Thanks to the East Bay Express and editor Jay Youngdahl for supporting Dissident Voice and allowing us to re-post his piece on the Bay Area. In fact, San Francisco is Seattle is Portland is Phoenix is, well, you get the picture, no?
We had it here, at DV — “Collective Stockholm Syndrome . . . “
We see it over at middling Alternet, here: “San Francisco’s Unique Character Crumbling as Wealthy Techies Take Over.”
I get this sick hard-edge smile from prospective employers as I do my massive look for jobs in Portland, Oregon, with several cradles of civilization under my belt — i.e. rhetoric-communications-journalism-writing and community-urban-rural-planning. I put the cradle of civilization in quotes because now in this time of Consumopithecus Anthropocene and Retailopithecus Erectus there is this “new growth” of a new family limb on the family tree — all GMO-sturdy and strong and Frankenstein-like — Technosapiens Intelligentsia.
What liberals and non-profits want is a worker with a master’s, eight years running social media, unlimited hours to work and travel, and a complete mindset tied to the new institutional management, data-driven, for sure, and organizational (economies of scale, AKA, cost cutting, which is human cutting, as in jobs) training to work-work-work, get this, for $12 or $15 an hour. This is, of course, part-time — sometimes 40 or 50 hours a week, and then, keep those calendars open — 8 or 10 another week. You never know when and how and where you work, again, $12 an hour. If you are past 38, years, that is, human years, not computer years — because that would be translated into human years at, what, one computer year equals 25 human years . . . 100 hundred . . . a thousand? – you are SOL, shit out of luck!
They do not want baselines that go back into the other millennium, no-siree/ no-ma’am, sir!
There is no turning back, according to the administrators, the hawkers of wares, as in software and computer-ware and surveillance-ware and robotics-ware. We are past a Brave New World, and the job market is set for the next thirty years, while we are in the melt period, the period of massive crop failure, fires, floods and famine. The Techies will wall the communities, get the cities around them like favelas , and will enjoy their World of War and Art of War games 5.5. They will look at the darkened streets with their next generation night vision and watch us like cockroaches scurrying for food, for warmth, for shelter from their towers, as they throw heat-seeking nanobots into the wind and wait for our innards to be splayed by the little scabbards holding titanium scarabs that will make mincemeat of our bowels.
Yes, a friend of mine, into Ai or AI, or artificial intelligence, already has a Meet-up group in Portland,and they are looking at some telerobotic on the open e-Bay sort of market for $3K that can be retrofitted to buzz around the world, and, well, send scarabs of nano-size humility into your bedroom to chew up your guts. No need for plutonium-spiked hummus or whipped cream to kill thy enemy. This friend is 60 or 61. Entrepreneur, a kind man, smart, worldly, cultured. And he is into robotics of the future, and he is aghast at the potential for HARM, and total control of Homo sapiens (whatever that is?).
Enough of me, but some background:
Unmanned Systems — i.e. RPAS, or, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems
Here, Us First: They are working to encourage, promote, and preen youth into technology. Any ethics classes there, or classes on the implications to humanity, this brave new-newer-newest world of technology will bring?
Our mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.
Back to Youngdahl’s look at the Bay Area and Googlization of neighborhoods, Googlization of county and city politics, Googlization of economics for the rich and the poor, Googlization of culture (sic) and art (sic) and education (sic).
We are in trouble if the techsters and banksters set the moral compass.
By Jay Youngdahl
The health and vitality of a society can be measured by its cultural values, including what it honors and celebrates. For years, the Bay Area could be quite proud of its values. The region has a glorious history of diversity and has championed important political and economic causes. Here at the Express, we are proud to be located in Oakland’s Jack London district. London’s legacy of concern for working folks and social justice, as well as his personal quirkiness, form one of the defining touchstones of the East Bay. But the times they are a-changin’.
The ugly sustained attacks on middle-class BART workers in the mainstream press over the last year, combined with a blind eye toward Silicon Valley arrogance and large-scale financial criminality, have exposed a growing and worrisome trend in the Bay Area. The heroes of the current age are not the hardest working or most caring or most helpful members of our society. Instead, they are the most arrogant, and in some ways, the most compromised.
