In Artificial Unintelligence, Meredith Broussard argues that our collective enthusiasm for applying computer technology to every aspect of life has resulted in a tremendous amount of poorly designed systems. We are so eager to do everything digitally—hiring, driving, paying bills, even choosing romantic partners—that we have stopped demanding that our technology actually work. Broussard, a software developer and journalist, reminds us that there are fundamental limits to what we can (and should) do with technology. With this book, she offers a guide to understanding the inner workings and outer limits of technology—and issues a warning that we should never assume that computers always get things right.

Making a case against technochauvinism—the belief that technology is always the solution—Broussard argues that it’s just not true that social problems would inevitably retreat before a digitally enabled Utopia. To prove her point, she undertakes a series of adventures in computer programming. She goes for an alarming ride in a driverless car, concluding “the cyborg future is not coming any time soon”; uses artificial intelligence to investigate why students can’t pass standardized tests; deploys machine learning to predict which passengers survived the Titanic disaster; and attempts to repair the U.S. campaign finance system by building AI software. If we understand the limits of what we can do with technology, Broussard tells us, we can make better choices about what we should do with it to make the world better for everyone.

Artificial Unintelligence received the 2019 PROSE Award from the Association of American Publishers as the year’s best book in computing and information sciences.

The book in the media:

How computers misunderstand the world: The Verge

The Dirty Truth Coming for Self-Driving Cars: Slate

Why the Scots are such a struggle for Alexa and Siri: because technochauvinism. Scotland Herald

Talking with Meredith Broussard about Artificial Unintelligence LA Times

New book exposes “technochauvinism” CBC Spark

Self-Driving Cars Are a Terrible Idea: The Self-Driving Office Edition Slate Money Podcast

Self-Driving Cars Still Don’t Know How to See The Atlantic

Minding over machine: the AI race China Daily

What the sinking of the Titanic reveals about A.I. Futurity

Forthcoming Books on Social Media, Privacy and Technological Change Inside Higher Ed