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Skynet Doesn't Need Nukes. It Already Has Regulatory Authority. - Elf M. Sternberg
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Skynet Doesn't Need Nukes. It Already Has Regulatory Authority.
Libertarianism and Communism are two oxen that deserve to be yoked together and set to mill corn. Each is "That One Weird Trick!" that will somehow usher in a great new world of freedom and prosperity, and each is presupposed on the notion that that human beings aren't human beings; the Great Libertarian Man and the New Soviet Man are more or less cut from the same fantasy cloth.

So it's barely hilarious that The Economist manages to make it through an entire article entitled "Too Much of a Good Thing," in which they wring their hands over how the markets have instituted regulatory capture and just plain ol' fraud in order to maintain a rate of return of 5% long after the productivity gains from recent technology advances and resource acquisitions have played out, without ever mentioning Thomas Piketty by name.

The Economist points to the fact that large companies not only have a consolidation of vertical markets, but they can maintain their stranglehold on their vertical. They can because they can also afford the monitoring that allows them to remain sufficiently powerful relative to any more nimble competitor. Capitalism used to be compared to tiny, quick mammalian start-ups out-competing big companies as they lumbered at dinosaur scale. But that's no longer the case. The dinosaurs now have both the senory acuity and sufficient intelligence to root out the start-ups, or buy them out if that's what it takes.

As for the people served by the corporation, their wants and needs are no longer mysteries to be plumbed: they're stochastic impulses that can be tamed, directed and exploited. In the era of surveillance capitalism, the companies with the biggest computers and the best software development teams win.

Charlie Stross once observed that we're already living with hostile superintelligences: they're called "corporations," and they care about most of their human components about as much as we care about a few idle blood cells. Maybe the C-Suite "brain" matters more, but for a well-structured corporation a disruption there is mostly painful, never fatal.

Meanwhile, the stock market has become another place where size matters. Passive investment is all the rage– I've got index funds, like everyone else– but passive investment is one that creates both demand for the rates of return the Economist frets about, and a whirlpool that sucks all the investment money up into bigger and bigger collections. Collections that are managed, like corporate knowledge itself, by collections of machines whose individual algorithms humans wrote, but whose amalgamate knowledge no human being could hold in their head.

Which brings us back to Piketty and The Melting Away of North Atlantic Social Democracy. Established wealth is amazingly hostile to "creative destruction." Now that the surveillance capitalists are in power, any further "disruptions" will be window dressing meant to make the game look like it's lasting longer than it really has, all the while maintaining its return on capital value. The Economist fails to point out that as long as the rate of return on the value of capital exceeds the growth of the value of labor, the slow deprivations visited on the non-rich will make each generation less and less capable of knowing how to work the levers, even should they choose the route of tar and pitchfork.

If ever you wanted to know how the Morlocks and the Eloi started, take a look. It started with Google. It may not end with Google. but Skynet is firmly in charge already. Skynet won't need nukes. Skynet is already using the markets, corporate law, and regulatory capture to ensure its future.

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gipsieee From: gipsieee Date: April 2nd, 2016 04:50 am (UTC) (Link)
That is... not cheery.
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