Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech — Sara Wachter-Boettcher
My quick review of “Technically Wrong”, a book by Sara Wachter-Boettcher.
Imagine taking a serie of photos of a great day outdoor, uploading them to an application you use as a photo album, and seeing you and your friends automatically categorized as gorillas. Not great, huh? Well, it happened to several black persons a few years ago: the developpers of the application, most likely, did not test it – or not thoroughly enough – with people of color. Maybe because people of colors are under-represented in tech and there was none in the team working on this?
Or imagine you wrote, several times, about a traumatic event you lived during the year, maybe posting photos and discussing about this event with other people. Comes the end of the year and the service you used gives you a “here’s what went on this year for you” retrospective – which you didn’t ask for – forcing you to relive that event. Not great either, I’d say. If the company behind that service was more concerned about the well-being of its users, instead of being so focused on generating engagement and pageviews, things might have been different and less painful…
These are only two of the several examples Sara Wachter-Boettcher presents in her book, alongside subjects such as the tracking of users, meritocracy, or normal people.
→ 4⁄5 If you are working on the development of technological products (applications, websites, or something else), chances are your team is not really diverse and you don’t think about some of the problems you’ll read about in here. Which means: you should read this book! It might open your eyes a bit, and help you create products better suited for a larger majority of people.