University of Wisconsin–Madison

MERIT Summer Reading Program: Algorithms Aplenty

Avoid the summer slide! We are excited to share MERIT’s new “Summer Read” program.  Staff from the iSchool, Learning Support Services, and MERIT have selected two amazing books that look at the intersection of algorithms, big data, and bias.

We encourage you to read, and then to join us in a lively book discussion in August.

Cover of book Algorithms of Oppression

Algorithms of Oppression
Safiya Noble

“A revealing look at how negative biases against women of color are embedded in search engine results and algorithms”

“Run a Google search for “black girls”—what will you find? “Big Booty” and other sexually explicit terms are likely to come up as top search terms. But, if you type in “white girls,” the results are radically different. The suggested porn sites and un-moderated discussions about “why black women are so sassy” or “why black women are so angry” presents a disturbing portrait of black womanhood in modern society.” (From

Cover of book Weapons of Math Destruction

Weapons of Math Destruction
Cathy O’Neil

“How mathematical models that pervade modern life and threaten to rip apart our social fabric.”

“We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives—where we go to school, whether or not we get a job or 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 …. the opposite is true” (From

Come discuss or just listen: 

  • Wednesday, August 1st – Helen C White Hall Room 4207 – 11:00am to 12:30pm
  • Thursday, August 2nd – Teacher Education Room 302 – 3:00 – 4:30pm
  • Friday, August 3rd – Van Hise Hall Room 1418 – 9:00am – 10:30am

Multiple copies of each book are available for three-day check-out at MERIT Library (3rd floor Teacher Education Building).

Questions? Email or call Anna Lewis at | 608-263-8199