Mar Hicks, “The Meta-Narrative of the Machine: Computing and Social Inequalities in Great Britain”

August 26, 2019

Mar Hicks
Mar Hicks, Illinois Institute of Technology

In the popular imagination, computers are not only superior to humans in speed and accuracy, but they do their work free from prejudice, treating users equally without regard to race or gender. Fellow Mar Hicks, associate professor of history at Illinois Institute of Technology, is helping complicate our understanding of how computers shape our world as she works this year on a new book exploring how technological systems in Great Britain continue to perpetuate social inequalities.

In this podcast, Hicks discusses the deep history of algorithmic bias and how technology constructs certain people—specifically women and transgender persons—as non-normative, with far-reaching discriminatory consequences for these groups. Building on her previous research on the often forgotten history of technology’s rise and fall in the United Kingdom, Hicks’ scholarship focuses not only on the transphobia programmed into computer systems, but also how resistance to such discrimination cultivated a political class.