June 21, 2022

Machine Dreams

CyberGunk 02


Membership content


Key Research

Smart Machines and Service Work: Automation in an Age of Stagnation

I’ve a very hazy memory of this, I haven’t returned to it since I read it, but I think this is the basis for most of my arguments

The Automation Charade

A little bit silly but broadly points in an interesting direction. I think where I got the idea to frame this around “The Mechanical Turk.”

a lot of little fiddly bits

ATMs increased the number of bank teller jobs, content moderation is a massive growing workforce, AI personal assistants turned out to be using humans, CXQO workers have insane data entry targets, Tesla couldn’t automate their production line, while they hired thousands for labelling, IOT devices always crap out, predictive policing is more incorrect and racist than actual policing, IBM Watson was sold for parts, the incredible Ports of Auckland automation project never worked and had to be shut down. I’ve seen so much to suggest the opposite of the hype.

Research List

Filtered to Automation View all
Title URL Notes Video Relevance
πŸ“°Article Ad Tech Could Be the Next Internet Bubble https://www.wired.com/story/ad-tech-could-be-the-next-internet-bubble/ Targeted advertising doesn’t work Advertising β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Buying Consumer Data? Tread Carefully. https://hbr.org/2020/05/buying-consumer-data-tread-carefully Consumer data is innaccurate Advertising β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Coors Light Can’t Beam Ads Into Your Brain https://gizmodo.com/no-brands-cant-target-ads-at-your-dreams-1847113888?rev=1623886445493 This story that keeps cropping up about ads in your dreams is so fucking dumb Advertising β˜…
πŸ“°Article Deconstructing the Disinformation War https://mediawell.ssrc.org/expert-reflections/deconstructing-the-disinformation-war/ Exaggerated narratives Advertising β˜…
πŸ“°Article Digital Marketing’s Last Decade Is Digital Marketing’s Lost Decade https://www.forbes.com/sites/augustinefou/2021/05/16/digital-marketings-lost-decadetime-to-think-different-do-different/ Programmatic advertising is a waste Advertising β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article How AWS and Other Cloud Providers Became the Internet’s Most Powerful Moderators https://onezero.medium.com/how-aws-and-other-cloud-providers-became-the-internets-most-powerful-moderators-9b23a954d68a Amazon is behind the internet Advertising β˜…
πŸ“°Article How to Start Fixing Social Media. https://onezero.medium.com/how-to-start-fixing-social-media-196297eb6b71 What social media could be Advertising β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article ICO’s final report into Cambridge Analytica invites regulatory questions https://www.ft.com/content/43962679-b1f9-4818-b569-b028a58c8cd2 CA didn’t do anything Advertising β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“•Book In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works & Shapes Our Lives https://www.worldcat.org/title/in-the-plex-how-google-thinks-works-shapes-our-lives/oclc/1244174326&referer=brief_results Background on Google/AdWords Advertising β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Is Using a Data Broker the Most Secure Marketing Strategy? https://www.cmswire.com/digital-marketing/is-your-data-broker-the-most-secure-marketing-strategy/ Data brokers worse than random chance Advertising β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Labour HQ used Facebook ads to deceive Jeremy Corbyn during election campaign https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/labour-hq-used-facebook-ads-to-deceive-jeremy-corbyn-during-election-campaign-grlx75c27 A use case for targeted advertising Advertising β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Large Publishers Buy Incentivized Traffic & Popups Too https://deepsee.io/blog/large-publishers-buy-incentivized-traffic-too On incentivised traffic Advertising β˜…
πŸ“°Article New Zealand’s Stuff newspaper group joins Facebook boycott as ‘experiment’ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/06/new-zealands-stuff-newspaper-group-joins-facebook-boycott-as-experiment Facebook boycott Advertising β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article News site Stuff left Facebook. Seven months later, traffic is just fine and trust is higher https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/news/news-site-stuff-left-facebook-seven-months-later-traffic-just-fine-and-trust-higher Programmatic advertising doesn’t do anything Advertising β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“•Book Subprime Attention Crisis: Advertising and the Time Bomb at the Heart of the Internet https://www.worldcat.org/title/subprime-attention-crisis-advertising-and-the-time-bomb-at-the-heart-of-the-internet/oclc/1225234235&referer=brief_results Programatic advertising doesn’t work/some fun GFC analogies Advertising β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The Big Lie Behind the β€œPivot to Video” https://slate.com/technology/2018/10/facebook-online-video-pivot-metrics-false.html On the Pivot to video Advertising β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The downfall of adtech means the trust economy is here https://techcrunch.com/2020/11/23/the-downfall-of-ad-tech-means-the-trust-economy-is-here/ No-one likes targeted advertising Advertising β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The Internet That Was (and Still Could Be) https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/06/medium-is-the-message-paradise-paved-internet-architecture/396227/ Internet without perverse incentives Advertising β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The Madness of the Crowd https://logicmag.io/intelligence/the-madness-of-the-crowd/ Systems don’t work for people Advertising β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The Web We Lost http://anildash.com/2012/12/13/the_web_we_lost/ Social networks are partly a step backwards Advertising β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Unredacted Antitrust Complaint Unsealed: Google Internal Documents Show AMP Pages Brought 40% Less Revenue to Publishers https://wptavern.com/unredacted-antitrust-complaint-unsealed-google-internal-documents-show-amp-pages-brought-40-less-revenue-to-publishers Google pushed amp. It only makes things worse Advertising β˜…
πŸ“•Book What Tech Calls Thinking: An Inquiry Into the Intellectual Bedrock of Silicon Valley https://www.worldcat.org/title/what-tech-calls-thinking-an-inquiry-into-the-intellectual-bedrock-of-silicon-valley/oclc/1136959585&referer=brief_results Misc ramblings Advertising β˜…
