The pressures on businesspeople to operate in ways that do not conform to the rules of a healthy and authentic community have the effect of rotting out the moral core of the modern business executive. He is encouraged to live a lie — believing one thing but living another; believing that long-term customer relationships matter but operating as if next quarter's EPS is the only thing that really does.
It’s important for us to criticize technology companies. And it’s not hard, because they’re full of shit.
Linux is a kernel. But the source of all evil in the modern computing world isn't in the kernel, but the middleware and applications running on it.
So yeah, it won, in the same sense that asphalt won because all cars run on it. You still drive a Ford though.
And the reason Linux won is because the sumbitches who discovered they can make more money putting you under constant surveillance and "monetizing" your data than selling OSes and application software realized it's far cheaper and easier to leverage free software that's supported for free by volunteers than come up with their own to run their sruveillance middleware.
That's why you see all those Linux moves from Microsoft: those would have been incredible 20 years ago. But Microsoft isn't an OS maker anymore: they're a surveillance and advertisement platform now, just like Google. They don't care about Linux or open-source threatening their business model anymore, because their business model isn't what it used to be.
Facebook is special in this regard, because its outward claims toward "connecting people" are so poetically at odds with its actual business of extracting value and attention from them at all costs. Facebook is like a kindergarten run by child molesters.
I mean, what's the elections? You know, two guys, same background, wealth, political influence, went to the same elite university, joined the same secret society where you're trained to be a ruler - they both can run because they're financed by the same corporate institutions. At the Democratic Convention, Barack Obama said, 'only in this country, only in America, could someone like me appear here.' Well, in some other countries, people much poorer than him would not only talk at the convention - they'd be elected president. Take Lula. The president of Brazil is a guy with a peasant background, a union organizer, never went to school, he's the president of the second-biggest country in the hemisphere. Only in America? I mean, there they actually have elections where you can choose somebody from your own ranks. With different policies. That's inconceivable in the United States.Interview by Wallace Shawn, October 19, 2004
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.
1. Start with the set of all potentially serious journalists.
2. Filter out the ones who put forth arguments which downplay the dangers to the press of prosecuting Assange.
3. Filter out the ones who don't explicitly argue against prosecuting Assange on 1st Amendment grounds.
Follow the small group that survives #3 to get a variety of (probably) high-quality perspectives from serious journalists.
People have a series of rationalizations. People say for example that science and technology have their own logic, that they are in fact autonomous. This particular rationalization is profoundly false. It is not true that science marches on in defiance of human will, independent of human will, that just is not the case. But it is comfortable, as I said: it leads to the position that "if I don't do it, someone else will."
Of course if one takes that as an ethical principle then obviously it can serve as a license to do anything at all. "People will be murdered; if I don't do it, someone else will." "Women will be raped; if I don't do it, someone else will." That is just a license for violence.
Other people say, and I think this is a widely used rationalization, that fundamentally the tools we work on are "mere" tools; This means that whether they get use for good or evil depends on the person who ultimately buys them and so on.
There's nothing bad about working in computer vision, for example. Computer vision may very well some day be used to heal people who would otherwise die. Of course, it could also be used to guide missiles, cruise missiles for example, to their destination, and all that. You see, the technology itself is neutral and value-free and it just depends how one uses it. And besides -- consistent with that -- we can't know, we scientists cannot know how it is going to be used. So therefore we have no responsibility.
Well, that is false. It is true that a computer, for example, can be used for good or evil. It is true that a helicopter can be used as a gunship and it can also be used to rescue people from a mountain pass. And if the question arises of how a specific device is going to be used, in what I call an abstract ideal society, then one might very well say one cannot know.
But we live in a concrete society, [and] with concrete social and historical circumstances and political realities in this society, it is perfectly obvious that when something like a computer is invented, then it is going to be adopted will be for military purposes. It follows from the concrete realities in which we live, it does not follow from pure logic. But we're not living in an abstract society, we're living in the society in which we in fact live.
If you look at the enormous fruits of human genius that mankind has developed in the last 50 years, atomic energy and rocketry and flying to the moon and coherent light, and it goes on and on and on -- and then it turns out that every one of these triumphs is used primarily in military terms. So it is not reasonable for a scientist or technologist to insist that he or she does not know -- or cannot know -- how it is going to be used.
When books or pictures in reproduction are thrown on the market cheaply and attain huge sales, this does not affect the nature of the objects in question. But their nature is affected when these objects themselves are changed rewritten, condensed, digested, reduced to kitsch in reproduction, or in preparation for the movies. This does not mean that culture spreads to the masses, but that culture is being destroyed in order to yield entertainment.
The result of this is not disintegration but decay, and those who actively promote it are not the Tin Pan Alley composers but a special kind of intellectuals, often well read and well informed, whose sole function is to organize, disseminate, and change cultural objects in order to persuade the masses that Hamlet can be as entertaining as My Fair Lady, and perhaps educational as well. There are many great authors of the past who have survived centuries of oblivion and neglect, but it is still an open question whether they will be able to survive an entertaining version of what they have to say.
Under the most diverse conditions and disparate circumstances, we watch the development of the same phenomena—homelessness on an unprecedented scale, rootlessness to an unprecedented depth."The Origins of Totalitarianism"
Once the door is fully opened, everybody rushes through. Once more-or-less targeted assassinations have been normalized by a government, you can be sure that it will be used by every government following them, and ultimately by every other government on the planet. Effective tools will always be used.
