Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Friday, July 31, 2015
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Bitcoin technology could reshape the way financial markets operate. That is according to Blythe Master[s], the chief executive of Digital Asset Holdings, and one of the biggest names in the business... Everything from stock to bonds and derivatives could be exchanged and paid for in the same way the cryptocurrency community is executing bitcoin transactions, Masters said. Still, it is early on. Masters compared where Bitcoin and cryptocurrency are now in terms of their development to early 1990s Internet. "In reality, the world is not there yet," Masters said. She said the industry would have to address regulatory hurdles as it confronts issues like authentication and security in coming years. Masters was one of a group of JPMorgan executives who helped create the market for credit default swaps in the 1990s, and later went to head its global commodities division.Yes, a "Thought Leader" who helped engineer the global crash just a few years ago by peddling fraudulent financial instruments to circumvent regulations and sound investment norms is at it again.
And why not? This Business Insider piece wasn't written after a visit to Blythe Masters in the prison cell she belongs in, after all, and it's not like she has common sense or conscience to constrain her, that much is clear. Why, she's "one of the biggest names in the business," we are told! What else does anybody need to know?
The plausibility of "Bitcoin" and comparable crypto-currency schemes always derives (surprisingly explicitly surprisingly often) from anarcho-capitalist fantasies of natural market forces (of which there are literally none) generating optimally efficient and just "spontaneous orders" (of which there has never been nor ever will be one). The usual popular postwar Randroidal and Friedmaniacal just-so stories and nonsense rationalizations for plutocracy and white supremacy bubble and boil this discursive cauldron to its froth, of course. Note that regulation is figured here as a "hurdle" for "the industry," for example.
But notice as well that problems are figured as merely technical, and therefore technically solvable: "authentication" and "security" await their programming fixes, no social or ethical questions bedevil the pristine instrumental prospect... let us unleash the bulldozers! What the last thirty years has taught us above all is that it is techno-transcendental rhetoric in particular that transforms these commonplace confusions, deceptions, and self-congratulatory cons into the cadences of progressive and spiritual revelations that drive the popular imagination from solidarity and suicide.
The wistful call back to the glory days of the "early 1990s Internet" is a tip-off: You remember the early 1990s, surely, the beginning of The Long Boom, in which space was abolished, cryptoanarchy smashed all the states, Cyberspace was the Home of Mind, virtuality transformed reality, nanotech delivered superabundance, California Extropians said "No!" to Death and Taxes, and pop futurists were revealing on a daily basis the techs That! Would! Change! Everything!
Oh, for a to return to the days of Irrational Exuberance! The Smartest Guys in the Room could really squeeze a fortune from the rubes back then!
Even in this short, throwaway piece, you should notice that it is a futurological formulation that provides all the juice: "The world is not there yet."
A denial of basic knowledge is articulated in the form of a prophetic utterance, whereupon the brute force of technological determination and superlative destining are called forth to shunt the realities of precarious bodies, historical struggles, lawless violations, and ecosystemic limits out of sight, out of mind to make way for frictionless flows of capital and fountainheads of cyberspatial spirit-stuff.
Of course, state forms are the point of departure for any macroeconomics. So sorry to harsh your bliss, but what passes for "the market" in any historical epoch will be an artifact of laws, norms, pricing conventions, and infrastructural affordances articulated and maintained by states and public investment. Meanwhile, currency itself, not to put too fine a point on it, is what states authorize as instruments for the payment of public debt.