πŸ“°Article When Big Brands Stopped Spending On Digital Ads, Nothing Happened. Why? https://www.forbes.com/sites/augustinefou/2021/01/02/when-big-brands-stopped-spending-on-digital-ads-nothing-happened-why/ Huge companys didn’t suffer for turning off programatic ads Advertising β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper Why Do People Avoid Advertising On The Internet? https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00913367.2004.10639175 Banner blindness and inneffectual online advertising Advertising β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article AI is wrestling with a replication crisis https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/11/12/1011944/artificial-intelligence-replication-crisis-science-big-tech-google-deepmind-facebook-openai/ Replication crisis in AI Algorithms β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article AI: Still Just Curve Fitting, Not Finding a Theory of Everything https://mindmatters.ai/2020/12/ai-still-just-curve-fitting-not-finding-a-theory-of-everything/ AI hasn’t moved beyond curve fitting Algorithms β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ΊVideo Andrej Karpathy – AI for Full-Self Driving at Tesla https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hx7BXih7zx8 So much manual work to do Algorithms β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ΊVideo Andrej Karpathy: Tesla Autopilot and Multi-Task Learning for Perception and Prediction https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHH47nZ7FZU Talking through self-driving Algorithms β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Artificial Intelligence Isn’t an Arms Race With China, and the United States Shouldn’t Treat It Like One https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/12/11/artificial-intelligence-ai-not-arms-race-china-united-states/ AI hype and narrative Algorithms β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ΊVideo Building the Software 2.0 Stack (Andrej Karpathy) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y57wwucbXR8 Vast majority still 1.0 code Algorithms β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Cars in driver-assist mode hit a third of cyclists, all oncoming cars in tests https://www.theregister.com/2022/05/16/automous_car_ada_system_tests/?s=09 Self-driving tests Algorithms β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Deep Learning’s Carbon Emissions Problem https://www.forbes.com/sites/robtoews/2020/06/17/deep-learnings-climate-change-problem/ Ecological cost of Machine Learning Algorithms β˜…
πŸ“°Article Elon Musk Describes the Future of Self-Driving Cars https://gizmodo.com/elon-musk-describes-the-future-of-self-driving-cars-1692076449 Stupid bullshit 2015 Algorithms β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper Energy And Policy Considerations For Modern Deep Learning Research https://ojs.aaai.org/index.php/AAAI/article/view/7123 The material costs of deep learning Algorithms β˜…
πŸ“°Article Fear itself is the real threat to democracy, not tall tales of Chinese AI https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/06/fear-itself-is-the-real-threat-to-democracy-not-tall-tales-of-chinese-ai AI doomerism is nonsense Algorithms β˜…
πŸ“°Article Here’s Proof Tesla’s FSD Beta 9.0 Street Testing Is a Calamity Waiting to Happen https://www.autoevolution.com/news/here-s-proof-tesla-s-fsd-beta-90-street-testing-is-a-calamity-waiting-to-happen-165597.html General Tesla hate Algorithms β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper Hierarchical Text-Conditional Image Generation With Clip Latents https://arxiv.org/abs/2204.06125 Dall-e 2 release paper Algorithms β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article How Tesla Is Bad For The Earth. An electric car is still a car, and… https://indi.ca/how-tesla-is-bad-for-the-earth-31e644540a26 Green growth is the opposite of what’s needed Algorithms β˜…
πŸ“°Article Is California’s electric car revolution bad for the planet? https://www.latimes.com/politics/0000017a-c69a-da5f-affa-dfbbb1050001-123 Electric vehicles aren’t the answer Algorithms β˜…
πŸ“°Article It’s disturbingly easy to trick AI into doing something deadly https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/4/8/18297410/ai-tesla-self-driving-cars-adversarial-machine-learning Adversarial attacks Algorithms β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper Jukebox: A Generative Model For Music https://arxiv.org/abs/2005.00341 JukeBox release paper Algorithms β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper Language Models Are Few-Shot Learners https://arxiv.org/abs/2005.14165 GPT-3 release paper Algorithms β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Lines of Sight https://logicmag.io/commons/lines-of-sight/ Run-down of self-driving tech Algorithms β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper MIT Advanced Vehicle Technology Study: Large-Scale Naturalistic Driving Study of Driver Behavior and Interaction with Automation https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/8751968/ Full self driving is a ways off Algorithms β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Notes on the Turing Test https://yeetgenstein.substack.com/p/notes-on-the-turing-test Deep learning sucess vs full intelligence Algorithms β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ΊVideo PyTorch at Tesla – Andrej Karpathy, Tesla https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBklltKXtDE Talking through self-driving Algorithms β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper Release Strategies And The Social Impacts Of Language Models https://arxiv.org/abs/1908.09203 GPT-2 release paper Algorithms β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The Double Exploitation of Deepfake Porn https://thewalrus.ca/the-double-exploitation-of-deepfake-porn/ Everyones freaking out about politics when its really only good for porn Algorithms β˜…
πŸ“ΊVideo The Lighthill Debate (1973) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yReDbeY7ZMU Beginning of the first major AI winter Algorithms β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Waymo is dropping the term β€˜self-driving,’ but not everyone in the industry is on board https://techcrunch.com/2021/01/07/waymo-is-dropping-the-term-self-driving-but-not-everyone-in-the-industry-is-on-board/ It’s not “self-driving” Algorithms β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article What Full Autonomy Means for the Waymo Driver https://spectrum.ieee.org/full-autonomy-waymo-driver Current Waymo tech Algorithms β˜…
