Humanist Technologist

In 1999, Claudia Dreifus asked me what I do when interviewed for her then popular series on science in the NYT, to which I responded that I was a “humanist technologist.” It took me a few years to figure out what that meant until I found a definition that worked for me.

This is from my old WordPress blog that’s no longer in service at MIT, but it still lives on archive.org — it’s from 2006:

On The “Humanist Technologist”

September 15, 2006

While participating in a PhD oral examination here at the Media Lab for wearable fashion designer Amanda Parkes, the predicament of the technologist became clear to me. The default motto of the technologist is that more technology is better. This is something extremely important for the world. Technologists create progress. Progress is about things happening. We wouldn’t want a world where nothing happened at all.

I do, because I can. technologist
I do, because I care. humanist

With just the switch of one letter for two (n to re) — “can” to “care” — technology can become humanized. I hope that care prevails over can for the next few years while we weather the utter complexity of the systems that surround us.

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