Worth your time: a recent talk by Maciej Cegłowski on “The Moral Economy of Tech”. Cegłowski has a knack for straightforward, concise, and eloquent thinking on the tech world.
We tend to imagine dystopian scenarios as one where a repressive government uses technology against its people. But what scares me in these scenarios is that each one would have broad social support, possibly majority support.
My greatest fear is seeing the full might of the surveillance apparatus unleashed against a despised minority, in a democratic country.
Techies will complain that trivial problems of life in the Bay Area are hard because they involve politics. But they should involve politics. Politics is the thing we do to keep ourselves from murdering each other.
A previous talk “What Happens Next Will Amaze You” was one of my favorite reads from last year.
There is much to recommend in Amy Davidson’s “Brexit should be a warning about Donald Trump”. I certainly do hope that the warning is heeded and strengthens the coalition against him. But there is also an example of a difficult contradiction in the emerging “intellectual” consensus on how to think about our current politics.
Apparently it’s not just American politics that has gone insane. The British vote to leave the EU is another howl against something, a populist party with a hell of a hangover. We did what last night?
Jonathan Rauch has an essay called “How American Politics Went Insane“in The Atlantic this month that I would recommend reading.
Party-dominated nominating processes, soft money, congressional seniority, closed-door negotiations, pork-barrel spending—put each practice under a microscope in isolation, and it seems an unsavory way of doing political business. But sweep them all away, and one finds that business is not getting done at all. The political reforms of the past 40 or so years have pushed toward disintermediation—by favoring amateurs and outsiders over professionals and insiders; by privileging populism and self-expression over mediation and mutual restraint; by stripping middlemen of tools they need to organize the political system. All of the reforms promote an individualistic, atomized model of politics in which there are candidates and there are voters, but there is nothing in between. Other, larger trends, to be sure, have also contributed to political disorganization, but the war on middlemen has amplified and accelerated them.
There is a populist snowball effect at play. Distrust of politics and politicians leads to a demand for processes that are more direct and less shady, which leads to the dismantling of systems of brokerage and compromise, which leads to next to nothing getting done, which leads to more distrust of politics and politicians, which leads to “screw ’em all” amateur candidates, which leads to nothing at all getting done, which leads to distrust of politics and politicians…
In a modern economy, it’s normal for us to have many roles. We are all at various times and places workers, producers, owners, buyers, sellers. This weird beast called the “gig economy” is blurring the lines even more.
How should this affect the way we view advocacy and collective representation based on economic roles? I think that it’s (increasingly?) proper for us to view them as advocacy for all, rather than exclusively as advocacy for subsets of insiders.