Automating Inequality raises serious questions about what is to become of human agency in a digitally automated world. It provides timely case studies for tech workers, policy makers, and anyone seeking to understand the social impacts of computing technologies and reevaluate the ethical frameworks that structure digital innovation.
“I’ll wager that there is a baby making to be aimed for that will be defined neither by the alienated misery of the status quo nor the silver absolutism of their techno-fix,” writes Sophie Lewis in the introduction to Full Surrogacy Now, her bracing exploration of the gestational surrogacy industry. Through listening to surrogates, Lewis shows how common ideas about the givenness of labor relations, the family, and nature in the modern world become untenable.
In the utopian realm of digital health, personalized on-demand health data is framed as both sufficient and aspirational. Like the latest iPhone, health is becoming an exclusive novelty item, enticing to early adopters with cash to spare.
Many of the societal ills we link to digital technology seem to have already happened to us, and it can feel like we have little control over them. But in fictional worlds, we can control technology again.
To safeguard future generations, it may be more important to guard against self-tracking’s intrusion into our lives than to reap its benefits. Is the Apple Watch truly a guardian, caring for our well-being — or is it a warden, watching and waiting for us to make a misstep?
Even though the Social VR industry is new, high-profile incidents of bias, hate, and harassment have already been reported. But because the industry is new, there is also a prime opportunity to design platforms and tools that will reduce and prevent harassment in the future. This report lays the groundwork for future analysis of tools and strategies to address hate in Social VR.
This is the new health, same as the old. Beautiful, slim, wealthy white women — long the keepers of purity, health, and hygiene in the American imagination — are again advising the rest of us how to care for our bodies through state-of-the-art technologies.
My Commentary article “Conflicting Assumptions: The Meaning of Price in the Pharmaceutical Economy” was published in August 2017 in the journal Science As Culture. An excerpt is below. Reach out for the final version.
This essay in the Journal of Cultural Economy reviewed three recent books: Donna Haraway’s Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, Alexis Shotwell’s Against Purity: Living Ethically in Compromised Times, and Anna Tsing’s The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins.
It is even tempting to regard food allergy as the signature disease of modernity. If so, a return to pure, clean living — avoiding pollution, pesticides, the hustle and bustle of modern life — would seem to be the solution.