Fuzzy In The Tech World
Outlook|October 01, 2018
Fuzzy In The Tech World

The ‘marriage’ of liberal arts and technology is important, not one or the other, says author Scott Hartley

Aparajita Gupta

IS technology taking a toll on our ability to understand of other people and society its elf? Are the liberal arts losing their meaning in the world of big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning? Does it make sense to study philosophy, anthropology or psychology in this age of technology-driven lifestyles? Scott Hartley, author of The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World thinks it does. “The study of social sciences, psychology and philosophy comes into play when we try to address human problems through technology,” he says. “We talk about magic words like big data and AI, but the inputs that created these things are human. And human beings are subject to bias, fallibility and error. So it is important to broaden the scope of participation in technology and have people from all walks of life participating in it.”

At Stanford University, California, ‘fuzzy’ ref­ ers to a student of the humanities and social sciences, while ‘techies’ are students of engi­neering or the sciences. Brought up in tech mecca Palo Alto, California, Hartley, however, is not a techie. “That is also an impetus to write this book,” he says. “It is sort of autobiographi­ cal. I am a fuzzy. I studied political theory. Then I worked with Google and went to India to set up a team in Google India, before moving to Facebook. Later I became an investor in start­ ups. I realised so many investors and product managers are from diverse backgrounds. I was not really alone, a political scientist working in the tech world. Technology is something we all need to engage with as it is a part of our world. The book is no way anti­technology.”

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October 01, 2018