Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology
It’s a common enough refrain: technology will save the world. But can laptops and cellphones really enact social change? In his new book Geek Heresy, Kentaro Toyama debunks the claims of tech zealots and reveals why humans are more effective than gadgets. In our quest for better learning, stronger communities, and global poverty reduction, Toyama shows that social challenges are best met with deeply social solutions.
Kentaro Toyama is W.K. Kellogg Associate Professor of Community Information at the University of Michigan School of Information and a fellow of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT. He is the author of Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology and writes The ICT4D Jester, a blog critiquing technology for development.
“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
Until 2009, Toyama was assistant managing director of Microsoft Research India, which he co-founded in 2005. At MSR India, he started the Technology for Emerging Markets research group, which conducts interdisciplinary research to understand how the world’s poorest communities interact with electronic technology and to invent new ways for technology to support their socio-economic development. He is a co-founder of the International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD) and co-editor-in-chief of the journal Information Technologies and International Development.
Toyama serves on several non-profit boards including those of Digital Green, Humanosphere, Innovations for Poverty Action, and Village Health Works. Prior to his time in India, Toyama did computer vision and multimedia research at Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA, USA and Cambridge, UK, and taught mathematics at Ashesi University in Accra, Ghana. Kentaro graduated from Yale with a PhD in Computer Science and from Harvard with a bachelors degree in Physics.