Morozov presents many examples of solutionism. But some of his best examples come in his discussion of Google’s driverless cars and personalized maps. At first gloss, those technologies seem pretty uncontroversial. Driverless cars will allow us to reach our destinations without having to take on the burden of driving. And personalized maps allow us to zero-in on the locations that interest us, while avoiding those that don’t. In other words, both inventions reduce the amount of friction it takes to go about our daily lives and increase our traveling efficiency. But Morozov treats these as examples of solutionism because he sees virtues in our existing (more inefficient) solutions.
Without driverless cars we are more likely to enter the public sphere and use public transportation. And without personalized maps we are more likely to stray from our intended path and encounter people and neighborhoods we wouldn’t ordinarily encounter. While those experiences might not seem desirable, Morozov thinks this is essential. These experiences force us to encounter and deal with difference. That confrontation, in turn, is an important experience to preserve for people who want to learn how to get along with others in a democratic society.