Technological bias

July 17, 2023 3 min

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Disclaimer: This has been really influenced by my last post about cultural/environmental biases and by a Lex’s podcast with Tim Urban, where he talks about some confirmation bias cases.


Disclaimer 2: This is based on my perception from work/internet interactions (which are likely biased).

Definition

In this essay, I'm considering technological bias to be an irrational comportment that people show when discussing or using certain tools. Well, not entirely irrational because it makes sense in their heads, but you know what I mean. This is basically a practical example of confirmation bias.



For example, when someone prefers to use x programming language to build y product, but the only thing that's basing that decision is their perception that x is the best option, even though they have never used any other language to build anything. This applies to programming languages, frameworks, tools, work methodologies, paradigms, etc...


I'm not talking about bias in algorithms or ML.

Context

Recently, I've seen lots of examples of what I'm calling technological bias on the internet and from people I personally know. That really got my attention and made me think about how everything nowadays is looking like a sports team. There are defenders for every choice, every tool, every scenario that's brought up.


This dichotomy (when there’s mainly 2 options) is really bad because it can cause you to be lagged and lose a bunch of opportunities.

Cases

The first example that comes to my head is when people talk about recent JavaScript frameworks. Developers that code in more “traditional” languages like C++, C#, or Java tend to think/say that these frameworks (e.g. Next.js, Remix, or Svelte) are not trustworthy, even though they provide a really stable and safe standard to build upon.


Another example is about work management tools. The battle between Jira and Linear is already a classic. Jira users believe that Linear does not have all the features they need and that it’s not the “market standard” tool. I think there are a lot of people that are using Jira and could highly benefit from switching to Linear.

Me

First of all, I recognize that I hold a strong bias: I really lean towards using new technologies just because they are new. This can lead me to using stuff that is not entirely safe or useful at all. Another side effect is that when using the same tool for a long time, you learn the most complex stuff and don't need to start over every time the new hottest thing is out.


The conclusion is that having these wrong perceptions caused by technological bias really leads to terrible decisions. That's why I'm trying to learn to avoid it.


I pretend to write more about this topic in the future, but now I'm really tired and I need to sleep. Bye. 🙂