okay so, the social dilemma on netflix:

the film is populated with a bunch of former high-ranking tech employees and executives (for the most part) who have seemingly seen the light: their tech tools are destroying the world.

except there’s a massive problem with their framing.
the technological determinism of silicon valley, that now pervades neoliberal society, always presents technology as the primary actor: fb and google are brainwashing us, manipulating us, destroying democracy, dividing us, etc.

this is technodeterministic liberal propaganda.
these people once believed that technology was changing the world; they still do, but now it’s for ill instead of good.

and obviously it must be technology — because what else could be causing these massively negative social outcomes but technology?

(hm, i wonder...)
in the film, these tech folks and various politicians (in news clips), talk about how facebook and its algorithms are causing massive social division.

but this completely ignores the underlying economic conditions: four decades of neoliberalism, rising inequality, and corruption
one of the tech folks says that western democracies “are imploding in on each other — and what do they have in common?”

facebook/tech is the implication, but that ignores the inequality, unaffordability, low wages, unresponsive political systems, etc.
they say this is all new — technology is causing this division, fake news, different realities — but they have little historical knowledge.

the “yellow journalism” and partisan press of the late 19th/early 20th century (the gilded age) served a similar role, fueled by inequality
the bicycle assertion that’s also made — that no one ever said bicycles would destroy society — is another example of this ignorance of history
they technodeterministic narratives are dehistoricized and self-serving — not just bolstering their new careers, but also not challenging either their own person views of the power of tech but also the broader systemic desire to ignore the consequences of economic inequality.
near the end, they start to think about the future.

some fear civil war, end of democracy, etc., again with the implication that tech is playing the lead role, not the underlying social and economic factors.
another says the internet has changed since the old days and has become like a shopping mall, but again, misses how this was an essential part of the commercialization of the web: to make it serve the needs of capital, deliver profits and corporate power.
others suggest that technologists have a “responsibility” to try to fix this, and suggest people take individual actions like deleting social media, and this will help to change things, ignoring how, again, these platforms are like this for economic reasons.
there is some suggestion of needing to understand the economic component and embrace regulation of the tech giants as a solution — but they are very much tweaks designed to limit the data and “surveillance” wrongs, not the more fundamental problems of capitalism.
i have little doubt the doc will convince a lot of people with little historical knowledge or critical understanding that what these smart, important people are saying about fb/google/tech is true — and that’s pretty worrying because it defines the problem in the wrong way.
it really shows that, for the most part, the solutions aren’t going to come from the former high-ranking liberal tech folks.

they will instead come from radicalized tech rank-and-file working with those outside tech with other perspectives to contribute.
and i really feel that the solutions will not come in the form of markets and regulation, but a better internet is ultimately a non-commercial one with public institutions controlling some things, cooperatives some others, and regular people experimenting with their own projects.
basically, bring on digital communism (as part of global communism, of course)
if you agree with thread, you’ll like my podcast @techwontsaveus: podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/tec…

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More from @parismarx

28 May
I’ve cited the “British Digital Cooperative” report in a several articles and recommended it to a number of people, so it was great to finally speak with its author, @danhind, and get some more insight on how he imagines a cooperative future for technology.
I think one of the key things is how hard it can be to imagine an alternative to what exists right now — whether it’s in terms of political organization, the structure of economic sectors, or how technology would work under a different set of material conditions.
That’s one of the most valuable aspects of Dan’s report: tech can be developed in a very different way, it can encourage & enable different functions (and figuring those out will take collaborative work), and it can help enable more democratic political & economic structures.
Read 5 tweets
10 Dec 19
This is the problem with the EV narrative. It assumes they’re clean and green just because you don’t pump their tanks full of gas.

They are better than gas and diesel vehicles, but they still have a massive impact as mining operations expand to supply minerals for batteries.
.@triofrancos has done a lot of great work specifically on lithium mining in South America, and how greater demand is fueling more mines that cause damage to local environments and communities.

Her latest is worth a read: logicmag.io/nature/what-gr…
I also wrote about the bigger picture, citing an @Earthworks report on how the demand for these metals will grow exponentially, the damage mines are already causing in the Global South, and how it will also get worse. link.medium.com/pD1T5DWIj2
Read 4 tweets
1 Dec 19
I want to highly recommend “A Planet to Win” by @KateAronoff, @alybatt, @aldatweets, & @triofranco.

It’s a quick, approachable read that will expand your concept of what we can collectively achieve and how it would make life so much better.

Thread of some of my favorite parts:
Obama could have done so much more. The proposals were there, and he wouldn’t fight for them.

When Fox targeted Solyndra, no one noted how Tesla got billions from the same program.

(“A Planet to Win,” @VersoBooks)
When people say the rapid timelines for a Green New Deal aren’t possible, think back to the New Deal.

They build so much during that period!

(“A Planet to Win,” @VersoBooks)
Read 11 tweets
18 Aug 19
i am finally going to read this cursed text
either he was photoshopped pretty heavily for this book cover or time has been pretty bad to him or both
paragraph one: i am vomiting
Read 35 tweets
11 Jul 19
In “A New Copyright Bargain?”, @rgibli says that existing international #copyright laws are based on a number of assumptions that either no longer apply or have been disproven.

Is it time for a reexamination of the system we’ve developed?
One of those assumptions is that #copyright is a way to incentivize cultural production, but history and empirical evidence shows us the optimal copyright term to incentivize production is only 15-25 years.

Long copyright terms can actually discourage creativity.
It's also assumed that #copyright is necessary to encourage ongoing investment in existing works, but again empirical evidence shows the reverse: works in the public domain are more readily available.

Digitization is making it even easier for investment in public domain titles.
Read 13 tweets
19 May 19
Electrification is seen as the silver bullet to sustainability, but the minerals necessary for mass electrification rarely feature in those discussions. They must going forward.

@Earthworks estimates demand for some minerals, like cobalt and lithium, will far exceed reserves.
Many of these minerals come from countries with little regard for human or workers' rights, meaning that ramping up production could be even worse for people and communities in vicinity of the mines.
Make no mistake: the electrified future of our dreams will be built on the backs of suffering workers in the Global South if things continue as they're going.

These passages from the report detail some of the terrible environmental and human impacts of mining necessary minerals.
Read 6 tweets

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