The tech bias: why Silicon Valley needs social theory

idea_sized-gettyimages-595276002Silicon Valley tech companies draw on innovative technical theory but have yet to really incorporate advances insocial theory. The inattention to such knowledge becomes all too apparent when algorithms fail in their real-life applications – from automated soap-dispensers that fail to turn on when a user has dark brown skin, to the new iPhone X’s inability to distinguish among different Asian women.

Social theorists in fields such as sociology, geography, and science and technology studies have shown how race, gender and class biases inform technical design. So there’s irony in the fact that employees hold sexist and racist attitudes, yet ‘we are supposed to believe that these same employees are developing “neutral” or “objective” decision-making tools’.

Read the full article in Aeon

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