What Got Us Here Won't Get Us There

no general but ludd means the poor any good

What Got Us Here Won't Get Us There

Increasingly I think a lot of one's worldview and politics is determined by the way one's imagination works. Big Yud, for instance, is so demented because he has an enormous imagination for AI Bad. A lot of people look at the new tech thing—AI, crypto, whatever—useful or not, evil or not—and see nothing but possibilities. A lot of people look at it and see nothing but negatives. A lot of the former people don't understand the latter and try to, in some way, write them off. The question "why might people feel like this is ultimately destined for bad stuff" can largely be answered by saying "look where we are now".

The problem people have is not, by and large, with technology in the abstract. Most people like washing machines or GPS or whatever. The issue people have is that they, like almost every worker from the Luddites on down to today, have correctly assayed that while some technologies are fairly benign, others–and these tend to be the ones that become the new big things—will not, ultimately, be working for them, or for any kind of greater good.

I understand e.g. some cities are using drones to assist lifeguards, and in a vacuum, that seems like it's a good thing—giving lifeguards another useful way to spot people in trouble, etc. Better than what they've historically been used for, at least. But if you were to ask me "are these drones going to be used to help and support lifeguards in the work they do already?" I'd say "I guess, but I suspect that primarily they're going to be used to cut jobs and squeeze more out of fewer lifeguards". Because the role of technology is and has historically largely been not the improvement of whatever work it's applied to, but the disciplining of labour.

This also contributes to the less rooted society in which we find ourselves. Does our sacked lifeguard find another job? Maybe! Maybe not. Maybe they go elsewhere, and with the city's lifeguarding budget not being spent on someone who lives and works locally, is part of the local community etc., but instead on a maintenance contract from a big company based somewhere else. The city slowly changes for the worse.

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