The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World

Scott Hartley. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28 (272p) ISBN 978-0-544-94477-0
Hartley, a venture capitalist with a Stanford political science degree, doesn’t actually spend much of his full-length debut attacking the straw man presented in his introduction, the “dire warnings of certain tech titans” that only STEM degrees matter to the technically-oriented business market of the 21st century and that liberal arts smarts are being undervalued. His actual focus is demonstrating that modern innovation still addresses essentially human problems, and that human-centered design is still central to the development of products that will be successful in the future. Hartley highlights the human skills needed to find the “novel patterns” in big data, shows how high-tech tools such as satellites have become much more accessible to breakthrough thinkers of all backgrounds, and offers case studies of and shout-outs to blended businesses such as StitchFix, which utilizes both algorithms and skilled stylists, and Talkspace, which provides access to lower-cost therapy via an online platform. He also dips into the idea of design ethics, such as those involved in programming self-driving cars or providing people with default choices that affect behavior. Hartley’s perspective is clear but not particularly original; he’s preaching solidly to the choir rather than presenting a radical perspective as he claims. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2017
Release date: 04/25/2017
Compact Disc - 978-1-5366-8276-2
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