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Technology scholars declare an emergency: attention must be paid to the inequality, marginalization, and biases woven into our technological systems.

This book sounds an alarm: we can no longer afford to be lulled into complacency by narratives of techno-utopianism, or even techno-neutrality. We should not be reassured by such soothing generalities as "human error," "virtual reality," or "the cloud." We need to realize that nothing is virtual: everything that "happens online," "virtually," or "autonomously" happens offline first, and often involves human beings whose labor is deliberately kept invisible. Everything is IRL. In Your Computer Is on Fire, technology scholars train a spotlight on the inequality, marginalization, and biases woven into our technological systems.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262539739
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 03/09/2021
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 879,467
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Thomas S. Mullaney is Professor of History at Stanford University and the author of Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China.

Benjamin Peters is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Tulsa and affiliated faculty at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School.

Mar Hicks is Associate Professor of History at Illinois Institute of Technology.

Kavita Philip studies colonialism, neoliberalism, and technoscience using history and critical theory. She is an Associate Professor at the University of California, Irvine.

Table of Contents


Your Computer is on Fire Thomas S. Mullaney 3

When Did the Fire Start? Mar Hicks 11

Part I Nothing is Virtual

1 The Cloud is a Factory Nathan Ensmenger 29

2 Your AI is a Human Sarah T. Roberts 51

3 A Network is Not a Network Benjamin Peters 71

4 The Internet Will Be Decolonized Kavita Philip 91

5 Capture is Pleasure Mitali Thakor 117

Part II This is an Emergency

6 Sexism is a Feature, Not a Bug Mar Hicks 135

7 Gender is a Corporate Tool Corinna Schlombs 159

8 Siri Disciplines Halcyon M. Lawrence 179

9 Your Robot Isn't Neutral Safiya Umoja Noble 199

10 Broken is Word Andrea Stanton 213

11 You Can't Make Games About Much Noah Wardrip-Fruin 231

Part III Where Will the Fire Spread?

12 Coding is Not Empowerment Janet Abbate 253

13 Source Code Isn't Ben Allen 273

14 Skills Will Not Set You Free Sreela Sarkar 297

15 Platforms are Infrastructures on Fire Paul N. Edwards 313

16 Typing is Dead Thomas S. Mullaney 337


How to Stop Worrying About Clean Signals and Start Loving the Noise Kavita Philip 363

How Do We Live Now? In The Aftermath of Ourselves Benjamin Peters 377

Contributors 385

Index 387

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