System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot
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About the Author
MEHRAN SAHAMI was recruited to Google in its start--up days by Sergey Brin and was one of the inventors of email spam--filtering technology. With a background in machine learning and artificial intelligence, he returned to Stanford as a computer science professor in 2007 and helped redesign the undergraduate computer science curriculum. He is one of the instructors of Stanford's massive introductory computer programming course taken by nearly 1,500 students per year. Mehran is also a limited partner in several VC funds and serves as an adviser to high--tech start--ups.
JEREMY M. WEINSTEIN went to Washington with President Obama in 2009. A key staffer in the White House, he foresaw how new technologies might remake the relationship between governments and citizens, and launched Obama's Open Government Partnership. When Samantha Power was appointed US Ambassador to the United Nations, she brought Jeremy to New York, first as her chief of staff and then as her deputy. He returned to Stanford in 2015 as a professor of political science, where he now leads Stanford Impact Labs.
Enough with the breathless dreams of digital utopias and poisonous polemics about technological dystopias! In System Error, we finally have a book about the digital revolution that is serious rather than sensationalistic. Read this if you want to understand how to shape our technological future and reinvigorate democracy along the way.--Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix
Albert Einstein once lamented that 'our technology has exceeded our humanity.' That danger is ever more pressing as powerful artificial intelligence technologies are transforming society at a pace never seen before. From the heart of Silicon Valley comes a profoundly important book that examines the ethical and social impact of the digital technologies and offers a more human-centered framework. This is a must-read for every student, engineer, businessperson, policymaker, or anyone who cares about our society's collective future.--Dr. Fei-Fei Li, Professor Computer Science, Co-Director of Stanford's Institute for Human-Centered AI, and member of the National Academies of Engineering and Medicine
"System Error offers a powerful account of how our lives, our politics, and our values have been reshaped by technology in ways that we are just starting to comprehend. Full of stories and insights, this remarkable book charts a path forward for creating a healthy digital future."--Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation
It's not about the obvious villains. This wise, nuanced, quietly brilliant book reveals how technology is reshaping our society and our values in ways that are insidious, hidden--sometimes even from their inventors--and far more fascinating. Anyone who believes this reshaping shouldn't be entrusted to private companies needs to read it. Now.--Larissa MacFarquhar, author of Strangers Drowning: Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Urge to Help
The authors explore major issues that they posit society needs to grapple with: the rise in the outsourcing of decision-making to algorithms, the immense amount of user data collected by tech companies, increasing automation, and the proliferation of hate speech and disinformation online. Their suggestions for how the country might better balance democracy and technology are evenhanded and nuanced . . . Never falling into the trap of offering easy answers over deep analysis, this study is worth a look for readers worried about the outsize influence of technology on their lives and society.--Publishers Weekly (starred review)