πŸ“°Article Why deep learning won’t give us level 5 self-driving cars https://bdtechtalks.com/2020/07/29/self-driving-tesla-car-deep-learning/ Title Algorithms β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper Zero-Shot Text-To-Image Generation https://arxiv.org/abs/2102.12092 Dall-e release paper Algorithms β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Amazon Recruited Twitter Army to Defend Company and CEO Jeff Bezos, Leaked Document Reveals https://www.ign.com/articles/amazon-twitter-army-defend-company-ceo-jeff-bezos-leaked-document-reveals Amazon’s in-house astroturfing campaign Astroturfing β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper An Examination of the Impact of Astroturfing on Nationalism: A Persuasion Knowledge Perspective https://www.mdpi.com/402650 Actual research into astroturfing Astroturfing β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Bird Box challenge: How Netflix made a few tweets into a global trend https://inews.co.uk/news/bird-box-challenge-netflix-twitter-warning-explained-241879 Faked “Bird Box Challenge” Astroturfing β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Bird Box: How Netflix Harnesses It’s Memeing-ful Relationship with Fans | Research World https://www.researchworld.com/bird-box-how-netflix-harnesses-its-memeing-ful-relationship-with-fans/ Bird Box campaign overview Astroturfing β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper Characterizing Retweet Bots: The Case of Black Market Accounts https://arxiv.org/abs/2112.02366 “Bot checkers” don’t catch retweet bots Astroturfing β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Data Against Democracy https://logicmag.io/failure/data-against-democracy/ Platforms warping politics Astroturfing β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Elon Musk’s not-so-secret weapon: An army of Twitter bots touting Tesla https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/elon-musk-s-not-so-secret-weapon-an-army-of-twitter-bots-touting-tesla/ Tesla astroturfing Astroturfing β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper Ephemeral Astroturfing Attacks: The Case of Fake Twitter Trends https://arxiv.org/abs/1910.07783 How to fake a twitter trend Astroturfing β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Facebook Campaign Nets Big Returns For ‘Bird Box’ https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/330557/facebook-campaign-nets-big-returns-for-bird-box.html No trace of official Twitter Bird Box ad spend beyond hashflag Astroturfing β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper Group topic-author model for efficient discovery of latent social astroturfing groups in tourism domain https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s42400-019-0029-8 Actual research into astroturfing Astroturfing β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article How Custom Emojis Crowned Twitter the Hashtag Registrar https://medium.com/@justinogarrity/how-custom-emojis-crowned-twitter-the-hashtag-registrar-43e5fa60c557 History of hashflags Astroturfing β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Lil Nas X Was A Popular Twitter User Before β€˜Old Town Road’ https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/04/lil-nas-x-was-a-popular-twitter-user-before-old-town-road.html Lil Nas X, the tweetdecker Astroturfing β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper Misleading Repurposing on Twitter https://arxiv.org/abs/2010.10600 Sockpuppets start as real accounts Astroturfing β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Netflix apologizes for using actors to meet press at Canadian launch https://www.theglobeandmail.com/technology/netflix-apologizes-for-using-actors-to-meet-press-at-canadian-launch/article4326706/ Netflix doing good old irl astroturfing Astroturfing β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Netflix denies spreading β€˜Bird Box’ memes with Twitter bots https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/bird-box-memes-fake-netflix/ Bird Box wasn’t astroturfed, but why are all these links dead Astroturfing β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper Political Astroturfing on Twitter: How to Coordinate a Disinformation Campaign https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10584609.2019.1661888 Actual research into astroturfing Astroturfing β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Power of Suggestion https://www.chronicle.com/article/power-of-suggestion/ Many priming studies can’t be replicated Astroturfing β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“•Book Public Relations and Participatory Culture: Fandom, social media and community engagement https://www.worldcat.org/title/public-relations-and-participatory-culture-fandom-social-media-and-community-engagement/oclc/1127300821&referer=brief_results PR and fandoms Astroturfing β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“•Book Social Media and Public Relations: Fake friends and powerful publics https://www.worldcat.org/title/social-media-and-public-relations-fake-friends-and-powerful-publics/oclc/1089492876&referer=brief_results General new media PR textbook Astroturfing β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“•Book Strategic Communication, Social Media and Democracy: The Challenge of the Digital Naturals https://www.worldcat.org/title/strategic-communication-social-media-and-democracy-the-challenge-of-the-digital-naturals/oclc/1064560421&referer=brief_results General new media PR textbook Astroturfing β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Survive Reddit And Make An Impact https://wearesocial.com/uk/blog/2019/10/survive-reddit-and-make-an-impact/ How to infiltrate Reddit Astroturfing β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The Bird Box Effect: How Memes Drive Users to Netflix https://www.theringer.com/movies/2019/1/3/18167278/bird-box-memes-netflix-bots-marketing Bird Box wasn’t astroturfed, but whats all this bot activity Astroturfing β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper The disconcerting potential of online disinformation: Persuasive effects of astroturfing comments and three strategies for inoculation against them https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1461444820908530 Actual research into astroturfing Astroturfing β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The lesson of the dust-up over Trump’s fake Twitter followers. https://slate.com/technology/2017/06/the-lesson-of-the-dust-up-over-trumps-fake-twitter-followers.html We only have conjecture but there is manipulation happening Astroturfing β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The Stans Who Post So Much, Twitter Thinks They’re Bots β€” And Shuts Them Down https://melmagazine.com/en-us/story/the-stans-who-post-so-much-twitter-thinks-theyre-bots-and-shuts-them-down Stans and “harmless bots, including ones that promoted Netflix shows” Astroturfing β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper There’s Nothing Social About Social Priming: Derailing The β€œTrain Wreck” https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1047840X.2021.1889312 On “priming” post replication crisis Astroturfing β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper Thinking Taxonomically about Fake Accounts: Classification, False Dichotomies, and the Need for Nuance https://arxiv.org/abs/2006.04959 “Bots” encompasses so much Astroturfing β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article TikTok β€œDeeply Concerned” by Facebook’s Paid Campaign to Promote Negative Coverage of Social App https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/business/digital/tiktok-facebook-meta-targeted-victory-1235122641/ Facebook shady anti-competitive campaign Astroturfing β˜…