There is of course much more to say on these topics (do read Polanyi), but there is no point in saying anything at all before all the participants in the conversation grasp these fundamental and foundational facts of the matter at hand. To deny such things is not to have revolutionary thoughts but to testify in public either to complete ignorance on the topic at hand or to a willingness to engage in fraud. I don't know whether she is a market fundamentalist zealot, or a full on techno-utopian True Believer, or just a con-artist looking to hack together her next personally profitable bit of financial fraud, indifferent to the lives and hopes ruined by her clever schemes and technical gew-gaws. Blythe Masters is advocating nothing short of looting and warlordism and the neoliberal tech press, settled in the midst of the still smoking ruins and ballooning bodies of a world wrecked by these facile frauds, cheers her stupid destructive pieties as a "Deep Think," natch.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Monday, July 27, 2015
Hilarious discussion with Russian-American racist conflicted about good old days when he was a Slavic untermensch. pic.twitter.com/mDuKbtCnDG— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) July 27, 2015
Sunday, July 26, 2015
I doubt that anyone is calling current software "intelligent". They call it narrow AI in some cases, but it has nothing to do with intelligence, it's just a term. I do think though that intelligence can arise just from algorithms, but they would have to be far more sophisticated than what we have now and furthermore intelligence, as we have it in humans, relies on numerous kinds of inputs related to biological processes, so I doubt it can be copied 100% in a computer, in a way it's also a result of some "broken" or imperfectly working algorithms, we tend to break down, be overzealous, ignore some facts and put others on pedestal... we are prone to search for patterns everywhere, faces on Mars, aliens who built pyramids etc. So I would agree that it would be very hard task to replicate human consciousness in a computer, because it's inherently flawed and a jumbled mess...
Saturday, July 25, 2015
Friday, July 24, 2015
If the choice is GOP vs. DLC GOP-lite people will choose GOP.
If the choice is Tories vs. New Labour Tories-lite people will choose Tories.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Monday, July 20, 2015
Sunday, July 19, 2015
The power of "tech" discourses to incumbent interests arises from the way they disavow history while appearing to assert substance. 1— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
The work of "tech" discourses of prosthetic or therapeutic "enhancement," for example, is to disavow the interdependence of human agency. 2— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
The one to be "enhanced" is always already the isolated neglected precarized individual "self," 3— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
their "enhancement" (setting aside the hyperbole & deceptions typical in such presentations) valorizes and naturalizes this isolated self, 4— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
then offers compensatory fantasies of "capacity" that never redeem violations compelled by the sociopathic model of selfhood they fortify. 5— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
The real work of "tech" discourses of AI is to disavow the incarnation of intelligence and responsibility in living bodies and history. 6— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
The investment of human-made machines with intelligence and agency, 7— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
-- as when we treat "autonomous" weapons as killers, or algorithms as bureaucrats -- 8— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
divests humans of intelligence and agency, denigrates intelligence and responsibility in their human forms: 9— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
the better to rationalize the mistreatment of humans as if they were robots, 10— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
the better to disavow responsibility for murderous uses of artifacts or rationalize callous decisions by bureaucrats. 11— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
As Evgeny Morozov mentioned in a tweet yesterday (an observation that set me off on this twitter-essaylet), 12— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
the real work of "tech" discourses of Smart this'n-that is to disavow the artificial imposition by elites of austerian scarcity: 13— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
erm, make doWhat makes a smart device "smart" is its promise to make due with less, 14— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
and quite apart from the fact that "Smart" gizmos rarely live up to the hype with which they are marketed, 15— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
-- indeed, what gets peddled as "smart" tends to end up looking stupid before it gets tossed into the landfill to poison the world -- 16— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
what one is not paying attention to when one is celebrating coping with less is the question just why are we compelled to cope with less? 17— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
Why are we coping with less? Is the leanness necessary? Is it shared? Are some benefiting disproportionately from the leanness of others? 18— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
It is one thing to grasp sustainable civilization must stop fantasies of limitless growth and harmless waste with shared problem-solving, 19— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
but quite a lot of the "tech" that gets called Smart seems instead to facilitate the erosion of social support and collective humanity. 20— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
"Smartness" figures unintelligent artifacts as intelligent: the literal denigration of humans follows upon their figurative denigration. 21— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
The real work of "tech" discourses of Design and Technocratic policy is to disavow their hostility to and demolition of democracy. 22— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
