Your Computer Is on Fire | National Humanities Center

Work of the Fellows: Edited Volumes

Your Computer Is on Fire

Edited by Mar Hicks (NHC Fellow, 2018–19), Thomas S. Mullaney, Benjamin Peters, and Kavita Philip

Computers; History of Technology; Algorithmic Bias; Inequality

Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2021

From the publisher’s description:

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 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.

Awards and Prizes
Strategy+Business Best Business Books (2021)
Technology / Computers / History of Technology / Algorithmic Bias / Inequality /

Hicks, Mar (NHC Fellow, 2018–19), ed. Your Computer Is on Fire. Edited by Mar Hicks, Thomas S. Mullaney, Benjamin Peters, and Kavita Philip. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2021.