New book exposes "technochauvinism"

New tech isn't always the best solution to a problem.
A bias towards using technology to solve every issue is problematic, argues new book "Artificial Unintelligence". (Pixabay)

Meredith Broussard is quick to point out that she's not a technophobe.

From the first time she built a toy robot when she was a kid, she realized that using tools and building technology could be a lot of fun. She still loves technology because of its amazing possibilities.

But Broussard's new book examines a flawed assumption that she calls "technochauvinism." Technochauvinism is simply the belief that technology is always the solution to every problem.
Meridith Broussard explains how technology is misperceived as a superior solution to many problems.

Her book is called Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World. The book is described as a guide to understanding the inner workings and outer limits of technology.

Broussard started her career as a computer scientist and is now a data journalist. She's also a data journalism professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. Throughout her career she's viewed technochauvinism from many different perspectives.

"It comes from a particular kind of bias that says that mathematical and engineering problems are superior to human problems," Broussard said.

Culture matters, social issues matter, and they matter just as much as solving mathematical and engineering problems.- Meredith Broussard

Technochauvinism creates a disconnect between what technology is capable of and what we think it can do.

"That disconnect is very, very, real," added Broussard, but one of the ways we can address the problem is by disassembling technology.
Data journalist Meredith Broussard. (Lucy Baber)

"By taking things apart and putting them back together, you can learn how they work, and you can learn that it's not magic." 

However, Broussard is concerned that because computer science and the tech sector are descendants of mathematics, they have inherited the same biases. She believes technochauvinism comes from the idea that mathematics is the most crucial thing.

"That's why we see things in Silicon Valley like the code is the thing that matters, let's move fast and break things, let's disrupt.

"But culture matters, social issues matter, and they matter just as much as solving mathematical and engineering problems."   


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