Built to Last

by Mar Hicks

'When overwhelmed unemployment insurance systems malfunctioned during the pandemic, governments blamed the sixty-year-old programming language COBOL. But what really failed?'

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"In a field that has elevated boy geniuses and rockstar coders, obscure hacks and complex black-boxed algorithms, it’s perhaps no wonder that a committee-designed language meant to be easier to learn and use—and which was created by a team that included multiple women in positions of authority—would be held in low esteem."

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" But modern computing has started to become undone, and to undo other parts of our societies, through the field’s high opinion of itself, and through the way that it concentrates power into the hands of programmers who mistake social, political, and economic problems for technical ones, often with disastrous results."

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"it is time for us to collectively rethink and recalculate the value that many so-called tech innovations, and innovators, bring to democracy. When these contributions are designed around monetizing flaws or gaps in existing economic, social, or political systems, rather than doing the mundane, plodding work of caring for and fixing the systems we all rely on, we end up with more problems than solutions, more scapegoats instead of insights into where we truly went wrong."

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