To Save Everything, Click Here
The Folly of Technological Solutionism
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In the very near future, "smart" technologies and "big data" will allow us to make large-scale and sophisticated interventions in politics, culture, and everyday life. Technology will allow us to solve problems in highly original ways and create new incentives to get more people to do the right thing. But how will such "solutionism" affect our society, once deeply political, moral, and irresolvable dilemmas are recast as uncontroversial and easily manageable matters of technological efficiency? What if some such problems are simply vices in disguise? What if some friction in communication is productive and some hypocrisy in politics necessary? The temptation of the digital age is to fix everything -- from crime to corruption to pollution to obesity -- by digitally quantifying, tracking, or gamifying behavior. But when we change the motivations for our moral, ethical, and civic behavior we may also change the very nature of that behavior. Technology, Evgeny Morozov proposes, can be a force for improvement -- but only if we keep solutionism in check and learn to appreciate the imperfections of liberal democracy. Some of those imperfections are not accidental but by design.
Arguing that we badly need a new, post-Internet way to debate the moral consequences of digital technologies, To Save Everything, Click Here warns against a world of seamless efficiency, where everyone is forced to wear Silicon Valley's digital straitjacket.
Praise For To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism…
Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of the Republic of Estonia
When it comes to anything internet' related, Evgeny Morozov is the writer who brings us back to earth. Lubricated by snake oil, too much of what we read about the internet and the possibilities offered by modern technology is hypertext hyperbole. In this riotous read, Morozov continues his quest to restore empirical rationality in our own thinking about our techno-utopian pipe-dreams. We have become gullible to what Morozov calls solutionism, the idea that whatever complex situation we face, we can solve it simply by finding the right algorithm, and thanks to technology we can find a solution. We have seen this before, with Condorcet and other thinkers of the Enlightenment, but then, as now, too much reliance on mathematics when we are dealing with problems of people and society leads inevitably to failure. Today, we who live, work, and dream in cyberspace need Morozov to keep our feet firmly planted on Terra Firma.”
Richard Sennett, author of The Craftsman
This hard-hitting book argues people have become enslaved to the machines they use to communicate. It is incisive and beautifully written; whether you agree with Morozov or not, he will make you think hard."
Bruce Sterling, author of The Hacker Crackdown
"For the brilliant dissident Evgeny Morozov, computers are like broken beach-toys on the dark, historic tides of power politics. His new book should be bound in sandpaper and used to abrade the works of other Internet pundits."
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, distinguished professor of risk engineering at NYU-Polytechnic and author of The Black Swan and Antifragile
"A clear voice of reason and critical thinking in the middle of today's neomania.”
David Rieff, author of A Bed For the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis
PublicAffairs, 9781610393706, 432pp.
Publication Date: March 4, 2014