Critical Reasoning- Understanding Algorithms

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Critical Reasoning- Understanding Algorithms

As it mindlessly implements its procedures, an algorithm is supposed to be devoid of bias. When an algorithm rejects a loan application or sets the price for an airline flight, it is deemed impersonal and unbending. Yet, an algorithm is not a scientific concept. It is a system, like a military chain of command. It takes knowhow, calculation and creativity to make a system work properly. And some systems, like some armies, are much more reliable than others. For, a system is a human artefact, not a mathematical truism.

Which of the following options best summarizes the main idea of this paragraph?

  1. As they are man-made, algorithms are subject to human fallibility.
  2. Algorithms are far from being precise, and invariably biased.
  3. Not all algorithms work properly, as they are rarely vetted with scientific rigour.
  4. Algorithms are unreliable as they encode human prejudice into automated systems.

    • Correct Answer
      Choice A

    Detailed Solution

    The paragraph given argues that an algorithm is a human artefact and not a mathematical truism or scientific concept. It requires skill and knowledge to create an algorithm. Hence, it is subject to human fallibility, and is not always devoid of bias. Option A sums up this idea best.

    By saying that algorithms are “far from being precise, and invariably biased”, option B overstates the point. The paragraph merely says that some algorithms are more reliable than others. It certainly does not imply that they are not precise or always biased.

    For the same reason, option D, too, is incorrect. It summarily dismisses algorithms as unreliable.

    That algorithms are not vetted with scientific rigour is not a point made by this paragraph. So, option C is incorrect.

    Correct Answer: Choice (A)

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