Artificial Unintelligence Chapter One Review

I’m not very familiar with who Meredith Broussard really is beyond this single chapter, but based on this image of her I found on the internet, she seems like a pretty cool lady.

We know that she attended Harvard and loves technology. She primarily is interested in harnessing technology for social good, but very clearly understands the limitations that come with what we should and shouldn’t use technology for.

Also, it looks like she makes an appearance in a documentary called Coded Bias that premiered at the 2020 Sundance film festival!

Broussard wants people to understand how technology actually works so that we can all create systems that actually help instead of making things more complicated. A lot of what she described was along the lines of “don’t fix it if it ain’t broken.” We have this unwavering faith in technology that it will make everything better even when things don't need to be “better,” even when things are good just how they are. Based on chapter 1, Artificial Unintelligence appears to be a collection of stories that Broussard believes explains exactly why we need a better collective understanding of what our technology is really capable of in order to develop things of quality and worth.

Technochauvinism describes our weird obsession with thinking that technology is the answer to every problem in the world — that in a few years we will have harnessed the internet into a problem-solving machine that does exactly what we want it to. But the truth is, according to Broussard, our technology is not far off from those who made it. A machine made by man is easily manipulated and will never not possess the faults of man.There is no “perfect internet” that will be able to objectively resolve our unsolved problems of human nature, and we need to stop thinking there will be one. In this article by The Verge, Broussard says, “We don’t have flying cars, and I don’t think we want flying cars because it’s a stupid idea.”

To be completely transparent, I have not heard of this view on technology before. You learn in class about the history of how digital technology came to be, where it’s going, what we can do with it, but not much about our technology being limited and that it always will be just because of the nature of what it is. I think this concept should be more widely talked about —collectively understanding the true capacity and functions of our technology will aid in less misuse and, honestly, lower expectations and higher quality technology.

I think the digital studies minor strives to allow its students to do whatever they want with it. You can build your own little tech minor in whatever field interests you most: coding, graphic design, or even just general tech knowledge. It’s pretty great. I think what Broussard is getting at here in relation to what we’re getting at here (digital studies capstone), is that to do something well, you have to first understand how it works — you have to be willing to set aside your preconceived notions of whatever it is and accept that it is not and never will be a perfect system, but when understood and utilized correctly, it can be the greatest tool ever.

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Mikala Evans

Mikala Evans

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