Utilitarianism aspires to be a benign philosophy but its proponents tend to overestimate their capacity for foresight and moral reasoning and end up creating deeply inhumane systems which are arguably worse than the problems they set out to solve.
2 months ago in Contrast
If you stand on the side of the road with your signs, I may read your signs, and I might even be sympathetic to your cause. If you block the road with your signs, I definitely won't read your signs, and I definitely won't be sympathetic to your cause.
Zivilisten hier, Leute, die nachts in Betten liegen, Leute mit Küssen und Beerdigungen. Friedliche Gesichter, an der richtigen Stelle, korrekt über dem Hemdkragen sitzend. Die deutsche Nation wird bald geschlagen sein, ihre Menschen bleiben fett. Sie können uns nicht ansehen. Es ist wirklich schon genug, fliehen, in Viehwaggons steigen zu müssen; die Feinde, die Bomben, das ist alles grausam, doch man weiß, was das bedeutet, das läßt rotes Blut fließen, man schreibt in den Zeitungen darüber; der Krieg ist eine Institution. Aber die, die da liegen, die hätte man besser nicht gesehen, außerdem war der Waggon geschlossen. In der Regel sind sie versteckt, aber natürlich kann man in solchen Augenblicken auf sie stoßen.
But all that changed after Coke began a shift to plastic bottles in the 1950s. As the waste piled up, the public began to push the company to take responsibility for it. Coke pushed back hard with a double-edged strategy attacking efforts to make the industry deal with its waste while pushing forward the message that consumers were instead to blame for the problem. Both were accomplished largely through generic-sounding organizations that worked on behalf of Coke and other soda and bottle companies while keeping their brand names out of the public eye.
In 1968, when state and federal legislation was proposed that would have made deposits on nonreturnable containers mandatory, Coke didn’t lobby against it, at least not publicly. Instead, it was the National Soft Drink Association, funded by Coke, that did the work to defeat the bill. At the same time, Keep America Beautiful was letting people know that “keeping America beautiful is your job.” Those who failed at that job were “litterbugs,” or, as the nonprofit organization made disturbingly clear in a video that year, pigs.
2 months ago in Contrast
Everything is calculation! Thinking is calculation. [..] Humans only think that they think, but all they do is compute, using algorithms programmed into them by biological evolution, and learned by social evolution. But just like machines surpassed humans in physical activity, like running and jumping, they are already starting to surpass humans in so-called intellectual activities.
Es ist typisch für die entmutigende Oberflächlichkeit des heutigen Denkens, daß das Wort "Größe", das eine Quantität und nicht eine Qualität bezeichnet, als ein Ausdruck der Anerkennung, wie zum Beispiel "Schönheit", "Güte", "Weisheit" verwendet wird. Was heute groß ist, wird also fast automatisch als schön und gut angesehen.
The danger of computers becoming like humans is not as great as the danger of humans becoming like computers.
The greatest evil perpetrated is the evil committed by nobodies, that is, by human beings who refuse to be persons.
Humans, in so far as they are more than a completion of functions able to react, whose lowest and therefore most central are the purely animal like reactions, are simply superfluous for totalitarian systems. Their goal is not to erect a despotic regime over humans, but a system by which humans are made superfluous. Total power can only be achieved and guaranteed when nothing else matters except the absolutely controllable willingness to react, marionettes robbed of all spontaneity. Humans, precisely because they are so powerful, can only be completely controlled when they have become examples of the animal like species human.
We don't know a perfected totalitarian power structure, because it would require the control of the whole planet. But we know enough about the the still preliminary experiments of total organization to realize that the very well possible perfection of this apparatus would get rid of human agency in the sense as we know it. To act would turn out to be superfluous for people living together, when all people have become an example of their species, when all doing has become an acceleration of the movement mechanism of history or nature following a set pattern, and all deeds have become the execution of death sentences which history and nature have given anyway.
These definitions coincide with the terms which, since Greek antiquity, have been used to define the forms of government as the rule of man over man—of one or the few in monarchy and oligarchy, of the best or the many in aristocracy and democracy, to which today we ought to add the latest and perhaps most formidable form of such dominion, bureaucracy, or the rule by an intricate system of bureaux in which no men, neither one nor the best, neither the few nor the many, can be held responsible, and which could be properly called the rule by Nobody. Indeed, if we identify tyranny as the government that is not held to give account of itself, rule by Nobody is clearly the most tyrannical of all, since there is no one left who could even be asked to answer for what is being done. It is this state of affairs which is among the most potent causes for the current world-wide rebellious unrest.
Why were people tortured?
“They would punish inmates for everything. Anyone who didn’t follow the rules was punished. Those who didn’t learn Chinese properly or who didn’t sing the songs were also punished.”
And everyday things like these were punished with torture?
“I will give you an example. There was an old woman in the camp who had been a shepherd before she was arrested. She was taken to the camp because she was accused of speaking with someone from abroad by phone. This was a woman who not only did not have a phone, she didn’t even know how to use one. On the page of sins the inmates were forced to fill out, she wrote that the call she had been accused of making never took place. In response she was immediately punished. I saw her when she returned. She was covered with blood, she had no fingernails and her skin was flayed.”
On one occasion, Sauytbay herself was punished. “One night, about 70 new prisoners were brought to the camp,” she recalls. “One of them was an elderly Kazakh woman who hadn’t even had time to take her shoes. She spotted me as being Kazakh and asked for my help. She begged me to get her out of there and she embraced me. I did not reciprocate her embrace, but I was punished anyway. I was beaten and deprived of food for two days.”
Sauytbay says she witnessed medical procedures being carried out on inmates with no justification. She thinks it was done as part of human experiments that were carried out in the camp systematically. “The inmates would be given pills or injections. They were told it was to prevent diseases, but the nurses told me secretly that the pills were dangerous and that I should not take them.”
Tears stream down Sauytbay’s face when she tells the grimmest story from her time in the camp. “One day, the police told us they were going to check to see whether our reeducation was succeeding, whether we were developing properly. They took 200 inmates outside, men and women, and told one of the women to confess her sins. She stood before us and declared that she had been a bad person, but now that she had learned Chinese she had become a better person. When she was done speaking, the policemen ordered her to disrobe and simply raped her one after the other, in front of everyone. While they were raping her they checked to see how we were reacting. People who turned their head or closed their eyes, and those who looked angry or shocked, were taken away and we never saw them again. It was awful. I will never forget the feeling of helplessness, of not being able to help her. After that happened, it was hard for me to sleep at night.”
Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.
Do you use a search engine? Social media? Any modern online game? A connected smart home? A smart phone without its privacy settings altered? A modern flat screen tv? A modern car? All of them do behavioral extraction in one form of another. Often under the guise of entertainment.
These huge TOS agreements are akin to governmental authoritarian control. Everyone has broken something in them, we are all a criminal. Knowing this, we all live in fear knowing that it's not a matter of 'if' but 'when' the government/corporate overlord can cancel everything we've been working on or living for because of an obscure clause that no one has ever read, which was created for this very purpose.
I think Tech took a weird turn somewhere around 2010. Things became more homogeneous, designes became bland without rough edges, literally with rounded corners. Options were removed, defaults became simpler and dumber. Dev tools are more about saving programmers from themselves rather than pushing things to the limit.
It is typical for the discouraging superficiality of contemporary thinking that the word "greatness", which describes a quantity and not a quality, is used as expression of recognition, like "beauty", "kindness", "wisdom" for example. What is great [or big] today, is nearly automatically seen as beautiful and good."Germany: Jekyll & Hyde (1939 - Deutschland von innen betrachtet)" (1940)