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To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionismby Evgeny Morozov
Synopses & Reviews
Our society is at a crossroads. Smart technology is transforming our world, making many aspects of our lives more convenient, efficient and — in some cases — fun. Better and cheaper sensors can now be embedded in almost everything, and technologies can log the products we buy and the way we use them. But, argues Evgeny Morozov, technology is having a more profound effect on us: it is changing the way we understand human society.
In the very near future, technological systems will allow us to make large-scale and sophisticated interventions into many more areas of public life. These are the discourses by which we have always defined our civilization: politics, culture, public debate, morality, humanism. But how will these disciplines be affected when we delegate much of the responsibility for them to technology? The temptation of the digital age is to fix everything — from crime to corruption to pollution to obesity — by digitally quantifying, tracking, or gamifiying behavior. But when we change the motivations for our moral, ethical and civic behavior, do we also change the very nature of that behavior? Technology, Morozov proposes, can be a force for improvement — but only if we abandon the idea that it is necessarily revolutionary and instead genuinely interrogate why and how we are using it.
From urging us to drop outdated ideas of the Internet to showing how to design more humane and democratic technological solutions, To Save Everything, Click Here is about why we will always need to consider the consequences of the way we use technology.
"For the brilliant dissident Evgeny Morozov, computers are like broken beach-toys on the dark, historic tides of power politics. His new book should be bound in sandpaper and used to abrade the works of other Internet pundits." Bruce Sterling, author of The Hacker Crackdown
"Can technology solve social problems? To an extent, perhaps, writes [Morozov]. But for every Utopian application of a computer, dystopia awaits: Technology may afford hitherto disenfranchised or at least undercounted people an equal voice, but inside the world of clicks, likes and read-throughs lurk dragons....Healthy skepticism...and a useful corrective for those who believe that we'll somehow engineer ourselves out of our current mess." Kirkus Reviews
"Evgeny Morozov does a good job of dispelling 'big data' hype in To Save Everything, Click Here....If silicon valley is a party, Evgeny Morozov is the guy who turns up late and spoils the fun. The valley loves ambitious entrepreneurs with world-changing ideas. Morozov is, in his own words, an "Eastern European curmudgeon". He's wary of quick fixes and irritated by hype. He's the guy who saunters over to the technophiles gathered around the punch bowl and tells them...how misguided they are. Morozov should be invited all the same, because he brings a caustic yet thoughtful skepticism that is usually missing from debates about technology." New Scientist
“This hard-hitting book argues people have become enslaved to the machines they use to communicate. It is incisive and beautifully written; whether you agree with Morozov or not, he will make you think hard." Richard Sennett, author of The Craftsman
"Morozov is a relentless dragon-slayer in the puffed-up world of internet punditry....To Save Everything, Click Here [is] a full-frontal critique of Silicon Valley verities — the gospel of 'radical transparency', the notion that online collaboration can serve as a template for government, the whole rogue's gallery of idea salesmen who confuse real innovation with messing about on the internet. Morozov is a fine polemic essayist." Financial Times
The award-winning author of The Net Delusion shows how the radical transparency we've become accustomed to online may threaten the spirit of real-life democracy
In the very near future, smart” technologies and big data” will allow us to make large-scale and sophisticated interventions in politics, culture, and everyday life. Technology will allow us to solve problems in highly original ways and create new incentives to get more people to do the right thing. But how will such solutionism” affect our society, once deeply political, moral, and irresolvable dilemmas are recast as uncontroversial and easily manageable matters of technological efficiency? What if some such problems are simply vices in disguise? What if some friction in communication is productive and some hypocrisy in politics necessary? The temptation of the digital age is to fix everything — from crime to corruption to pollution to obesity — by digitally quantifying, tracking, or gamifying behavior. But when we change the motivations for our moral, ethical, and civic behavior we may also change the very nature of that behavior. Technology, Evgeny Morozov proposes, can be a force for improvement — but only if we keep solutionism in check and learn to appreciate the imperfections of liberal democracy. Some of those imperfections are not accidental but by design.
Arguing that we badly need a new, post-Internet way to debate the moral consequences of digital technologies, To Save Everything, Click Here warns against a world of seamless efficiency, where everyone is forced to wear Silicon Valleys digital straitjacket.
About the Author
Evgeny Morozov is the author of The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom (PublicAffairs, January 2011). He is also a visiting scholar at Stanford University and a contributing editor to Foreign Policy and Boston Review. He was previously a Yahoo fellow at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University and a fellow at the Open Society Foundations, where he remains on the board of the Information Program. Before moving to the U.S., Morozov was Director of New Media at Transitions Online, a Prague-based media development NGO active in the former Soviet block. His articles have appeared in The Financial Times, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, the New Republic, The Boston Globe, and many other publications. He writes a monthly column for Slate that is syndicated in 9 other languages. He was born in Belarus.
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