πŸ“°Article Weekly Nielsen Streaming Charts – Archive https://www.spoilertv.com/2020/11/weekly-nielsen-streaming-charts-updated.html Viewership numbers Astroturfing β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Who Really Writes Twitter’s ‘Trending’ Summaries https://onezero.medium.com/who-really-writes-twitters-trending-summaries-89e819255599 On the new team behind the twitter trends Astroturfing β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Automaton https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automaton Automatons! Automation β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Doctors turn to imperfect AI to spend more quality time with patients https://www.protocol.com/enterprise/doctor-burnout-ai-patient-risk AI causing medical harm Automation β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article From Manchester to Barcelona https://logicmag.io/nature/from-manchester-to-barcelona/ Techlash ignores capital Automation β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“•Book Greek and Roman Technology: A Sourcebook: Annotated Translations of Greek and Latin Texts and Documents https://www.worldcat.org/title/greek-and-roman-technology-a-sourcebook-annotated-translations-of-greek-and-latin-texts-and-documents/oclc/1243344417&referer=brief_results Ancient technophobia Automation β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Hundreds of AI tools have been built to catch covid. None of them helped. https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/07/30/1030329/machine-learning-ai-failed-covid-hospital-diagnosis-pandemic/ AI didn’t help with COVID Automation β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Maelzel’s Chess Player https://www.eapoe.org/works/essays/maelzel.htm Edgar Allen Poe grappling with the Mechanical Turk Automation β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit https://thebaffler.com/salvos/of-flying-cars-and-the-declining-rate-of-profit Technological change has stalled Automation β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Once billed as a revolution in medicine, IBM’s Watson Health is sold off in parts https://www.statnews.com/2022/01/21/ibm-watson-health-sale-equity/ AI failure Automation β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Robots: what do they mean for jobs and incomes? https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2018/02/26/robots-what-do-they-mean-for-jobs-and-incomes/ Economic argument against automation discourse Automation β˜…β˜…
πŸ“•Book Smart Machines and Service Work: Automation in an Age of Stagnation https://www.worldcat.org/title/smart-machines-and-service-work-automation-in-an-age-of-stagnation/oclc/1266189478&referer=brief_results I didn’t really enjoy this but I think I’ve entirely ripped it off Automation β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Tellers, toil and technology https://www.atmmarketplace.com/articles/tellers-technology-and-atms/ ATMs doubled the amount of bank tellers Automation β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ΊVideo Tesla AI Day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0z4FweCy4M Stupid Elon bullshit Automation β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The Automation Charade https://logicmag.io/failure/the-automation-charade/ The illusion of automation Automation β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The Mechanical Chess Player That Unsettled the World https://slate.com/human-interest/2015/08/the-turk-a-chess-playing-robot-was-a-hoax-that-started-an-early-conversation-about-ai.html On the Mechanical Turk Automation β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The Modern World Has Finally Become Too Complex for Any of Us to Understand https://onezero.medium.com/the-modern-world-has-finally-become-too-complex-for-any-of-us-to-understand-1a0b46fbc292 Nodes in networks Automation β˜…
πŸ“°Article The Smart, the Stupid, and the Catastrophically Scary: An Interview with an Anonymous Data Scientist https://logicmag.io/intelligence/interview-with-an-anonymous-data-scientist/ AI hype vs reality Automation β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Uber’s algorithm and the mirage of the marketplace. https://slate.com/technology/2015/07/ubers-algorithm-and-the-mirage-of-the-marketplace.html Uber designed to maximise worker exploitation Automation β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Why algorithms beat experts (even in shipping) https://splash247.com/why-algorithms-beat-experts-even-in-shipping/ Math has use cases Automation β˜…
πŸ“°Article Despair Fatigue https://thebaffler.com/salvos/despair-fatigue-david-graeber Art, welfare, future Creators β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Don’t be a creator if you can’t do it for free https://marker.medium.com/if-you-cant-afford-to-do-it-for-free-don-t-be-a-creator-569488f3ef72 There’s no money in creating Creators β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Ed Sheeran’s Vinyls https://dadadrummer.substack.com/p/ed-sheerans-vinyls Big artists stifling others Creators β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article HBO Max Might Have Outsmarted the Streaming Wars https://www.wired.com/story/hbo-max-outsmart-streaming-wars/ HBO burning millions to make a dent Creators β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Hollywood is quietly using AI to help decide which movies to make https://www.theverge.com/2019/5/28/18637135/hollywood-ai-film-decision-script-analysis-data-machine-learning AI for script reading and casting and stuff Creators β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article How Can We Pay for Creativity in the Digital Age? https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/09/14/how-can-we-pay-for-creativity-in-the-digital-age Money in art Creators β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Is Spotify’s Model Wiping Out Music’s Middle Class? https://www.theringer.com/tech/2019/1/16/18184314/spotify-music-streaming-service-royalty-payout-model No money in streaming Creators β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Jobless, Selling Nudes Online and Still Struggling https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/13/business/onlyfans-pandemic-users.html Coronavirus and OnlyFans Creators β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Netflix loses subscribers for first time in 10 years. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/19/business/netflix-earnings-q1.html How could this happen Creators β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Netflix will consider buybacks as it returns to positive cash flow after 2021 https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/19/netflix-says-cash-flow-positive-after-2021-no-more-external-financing.html Whoops Creators β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Netflix’s subscriber growth has slowed dramatically. Blame competition and the pandemic https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2021-07-20/netflixs-subscriber-growth-has-slowed-dramatically Oh dear Creators β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article No One Makes A Living On Patreon https://theoutline.com/post/2571/no-one-makes-a-living-on-patreon No One Makes A Living On Patreon Creators β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Tears in Rain https://dadadrummer.substack.com/p/tears-in-rain Spotify fraud Creators β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The creator economy is failing to spread the wealth https://www.axios.com/2021/10/11/creator-economy-revenue-content?utm_campaign=organic&utm_medium=socialshare&utm_source=twitter Title Creators β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The Data Journalism That Wasn’t http://futureofmusic.org/blog/2015/08/21/data-journalism-wasnt Some weird internet beef and also a good overview of the money in streaming Creators β˜…
πŸ“°Article The Death Of Subculture part 3: The role of poverty and social class https://gravityglobal.com/news/the-death-of-subculture-part-3/ The working class has been priced out of art Creators β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“•Book The Death of the Artist https://www.worldcat.org/title/death-of-the-artist-how-creators-are-struggling-to-survive-in-the-age-of-billionaires-and-big-tech/oclc/1246727096&referer=brief_results Easier to create, harder to make money, a social issue Creators β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The Economics of OnlyFans https://xsrus.com/the-economics-of-onlyfans Losing money from creating Creators β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The Gig Economy is failing, enter the hustle economy https://onezero.medium.com/the-gig-economy-is-failing-say-hello-to-the-hustle-economy-13ae3aa91954 Work is increasingly atomised Creators β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The Year Sex Work Came Home https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/10/style/camsoda-onlyfans-streaming-sex-coronavirus.html Coronavirus and OnlyFans Creators β˜…
πŸ“°Article β€˜Stan Twitter, do you know this song’ is the unifying meme we need right now https://www.polygon.com/2018/8/22/17768546/stan-twitter-do-you-remember-this-song-meme Nostalgia of stan twitter Nostalgia β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article β€œI’m Not Interested in Cinema”: Adam Curtis on Bitter Lake https://filmmakermagazine.com/93080-im-not-interested-in-cinema-adam-curtis-on-bitter-lake/ Conflating our current moment with Brezhnevian stagnation Nostalgia β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Boris Johnson: The Brezhnev Years https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/boris-johnson-the-brezhnev-years/ Conflating our current moment with Brezhnevian stagnation Nostalgia β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Chapter 1: The Politics of Kpop http://www.moonrok.com/history-k-pop-chapter-1-politics-k-pop/ The start of K-pop Nostalgia β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Chapter 10: The Downside of the Debut http://www.moonrok.com/history-k-pop-chapter-10-downside-debut/ Exploitation Nostalgia β˜…
πŸ“°Article Chapter 6: How the Internet Almost Killed Kpop, and How Idol Advertising and Acting Saved It http://www.moonrok.com/history-k-pop-chapter-6-how-internet-almost-killed-k-pop-and-how-idol-advertising-and/ K-pop and internet marketing Nostalgia β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Covid and fictitious capital https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2021/01/25/covid-and-fictitious-capital/ Markets decoupled from reality Nostalgia β˜…β˜…
πŸ“•Book Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More https://www.worldcat.org/title/everything-was-forever-until-it-was-no-more-the-last-soviet-generation/oclc/941080827&referer=brief_results Anthropological study of the mood of pre-dissolution Soviet Russia Nostalgia β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“•Book Ghosts of My Life https://www.worldcat.org/title/ghosts-of-my-life-writings-on-depression-hauntology-and-lost-futures/oclc/936416159&referer=brief_results misc hauntology ramblings Nostalgia β˜…
πŸ“°Article How K-pop became a global phenomenon https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/2/16/16915672/what-is-kpop-history-explained On K-pop production and reception Nostalgia β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Op-Ed: How the streaming wars are changing what you watch https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2021-07-18/netflix-amazon-hulu-streaming-competition-hollywood-content Streamers monopolising Nostalgia β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“•Book Protocol https://www.worldcat.org/title/protocol-how-control-exists-after-decentralization/oclc/982668932&referer=brief_results The Net exerts power Nostalgia β˜…
πŸ“•Book The Circle of the Snake: Nostalgia and Utopia in the Age of Big Tech https://www.worldcat.org/title/circle-of-the-snake-nostalgia-and-utopia-in-the-age-of-big-tech/oclc/1140683049&referer=brief_results Prediction feedback loops Nostalgia β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“•Book The End of Forgetting: Growing Up with Social Media https://www.worldcat.org/title/end-of-forgetting-growing-up-with-social-media/oclc/1109928854&referer=brief_results You can’t escape your past Nostalgia β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“•Book The End of the End of History https://www.worldcat.org/title/end-of-the-end-of-history-politics-in-the-twenty-first-century/oclc/1252422521&referer=brief_results misc end of history ramblings Nostalgia β˜…
πŸ“°Article The stock market is detached from economic reality. A reckoning is coming. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/stock-market-unemployment-disconnect/2020/09/09/087374ca-f306-11ea-bc45-e5d48ab44b9f_story.html Markets propped up by bullshit Nostalgia β˜…