Designers amount to small cohorts of privileged individuals claiming to solve political problems by circumventing political processes: 23— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
So digirati promise to code democracy from privileged enclaves, green design promises sustainability without threatening consumerism, 24— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
designers fail to accomplish their avowed universal ends while succeeding in self-promotion and parochial profitability for incumbents. 25— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
In a related development, Paul Krugman has taken to describing so-called neoliberal technocrats as "faithocrats": 26— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
Espousing faith in serially failed austerity and trickle-down, they peddle their plutocratic politics as neutral apolitical engineering. 27— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
Of course, no "tech" has a single politics, but the disavowal of politics through the conjuration of "tech" is indeed a "tech" politics. 28— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
It is never true that all artifacts and techniques are discerned as "tech": 29— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
We describe only some of the field of the artifactual as "tech" while naturalizing the rest of that field as the natural, the customary. 30— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
There is an inevitable de-politicization of that which is naturalized, 31— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
and that naturalization always conduces to the status-quo and its beneficiaries. 32— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
Further, when "tech" fixates on power as capacitation then promises to solve/circumvent political problems with instrumental rationality, 33— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
as they also disable, grr!such "tech" discourses always disfigure freedom and progress as political categories as also disable democratic processes. 34— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
The disavowal of history at the heart of prevailing "tech" discourses is reactionary, reductionist and anti-democratizing in its thrust. 35— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
Only by pluralizing, narrativizing, politicizing "tech" can we engage critically in real progressive technoscientific social struggle. fin.— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 20, 2015
Saturday, July 18, 2015
Thursday, July 16, 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
Sunday, July 12, 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
You gotta laugh at the zombie in the front yardEvery event in the world is apprehended and maintained by living beings who share the world and history. And the goods that sustain and beset us mediate historical and ecological relations among earthly beings and historical protagonists: The table I use was made and is used and maintained by people like me, and mediates my relations with countless earthlings (not all of them human, by the way) who are caught up, like me, in struggles for existence and significance in a shared space and time.
Take a bath, but nothing gets the funk off
You're on TV, rocking and a rolling
Cause the dead just love to rock and roll
For Marx, the fetishized commodity is the good that seems to offer itself for exchange at a price and in a way that foregrounds that price and so distracts us from or even disavows all the historical and ecological relations among people that would otherwise matter to us in telling the story of its significance as it becomes a part of our own story. Who made the table? Under what conditions was it made? How did it arrive here? What is it made of, where did these materials come from, under what conditions were they gathered? What are all these people's lives like? What are the costs and risks that attend their work in bringing this table into this space and time I am living here now?
Reduced to a numerical value, the price-form seems to relate all the events in the world to one another and also to myself as a desiring being. Where otherwise I am another tool in the world historical functional division of labor -- at a loss to grasp the indispensability of my own contributions to the making of the shared world at the loss of my capacity to demand just compensation for that indispensability -- where otherwise I am another fool in the world historical crimes of collective exploitation and pollution undertaken in my name -- at a loss to testify to my protest and distress at the loss of my capacity to agitate and organize to change the world to reflect my values -- the price-form offers me the sense of knowledge at the cost of ignorance, the sense of capacity at the cost of incapacitation, the sense of self-possession at the cost of dispossession.
However it is made, whatever it is made of, whoever makes it however they do, the price of the candy bar is a fraction of the price of the sandwich is a fraction of the price of the textbook is a fraction of the price of the month's rent is a fraction of the price of the doctor's bill is a fraction of the price of the tuition is a fraction of the price of the mortgage... Through the price form I relate every event to every other event, as well as to the event of my contemplation of events, as if they were all items arrayed in the constellation of a storefront window. And reflected in the glass I see my own face looking upon these commodities: No matter how inchoate my passions, how uncertain my fortunes, how confused my complicities, I can exchange my labor for a wage I can exchange for goods that promise me satisfactions, I can narrate my time on earth as a plan to render my labor more valuable for a higher wage to exchange for goods that promise me the satisfactions I dream about when I dream about the story I will tell as the story of myself. My life is no longer who I am but another commodity available for exchange at a price, one more thing I have to have other things with.
