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Showing posts from 2014

Here Come The Robots?

Criticism of Silicon Valley's blueprint for a future society has begun to gather some momentum over the last couple of years. Privacy of communications is still perhaps the biggest source of public concern, along with cybercrime and the security of online shopping and banking, but questions about automation and its effect upon employment are now starting to be raised too. This is a concern that resurfaces periodically with every major wave of technical innovation.

In the 1960s the prospect of the abolition of work by automated machinery could still be treated as a utopian goal by groups like the Situationist International: back then trade unions were sufficiently strong that it was taken for granted that wages could be maintained as working hours shrank. The neoliberal reversal of the last 30 years has ensured that labour lacks any such power nowadays (if it ever had it). The matter cropped up again in the early 1980s when it looked as though the personal computer "revolutio…

Gilt by association

"Just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they're not out to get you!"

To be frank I can't be arsed to Google for long enough to discover the originator of this well-known aper├žu (it may have been Joseph Heller, it certainly wasn't Nirvana, though they did put it into a song). All that matters about it to me is that while I once thought of it as a joke, I've recently begun to consider it as a profound truth. And I'm not talking, as you might perhaps expect, about the NSA and GCHQ and their clandestine mass surveillance of our communications. I'd accepted long ago that was happening, and what's more - regardless of whether you accept them or not - there are publicly-aired justifications for such actions as necessary functions of the modern State.

No, I'm talking about an altogether deeper and more dangerous kind of paranoia, on a par with "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion", the Zinoviev letter or the Fu Manchu nove…

after rain

after rain, originally uploaded by dick_pountain. This photo of mine has gone viral on Flickr with 6000 views in a day