I study the interplay of technology policy and social policy.
I am currently the the Ambrose Monell Foundation National Fellow in Technology and Democracy at the Jefferson Scholars Foundation and a visiting lecturer at the Unverisity of Mississippi.
My current book project, Rebooting Liberalism: The Computerization of the Social Contract From 1984 to 2009, explains how the U.S. welfare state transformed from a localized system of uneven entitlements to a national regime of extraction. I follow the networks of policymakers and technicans who believed they could make the welfare state not only efficient but also popular by computerizing the mechanisms of governance. These "new liberals" hoped to resuscitate and even redeem the project of electoral and administrative liberalism. I show how computerization—the social, cultural, and technological processes of designing, installing, and maintaining electronic information management systems—inspired and confined a distinct new liberal policy and politics. Rebooting Liberalism demonstrates how these processes strengthened racialized systems of power by recasting normative policy choices about classes of people as technological problems. I have published arguments from the book in Abstractions and Embodiments: New Histories of Computing and Society, edited by Stephanie Dick and Janet, edited by Stephanie Dick and Janet Abbate (Johns Hopkins Press, 2022) and in The Washington Post (March 2021).
Most recently, I served as Chief of Staff in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. I helped lead a team of 150 scientists, technologists, policy experts, and civil servants working "to maximize the benefits of science and technology to advance health, prosperity, security, environmental quality, and justice." I am particuarly proud to have played a role in reginiting the Cancer Moonshot, launching the Blueprint for An AI Bill of Rights, ensuring public access to federally funded research, spreading the gospel of clean indoor air.
I completed my PhD at MIT where I wrote about the way the digitization of government services has shaped expectations about what government can and should, be. My dissertation, “A More Updated Union: New Liberals and their New Computers in the New New South” traced the computerization of welfare state and the rise of new liberal politics. I was lucky enough to be advised by David Kaiser, Christopher Capozzola, Craig Wilder, and Alma Steingart.
I am of the old-fashioned belief that history and science studies (STS) are applied disciplines with direct and indirect lessons for crafting public policy and winning elections. Because of that, I spent my time at MIT with people at the Internet Policy Research Initiative. I have worked at Civis Analytics where I supported the Biden for President Campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. I have also served as an assistant director for domestic and economic policy in the Obama-Biden White House, where I worked on tech policy, LGBTQ+ human rights, and what was then the largest public works project since the interstate highway system.
There is nothing more important to me than teaching. I have had the honor of being named a Manne Fellow at the Rosedale Freedom Project in the Mississippi Delta as part of Freedom Summer Collegiate and winning MIT's Siegel Family Teaching Prize.