Resisting Reduction

Resisting Reduction

Designing Our Complex Future with Machines

Edited by Joichi Ito

Provocative, hopeful essays imagine a future that is not reduced to algorithms.





Provocative, hopeful essays imagine a future that is not reduced to algorithms.

When Joi Ito published an essay, “Resisting Reduction: A Manifesto,” about human flourishing in an age of machine intelligence, his argument against industrial optimizations in the pursuit of growth and for the importance of natural complexity and resilience received such an impassioned response that he invited writers to develop full-length essays continuing the conversation. Resisting Reduction is the result: Ito's manifesto and nine equally provocative responses, all imagining a future that is not limited by a worldview defined by algorithm. Rather than await our inevitable domination by machines, Ito and his respondents argue, we should work toward a future of interconnected complex systems.

Ito blames Silicon Valley's “groupthink” and “cult of technology” for claiming that narrow technical solutions can resolve the world's complex problems. More computing power does not make us more “intelligent,” he tells us, only more computationally powerful. In their responses, the other writers offer persuasive and compelling variations on Ito's argument. Among other things, they call for a “Human+AI Centaur” as the best way to augment intelligence; draw on indigenous epistemology to argue for an extended “circle of relationships” that includes the nonhuman and robotic; debunk the myth of the lone pioneer and propose instead a model of adaptive interconnectivity; cast “Snow White” as a tale of AI featuring a “smart mirror”; point out the “cisnormativity” of security protocol algorithms; and consider the limits of moral mathematics.

Contributors Noelani Arista, Nicky Case, Sasha Costanza-Chock, Vafa Ghazavi, Kat Holmes, Joi Ito, Suzanne aka Kite, Cathryn Klusmeier, Jason Edward Lewis, Molly McCue, Archer Pechawis, Jaclyn Sawyer, Gary Zhexi Zhang, Snoweria Zhang


$17.95 T | £12.99 ISBN: 9780262043144 224 pp. | 5.375 in x 8 in 17 b&w illus.


Joichi Ito

Joi Ito is Director of the MIT Media Lab, where he is also Professor of the Practice of Media Arts and Sciences. He is the coauthor of Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future.


  • “Thank you Joichi Ito, for this most nuanced and multifaceted set of perspectives on the relationship of human beings and our technologies. This is the first book since Norbert Wiener that engages with our digital future as a complex human system rather than an oversimplified, if complicated, machine. This is exactly the kind of collaborative effort that will define the next era of knowledge production.”

    Douglas Rushkoff

    author, Team Human and Present Shock

  • “Joi Ito's Resisting Reduction is a bold step forward toward what could become Enlightenment 2.0. It is fitting for the head of the Media Lab at MIT to jump start this conversation. What makes Resisting Reduction such a compelling read is precisely what the title of the book suggests. It is neither the grand evolutionary vision of the human species nor the dystopian view of the inevitable collapse of planetary life. Instead, Joi Ito chooses to take a stand against the very current kind of reductive thinking by stating his premise, and then inviting other contributors to join in. Resisting Reduction is a much-needed book for our times, providing guidance and food for thought.”

    Yo-Yo Ma


  • “Joi Ito describes a world in which complexity is our friend, diversity and participation the bases of success, well-being the metrics, and values the guiding principles. This book is oxygen for all those who believe that great design—sensible, elegant, empathetic, respectful of the environment and of all species—can transform any breakthrough into a better life for all.”

    Paola Antonelli

    Senior Curator, Architecture & Design and Director, Research & Development, The Museum of Modern Art