Durrelliott - News Source For Teenagers
close

Technology

Technology

Gender, race and social change in tech; Moira Weigel on the Internet of Women, Part Two – TechCrunch


Tech ethics can mean a lot of different things, but surely one of the most critical, unavoidable, and yet somehow still controversial propositions in the emerging field of ethics in technology is that tech should promote gender equality. But does it? And to the extent it does not, what (and who) needs to change?

In this second of a two-part interview “On The Internet of Women,” Harvard fellow and Logic magazine founder and editor Moira Weigel and I discuss the future of capitalism and its relationship to sex and tech; the place of ambivalence in feminist ethics; and Moira’s personal experiences with #MeToo.

Greg E.: There’s a relationship between technology and feminism, and technology and sexism for that matter. Then there’s a relationship between all of those things and capitalism. One of the underlying themes in your essay “The Internet of Women,” that I thought made it such a kind of, I’d call it a seminal essay, but that would be a silly term to use in this case…

Moira W.: I’ll take it.

Greg E.: One of the reasons I thought your essay should be required reading basic reading in tech ethics is that you argue we need to examine the degree to which sexism is a part of capitalism.

Moira W.: Yes.

Greg E.: Talk about that.

Moira W.: This is a big topic! Where to begin?

Capitalism, the social and economic system that emerged in Europe around the sixteenth century and that we still live under, has a profound relationship to histories of sexism and racism. It’s really important to recognize that sexism and racism themselves are historical phenomena.

They don’t exist in the same way in all places. They take on different forms at different times. I find that very hopeful to recognize, because it means they can change.

It’s really important not to get too pulled into the view that men have always hated women there will always be this war of the sexes that, best case scenario, gets temporarily resolved in the depressing truce of conventional heterosexuality.  The conditions we live under are not the only possible conditions—they are not inevitable.

A fundamental Marxist insight is that capitalism necessarily involves exploitation. In order to grow, a company needs to pay people less for their work than that work is worth. Race and gender help make this process of exploitation seem natural.

Image via Getty Images / gremlin

Certain people are naturally inclined to do certain kinds of lower status and lower waged work, and why should anyone be paid much to do what comes naturally? And it just so happens that the kinds of work we value less are seen as more naturally “female.” This isn’t just about caring professions that have been coded female—nursing and teaching and so on, although it does include those.

In fact, the history of computer programming provides one of the best examples. In the early decades, when writing software was seen as rote work and lower status, it was mostly done by women. As Mar Hicks and other historians have shown, as the profession became more prestigious and more lucrative, women were very actively pushed out.

You even see this with specific coding languages. As more women learn, say, Javascript, it becomes seen as feminized—seen as less impressive or valuable than Python, a “softer” skill. This perception, that women have certain natural capacities that should be free or cheap, has a long history that overlaps with the history of capitalism.  At some level, it is a byproduct of the rise of wage labor.

To a medieval farmer it would have made no sense to say that when his wife had their children who worked their farm, gave birth to them in labor, killed the chickens and cooked them, or did work around the house, that that wasn’t “work,” [but when he] took the chickens to the market to sell them, that was. Right?

A long line of feminist thinkers has drawn attention to this in different ways. One slogan from the 70s was, ‘whose work produces the worker?’ Women, but neither companies nor the state, who profit from this process, expect to pay for it.

Why am I saying all this? My point is: race and gender have been very useful historically for getting capitalism things for free—and for justifying that process. Of course, they’re also very useful for dividing exploited people against one another. So that a white male worker hates his black coworker, or his leeching wife, rather than his boss.

Greg E.: I want to ask more about this topic and technology; you are a publisher of Logic magazine which is one of the most interesting publications about technology that has come on the scene in the last few years.



Source link

read more
Technology

Apple’s new MacBook keyboard fix is reassuring and worrying at the same time


I genuinely don’t know whether to feel reassured or worried about Apple’s latest attempt to address its busted butterfly keyboards. I think it’s both — because on the very same day Apple announced a revised version of its MacBook Pro keyboard that supposedly won’t get crippled by mere specks of dust, it included those brand-new keyboards in the same free extended repair program designed to placate customers whose keyboards do fail.

Like Owen Williams points out, it’s weird:

If you assume that Apple’s trying to sweep this issue under the rug, it’s easy to jump to this conclusion: Apple is tacitly admitting that the new keyboards, too, suffer from the exact same issues, and the mysterious “new materials” used in their construction are precisely a mystery because Apple doesn’t want you to know they’re insufficient. Because if the keyboards are better now, why would we need Apple’s promise to replace them if they break?

I think that’s an unfair assumption, particularly until we’ve seen inside these new Macs. For all we know, Apple’s all but eliminated the issue. We won’t truly know until after months of real-world usage, if ever. But even if you assume that Apple has a fix and is genuinely trying to do right by its customers, today’s move still isn’t totally reassuring.

I personally think it’s great that Apple will repair or replace any MacBook keyboard with butterfly switches for four years after the date of sale. It would definitely make me feel a little better about buying one.

And it’s definitely a clearer, easier to trust message than the one Apple sent in July 2018, when the company claimed it hadn’t tried to fix the issue with its third-gen butterfly keyboards, but its internal service documents and teardowns told a different story. Then, Apple’s keyboard repair program only covered the first- and second-gen butterfly keyboards, meaning you’d have to take a leap of faith with the third-gen models, a leap that Apple itself didn’t encourage — and a leap that could have ended badly since they, too, can apparently be felled by dust.

Now, MacBook Pro buyers can tell themselves “There’s less chance than ever that these newly tweaked keyboards will break, and Apple will have my back even if they do.”

But those same buyers also have to think about whether they should buy a laptop that can fall victim to this issue at all. Even if Apple will replace your keyboard for the first four years, how big a hassle is it to get that done? What if Apple’s techs can’t reproduce the issue on the day you manage to cart your precious work machine into an Apple Store? What about year five, if you hold onto laptops that long? What about the resale value?

If Apple had actually fixed the issue with a new keyboard design — which it still might, if the rumors of a 16-inch MacBook Pro for later this year are true — it’d be a different story. But for now, Apple has chosen to illustrate how every one of its modern laptops have a chance of succumbing to this flaw.

To be fair, Apple’s in a difficult position here. The MacBook has a serious image problem due to these keyboards (not to mention “Flexgate” and the initial outcry that the MacBook Pro wasn’t for pros). Even if Apple has figured out a keyboard fix, it wouldn’t have been enough for the company to say “we think we fixed it on these specific models” because not everybody’s ready to buy a high-end Touch Bar-equipped 2019 MacBook Pro. The company needs to keep selling the 12-inch MacBook, the new MacBook Air and the lower-end MacBook Pros, and it’ll be harder to do that if Apple reveals that all its Macs save the new ones are flawed.

It’s a lot easier to tell everybody “This is rare, and if you’re affected, we’ll take care of you” like it also finally just did with the Flexgate display issue on the 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro. And it’s even easier to say that every MacBook with a butterfly keyboard will be taken care of, because buyers won’t have that extra friction of figuring out whether they’re buying the right MacBook to avoid potential keyboard woes.

They can just buy a MacBook and trust that should anything bad happen, Apple will probably, eventually help. At least after journalists write enough compelling first-hand tales of woe to show Apple where its reputation for quality could use some propping up.



Source link

read more
1 2 3 71
Page 1 of 71
Durrelliott - News Source For Teenagers