Take the tech industry. For all of its coolness and shiny products, values espoused by the leaders of this industry are contributing to a hollowing out of Bay Area progressivism and humanism. This month, Farhad Manjoo, author of the “High Definition” column for The Wall Street Journal, wrote a piece titled “Silicon Valley Has an Arrogance Problem.” In it, he argued that many tech entrepreneurs believe that due to “their cultural and economic power,” only they have the ability to “shape the future.” Non-techies are dismissed as “unimportant to the nation’s future.”
Manjoo wrote about a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and lecturer at Stanford University, Balaji Srinivasan, who gave a talk at a start-up conference in San Francisco in October. In the talk, entitled “Silicon Valley’s Ultimate Exit,” Srinivasan proposed that techies should leave and build an “opt-in society, outside the US, run by technology.” Why would techsters want to leave the United States? Srinivasan, according to Manjoo, “pointed to a few headlines in the national press warning that robots might be taking over people’s jobs. These, he said, were evidence of the rising resentment that technology will foster as it alters conditions across the country and why Silicon Valley needs to keep an escape hatch open.”
Think about that for a minute. Silicon Valley knows it is building and promoting technologies that will cause major job losses. Yet instead of being concerned with the well-being of those who will be unable to find work, the techsters are worried about whether they will be able to escape with their skin—and of course with their money.
Tech is not alone in corrupting local values. Consider the powerful companies that inhabit the gleaming buildings of San Francisco’s financial district. It is not an exaggeration to say that the greatest organized criminality that has taken place in our lifetime is thriving there today. Yet even with namby-pamby enforcement from financial regulators who participate in the revolving door of Wall Street to Washington and back, some exposure is coming. William C. Dudley, president of the New York Federal Reserve said in a recent speech—using the measured tones of an old-style banker—that some of the large financial institutions demonstrate an “apparent lack of respect for law, regulation, and the public trust…there is evidence of deep-seated cultural and ethical failures at many large financial institutions.”
Last week, a big hedge fund, SAC Capital, pleaded guilty to several financial crimes. For years the company had denied wrongdoing, but a lawyer for SAC recently admitted blame—while crying crocodile tears, of course. The head of the firm will escape criminal prosecution—as is typical. I wonder what the folks who are sitting in the SAC Capital offices in San Francisco are thinking about being part of a criminal enterprise.
And the hits just keep on coming. This year, we have learned that large-scale global conspiracies have taken place to rig interest rates and foreign exchange transactions. Every one of us has been ripped off in the interest rate fix known as the LIBOR scandal. And each of us who buys foreign products or travels to another country has been cheated by the burgeoning foreign exchange scandal. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone wrote that the investigation revealed “traders and various other mid-level bank sociopaths laughing and joking about rigging rates and screwing customers all over the world.” Probably all the big banks were involved in some part of these scams. Rabobank, which has several San Francisco locations, just agreed to pay $1 billion for its part alone in the foreign exchange scandal.
And the king of the banksters, JP Morgan Chase, is reportedly going to spend a billion dollars just on legal fees defending itself for its various misdeeds. Yet it continues to maintain the arrogant attitude shared by the techsters. Recently, a friend of mine asked a mid-level sales guy what he thought about the mountain of charges and lawsuits the bank was facing for all its gross misdeeds. “What is the problem?” the bankster replied. “None of our people have gone to jail.”
Manjoo also quoted local venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya as arguing that “value is no longer being created” in New York or Washington or even Los Angeles, but only in Silicon Valley. This presents a question we should ponder. What “value” is being created? What values do we, our families, and our communities want to create and live with?
Make no mistake about it: values matter. And it is impossible to build a healthy and caring culture in which we can feel good about our children’s future when our society genuflects to the worst among us.
From Alternet, the posters, comments, around Youngdahl’s piece. If you go to the Express, read-read-read the attacks on his piece by the Techies!
