SCIOPS 01.35: Automators Union

Good morning, SCIOPS. It’s a foggy day in Seattle, which of course is due to the constant plume of nanobots wafting off Amazon headquarters. You know that’s why they call it “cloud computing,” right?

###### haha just kidding this will only affect your grandchildren go back to sleep

Last week I shared a heuristic for the automation of work: the less art and craft it requires, the sooner a job will be automated. Robotics, telepresence, and narrow AI are converging to make most industrial-age employment obsolete.

I’m embarrassed to admit I hadn’t considered  the gender bias of these jobs. Correspondent @debcha pointed me to Jamais Cascio’s “ pink collar future “, which highlights the fact that in our society most high-touch jobs (nursing, childcare, cosmetology) are performed by women. A crucial point, especially as so many of these positions have only become “jobs” in the last century.

The historical perspective is important here. Jeremy Lent at Counterpunch has an excellent article this week:

“Some of the leading thinkers of our time are unleashing a stream of warnings about the threat of artificial intelligence taking over from humans. . . These futurists are right to voice their concerns, but they’re missing the fact that humans have already created a force that is well on its way to devouring both humanity and the earth in just the way they fear. It’s called the Corporation.”

- AI Has Already Taken Over, It’s Called the Corporation

This will sound familiar to those of you who have been reading these missives all year. He does a great job of putting the current economic revolution in the context of the last one, although I think he doesn’t take the critique far enough.*

The crucial aspect here is the way that AI will interact with the blockchain revolution. You’ve probably heard some of the hype about bitcoin this month, and it’s not unwarranted. But bitcoin is only the beginning. The IMF and the Fed are fully aware of the underlying power of programmable money, and the necktie set are preparing to do to human society what the cravat crowd did in the 17th century.

When automatic pattern-matching technologies meet programmable money, we enter the realm of corporate Sorceror’s Apprentice. The legal technologies of the corporation will directly interface with the machines of the factory and the cloud. The means of production will seize themselves. Humans will be relegated to mall zombies, fast-food composting bins, Netflix A/B testers. The only thing the machines need from us is our data.

So how do we deflect this dystopia? We have get one step ahead of the steamroller. We have to ensure that the automated intelligences are under the direction of the people – not some people, or the representatives of the people, but all the people .

I’ve written to you before about the platform cooperative , a nascent type of firm that combines the global fluidity of software giants with the local solidarity of a worker-owned coffee shop.** If we want to prevent the rule of machine capitalism, we’re going to have to build an alternative.

Imagine this: instead of constantly streaming our data to plutocrats in Silicon Valley, what if we rented it to them? We’re all carrying these microphone-listening, camera-watching, global-positioning, fingerprint-scanning, face-recognizing surveillance machines everywhere we go anyway. We need them! To look at cat pictures! So what if we collectively owned all that surveilled data?

We could have a global commons, a data trust, and it would belong to the people.

The most valuable substance in the economy right now is your attention. [Which, by the way, thanks for your weekly donation.***] All the machine learning in the world does no good if they don’t have vast datasets to train on. We should own those datasets, since we make them. Why should the Zuck make billions when the single moms that actually make all the content get their healthcare slashed?

We need a commie computer, an anarchist AI.  A democratically controlled, worker-owned attention factory. This isn’t a joke, and it isn’t a fantasy. All the technology is ready or about to be ready. We just need to take ourselves seriously as human beings. We need to work together.

Fuck this digital sharecropping. Let’s start an Automators Union.

Let’s take control of the means of production of means of production.

Let’s make machines that make machines, and make them work for the benefit of humanity.

I’m dead serious about this. If you’re ready to help, shoot me an email. We need all types – people who understand machines, people who understand people, people who don’t understand anything but like looking at cat memes. This is the 21st century. When people look back at this time, they’ll remember us for it. If there are any people left to look back.

And as always, thanks for reading.

– Max ######

  • I wrote about this in SCIOPS 01.18

** For more on platform co-ops and AI@Home, see SCIOPS 01.24

*** You can always donate more at my hypno-miner


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