Under the regime of mass-mediation (movies, magazines, broadcast, memes) denominated the Culture Industry by Adorno and the Spectacle by Debord, we no longer buy things and dream of buying things for the satisfactions they presumably confer -- since true freedom, true satisfaction is always deferred under the varieties of consumer capitalism, just as the revolutionary arrival at the sustainable equity-in-diversity rendered permanently possible by our achieved level of technoscientific and organizational sophistication is also always deferred so that incumbent-elites can maintain their unjust privileges and accustomed prejudices -- we buy things in order to inhabit archived images and play out available scripts the citation of which promise to confer legibility, to render us apparently reasonable, responsible, rights-bearing, property-inhering citizen-subjects to one another. We re-write ourselves in the image of the film protagonist, our homes in the image of the catalogue cover, our conversation in the image of the televised roundtable, and hence improvise a life within the constraints of scripts the failure of which or the deviation from which threatens to render us illegible, unfit, incapable, ridiculous, pathological, criminal. Leszek Kolakowski's critique that Marx as an icon and certain orthodox construals of Marxism as a system of signification have taken on the coloration of fetishized commodities themselves sets the stage for Naomi Klein's fin-de-siecle reformulation of the Fetishized Commodity/Culture Industry/Spectacle, in which advertizing/promotional practices that began as the deceptive effort to create the impression of differences in mass-produced (and hence largely indistinguishable) commodities are consummated in the regime of the Logo as the deceptive effort to create the impression of individuals in complacent conformist consumers through the subcultural signaling of the brands they buy and bear. That the algorithmic mediation of Big Data is now framing us as targets for marketing/partisan political harassment and experimental subjection now and as targets for potential prosecution or literal targeting by drone later offers up yet another iteration of this trajectory is my own, rather depressed, belief.
Thus, a sequence of degradations, the fetishized commodity-form degrades being into having, the Spectacle then degrades having into appearing, Big Data then degrades appearing into framing. Each stage re-iterates and intensifies the first Marxian formulation, in which, through our habituation to buying and selling mediated by the assertive price-form we come to confuse historical relations among people as collisions among things, social projects and public goods are drained of their living and historical substance but then invested with a deceptive and deranging significance as well as a false and threatening avidity.
Marx's accounting of this false reading of history is famous in the way it begins with the quotidian furniture of everyday life and soon finds itself telling ghost stories, in which fetishized commodities become monsters, economy becomes a witch's sabbath, goods give false testimony like specters in a seance, tables caper grotesquely like agents. But we all know what monster is drained of life only to live-in-death to menace the living: It is not the glamourous vampire who dupes the young and stupid with false promises of prevalence in parasitism. We don't even have to witness them canonically crowd the malls and food courts and crumbling McMansions of Dawn of the Dead and The Walking Dead and Janelle Monae tracks (for instance, one among many, "Dance Apocalyptic," from which I culled this post's epigraph) to know that the monster who tells us who we are now -- from monstrare, to show, to teach, to denounce -- the way we "live" now, is none other than the zombie. Marx's Capital is the first, and the foundational, zombie movie, and we have climbed the dreadful fatiguing steep pathways since to the luminous summit only to discover we are all undead.
Thursday, July 09, 2015
@dgolumbia Foundational paradox of privacy as individual (privacy right) & collective (privatization) discourse for liberals/libertarians: 1— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 10, 2015
Privacy as conjuration of individual dignity "to be let alone" always disavows ineradicable publicity of privacy, its public affordances, 2— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 10, 2015
hence the inevitable shadow of liberal/libertarian privacy-as-integrity -- "to be let alone" as scene of isolation, neglect, exploitation. 3— Dale Carrico (@dalecarrico) July 10, 2015
More Twitterized Privacy here. And, then, I guess, there's my old dissertation on the topic, too.
Wednesday, July 08, 2015
"My aspiration for the country -- and I believe we can achieve it -- is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see... Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That's the only way we're going to get out of this rut that we're in." -- Jeb (Jeb!) Bush, the "serious" "moderate" GOP Trump-alternative for the nomination for President.
No doubt Selleck regards his role in a handful of mass entertainments as evidence that he is an Ayn Randian avatar of god-like productive beneficence and civilizational indispensability and so, really, that water -- and, you know, pretty much everything else -- is really his for the taking when it comes down to it.
And I, for one, say thank you! Thank you Tom Selleck for all you have done for the world. Drink the world dry to water your Hidden Valley Ranch avocados and sprawling lawns -- without your genius the world would be a desert anyway.