“This book is downright scary — but with its striking research and moving, indelible portraits of life in the ‘digital poorhouse,’ you will emerge smarter and more empowered to demand justice.” ―Naomi Klein, author of No Is Not Enough and This Changes Everything
Today, automated systems control which neighborhoods get policed, which families attain needed resources, and who is investigated for fraud. While we all live under this new regime of data analytics, the most invasive and punitive systems are aimed at the poor.
In Automating Inequality, Virginia Eubanks systematically investigates the impacts of data mining, policy algorithms, and predictive risk models on poor and working-class people in America. The book is full of heart-wrenching and eye-opening stories, from a woman in Indiana whose benefits are literally cut off as she lays dying to a family in Pennsylvania in daily fear of losing their daughter because they fit a certain statistical profile. Deeply researched and passionately written, Automating Inequality could not be more timely.
“Riveting… . Its argument should be widely circulated, to poor people, social service workers and policymakers, but also throughout the professional classes. Everyone needs to understand that technology is no substitute for justice.” ― The New York Times Book Review
Praise for Automating Inequality
“In this remarkable chronicle of ‘how the other half lives’ in the age of automation, Eubanks uncovers a new digital divide—a totalizing web of surveillance ensnaring our most marginalized communities. This powerful, sobering, and humane book exposes the dystopia of data-driven policy and urges us to create a more just society for all.” ―Alondra Nelson, author of The Social Life of DNA, President, Social Science Research Council
“Income inequality relies on the lie of the neutrality of efficiency over the value of our common humanity. Automating Inequality exposes the deadly consequences of this plan and suggests another path. That Virginia Eubanks is our guide―a person so capable, ethical and whipsmart―is a rare combination indeed.” ―Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, author of Random Family
“This book is for all of us: community leaders, scholars, lawyers, recipients of government assistance, and anyone alive whose survival depends upon a better understanding of how nations made wealthy by digital industries are using technology to create and maintain a permanent underclass. It is a book for our times.” ―Malkia A. Cyril, Executive Director and Co-founder, Center for Media Justice – home of the Media Action Grassroots Network
“The single most important book about technology you will read this year. Eubanks dives into history and reports from the trenches, helping us better understand the political and digital forces we are up against so we can effectively fight back.” ―Astra Taylor, author of The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age
“Automating Inequality powerfully exposes how U.S. institutions, from law enforcement to health care to social services, increasingly punish people―especially people of color―for being poor. A must-read for everyone concerned about the modern tools of inequality in America.” ―Dorothy Roberts, author of Killing the Black Body and Shattered Bonds
“As we begin discussing the potential for artificial intelligence to harm people, Eubanks’ work should be required reading.” ―Ethan Zuckerman, Director, Center for Civic Media, MIT
“Startling and brilliant… As Eubanks makes crystal clear, automation coupled with the new technologies of ethical abandonment and instrumental efficiency threaten not only the lives of millions who are viewed as disposable but also democracy itself.” ―Henry Giroux, author of The Public in Peril: Trump and the Menace of American Authoritarianism
“In this illuminating book, Eubanks shows us that in spite of cosmetic reforms, our policies for the disadvantaged remain dominated by the ancient credo of the poor law, obsessed with the exclusion and punishment of the neediest in our communities.” ―Frances Fox Piven, author of Regulating the Poor
“Automating Inequality is a riveting, emotionally compelling story of vulnerable lives turned upside down by bad data, shoddy software, and bureaucrats too inept or corrupt to make things right. Everyone should read this book to learn how modern governance, all too often shrouded behind impenetrable legal and computer code, actually works.” ―Frank Pasquale, author of The Blackbox Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information
“Virginia Eubanks’ new book shocks us with her gripping stories of the emerging surveillance state. The ‘digital poorhouse’ increasingly extends its web, not so much to aid as to manage, discipline and punish the poor. Read this book and join with Eubanks in pushing back against the injustice it sustains.” ―Sanford Schram, author of Words of Welfare and Disciplining the Poor