When big data decides if you deserve a loan, or classifies you according to bigoted stereotypes, we lose our freedom

The radical geographer and equality evangelist Danny Dorling tried to explain to me once why an algorithm could be bad for social justice.

Imagine if email inboxes became intelligent: your messages would be prioritised on arrival, so if the recipient knew you and often replied to you, you’d go to the top; I said that was fine. That’s how it works already. If they knew you and never replied, you’d go to the bottom, he continued. I said that was fair – it would teach me to stop annoying that person.

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