πŸ“°Article Twenty Years Ago, β€˜Harry Potter’ and β€˜Lord of the Rings’ Changed the Future of Hollywood https://www.theringer.com/movies/2021/12/17/22840267/lord-of-the-rings-harry-potter-anniversaries-fandom-ip-hollywood Post-00’s nostalgic blockbusters Nostalgia β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper A Review Of The Data Broker Industry: Collection, Use, And Sale Of Consumer Data For Marketing Purposes http://educationnewyork.com/files/rockefeller_databroker.pdf 2013 US Senate investigation into data brokers Surveillance β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Austerity is an Algorithm https://logicmag.io/justice/austerity-is-an-algorithm/ Australian failure to automate social services Surveillance β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper Behind the One-Way Mirror: A Deep Dive Into the Technology of Corporate Surveillance https://www.cag.edu.tr/uploads/site/lecturer-files/behind-the-one-way-mirror-a-deep-dive-into-the-technology-of-corporate-surveillance-electronic-frontier-foundation-dCqr.pdf Data collection overview Surveillance β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article BUGGER https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/entries/3662a707-0af9-3149-963f-47bea720b460 Spies aren’t good at their jobs Surveillance β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Catching Or Creating Terrorists? https://www.brandeis.edu/investigate/government-corporate-wrong-doing/catching-or-creating-terrorists.html Manufactured terror Surveillance β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Classroom Management: Simon Sinek, ClassDojo, and the Nostalgia Industry https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/classroom-management-simon-sinek-classdojo-and-the-nostalgia-industry/ Surveillance deployed against schoolkids Surveillance β˜…
πŸ“°Article Data Broker Errors https://www.brennanlaw.com/practice-areas/identity-theft/data-broker-errors/ Data brokers fucking up Surveillance β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Data Brokers Are a Threat to Democracy https://www.wired.com/story/opinion-data-brokers-are-a-threat-to-democracy/ Innacurrate data used evilly Surveillance β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Data Relations https://logicmag.io/distribution/data-relations/ Data production as work and stuff like that Surveillance β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper Estimating The Prevalence Of Entrapment In Post-9/11 Terrorism Cases https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/jclc105&section=24 More sympathetic towards counterterrorism Surveillance β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article How The Lapd And Palantir Use Data To Justify Racist Policing https://theintercept.com/2021/01/30/lapd-palantir-data-driven-policing/ Tech won’t help policing Surveillance β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Inside the Whale: An Interview with an Anonymous Amazonian https://logicmag.io/commons/inside-the-whale-an-interview-with-an-anonymous-amazonian/ Amazon relationships with law/Corporate perspective Surveillance β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Logistics Workers of the World: A Conversation with Agnieszka MrΓ³z of Amazon Workers International https://logicmag.io/care/logistics-workers-of-the-world-a-conversation-with-agnieszka-mroz-of-amazon/ How Amazon workers are surveilled/Worker perspective Surveillance β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Only 1 percent of “terrorists” caught by the FBI are real https://www.salon.com/2013/07/10/only_1_percent_of_terrorists_caught_by_fbi_are_real_partner/ Manufactured terror Surveillance β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“•Book Predict and Surveil https://www.worldcat.org/title/predict-and-surveil-data-discretion-and-the-future-of-policing/oclc/1239321544&referer=brief_results LAPD data use Surveillance β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper Radicalization Theory: An Imminent Threat https://scholar.colorado.edu/concern/undergraduate_honors_theses/9k41zd97f Counterterrorism is harmful busywork Surveillance β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Ring gave LAPD officers free cameras, pushed product promos https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/story/2021-06-17/ring-influencer-marketing-los-angeles-police-department Amazon <3 the police Surveillance β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Safe or Just Surveilled?: Tawana Petty on the Fight Against Facial Recognition Surveillance https://logicmag.io/security/safe-or-just-surveilled-tawana-petty-on-facial-recognition/ Increasing use of facial recogntion Surveillance β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper Separate And Unequal: The Law Of “Domestic” And “International” Terrorism https://search.informit.org/doi/abs/10.3316/agispt.20190828016173 Counterterrorism is harmful busywork Surveillance β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper Social Media Privacy: A Dozen Myths And Facts https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Delivery.cfm?abstractid=2298891 Weird privacy hot takes Surveillance β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The data brokers quietly buying and selling your personal information https://www.fastcompany.com/90310803/here-are-the-data-brokers-quietly-buying-and-selling-your-personal-information Overview of data brokers Surveillance β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The Data Is Ours! https://logicmag.io/scale/the-data-is-ours/ Data vibes overview Surveillance β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The Informants https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/07/fbi-terrorist-informants/ FBI entrapment Surveillance β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The Popular Family Safety App Life360 Is Selling Precise Location Data on Its Tens of Millions of Users https://themarkup.org/privacy/2021/12/06/the-popular-family-safety-app-life360-is-selling-precise-location-data-on-its-tens-of-millions-of-user Underhanded data trading Surveillance β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article The secret police: Cops built a shadowy surveillance machine in Minnesota after George Floyd’s murder https://www.technologyreview.com/2022/03/03/1046676/police-surveillance-minnesota-george-floyd/ Recent expansion of surv. tech Surveillance β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“°Article Woke AI Won’t Save Us https://logicmag.io/bodies/woke-ai-wont-save-us/ This stuff doesnt work. Why keep going Surveillance β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“•Book Automation and the Future of Work https://www.worldcat.org/title/automation-and-the-future-of-work/oclc/1316769061&referer=brief_results Stagnant economy vs automation hype Automation β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“•Book Platform Capitalism https://www.worldcat.org/title/platform-capitalism/oclc/1236075764&referer=brief_results Platforms amassing monopoly power Creators β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper This Person (Probably) Exists. Identity Membership Attacks Against GAN Generated Faces https://arxiv.org/abs/2107.06018 Algorithms just show us copies of the past Algorithms β˜…β˜…β˜…
πŸ“ƒPaper Predictive Inequity in Object Detection https://arxiv.org/abs/1902.11097 Object detection racial bias Algorithms β˜…β˜…

