The internet might seem like a level playing field. It is not.

Photo by Malcolm Lightbody on Unsplash

Why is the assumption that technology is neutral still prevailing, although studies have shown time and time again that it perpetuates racism by reinforcing western power structures?

This question inadvertently came up after reading With this Black History Month misstep, Google forgot how racist the internet is by Jelani Drew. Last month, Google prominently promoted and advertised a new feature to make it easier for everyone to find Black-owned businesses. However, they did not consider the downside of this feature. Companies and customers noticed and felt the downside right away: a surge of overwhelmingly racist reviews on business profiles. These…


It is time to shift the focus from design to the impact of decision-making systems

Photo by Darlene Alderson from Pexels.

We turn to technology to find solutions to our everyday problems and look up information — decision-making systems powered by algorithms. Algorithms are finite sets of instructions to perform computations. Kristan Lum and Rumman Chowdhury described “a decision-making system as an “algorithm” is often a way to deflect accuntability for human decisions.” They suggest shifting the focus from system design to the impact of these systems for more accountability.

But how do the authors come to this conclusion? There are several reasons for this because one thing is clear: These systems reveal weak points again and again. In explaining these…


Writer, secret agent, and playwright Aphra Behn was one of the first English women to earn a living with her writing

By Peter Lely — Yale Center for British Art, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24908097.

Nicknamed “the female Shakespeare,” Aphra Behn was the first woman in England to earn a living as a professional writer. She quickly served as a literary role model for later generations of female authors with her wits and courage. She broke down cultural barriers with her writing and attacked the social conventions and values of her time. Whether it was her stance on social inequalities with The Forced Marriage or criticizing the slave trade, colonialism, and the proselytizing of Native peoples in her novella Oroonoko, Behn commented on her time with accuracy, clarity, and precision.

Who was Aphra?

There are various legends about…


Prophecies are about the now.

Photo by GR Stocks on Unsplash

Margaret Atwood doesn’t think of herself as a futurist — although her works of speculative fiction describe dystopian futures. She doesn’t so much forecast the future as she sees current warning signals and what they might mean for society if ignored.

This is also in line with the description of a futurist by Melanie Radzicki McManus: If you want to imagine a possible future, you need the imagination and the talent to elicit possible warning signals from today’s trends. A futurist is, therefore, someone who is “an educated individual who, after much research and analysis, makes projections about the future.”


The Russian writer, thinker, and psychoanalyst Lou Andreas-Salomé is one of the most enigmatic women in European intellectual history

By Atelier Elvira — https://www.elle.com/it/magazine/storie-di-donne/a29262677/lou-von-salome-film/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84511314

Lou Andreas-Salomé was an enigma for her contemporaries. She was beautiful, intelligent, and didn’t care about conventions. She was a woman ahead of her time — and the many men she excited. Born into nobility in St. Petersburg in 1861, Lou read philosophers such as Spinoza, Leibniz, and Kant and wrote poetry from an early age. This love for the intellectual is one of the few threads that run through her life — she was always more interested in intellectual relationships rather than romantic ones.

Among her admirers and friends were Friedrich Nietzsche, Leo Tolstoy, Sigmund Freud, Rainer Maria Rilke


We need context, accountability, and a shift from design to the impact of decision-making systems

Photo by Crawford Jolly on Unsplash

The list of AI applications that turn out to be racist, sexist, or simply ill-considered is shockingly long. In my research, I found that two things are at the root of this: the lack of context in which AI applications are embedded and persisting myths surrounding artificial intelligence.

Therefore, it is worthwhile to develop a somewhat cautious or skeptical view of technical innovations in the field of artificial intelligence and be aware that technologies are never simply neutral. In her insightful blog post, Real Examples of Why We Need Context for Responsible AI, Amy E. Hodler writes about how questionable…


The world is unprepared for AI to be unleashed on unprotected citizens

Photo by Arseny Togulev on Unsplash

Are we soon going to connect a charging cable to the chip in our brain before we go to bed? Or, will we be wiped out by killer robots like spam, a fear that Elon Musk has already expressed? What if AI is not the best thing to happen to humanity, but the worst?

There are primarily two kinds of fears regarding AI technologies: the risk that AI will become cognizant and seek to eliminate us or that the wrong people get a hold of AI technology to cause harm. Stephen Hawking publicly said he believed AI to be either…


The consequence of a lack of inclusion and impartiality

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels.

Two huge things went wrong in the internet era: lack of inclusion and lack of impartiality. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that in less than 24 hours, Microsoft’s AI bot Tay began tweeting racist and inflammatory statements, and Google’s deep learning platform misidentified gorillas and dark-skinned people in pictures. Against this background, it does not appear very reasonable to leave it up to companies to define the values implemented in AI applications.

If we keep in mind that over half of the world is still offline today and can’t benefit from the latest technologies, it is clear that this disparity…


Wild affairs, secret pregnancies, lavish parties, and military standoffs in the highest aristocratic circles

Elisabeth “Sissi” of Austria and her sisters Helene and Sophie Charlotte. Source: picture-alliance/maxppp, Wikipedia/Public Domain, picture-alliance/Mary Evans

Romy Schneider’s performance as Sissi in the famous movie series made Empress Elisabeth of Austria, nicknamed Sissi, an icon. Much is known about the tragedies in her life and her love story with Emperor Franz Joseph. However, the empress had four sisters and five brothers, two of whom unfortunately died shortly after birth. How did Sissi’s sisters live? What are their stories?

Growing up in Munich’s Duke-Max Palace as close family members of the reigning Wittelsbach dynasty, they had a lovely childhood. Their father was Duke Max Joseph, their mother, Princess Ludovika Wilhelmine. The family spent the summer months, so…


What needs to happen for philosophy to cut through the noise?

Photo by Metin Ozer on Unsplash

We are running out of time. Recently, I argued that philosophy as we know it is dead because there are no real explanations for how today’s western society works. And, even more importantly, I argued that philosophy needs to become more agile, faster, audacious, and more diverse.

On some accounts, philosophy relates to the high art of seeking and finding meaning in life and the world around us; philosophy was a driving force to make sense of society, power, and — most importantly — politics. …

The Unlikely Techie

History. Philosophy. Technology. Interested in people, tech, and politics. Asking questions and telling stories. Check out my blog unlikelytechie.com!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store