A review by amber_lea84
Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor, by Virginia Eubanks


This one is hard to rate because it's not perfect. For starters, I would have liked more data and less anecdote. On top of that, it was at times a bit rambley and repetitive. I also think the author called her own credibility into question by opening with an anecdote about how her insurance got cut off and it's because she was flagged for health-care fraud by an automated system. Then she revealed that she doesn't actually know if she was flagged for fraud, she just assumes. Uhh. Probably should have scrapped that anecdote since it's based on a theory. Then she brings it up again toward the end, speaking with total certainty like it for sure happened. Bruv, you said before that you didn't know that it was true.

BUT she still makes a good argument for how the poor shouldn't be treated worse than the middle class simply because they're poor. I completely agree we should protect the privacy, agency, and self-determination of the poor just like we would anyone else, and that in some ways we make things significantly worse for the poor under the guise of "helping". And there's too much focus within different assistance programs on rooting out the undeserving at the expense of people who legitimately need help. I would say most of her points are good? Some of her points about data and technology were suspect to me, but I can't speak to anything being factually incorrect. I just suspect that, like her anecdote about being flagged for fraud, she is maybe jumping to some conclusions. At best my skepticism speaks to her making her points poorly. There were a handful of times where she threw something out there without backing it up, leaving me to decide it if it was worth it for me to look it up and all she needed to do was add like two more sentences to explain.

But I still agree with her larger over arching conclusions even if I don't completely trust her evidence. Honestly, I would probably knock this down more stars, but I'm just really passionate about the idea that the poor deserve their autonomy. I feel like that was really the main point of this book. This book is really about how we should respect the freedom of the poor, not use technology to police them as if they're criminals, and give everyone UBI. I wouldn't give this book to anyone to try to convince them of those points, but I might pull arguments from this book.