Paperback, 416 pages

English language

Published Jan. 6, 2021 by MIT Press.

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4 stars (5 reviews)

Techno-utopianism is dead: Now is the time to pay attention to the inequality, marginalization, and biases woven into our technological systems.

This book sounds an alarm: after decades of being lulled into complacency by narratives of technological utopianism and neutrality, people are waking up to the large-scale consequences of Silicon Valley–led technophilia. This book trains a spotlight on the inequality, marginalization, and biases in our technological systems, showing how they are not just minor bugs to be patched, but part and parcel of ideas that assume technology can fix—and control—society.

The essays in Your Computer Is on Fire interrogate how our human and computational infrastructures overlap, showing why technologies that centralize power tend to weaken democracy. These practices are often kept out of sight until it is too late to question the costs of how they shape society. From energy-hungry server farms to racist and sexist algorithms, the digital is …

1 edition

Review of 'Your Computer Is on Fire' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Some nice histories and explanations of why specific contemporary technologies include legacy biases. Much handwringing, few solutions.

The book makes a good effort to dispel the notion of technology platforms and infrastructure as detached from human labour.

The afterword(s) make grand statements about our collective impending doom and how bad things could get, but shrug off suggesting a remedy to ‘the next 50 years’.

Review of 'Your Computer Is on Fire' on 'Storygraph'

4 stars

Very good collection of essays, some of which I found extremely interesting - an introduction and an essay by Mar Hicks, the latter on the sexist history of computing in Britain, and one by Andrea Stanton on Arabic writing with typewriters and computers were my favorites - but others were also intriguing and informative.