The Black Box Society

The Black Box Society

The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:

Every day, corporations are connecting the dots about our personal behavior--silently scrutinizing clues left behind by our work habits and Internet use. The data compiled and portraits created are incredibly detailed, to the point of being invasive. But who connects the dots about what firms are doing with this information? The Black Box Society argues that we all need to be able to do so--and to set limits on how big data affects our lives.

Hidden algorithms can make (or ruin) reputations, decide the destiny of entrepreneurs, or even devastate an entire economy. Shrouded in secrecy and complexity, decisions at major Silicon Valley and Wall Street firms were long assumed to be neutral and technical. But leaks, whistleblowers, and legal disputes have shed new light on automated judgment. Self-serving and reckless behavior is surprisingly common, and easy to hide in code protected by legal and real secrecy. Even after billions of dollars of fines have been levied, underfunded regulators may have only scratched the surface of this troubling behavior.

Frank Pasquale exposes how powerful interests abuse secrecy for profit and explains ways to rein them in. Demanding transparency is only the first step. An intelligible society would assure that key decisions of its most important firms are fair, nondiscriminatory, and open to criticism. Silicon Valley and Wall Street need to accept as much accountability as they impose on others.

Publisher: Cambridge : Harvard University Press, 2015.
ISBN: 9780674368279
Characteristics: 311 pages ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jan 06, 2017

Interesting in the first half and raises poignant questions that we should all consider when we give up control and understanding of what happens inside technological black boxes that have wider repercussions for society. That said, the latter half seems rather weak with perhaps the only eye-popping comment that we could consider using the NSA's infrastructure for capturing all digital information to police crimes from the corporate elite. If you're into writers such as Nicholas Carr and Evegeny Morozov, this is worth a flip.

May 06, 2015

Excellent book, excellent research. [Complementary book to read with this: Conspiracy Theory in America, by Lance DeHaven-Smith] Can't fault anything and would highly recommend it, much enlightening facts which may be new to many. [The professor makes the important point this is most probably by design, not happenstance; always a crucial point one will never hear from any Bill Moyers' types!] More regulation is certainly needed, if one believes that capitalism isn't the problem, which is where I part company with the astute author. [Note: He mentions that the FCIC report explained that by the end of 2007, the underlying assets for credit default swaps written was $58.2 trillion. Of course, this is a major variance with the $23 trillion in securitized debt sold from 1997 to 2007? But since unlimited number of CDSes can be sold against an entity [bonds, et cetera], then the reason for the variance was multiple CDSes purchased against one item - - there was never $58.2 trillion in real assets [i.e., securitized debt] simply multiple CDSes for many single bond categories! And that is the absolute super-crime of fictitious capital - - or fantasy finance!]


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at CPL

To Top