I think the problem is that “white collar crimes” aren’t prosecuted against the politically powerful. The banks did manage to get away with actions that fall into the category of “fraud”, but which weren’t prosecuted, most likely because they had enough political power to prevent it from happening to them.
A tech company goes IPO and the founders are now wealthy beyond belief even if the company never made a profit, Twitter, Angie’s List, Zynga etc, or might never make a profit. I’ll bet there are VCs that look at a tech company and think it will never make a profit, but it is a popular tech like social media, so they dump money in it knowing they will make bank when it goes IPO even being profitless. I say no company should be able to go IPO unless it has had a couple years of being profitable.
Moravec and Kurzweil’s vision for humanity bear little if any resemblance to the higher nature of mankind. I see their view as one of impatience and hubris combined with arrogant self importance. Because these types are good at math gives them no more credence for leading humanities vision than do the same qualities of the Masters of the Universe who have taken all of humanity to today’s economic fiasco.
Positing human evolutionary replacement by melding with machines implies the visionaries have little or no deep down awareness or respect for themselves. They can only see personally insurmountable shortcomings within and have replaced volition to become fuller humans with a very questionable vision of machines becoming better than humans. I feel great empathy for that bleak sense they sport of themselves and their fellow men.
This video iced the cake for me…the presenters exhibit in word and deed precisely the lack of self esteem and monovision delusion to which I refer:
Btw, they believe that China will embrace their vision as the US is in rote decline.
This is all embraced by the New Centrism and Third Way crowd. The Dem Party has won the race for the political expression of this warped sense of vision. Moderate GOPs are invited to join….and everyone else is cut out…with the far-right fringe playing the part of the ultra-bogeyman. It makes for great political theater and ensures that a progressive/populist movement stays irrelevant. That needs to change. Personally, I believe that any potential build out of this robot nightmare will die, when the limits of affordable fossil fuels are reached, but we should still oppose it, at any turn.
Good luck on your Randian “escape hatch” island with the rest of the Banksters and other nerds who’ve never used a hammer or shovel. We will enjoy watching you all starve to death via your live feed you’ll undoubtedly have running to show us all how that works out for you, as soon as we realize that the world can get by very well without you and out food shipments stop. These nerds are nowhere near as essential as they believe. We can get along quite well without another version of Angry Birds, thank you very much. Losers.
Yeah, keep whistling in the dark. I’m sure your shoveling skills will become highly prized again, just keep holding out. After all, that thinking for a living and owning everything is just for “losers”. People won’t flock to the promise of jobs, not at all, and this computer nonsense is just a fad. Once people stop being “losers” they will totally get it.
I think about the wider ramifications of kowtowing to tech glitz and glamour quite a bit. But I think more about what that culture has done to me personally. I was and still am friends with many fellow artists, musicians and non-techies from the Bay Area. Somehow they found a way to eke out a living there. But I had to uproot myself from that little community thanks to the sky-high living costs induced by yuppie hipsters taking over San Francisco. It was a difficult decision to leave. My friends may also end up having to do the same, if they haven’t already.
I hope we can put both tech and money in their proper place as merely tools, nothing more. Otherwise, the only possible future is a compassion-less, drone-like oblivion.
There is far more to be examined here, now that Silicon Valley and Wall Street have gotten married. Who do you think screwed up the Facebook IPO or negotiated a better one for Twitter? Can’t we remember when IBM and Microsoft were Wall Street darlings? Steve Jobs profited by being overlooked, but it sure didn’t make him humble. All that money has convinced those techies that they’re invincible and the rest of us should pay tribute. They’re stupidly pouring money in the political coffers of right wing Republicans who will vote only for the immigration of the highly skilled. Nevermind, that they’re undermining public education or clamping down on people of color. Before we throw in the towel, we should put down our smartphones and pay more attention.
I’ve said this before: we are virtually powerless to influence the morals of banks and tech companies. The only ace up our collective sleeves is the ability to avoid usage of their products and services. By pimping their shiny goods and making technology glamorous and coveted, the pressure to consume without considering the supplier is ever present and difficult to resist.
I’m not suggesting we go back to the Stone Age, but put some thought into who you give your money to when you are in the payment position.