Showing posts from February, 2020

Technology Provides Tools, Not Panaceas

I take issue with Keith Spencer's clear implication in his Salon article that technology has no role in the elections. Two of the three objections he cites to the "computationalist mindset" are actually objections against the use of computers: "First, it enables malfeasance and incompetence.... Pen and paper, on the other hand, are tried-and-true tabulation methods that are not hackable. Second, computers are opaque...A layperson cannot audit the code of an app or website and determine if it is being manipulated."

This is missing the point. Technology offers tools which in many cases can be put to good use, but which are just easier to employ in short-sighted or nefarious ways. It is often the human systems which design and use these tools that are not carefully planned and thus enable vulnerabilities, accidents, or malfeasance. The lack of care in establishing these human processes may indeed be partly due to the fetishization of technology as an automatic pan…