Be that mass surveillance, drone strikes, offensive cyber warfare or kidnapping people on foreign soil to fly them to torture camps.
That one new feature you added? That sparkly, Techcrunchable, awesome feature? What did it cost your user? If the result of your work consumes someone’s cognitive resources, they can’t use those resources for other things that truly, deeply matter. This is NOT about consuming their time and attention while they're using your app. This is about draining their ability for logical thinking, problem-solving, and willpower after the clicking/swiping/gesturing is done.
But even if we can justify consuming our user's cognitive resources while they're using our product, what about our marketing? Can we honestly believe that our "content marketing" is a good use of their resources? "Yes, because it adds value." we tell ourselves. But what does that even mean? Can we honestly say that "engaging with our brand" is a healthy, ethical use of their scarce, precious, limited cognitive resources? "Yes, because our content is useful."
And that's all awesome and fabulous and social and 3.0ish except for one, small, inconvenient fact: zero sum. What you consume here, you take from there. Not just their attention, not just their time, but their ability to be the person they are when they are at their best. When they have ample cognitive resources. When they can think, solve-problems, and exercise self-control. When they can create, make connections, and stay focused.
When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
It’s not that they’re bad people. It reveals an institutional pathology. There is an institutional structure that says that if you’re the CEO of a major corporation, which incidentally means that you have enormous influence in the political system, then you simply don’t care about what happens to the world in the next generation, including your own grandchildren. What you care about is profits tomorrow. It’s an institutional imperative.
Watergate was a matter of a bunch of guys from the Republican National Committee breaking in a Democratic Party office for essentially unknown reasons and doing no damage. Okay, that's petty burglary, it's not a big deal. Well, at the exact time that Watergate was discovered, there were exposures in the courts and through the Freedom of Information Act of massive FBI operations to undermine political freedom in the United States, running through every administration back to Roosevelt, but really picking up under Kennedy. It was called "COINTELPRO" (short for "Counterintelligence Program"), and it included a vast range of things.
It included Gestapo-style assassination of a Black Panther leader; it included organizing race riots in an effort to destroy the black movements; it included attacks on the American Indian Movement, on the women's movement, you name it. It included fifteen years of FBI disruption of the Socialist Worker's Party - that meant regular FBI burglaries, stealing membership lists and using them to threaten people, going to businesses and getting members fired from their jobs, and so on. Well, that fact alone-the fact that for fifteen years the FBI had been burglarizing and trying to undermine a legal political party - is already vastly more important than the fact that a bunch of Keystone Kops broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters one time. The Socialist Workers Party is a legal political party, after all - the fact that they're a weak political party doesn't mean they have less rights than the Democrats. And this wasn't a bunch of gangsters, this was the national political police: that's very serious. And it didn't happen once in the Watergate office complex, is was going on for fifteen years, under every administration. And keep in mind, the Socialist Workers Party episode is just some tiny footnote to COINTELPRO. In comparison to this, Watergate is a tea party.
Well, look at the comparison in treatment - I mean, you're aware of the comparison in treatment, that's why you know about Watergate and you don't know about COINTELPRO. So what does that tell you? What it tells you is, people in power will defend themselves. The Democratic Party represents about half of corporate power, and those people are able to defend themselves; the Socialist Workers Party represents no power, the Black Panthers don't represent any power, the American Indian Movement doesn't represent any power - so you can do anything you want to them.
Or take a look at the Nixon administration's famous "Enemies List," which came out in the course of Watergate…You've heard of that, but did you hear about the assassination of Fred Hampton? No. Nothing ever happened to any of the people who were on the Enemies List, which I know perfectly well, because I was on it - and it wasn't because I was on it that it made the front pages. But the FBI and the Chicago police assassinated a Black Panther leader as he lay in his bed one night during the Nixon administration (On December 4, 1969). Well, if the press had any integrity at all, if the Washington Post had any integrity, what they would have said is, "Watergate is totally insignificant and innocuous, who cares about any of that in comparison with these other things." But that's not what happened, obviously. And that just shows again, very dramatically, how the press is lined up with power."Understanding Power" (2002)
No matter which slogan they write on their banners, once they feel they are no longer under the strictest and most vigilant control of those they purport to represent - they will behave the same. Once the relationship between citizens and the government changes from owner/hired manager to subject/ruler, there's no other way it can go.
Work on whatever your current priority is, after an hour of meta reasoning but not a year of meta reasoning. If you’re still like, “No, no, we must think more meta” after a year, then I don’t believe you’re the sort of person who will ever act.
Nothing perhaps illustrates the general disintegration of political life better than this vague, pervasive hatred of everybody and everything, without a focus for its passionate attention, with nobody to make responsible for the state of affairs — neither the government nor the bourgeoisie nor an outside power. It consequently turned in all directions, haphazardly and unpredictably, incapable of assuming an air of healthy indifference toward anything under the sun."The Origins of Totalitarianism"
For the idea of humanity, when purged of all sentimentality, has the very serious consequence that in one form or another men must assume responsibility for all crimes committed by men and that all nations share the onus of evil committed by all others. Shame at being a human being is the purely individual and still non-political expression of this insight."Organized Guilt and Universal Responsibility"
Education is the process of casting false pearls before real swine.