Technologies and Bias: A Historic and Contemporary Investigation

By Ute Hillmer.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper traces the genealogies of technology as common logics in society. While any obvious form of discrimination will usually be criticised in a modern society with democratic values, formal bias, rooted in the institutions of society can only be discovered in a larger context, one that requires revealing the substantive, often forgotten historic context. This paper sets out to show how technology is inherently social, how the historic and contemporary social contexts exert a significant influence over the attitude towards technology, and it reflects on some consequences: throughout history, philosophies of technology served social elites. What is considered knowledge and truth and thus the social reality of the time is connected to power from its very origin through a web of social forces, making technologies inherently bias. In modern times, rationality is biasing knowledge and criticising technological rationality becomes a critique of the entire social value system and its political structure. Latest philosophies of technologies start to escape this automatism while remaining critical. While technology critique remains social critique in an economic context, the latest philosophies of technology develop their theories on a micro level offering lay pockets of criticism.

Keywords: Technology and Bias, Sociology, Genealogies of Technology, Social Bias, Philosophies of Technology, Socially Determined Technology, Technological Bias

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 3, Issue 5, pp.117-124. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 588.570KB).

Ute Hillmer

Doctoral Student, Business School, Research Department, University of East London, London, UK

The authors past experience are 16 years of corporate outbound marketing management in large multi-national commercial organizations (Hewlett Packard, CoCreate, Sun Microsystems), managing various marketing teams in the US, Europe and Asia. The product focus centred around state-of-the-art information technology hardware and software. More recent experience includes work as a strategy consultant and management advisor for medium size high tech firms and start-ups. Many years of practical experience dealing with the seemingly unpredictable success or failure of a product as well as its weak relation to a products stated benefits and features, has caused the author to be critical of traditional perspectives found in management literature; to thinking about organizations from perspectives contained in sociology, social psychology, psychology and some aspects of neuroscience. Researching outside the traditional discipline of management science has caused the author to adopt a broader personal perspective through which individuals’ choice of action and its consequences for technology management can be considered.

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