WE MUST STOP THEM
by Phil Hall
Gato, the new Google Artificial Intelligence system (tremble in your social media, free speech boots) is a perfect illustration of the point that the hyper-rich are beginning to use AI as their intermediary and control system. At the same time, the owners and purveyors of Artificial Intelligence try to mystify these all-purpose, zombie, connected, computing machines, encouraging us to regard them with awe and fear and not to look at the people who puppeteer them. At its most ridiculous, they would like to convince us that AI will have consciousness; that it’s an independent AI.
Cars weighing over a ton make decisions about whether-or-not to run into you while their owners sit back. Automated AI machine guns rotate around at border posts, deciding when to shoot. Bots ban you from messaging anyone on Twitter or Facebook because they didn’t understand a metaphor.
Poor old Luddites! They thought that machines were the cause of their job losses and intense exploitation. But it wasn’t the machines, it was the people who owned them. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist was only written in 1914. The Marxism on which Robert Tressell’s book was based was developed decades after Ned Ludd lead the revolt which started in 1811.
DONT SMASH OUR ROBOTS, THEY HAVE FEELINGS
And none of the surplus that the combination of machine and human Labour produced ended up in the pockets of the workers, or even in the pockets of the workers who made the machines. Much of the profit accumulated in luxurious nonsense; in the equivalent of modern day wedding-cake palaces, Ferraris and Rolex watches. It was wasted on fine dining and in luxury hotels and clubs. Though some of it was also invested in more, increasingly effective machines.
In the 18th and 19th Centuries the labour surplus of ordinary people – and the loot from slavery and the colonies – ended up as carved gargoyles in Bath stone, grand houses, fine upholstery, carriages, servants, Beef Wellington, the Royal Society, ships, armies, machines and gallons of port wine and claret served up at the Guildhall.
Marx calls this theft of labour alienation. It’s a simple word. It means something that you make doesn’t belong to you, and if you want it, you have to buy it back. And when you buy it back, the product is transformed by packaging and advertising so that you don’t recognise it.
The hyper-rich and mega corporations have tried the same trick with markets – ever since Adam Smith formulated their argument for them. Markets, you see, have an agency of their own. They are evolutionary mechanisms, natural formations. The corporations finance whole university departments in order to find new ways to convince you that the markets they monopolise are benign. They give prizes to tame academics who come up with the most convincing schtick.
It’s not the companies of the hyper-rich owned by people like Bezos, Gates, Brin, Zukerberg and Musk who are f***ing you up with low pay, no pensions, and no holiday pay, or protection (just like the bad old days of the first industrial revolution). Oh no, it’s the magical force of the evolution of technology.
Look, no hands! The rich can’t help it. It’s technology changing. It’s the market. It wasn’t us. Promise. If it were up to him, naturally. Bezos would pay everyone a fair wage. But he can’t. Technology gives him license to ‘innovate’. The market wouldn’t like old-fashioned things like worker rights.
Currently, we live in an evolving capitalist society. We are being steered away from the open waters of social democracy towards the shallows of a shameless, kleptocratic, oligarchical system.
Extending the analogy, think mega-yacht with a full compliment of slaves (including standard Epstein-style sex slaves). Not a one passenger-class only liner.
Increasingly, our good and great are flunkeys of the rich, not servants of the people. Even the ones who pretend to be on the side of the people are Janus-faced. They kiss up and kick down. They are ingratiating thugs stabbing from the front.
Hyper-capitalist societies honour the collective intentions of the ultra-rich. This is capitalist eschatology, it’s a Randian eschatology. Where Atlas goes, we must all follow, or so they tell us through the media they themselves own. A strong negative reaction to proposals for more inclusive forms of collective governance and the wider collective good is a litmus test for the worst neo-liberals, but also for the worst liberals. Listen to Rupert Murdoch. Listen to the Scott Trust. Listen to the Barclay Brothers sending missives from their gothic castle on Sark.
And while a billion children go hungry tonight, we are asked to applaud Bezos as he spends vast amounts launching himself into space for a jaunt on a prick shaped rocket – the prick. And if not applaud, then smile indulgently. Or if not smile indulgently, then feel morally superior and accept his actions as the unlovely side of a necessary capitalism.
We will remember Bezos and his brothers in future for this. People will read about him and his friends in history books with disgust, as the obscenely selfish and evil clowns they are, much as we read about the excesses of medieval kings on the Field of the Cloth of Gold.
And who knows, maybe just like many of the controlling tyrants before them, perhaps these new bosses (same as the old ones) will succeed. And if we don’t oppose them, we may be in for a real 1,000 year Reich, where the selfish wishes of the few become our lived reality.
Want a pyramid grave Bezos? I know, let’s get a hundred thousand slaves to build it it for you and then bury them all alive afterwards. The pyramid will last for millennia. It’s been done before. It took us thousands of years to get rid of these Pharaonic parasites. The new parasites might succeed. Miniature, killer, targeted drones are not science fiction. Constant personal monitoring of every speech act and movement you make is not science fiction. An extended life span for the super-rich is possible.
This is the upsetting prospect of a future society governed completely by the priorities and whims of a few. We must stop them very soon, before its too late. Organise against them. Perhaps by using the very technology they are using to control us. Remember the listeners on the telephone and the letter openers at the post office. They couldn’t stop social change for the good of the many.
We must find a way to deracinate these satraps, and change the course of our society, or it’s game over for the rest of humanity for a millennia.
The thousand year Reich of Bezos and his friends threatens us all.