Summary of A Leading Silicon Valley Engineer Explains Why Every Tech Worker Needs a Humanities Education

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A Leading Silicon Valley Engineer Explains Why Every Tech Worker Needs a Humanities Education summary
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Developing a technology product automatically forces you to make value judgments and to question your biases. Only a liberal arts education, Stanford engineering graduate Tracy Chou insists, will give you the critical thinking skills needed to navigate the social context of your creation. getAbstract recommends her self-reflective piece to current and future technology professionals as food for thought and to arts majors as a confidence booster.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why writing algorithms isn’t value-neutral,
  • How the biases of website developers influence the end product and
  • Why every engineer needs a liberal arts education.
 

About the Author

Tracy Chou is a software engineer and diversity advocate with prior work experience at Pinterest and Quora. 

 

Summary

Engineers tend to be so focused on technical problem solving they can forget the big picture. When Silicon Valley engineer Tracy Chou started her first job at the question-and-answer website Quora, she soon realized that the work of an engineer never exists in a vacuum. While building the website, Chou had to make choices and set priorities all the time. Chou and her young team faced a series of fundamental questions about the product, including who the main target group should be, what behavior they wanted to encourage and how they wanted to contribute to society. Chou understood that technology isn’t morally neutral. When developing a technology product, the engineers’ biases will inadvertently shape their creation and ultimately influence the behavior of the end user. 

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