The internet promised open markets, delivered rigged ones, then fake ones, then outright monopolies


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/02/28/silicon-ponzi.html


#2

Don’t know whether to laugh or cry…


#3


#4

It’s the new “why not both?”


#5

Yeah … it’s not the internet. It’s the people, the capital owners. This is a sadly beautiful example of the very forces at work that Marx didn’t quite understand, but could plainly see.

Concentration of wealth. The people who desire more, the Mugabes, the Trumps, the Kim Jongs etc - they all drive, drive, drive, push and drive to have more - more than anyone else, more than is useful, right or fair.

It’s that drive that does it.

@Doctorow you summed it beautifully in one of your books - it’s envy that spins our little globe, not money.

But also - it’s a gold rush. Nonetheless, as tech improves and becomes easier, we should have some human-satisfactory alternatives to use, no?!


#6

I like this, though it’s important to remember that this force isn’t what “spins out little globe”. That’s just a fantasy of the Mugabes, Trumps, Kim Jongs, etc (as you say), that somehow they are very important. It’s actually compassion, community, and sense of purpose that keep things running. The envy is a leech slowing things down.


#7

The idea that we are going to get robotic vehicles anytime soon is a peculiar delusion that seems to have infected all of Silicon Valley. It started out with your typical tech company BS marketing hype, but now it seems that dozens of tech companies that ought to know better have drunk their own kool aid.

Sure, getting a car that can drive itself seems easy for the first 90% of the job, but the remaining 10% is not just incredibly hard but nearly impossible. Making a car that can safely drive through city streets is very much an AI-complete problem.


#8

Thanks for the link– I totally agree with the skepticism on fully-autonomous vehicles. Like you mention, the last 10% will probably require human-equivalent cognition. For instance, how the hell will an autonomous Uber be able to double-park illegally to pick up passengers? It would have to know when and how to break the rules while keeping everyone safe– no trivial task. Short of that, we would need to redesign our cities around such services, at which point you have to ask, why not just create a robust system of public infrastructure without ceding control and profit to these private companies?

Add to that this series of articles that basically says there’s no reason to think that Uber itself will benefit at all from the tech (since their ride-hailing software is trivial to clone)… You really get a picture of the bullshit Uber and the like are peddling. These companies are not benevolent friends delivering us the ‘future’; it is ENRON level de-regulation with the slickest PR venture capital can buy.


#9

The first Internet boom, back in the 90’s, struck me as a very expensive attempt to buy up all the available surface area of the Internet, so monopoly rents could be extracted. And at first I thought that was impossible, that all that money would have been wasted. But now that the Internet is expected to pay for content as if it were television, and people have bought into this fraud, I think I was wrong, and that buy up must have been successful.


#10


#11

It’s hard enough making humans that can!


#12

I try to avoid being violent (make love not war), but in the case of the people you mentioned, I would have no issues putting them all in a building, lighting it on fire and then nuking the remains.


#13

And neither humans nor governments are going to be satisfied with a robot car that drives poorly. The whole point is to make one that is as good as a good human driver, and that takes human intelligence, which we are nowhere near being able to create in a computer.


#14

“Money as the external, universal medium and faculty (not springing from man as man or from human society as society) for turning an image into reality and reality into a mere image”

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/power.htm

I think Marx understood.


#15

Here in Austin, we tried to regulate Uber and Lyft. I say ‘tried’ because we DID pass some stuff. They simply said fuck you and left. I can’t say that we’ve missed them all that much. Other companies have stepped in.


#16

Wow, I’d say you succeeded at regulating them in a huge way.


#17

Remember, Austin is NOT Texas. Despite being the capital city, with a Congress building that is somewhat larger than the one in DC (and looks the same), the State of Texas has a long, ‘proud’ history of ‘correcting’ Austin’s ‘mistakes’.


#18

Anyone that thinks fairness and equity is possible in an ecosystem built on the backs of wage slaves needs some smelling salts waved under their nostrils.


#19

That is not true!

I just visited Austin, and their Capitol is made from red granite, and thus does not look like the US Capitol in DC, which is a bright shade of white.

/pedantry


#20

So the question becomes: How are the wage-slaves and ground level grunts (the ones working at these companies and thinking they’re helping to better society) to be reached with the knowledge that what they’re doing is counter-productive? How do you make a compelling case to someone that they’re the problem and not the solution? Further, how to you get them to take action to make a change? Especially when that change would mean turning their back on their source of income?

There are some similarities to our present political situation here in the US, but this is more than just a political allegory. It is a very real question that reaches to the roots of the human condition. We humans, for all our abilities, are capable of incredible self-destructive stupidity, and we seem to revel in that.

FWIW, I’m squarely in this boat. I’m guilty of assisting in turning my industry on its head, and possibly in a way that might not be helpful to the greater good. The coward’s refuge is to suggest that if I weren’t doing it, someone else would be, so it’s inevitable and we’re all fucked no matter what. But that’s my easy fallback when I think about what it would mean not to have a paycheck. I’d imagine I’m not the only one here in that boat, though I wish I was. I’m really conflicted. I recognize that this is no small thing. Life, man.