Audio Draft

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When I was a few drafts in to each video I made an audio draft for my own reference. But I thought it might be nice for you to hear how some things changed a lot and how some things have really been entirely locked for a calendar year. If that’s of interest to you. Fair warning it’s not really any good and I can only apologise for the quality of both the recording and my voice.


Shooting Script

I wrote most of this series last year, and it pretty much all holds up. There really hasn’t been any progress in tech. This video was written about the constant threat of β€œrobots taking our jobs”. This is the one area where there have been some major developments. In the face of more automation than ever before. There’s currently widespread worker shortages.

I won’t change anything, because it is still a prominent take, and I’m sure it’ll come back with a vengeance. But rather than being in opposition to mass opinion, this video’s now more like kicking them while they’re down.

MACHINE DREAMS

We’re not the first society to get technophobic, towards the end of Ancient Greece they were worried that the catapult would replace the job of the soldier. And there are cases of engineers or inventors being rejected or killed because they had discovered technologies that would threaten the very fabric of society. Technologies like: a glass bowl, or a pulley.

But maybe that’s not a fair comparison. That’s technophobia sure, but it’s not really automation. 

At the start of the industrial revolution, it was quite popular for rich dicks to demonstrate their technological power with automatons. Like a little hand-cranked robot. Like there was a duck that shat.

But probably the most influential one, was β€œthe Mechanical Turk”. The Mechanical Turk was an automaton that could play chess. It was this robotic man, and a desk full of machinery, with a chessboard on top. And it toured around, they’d always make a big show of showing everyone the inner workings, and it would beat people at chess. It famously beat Napoleon at chess. I don’t know how good he was at chess, but that’s a guy that we’ve heard of.

Now there were two-parts to the Mechanical Turk. The first was the mechanics of moving the automaton, to have it pick up chess pieces and move its head; the second, was the illusions to hide the chess player sitting inside.

Now this sort of frivolous bullshit was happening because it was peacetime, there was a lot of economic prosperity, and there was the technological opportunity. And ultimately those forces would grow to form the industrial revolution: There’s the physical possibility (the resources were available and the steam engine had been floating around for a couple of centuries), the economic opportunity, and skilled workers were being paid a lot to produce very little. 

So the industrial revolution happened. I mean, obviously it’s a very hotly debated topic that doesn’t have a single tidy answer. Except for that, that is the answer, I solved it. That’s why the industrial revolution happened.

Uh, and the new technologies made production processes much more efficient. Which dramatically increased the amount of work, dramatically increased the amount of goods produced. Though it did kind of fuck everything up.

But it’s interesting to look at because the effect was the opposite of our current fears, things were automated and it actually increased the amount of work. It wasn’t great for quality of life, but the result was just sort of shuffling people around the economy. [Joke]

But maybe that’s not a fair example, that’s not actually automation. Of course β€œAutomation” was invented by the Ford Motor Company in the post-war boom. They were thriving, their production workers were demanding more pay, there were a lot of new technological developments. So, the Vice-President for Manufacturing, introduced a new word, β€˜automation.’ And at great cost they were able to replace much of their workforce with machines. Which increased their productivity. So it started a wave of automation across the globe. Which did two things, it displaced workers, and it made the goods cheaper because they cost less to produce.

There’s only so much car you can buy, so people started to spend their extra money on services. And again, instead of destroying jobs, there was a transfer of supply and demand, as those factory workers became service workers.

Our current wave of automation hype comes from the new, disruptive, tech companies. The new, disruptive, tech companies rely on a business model of snapping up all potential users, and essentially locking out all competition. They lose billions upfront and the idea is that eventually they’ll have underbid or absorbed all competition, so as the only option left, they’ll have total market dominance and make super-profits.

And then once they’re in that position, instead of using their record profits and record amounts of borrowed money to develop new tech, or raise wages, or genuinely invest. 

They do stock buybacks
buy up competition
protect their ip
influence laws
Which has conveniently been reclassified to count as β€œinvestment spending.”

[streamline. pointify. more about them ensuring stagnation with a little sprinkling of “they have nowhere left to put the money”]

Basically what all that means is that every app looks like Instagram which looks likeSnapchat which looks like TikTok which looks like Snapchat which looks like Instagram. 

So really the new, disruptive, tech companies are in the business of ensuring stagnation. 

And if we subtract those top few tech companies from the s&p, you’re left with 494 large-cap companies with no growth.

Or at least that had been the case for a decade when I wrote this, and it’s a pain to check, so it could have changed, but overall, that’s the general trend. And it ultimately forms a larger percentage than the one preceding the dot com crash

While the markets are looking pretty good, those tech companies are masking a larger stagnation. The entire market is being kept afloat by corporate borrowing, most of it dogshit. […is β€œCovenant Lite” the corporate equivalent of the subprime loans behind the Global Financial Crisis.]

