Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Monday, May 25, 2015

So Very Tired of the Republican Assholetariat

Their revolution has been terrible.


jimf said...

> So Very Tired

Paul Krugman sez (I didn't see the Times yesterday; it was
a holiday):
[W]riting and talking breathlessly about how technology changes everything
might seem harmless, but, in practice, it acts as a distraction from
more mundane issues — and an excuse for handling those issues badly.

Say what!?

Dale Carrico said...

Interesting. Of course, Krugman once bought into neoliberal techno-determinist theses that were academically "respectable" variations on the distractions he is now rightly disdaining. And as I have criticized in the past, even now Krugman seems drawn to futurological frames (about AI, eg). I still think that lefties are weirdly vulnerable to deeply reductionist, elitist, corporate-militarist reactionary politics they would normally reject out of hand when these are framed in terms of tech-talk. Possibly this is because the left has positioned itself as pro-science/fact-based against Republican denialism/lies/fundamentalism but because most liberals are more or less as technoscientifically illiterate as the overabundant majority of American citizens they undercriticially embrace a techno-futurish-sciency rhetoric/style that is in fact a blend of the usual pseudo-science and consumer marketing fraud.

jimf said...

> [A]s I have criticized in the past, even now Krugman seems
> drawn to futurological frames (about AI, eg). I still think
> that lefties are weirdly vulnerable to deeply reductionist,
> elitist, corporate-militarist reactionary politics they would
> normally reject out of hand when these are framed in terms of
> tech-talk.

On the other hand, in **today's** NY Times, John Markoff
(of whom I am also fatigué) points out:
Relax, the Terminator Is Far Away

In glossy sci-fi movies like “Ex Machina” and “Chappie,” robots move
with impressive — and frequently malevolent — dexterity. They appear
to confirm the worst fears of prominent technologists and scientists
like Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates, who have all recently
voiced alarm over the possible emergence of self-aware machines out to
do harm to the human race.

“I don’t understand why some people are not concerned,” Mr. Gates said
in an interview on Reddit.

“I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence,”
Mr. Musk said during an interview at M.I.T. “If I had to guess at
what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that,” he added.
He has also said that artificial intelligence would “summon the demon.”

And Mr. Hawking told the BBC that “the development of full artificial
intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

Not so fast. . .

The article contains a picture of Jonathan Harris as
Dr. Zachary Smith in _Lost in Space_.

Which of course brings to mind his perennial rejoinder to
the robot: "You bubble-headed booby!" At least in that show,
the robot was presumably to be credited with some understanding
of what the insult meant.

Lost In Space - Dr. Smith Vs The Robot

Esebian said...

"Prominent technologists and scientists
like Elon Musk"? He's neither of those two things

And Musk fanboys criticized me for basing my arguments on people seriously believing he designed and built his rockets all by himself. Well, seems they do exist.

jimf said...

> Republican Assholetariat. . .

Would you believe that in today's paper there's an opinion piece
from somebody asking:
Have Democrats Pulled Too Far Left?
MAY 27, 2015
Peter Wehner

. . .

This is not to say the Republican Party hasn’t become a more
conservative party. It has. But in the last two decades the Democratic Party
has moved substantially further to the left than the Republican Party
has shifted to the right. . .

To see just how far the Democratic Party has moved to the left,
compare Barack Obama with Bill Clinton. . .

The Democratic Party. . . has moved steadily to the left since the
Clinton presidency. . .

In some respects, like gay rights, the nation is more liberal than
it was two decades ago. On the other hand, it is more conservative
today than it was in the mid-1990s. . .

One can also plausibly argue that the Republican Party is the
governing party in America. After two enormous losses by Democrats
in the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections, Republicans control the
Senate and the House of Representatives. . .

Those who insist that the Democratic Party’s march to the left
carries no political risks might consider the fate of the
British Labour Party earlier this month. . .

For demographic reasons, many Democrats believe that they are
riding a tide of presidential inevitability. They may want to
rethink that. They are placing a very risky bet that there are
virtually no limits to how far left they can go.

Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center,
served in the last three Republican administrations and is a
contributing opinion writer.

What would Noam Chomsky say? ;->

(Well, among other things: )

Dale Carrico said...

That was so stupid it had to be Very Serious.

jimf said...

> What would Noam Chomsky say?
All of this, and far, far more, makes perfect sense if we show due
obedience and uncritically accept approved doctrine: The US owns the
world, and it does so by right, for reasons also explained lucidly
in the New York Review, in a March 2015 article by Jessica Matthews. . .
“American contributions to international security, global economic
growth, freedom, and human well-being have been so self-evidently
unique and have been so clearly directed to others’ benefit that
Americans have long believed that the US amounts to a different
kind of country. Where others push their national interests, the
US tries to advance universal principles.” Defense rests.

Stumbled into a copy of this in the local Barnes & Noble
last night:

_Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History
Textbook Got Wrong_
by James W. Loewen

Chapter 12, "Why Is History Taught Like This?"
p. 302
Some members of the public have not been shy about what
they want textbooks to do. In 1925 the American Legion
declaimed that the ideal textbook:

* must inspire the children with patriotism....
* must be careful to tell the truth optimistically....
* must dwell on failure only for its value as a moral lesson, must speak chiefly of success
* must give each State and Section full space and value for the achievements of each.

. . .

"Textbooks offer an obvious means of realizing hegemony in education,"
according to William L. Griffen and John Marciano. . .

"By hegemony we refer specifically to the influence that dominant
classes or groups exercise by virtue of their control of ideological
institutions, such as schools. . . Within history texts,
for example, the omission of crucial facts and viewpoints limits
profoundly the ways in which students come to view history
events. Further, through their one-dimensionality, textbooks
shield students from intellectual encounters with their world
that would sharpen their critical abilities."

Here, in polite academic language, Griffen and Marciano tell us that
controlling elements of our society keep crucial facts from
us to keep us ignorant and stupid.

I'm currently reading Larry Kramer's _The American People_ (Vol. 1).
God help the history teacher confronted with **that**! ;->