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Geek Heresy

Geek Heresy

Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology

In 2004, Kentaro Toyama, an award-winning computer scientist, moved to India to start a new research group for Microsoft. Its mission: to explore novel technological solutions to the world's persistent social problems. Together with his team, he invented electronic devices for under-resourced urban schools and developed digital platforms for remote agrarian communities. But after a decade of designing technologies for humanitarian causes, Toyama concluded that no technology, however dazzling, could cause social change on its own.

Technologists and policy-makers love to boast about modern innovation, and in their excitement, they exuberantly tout technology's boon to society. But what have our gadgets actually accomplished? Over the last four decades, America saw an explosion of new technologies – from the Internet to the iPhone, from Google to Facebook – but in that same period, the rate of poverty stagnated at a stubborn 13%, only to rise in the recent recession. So, a golden age of innovation in the world's most advanced country did nothing for our most prominent social ill.

Toyama's warning resounds: Don't believe the hype! Technology is never the main driver of social progress. Geek Heresy inoculates us against the glib rhetoric of tech utopians by revealing that technology is only an amplifier of human conditions. By telling the moving stories of extraordinary people like Patrick Awuah, a Microsoft millionaire who left his lucrative engineering job to open Ghana's first liberal arts university, and Tara Sreenivasa, a graduate of a remarkable South Indian school that takes children from dollar-a-day families into the high-tech offices of Goldman Sachs and Mercedes-Benz, Toyama shows that even in a world steeped in technology, social challenges are best met with deeply social solutions.
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Genre: Nonfiction / Business & Economics / Development / Economic Development

On Sale: May 26th 2015

Price: $15.99

Page Count: 352

ISBN-13: 9781610395298

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Praise


“It is notable…when a techie insider steps outside the tent to chastise his tribe at book length — and has the gall to both criticize and dedicate the book to his former boss, Bill Gates. Kentaro Toyama, a computer scientist who once ran a lab for Microsoft Research, seems determined to burn his bridge to the technology world with Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology... The book takes a spike-studded tire iron to the efforts by technology entrepreneurs and their enablers to reimagine how we eat, learn, heal, govern and battle poverty.”—Anand Giridharadas, New York Times

“In this incisive book, Toyama cures us of the manic rhetoric of digital utopians and reinvigorates us with a deeply people-centric view of social change. …Geek Heresy is a heartwarming reminder that it's human wisdom, not machines, that move our world forward.” —National Geographic Online

“Toyama's research reminds us that there are very few one-size-fits-all solutions. If technology is going to improve the lives of the world's poorest, it must be grounded in a deep understanding of human behavior and an appreciation for cultural differences.” —Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and co-chair of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation