Thomas D. Mullaney, Benjamin Peters, Mar Hicks, and Kavita PhilipJul 9, 2021
Your Computer Is on Fire
MIT Press 2021
This book sounds an alarm: after decades of being lulled into complacency by narratives of technological utopianism and neutrality, people are waking up to the large-scale consequences of Silicon Valley–led technophilia. This book trains a spotlight on the inequality, marginalization, and biases in our technological systems, showing how they are not just minor bugs to be patched, but part and parcel of ideas that assume technology can fix—and control—society.
The essays in Your Computer Is on Fire (MIT Press, 2021) interrogate how our human and computational infrastructures overlap, showing why technologies that centralize power tend to weaken democracy. These practices are often kept out of sight until it is too late to question the costs of how they shape society. From energy-hungry server farms to racist and sexist algorithms, the digital is always IRL, with everything that happens algorithmically or online influencing our offline lives as well. Each essay proposes paths for action to understand and solve technological problems that are often ignored or misunderstood.
Mathew Jordan is a university instructor, funk musician, and clear writing enthusiast. He studies the history of science and technology, driven by the belief that we must understand the past in order to improve the future.