way things are in the United States, Partanen began to look closely at both countries.

In The Nordic Theory of Everything, Partanen compares living in the United States with life in the Nordic region, focusing on four key relationships—parents and children, men and women, employees and employers, and government and citizens. She debunks criticism that Nordic countries are socialist “nanny states,” revealing instead that it is we Americans who are far more enmeshed in unhealthy dependencies than we realize. Step-by-step, Partanen explains that the Nordic approach allows citizens to enjoy more individual freedom and equality than we do.

Partanen wants to open Americans’ eyes to how much better things can be—to show her beloved new country what it can learn from her homeland to reinvigorate and fulfill the promise of the American dream. Offering insights, advice, and solutions, The Nordic Theory of Everything makes a convincing argument that we can rebuild our society, rekindle our optimism, and restore independence to our relationships and lives.

Based in Regina, the Public Policy Book Club is comprised of senior and mid-level public servants working for the federal, provincial, or municipal governments, employees of Crown corporations, as well as academics, researchers and students. However, the Public Policy Book Club is open to all thoughtful minds that are curious about the current trends and issues in public policy.