The Good Robot

Mar Hicks on the Unexpected History of Computing

August 15, 2023 Dr Kerry McInerney and Dr Eleanor Drage
The Good Robot
Mar Hicks on the Unexpected History of Computing
Show Notes

In this episode, we talk to Mar Hicks, an Associate Professor of Data Science at the University of Virginia and author of Programmed Inequality: How Britain discarded Women Technologists and Lost its Edge in computing. Hicks talks to us about the lessons that the tech industry can learn from histories of computing, for example: how sexism is an integral feature of technological systems and not just a bug that can be extracted from them; how techno-utopianism can stop us from building better technologies; when looking to the past is useful and when it's not helpful; the dangers of the 'move fast and break things' approach where you just build technology just to see what happens; and whether regulatory sandboxes are sufficient in making sure that tech isn't deployed unsafely on an unsuspecting public.