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Description

A reading list for the modern critical programmer

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A Critical Reading list on Tech && (Politics || Society || Ethics)

An opinionated reading list for the critical programmer. Books and articles about the intersection of Technology with politics, society and ethics. A list curated by programmers for programmers.

This repository collects interesting books and articles useful to understand political, social and ethical discourses about new technological developments. Understanding this connection is necessary to create a fair and sustainable future. The discourse affects programmers and tech people that become passive actors. This is due to their general lack of interest in these topics, scarcity of time to dedicate to non-technical readings and the existence of barriers preventing inter-disciplinary communication with philosophers, journalists and artists.

The goal of this list is to give a track to follow to get up to speed, understand the implications of tech in modern society and be able to participate in the debate, so that engineers can inform themselves in order to develop their own discourse. This is step necessary to go beyond the reductionist, simplified views that in the past years prevented us to take a relevant role in shaping our present. The list is kept short by design, with just a few articles on each subject. We don't want it to be overwhelming. If an article made the cut, it means we deem it a necessary reading.

The List is a continous work in progress. It will be updated with new and better material. Feel free to contribute by opening a issue here on GitHub


AI

AI is probably the most contested field in the last few years, where many actors are trying to dictate the narrative, either for ideological reasons, economical interests or both. The Academia and the Engineers are lagging behind but recently more and more content is being produced to counter the established narrative.

AI, in this context, means a fuzzily-defined set of technologies that include machine-learning, at-scale data gathering and analytics, modern industrial automation, chatbots, autonomous vehicles, drones control systems and other technologies.

AI and Politics

Labor

Meta

  • Resisting reduction [2017]: using the religion around Singularity, the author presents in a concise way what does it mean to deal with complex systems and why naive, reductionists views should be rejected when presented as solutions to social problems.
  • Do Artifacts Have Politics?[1980]: in a single paper, the author highlights how both engineers and social scientists misinterpret the relationship between technology and society. In particular he attacks the narrative, widespread among engineers, that artifacts have no political properties in themselves and that function or efficiency are the only drivers of technological design and implementation.

Privacy

Software Licensing

  • The original sin of Free Software[2019]: highlights the issues with the original conceptualization of Free Software and how they relate to the current issues related to software ownership, to the colonization of Open Source by corporations and in general to the liberation of Software.

  • CoopyLeft[2020]: A license that reservers commercial usage only to cooperatives.

Other

Unplanned Obsolescence: Hardware and Software After Collapse [2017]: an analysis of the problems computing will face once the internet and the hardware supply chain will collapse.

What is going on around you and what role do you play in it?

  • Post-capitalism: A Guide to our future [2015]: a short reflection on how the information economy has changed the rules of labor and market, how Tech might shape them in the future and how new technologies and how changing how programmers work will help us achieve critical medium/long term goals.

  • Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a world without work [2015]: this book outlines a practical strategy to act upon the current problems of our society and places engineers and makers in a pivotal position to shape a better idea of future. The book explains how tech people are greatly empowered by the new economic and political conjunction to shape the future.

  • Notes from Below: Technology and the Worker [2018]: this journal details different aspects of being a worker in Tech nowadays, reporting real life examples on what is going on politically and socially in American big tech companies, and how Tech workers are beginning to organize themselves.

  • On Design Thinking [2019]: What happened when one of the poorest cities in Florida turned to IDEO to "Reinvent Itself With UX Design". Highlighting Horst Rittel's concept of "wicked problems", against rationalist design, outlined in Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning [1973].


Other Reading Lists

Newsletters, magazines and periodical publications

  • Tech Worker Coalition Newsletter: newsletter of the Tech Worker Coalition, a modern labor union for American Tech Workers. Covers news on Technology, strikes in the IT sector and new high-quality content in the discourse.
  • Logicmac: The Magazine about technological critique. Released in seasonal issues with a central topic and contributions from different authors and specialists.
  • The Register: A news website reporting on tech news from a critical perspective.
  • The Syllabus / The Machinist: A subsection of The Syllabus dedicated to technology: weekly curated digest of high quality contents.
  • Skynet Today: critical perspectives about "AI", in the form of news digests, editorials and theory

Contributing

Feel free to add your contributions through issues and pull requests. We invite diverse and conflicting voices to participate in the discussion as long as they respect the premises of this list and the content proposed is solid, sound and well-founded.

License

CC0

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