[Joke]

One of the things that freaks the economists out is that this computer age hasn’t affected the productivity statistics. You’d think adding computers would make us more efficient, but actually, this has been the worst decade for productivity since the late 18th century. One of the few times it did spike was immediately following the Global Financial Crisis. Output fell a lot, but hours worked fell even more. And people who kept their jobs were scared of losing them so worked harder. Meaning there was a net increase in productivity. 

So. Faced with their employees demanding a livable wage in 2013, McDonald’s came up with a new approach. They started to publicise that they didn’t need employees at all. Their CEO was like β€œMcDonalds is going to be all robots, so if you’re working, you should take what you can get. And in fact we should be allowed to pay you even less.”

And to go with this, they introduced the self-serve kiosk. Now the self-serve kiosk does look like automation. But if we think about it for a second, it hasn’t actually automated anything at all. You push the buttons on the screen instead of an employee, so they’ve automated the task of communication, but that’s about it. It hasn’t actually reduced McDonalds staffing requirements at all.

Of course the jobs that can be replaced by this task automation, are all the made up ones. Accountant, CFO, real estate agent. What you’re not going to replace is service work, teacher, fast-food employee, y’know, just all the essential workers. Automation is happening but not where we think, and not as much as we think.

In a lot of the cases where we hear about machine learning being used, the story’s being distorted. Half the tech startups claiming to use AI, don’t use it at all. Boston Dynamics robots have more in common with a remote control toy than machine learning. You hear about AI detecting cancer, that’s not a robot that can divine some sort of hidden truth that we humans can’t see. That’s after this algorithm receives 1000000000 human labelled examples of what is/isn’t cancer, it can somewhat accurately classify examples itself.

Which isn’t particularly useful. In fact we’ve seen that ML is medically useless, so many people were trying to solve Coronavirus with AI. Not one did anything of value.

Now in AI research there was a massive push to solve the coronavirus. To create an algorithm that could predict the case numbers, diagnose patients, or help with a vaccine. Hundreds of predictive tools were made. You might not have heard about this though, because none of them were successful. Not one. Every traditional statistical model easily beat out pulling patterns randomly from the past to try and predict the future.

[Recap More Data]

But right now, that’s all we’ve got, just add more data, and hope improvement happens. 

And this is a problem that Amazon identified early on. If you want to train a voice recognition model, you need an insane amount of examples of transcribed audio. If you want to detect penises you need an insane amount of examples of what is/isn’t a penis.

So they set up a marketplace where people can log on, do a bit of this data entry, and get paid jack shit. They called this MTurk, after the mechanical turk, as a sort of cute wink at their hidden labour exploitation. 

But while that’s a good service for researchers and small scale projects, it’s not quite exploitative enough for a big company developing a smart device. So when Amazon entered the voice recognition game with Alexa, they started hiring thousands of contractors in India, each with the job of transcribing ~700 failed Alexa calls every day (because someone had an Australian accent), they transcribe those, reinput that back into the training, and Alexa improve by a millionth of a percent. And if those contractors ever drop below 97% accuracy in their transcription, that’s it, they’re gone.

So whether it really is machine learning, or if it’s just tech startups lying to attract investment, it requires a massive amount of hidden work. And sometimes it is easier and cheaper to just outsource your β€œAI” to underpaid humans.

Now, Amazon has set up a few overpriced convenience stores. Their selling point is that you don’t go through a checkout. You walk in, grab what you want, walk out, and you get charged. And it is quite a feat of combining current computer-vision technologies into a nice bit of entertainment and brand building, while getting a good consumer dataset to sell.

Now the thing is, even though there’s no cashiers, they have a full staff of people walking around the store, making sure you’re interacting with it correctly, there’s security, and on-site tech. They accept any losses and anyone can remove anything from their bill, no questions asked. And then behind the scenes, you have a massive workforce of internationally outsourced labor: there’s like a thousand people whose job it is to review the surveillance footage, and the algorithms, and manually verify and refine them. Double-checking everyone’s purchases in the hopes of narrowing down its failure rate. 

They’ve taken the convenience store, which is usually staffed by what, 2 people? And they’ve exponentially increased the required staffing. It’s the threat of the McDonalds kiosk and the illusion of the mechanical turk.

And it doesn’t really have anything to do with actual automation.

Automation is being very specifically deployed to juice maximum productivity out of as few people as possible. The warehouse worker or office worker who works alongside automation, works harder. Rather than robots taking jobs, which they can’t do, they don’t have agency. That’s an executive decision, to re-allocate work. Your boss is taking your jobs.

But it’s not that jobs are being replaced, it’s that tasks are being automated, and then basically the same amount of work is consolidated to fewer people. This tech which could ease workloads, is being used very specifically to increase them. Isolating people and turning employees into contractors. 

And that has nothing to do with the technology, it has nothing to do with upcoming advancements in technology (the tech being used to do the automation that is happening has been around for decades). It’s about who is doing that automation, what are their incentives, and what work has value.

Because out of context, automation is an incredible tool that we love. It’s a staple of our fictional utopias. But our current market incentives override that, and demand that it be used in as exploitative a way as possible.

And even this looming threat of mass automation would just lead to some more shuffling around the economy. Which is scary for a lot of people. Because of course the work that will never be replaced, the work that matters to us the most, the essential work, has no financial value.

[TECH STAGNATION]

But realistically, the tech companies aren’t on the brink of causing mass automation. It’s not their focus. They’re not on the brink of anything. Their goal is just to kamikaze their way to the top of the market and then sit there, beating competitors away with a stick.

So automation will continue, but the immediate concern isn’t that a dancing robot will take your job, it’s that these companies are actively exploiting you and the world now, in this age of stagnation.

caleb gamman
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