Machine Readable Me: The Hidden Ways Tech Shapes Our Identities

(Published in October 2023 by 404 Ink)

As we go about our day-to-day lives, digital information about who we are is gathered from all angles via biometric scans, passport applications, and, of course, social media. This data can never fully capture our complex, fluid identities over decades of our lives. Yet, this data populates numerous databases we may not even be aware of that can make life-or-death decisions such as who is allowed access to welfare benefits or who is granted food parcels as they pass war-torn borders.

A joy of humanity is being able to decide who we are and how we represent ourselves publicly and privately. Thanks to an over-reliance of government bureaucracy upon systems which assume that digital avatars are representative enough, data about our identities can restrict the paths available to us in life, professionally and personally, often strengthening systemic inequalities along the way.

Machine Readable Me considers how and why data that is gathered about us is increasingly limiting what we can and can’t do in our lives and, crucially, what the alternatives are.

Buy it online

If you’re in the UK, buy directly from the publishers or to support independent bookshops.

If you’re elsewhere: it’s available here as an ebook (epub, mobi and PDF). Or for a hard copy, head to your local English-language bookshop and request it, or find it online in all the usual places.

What people are saying about it

“a timely, thoughtfully written, urgent book on the tensions between digital identity, state recognition and surveillance.” - Xiaowei Wang, author of award-winning book Blockchain Chicken Farm: And Other Stories of Tech In China’s Countryside

“Machine Readable Me offers a vision where we wield technology as a tool that serves us in the expression of our identities, without letting it confine us within its unyielding parameters.” – Nishad Sanzagiri

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