Machine Hypocrisy

BY DOMINIC WIGHTMAN

Attend an Extinction Rebellion meeting and there are dozens of iPhones and laptops on show. Did you know you can buy Extinction Rebellion decals to stick on your car bumper – you know, near the exhaust pipe? Visit the anti-capitalists at Momentum headquarters and the place is more dripping in capitalist tech than you’d imagine. There’s a Fairtrade café in Bristol cram-packed with self-proclaiming socialists who moan on about refugees and sweatshops – they yearn for a “new economic order” via revolution while swiping on tablets, listening to music on iPods before catching an Uber home.

The Marxist groups all have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. The Communist Party of Britain uses PayPal to fund its activities and even welcomes American Express cards. He of many homes, Democrat front runner Bernie Sanders, is a communist who sells Feel the Bern laptop and mobile phone cases amongst other cheap-laboured tat to help fund his political campaigns – his interns exchange poll data on iPads and catch the latest headlines via Alexa. Listed Amazon, Cisco, AOL, Google, Yahoo, IBM and Twitter are all left-leaning Democrat supporters. One can go on…

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Why the smugness of Lefties using and building tech? Lefties own the key platforms but at what cost to their value base?

They certainly seem smug and comfy as they build up political support via online ad sprees, set up cranky petitions, shadow ban opponents, create anti-capitalist memes and conjure Twitter storms. But how can they rant on about the benefits of socialism and communism across Facebook of all places?

How did Facebook’s share price reach its dizzy heights without speculative and often competing market capital flows? How can the “liberal” and “freedom-loving” Left simultaneously use their crapitalist devices and “like” YouTube videos about how AI will inevitably lead to work-free communism – a world of leisure as imagined by Karl Marx – where human individuality, variety and natural inequality will be wiped away by a tech-inspired revolution?

 “Irony is wasted on the stupid”.

Oscar Wilde

Seeing all these anti-capitalists tap-tapping away, those capitalists amongst us ought to light a cigar. To mark the irreversible penetration – the enduring victory – of TINA. For the anti capitalists’ capitalist gadgets are beautifully marketed, while so minimalist and twee as to fool anti-capitalist users into feeling like they are doing good in the world with minimal imprint – whilst enriching shareholders.

Those who see themselves as perfect human exemplars – Lefty do-gooders – are clearly blissfully unaware of the impact that their tech use is having on other human beings, who suffer in their shadows. While they sip on their Salvadoran coffee made by one-eyed trans farmers and scan through Facebook posts, do they once spare a thought for the 100,000 low-wage workers in the Philippines who are paid a pittance to spend long days filtering extreme pornography and violence from Facebook, with unknown consequences for their mental health? Do they know just how many beheading videos it takes to knock a Filipino in Quezon City off a bridge and under the nearest jeepney? That coffee still tastes “divine” though, doesn’t it?

Much of the input into making AI function is taken from the bottom rungs of the world economy. In image-related applications, such as is required for driverless cars, ‘machine learning’ can only work because a human teacher tells the machine what something is. Say to comprehend that a set of pixels is a tree, or a road sign, or a pedestrian crossing the road, or a building or another car, the machine is fed many millions of tagged images of trees, signs, pedestrians, buildings and cars taken from the road environment. BBC Click highlighted the case of San Francisco-based NGO, Samasource, which employs hundreds of people from a slum area of Nairobi to tag images for companies such as Google, Microsoft, Ebay, Walmart and Lyft. The head of Samasource, Leila Janah, said that they pay a ‘living wage’, $9 per day, and this means that on average their employees’ household income is increased to more than five times what it was before.

From the capitalist’s point of view it is progress for impoverished slum dwellers to have a better living from being engaged in the world economy. Decent-minded capitalists are not sticking their heads above the parapet saying their value base necessitates revolution – just constant amelioration. How do the anti-capitalists feel about their own “exploitation” of these people? How would vegans feel if the mozzarella in which they so delighted was in fact chicken?

The thing is I don’t think most of them give a damn. Really. Just as they don’t give a damn when socialist governments come to power in places like Venezuela, millions die and the lights go off – they’ll never go there. It’s all about being cool, you see. Rebelling against common sense for the sake of it. Che Guevarra t-shirts and “progressive” anti-imperialist values mean nowt – it’s all shallow, collar-up cool. Baa. Baa. Baa…

Viva la revolucion, ovejas.

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