More than a Glitch
Confronting Race, Gender, and Ability Bias in Tech
248 pp., 6 x 9 in, 9 b&w illus.
- Published: March 14, 2023
When technology reinforces inequality, it's not just a glitch—it's a signal that we need to redesign our systems to create a more equitable world.
The word “glitch” implies an incidental error, as easy to patch up as it is to identify. But what if racism, sexism, and ableism aren't just bugs in mostly functional machinery—they're coded into the system itself? In More Than a Glitch, Meredith Broussard demonstrates how technological neutrality is a myth and why algorithms need to be held accountable.
Broussard, a data scientist who has worked in journalism and software development, masterfully synthesizes concepts from computer science and sociology alongside her own experience as one of the few Black female researchers in artificial intelligence. Citing examples such as sensors trained only to recognize lighter skin tones and the dangerous feedback loops that arise when predictive policing and medical diagnostic algorithms are fed on discriminatory data, she illuminates how technologies designed to boost convenience are also prone to perpetuating bias. Even with good intentions, fallible humans develop programs that can inflict devastating consequences when ineptitude tips into oppression.
Broussard argues that the solution isn't to make omnipresent tech more inclusive, but to root out the frameworks that target certain demographics as “other” to begin with. With sweeping implications for disciplines ranging from jurisprudence to medicine, the simultaneously pathbreaking and practical insights of More Than a Glitch are essential reading for anyone invested in building a more equitable future.
“With unmatched clarity and galvanizing insight, Meredith Broussard demystifies the mathematical underpinnings of AI and slays the magical mythos of Big Tech like no other! Everyone who cares about the future of tech and society should read this book yesterday.”
Ruha Benjamin, author of Race after Technology and Viral Justice
“With the clarity that few technology scholars can muster, More than Glitch powerfully demonstrates why we must understand culture - not just computation - if we are to imagine and design a future that reaches beyond fairness to build equity and justice into our technological systems.”
Charlton McIlwain, Professor, NYU; author of Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice, From the Afronet to Black Lives Matter
“From the case of the racist soap dispenser to the assistive listening technology that wasn't, More than a Glitch exposes and analyzes the way unreflective use of tech can reinforce the very human biases it claims to be immune to.”
Jordan Ellenberg, Professor of Mathematics, University of Wisconsin-Madison; author of How Not To Be Wrong and Shape
“Broussard is a patient, empathetic, and witty tour guide, ushering the reader through multiple deep-dive journalistic and personal endeavors that are alternately terrifying and heartwarming, enraging and inspiring. She deftly reframes the question of how to build AI equitably from a technical issue to a human one.”
Cathy O'Neil, author of The Shame Machine and Weapons of Math Destruction
"Why you should read it: You're a tech leader who understands that there is always bias in modern technologies – you recognize the fallibility of humans – but you want to learn about potential solutions to this problem. Explore the frameworks that target specific demographics as “other” in the first place. This is essential reading for anyone invested in building a more equitable future."
—The Enterprisers Project