La Jolla resident’s new book ‘pivots the conversation’ about technology’s place in everyday life

"The Equality Machine" by La Jolla resident Orly Lobel will be published Tuesday, Oct. 18.
(Orly Lobel)

‘The Equality Machine’ by Orly Lobel focuses on the benefits, rather than the negatives, of technology in addressing inequities, improving health care and more.


Seeing the way evolving technology was being discussed in political, academic and societal conversations in the past decade, La Jolla resident and author Orly Lobel felt the tone seemed “alarmist” and focused on negatives.

“I saw that we have developed this fear about the risks that digital technology poses, how we’re living in a surveillance [centered] world, that data is extracted from us and algorithms are making biased decisions based on that data,” she said.

For her third book, Lobel wanted to provide another look at how technology affects our lives. “The Equality Machine: Harnessing Digital Technology for a Brighter, More Inclusive Future” is set for publication Tuesday, Oct. 18, and the author will discuss and sign it later this month at Warwick’s bookstore in La Jolla.

The book “pivots the conversation and redirects us to look in a more balanced and more optimistic way at how technology can advance social goals,” Lobel said.

“The Equality Machine” includes research and insights from those in the job-hunting field, dating market, political engagement organizations and others. Lobel, a professor and founder of the Center for Employment and Labor Policy at the University of San Diego School of Law, said the book focuses on how technology can detect discrimination or subvert stereotypes.

“There are several chapters on how the job market is changing and how our use of online platforms to find our jobs is expanding and diversifying the pool [of candidates] for those that aren’t getting the information they need through word of mouth,” she said. “It also helps people know their worth and address pay inequality. Humans have biases, and the use of new software that is out there can flag inequities. There are so many positive examples of how data sharing can be a force for good and empower those that didn’t have information before and were worse off before.”

La Jolla author Orly Lobel will speak about her latest book on Thursday, Oct. 27, at Warwick's bookstore.
(Grace Goodale)

Lobel also interviewed a computer scientist who created a radiology robot that outperformed human radiologists.

“The potential is amazing in terms of technology and access; things like this could make health care much more available,” she said. Features like voice-to-text have been “huge for people with disabilities,” she added.

But, she said, many people are slow to integrate certain technologies in their homes. “There are a lot of alarmist attitudes and irrational fears in the conversation,” she said. “So there is evidence and research in the book.

“It’s also very personal in that we balance careers and family lives and are thinking of the risk and benefits of engaging with social media in every aspect of our lives. So the book really is for everyone.”

Lobel, who frequents La Jolla Shores with her dog, also is the author of “You Don’t Own Me: How Mattel v. MGA Entertainment Exposed Barbie’s Dark Side” and “Talent Wants to Be Free.”

Her talk about “The Equality Machine” at Warwick’s, 7812 Girard Ave., will begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27. Reserved seating is available when the book is pre-ordered from Warwick’s. Only books purchased from Warwick’s will be signed. For more information, call (858) 454-0347. ◆