What is it about?

Technology developers do not control the trajectory of technology as much as they think. Their thought processes and designs are shaped by the languages and tools that they use as much or more than by their own deliberate decision making. Are developers creators or sources of mutation in a Darwinian process governed more by natural selection than by top-down intelligent design?

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Why is it important?

It is popular to vilify the creators of new technology when its unintended consequences emerge, but this simplistic view will not lead to effective policies and regulation.


This article is based on a book I recently published, The Coevolution (2020, MIT Press) that resulted from insights gained writing an earlier book, Plato and the Nerd (2017, MIT Press). I hope to share these insights with people who don't have time to read those books.

Edward Lee
University of California at Berkeley

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This page is a summary of: Is software the result of top-down intelligent design or evolution?, Communications of the ACM, August 2018, ACM (Association for Computing Machinery),
DOI: 10.1145/3213763.
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