February 24, 2014
6:00 pm
Institute for Public Knowledge
20 Cooper Square, 503
New York, New York

The Institute for Public Knowledge and Public Books invite you to join us for a discussion with Simon Head, Caitlin Zaloom, and Philip Howard on Head’s new book Mindless: Why Smarter Machines are Making Dumber Humans.

We live in the age of Computer Business Systems (CBSs)—the highly complex, computer-intensive management programs on which large organizations increasingly rely. In Mindless, Head argues that these systems have come to trump human expertise, dictating the goals and strategies of a wide array of businesses, and de-skilling the jobs of middle class workers in the process. CBSs are especially dysfunctional, Head argues, when they apply their disembodied expertise to transactions between humans, as in health care, education, customer relations, and human resources management. And yet there are industries with more human approaches, as Head illustrates with specific examples, whose lead we must follow and extend to the mainstream American economy.

Mindless illustrates the shortcomings of CBS, providing an in-depth and disturbing look at how human dignity is slipping as we become cogs on a white-collar assembly line.

Simon Head is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University and Senior Member of St. Antony’s College at Oxford University. He is Director of Programs at the New York Review of Books Foundation and divides his time between Oxford, England, and New York.


Caitlin Zaloom is Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and a Fellow of the Russell Sage Foundation. She is the author of Out of the Pits: Traders and Technology from Chicago to London (2006). Her current research explores the material and cultural constitution of economic reason in two arenas: the new scientific field of neuroeconomics and the debt relations of American consumers.


Philip Howard is a well-known leader of government and legal reform in America. His forthcoming book, The Rule of Nobody, has been praised by Fareed Zakaria as “an utterly compelling and persuasive book that, if followed, could change the way America works.” Philip is also the author of the best seller The Death of Common Sense (1995). In 2002, Philip formed Common Good, a nonpartisan national coalition dedicated to restoring common sense to America.