Time to Reboot: Feminism in the Algorithm Age

Carla Wilshire

Time to Reboot: Feminism in the Algorithm Age
Monash University Publishing
1 March 2024

Time to Reboot: Feminism in the Algorithm Age

Carla Wilshire

Technology is radically transforming society. From social media to artificial intelligence, our world is now governed by algorithms, powerful tools that not only predict human behaviour but affect how we look at each other, and ourselves. At the same time, we are seeing hard-fought-for women’s rights being recontested and women feeling increasingly threatened. In America, Roe v Wade has been overturned, while in Australia, the number of sexual assaults reported to police has increased year on year for the past decade. Could it be that the digital revolution is killing feminism?

Time to Reboot explores the new digital gender divide. It shows how the algorithms favoured by Big Tech, designed to respond to and reinforce group characteristics, are dramatically recasting our relationships and our personal values. AI trained on biased data is generating a new wave of male privilege, sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant. In the 2020s, the ‘virtual rape’ of female players in online gaming is rarely commented on, while feminist values are in record decline among a younger generation swayed by an online ethos that promotes tech libertarianism and rewards the obsessive cultivation of self-image.

This book unpacks the uncomfortable parallels between a digital and tech consumer culture we find impossible to resist and the nascent decline of gender equity. It questions whether the technology that is meant to both guide us today and show us the future is, in fact, pushing women backwards — and if so, how we can fix this.

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