On tech, the ivory tower, and accountability

Every day, we rely more and more on big data and artificial intelligence to make huge decisions in our lives. But the scholars who should be helping lawmakers and companies use this technology appropriately are falling behind, leaving well-paid lobbyists and the media as educators-in-chief.

One short-term solution: an academic institute focused on algorithmic accountability, with ethical training for engineers and data scientists.

Let’s get excited about maintenance! (Innovation, not so much.)

When Americans talk about technology, they often use “innovation” as a shorthand. But “innovation” refers only to the very early phases of technological development and use. While innovation — the social process of introducing new things — is important, most technologies around us are old, and for the smooth functioning of daily life, maintenance is more important.

A more expansive conception of technology would take into account the diverse array of tools, including subways and trains, that we humans use to help us reach our goals.