When mathematics meets technology, the algorithms which use Big Data and machine learning can have any number of exciting applications, potentially offering instantaneous solutions to protracted problems.
The fact that policymakers are attempting to weave them into their decision-making processes is an encouraging sign – but the new algorithm developed by the UK’s Ministry of Housing, intended to determine which regions most need new affordable housing, is an illustrative example of how, no matter how high-tech the solution, the thinking behind it has to be sound.
Dubbed a “mutant algorithm” by its critics, the mathematical formula cooked up by UK policymakers appears to disproportionately disadvantage northern parts of England in favour of their southern counterparts.
Although aimed at enhancing the prevalence of affordable housing, the algorithm may actually be exacerbating the issue due to the biases of its creators. Coming amidst a global pandemic when unemployment is on the rise and the inequality divide continues to deepen, it’s half-baked policies like this one which demonstrate just how inadequate government plans to address the housing crisis currently are.
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