Cambridge Univ. Press
Selected as One of The Guardian's Best Books of 2018
Frischmann and Selinger provide a thoroughgoing and balanced examination of the tradeoffs inherent in offloading tasks and decisions to computers. By illuminating these often intricate and hidden tradeoffs, and providing a practical framework for assessing and negotiating them, the authors give us the power to make wiser choices.
--Nicholas Carr (from the foreword), author of The Glass Cage: How Our Computers Are Changing Us
Re-Engineering Humanity brings a pragmatic if somewhat dystopic perspective to the technological phenomena of our age. Humans are learning machines and we learn from our experiences. This book made me ask myself whether the experiences we are providing to our societies are in fact beneficial in the long run.
-- Vint Cerf, Co-Inventor of the Internet
Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger cogently argue that our Fitbit, Echo, Android, and game console, our Facebook pages, Google searches, Amazon and Netflix profiles give far less than they take. With tiny, almost imperceptible steps, we have entered into a bargain with socio-technical engineers of the digital age that literally drains our humanity and is imperiling freedom, autonomy, and other precious values fundamental to meaningful human existence. Beyond admittedly important questions demanding balanced policy answers, this disquieting book is about the big picture. All of us should read it and decide, deliberately, if this is a future we want for ourselves and our children.
--Helen Nissenbaum, Professor of Information Science, Cornell Tech, and author of Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life
Frischmann and Selinger deftly and convincingly show why we should be less scared of robots than of becoming more robotic, ourselves. This book will convince you why it’s so important we embed technologies with human values before they embed us with their own.
--Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock, Program or Be Programmed, and Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus
Everybody is suddenly worried about technology. Will social media be the end of democracy? Is automation going to eliminate jobs? Will artificial intelligence make people obsolete? Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger boldly propose that the problem isn’t the rise of “smart” machines but the dumbing down of humanity. This refreshingly philosophical book asks what’s lost when we outsource our decision-making to algorithmic systems we don’t own and barely understand. Better yet, it proposes conceptual and practical ways to reclaim our autonomy and dignity in the face of new forms of computational control.
--Astra Taylor, author of The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Control in the Digital Age
A magnificent achievement. Writing in the tradition of Neil Postman, Jacque Ellul and Marshall McLuhan, this book is the decade's deepest and most powerful portrayal of the challenges to freedom created by our full embrace of comprehensive techno-social engineering. A rewarding and stimulating book that merits repeated readings and may also cause you to reconsider how you live life.
--Tim Wu, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Columbia Law School and author of The Attention Merchants
The book identifies some of the things that we need to be doing as technology creators...[W]e hold the advancement of humanity in our hands. That is a big responsibility that none of us should take lightly.
--Brian Bailey, Technology Editor/EDA for Semiconductor Engineering [full review here]
Re-Engineering Humanity by Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger will help us all gain better understanding of techno-social engineering and help us think through what we want and don’t want in our future. This is an incredible work that should be studied by every thinking human.
- Bob Gourley, author of The Cyber Threat: Know the Threat to Beat the Threat [full review here]
The engineers among us have a hard job. But it should help to know how high the stakes are, and how we're already embedded so deeply in a re-engineered dystopia that we can't see how tragically ironic cheap bliss really is.
- Doc Searls, editor-in-chief of Linux Journal [full review here]
Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger have written Re-Engineering Humanity as a sustained and multifaceted critique of how contemporary trends in internet technology are slowly but surely shrinking the territory of human autonomy. Their work is a warning, as well as a description, of how internet technologies that ostensibly make our lives easier do so by taking control of our lives away from our self-conscious decision-making.
- Adam Riggio, Royal Crown College [full review here]
In their new book, Re-Engineering Humanity, law scholar Brett Frischmann and philosopher Evan Selinger sound the alarm. I share their concern, so I am glad to see them taking on the problem in a rigorous and thoughtful way.
- Lara Freidenfelds, writer for Nursing Clio [full review here]