"Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World," Meredith Broussard, MIT Press, 248 pages, $24.95.
Science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke famously stated 45 years ago that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Today, advanced technology is commonplace.
But while some tech innovations might appear as inscrutable as magic, they tend not to work nearly as well, said Meredith Broussard, whose new book, “Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World” warns against the blind optimism toward technology — an attitude she calls “technochauvinism” — that she argues has dominated our culture for far too long.
Broussard, an assistant professor at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, began her career as a software developer at AT&T Bell Labs before transitioning to data journalism.
“Journalists are taught to be skeptical,” she wrote in the book’s introduction. “I started to question the promises of tech culture.” In the aftermath of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal and the first pedestrian death caused by a self-driving car, this line of questioning, it seems, is now on everybody’s mind.
“Technochauvinism,” she said, came out of a need for a term to encompass the kind of bias that says the technological solution is always better than every other solution. She explored the bias that tech can solve problems all across the spectrum and pokes holes where well-meaning efforts fall short. For example, “one laptop for each child” ignores the broadband issues in rural America.
LOS ANGELES TIMES