Hier volgt een schotschrift en dat beginnen we gewoon eens met een glasharde Godwin. In Nederland was het tijdens WOII voor de Duitsers bloedsimpel om joden op te sporen en te deporteren. Reden? De nauwkeurig bijgehouden Nederlandse persoonsadministratie. Archiefkast opentrekken, de joden uit de kaartenbak plukken en de Sicherheitsdienst kon weer een rondje huisbezoekjes afleggen. Toen had het als verzetsdaad nog zin om in te breken in het gemeentehuis en de persoonsadministratie in brand te steken - en zo levens te redden. IN 2013 NIET MEER. Mochten we ooit weer met een vijandige overheid (foreign or domestic) te maken krijgen, weten 'ze' alles al van ons en is er geen goedbedoelde brandstichting meer tegen opgewassen. Maar niemand geeft een fuck. Want 'toch niks te verbergen' en 'het is voor de veiligheid' of 'om kinderporno te bestrijden'. Bullshit. Een sleepnet over het internet trekken, zoals de NSA doet en zoals de AIVD/MIVD van Ronald Plasterk en Ivo Opstelten wíllen doen, is luie 'opsporing' van gemakzuchtige ambtelijke machines. Spelden zoeken in een stapel spelden, door alle Nederlanders te loggen, tappen, registreren en monitoren. Preventief gecriminaliseerd als burger, alsof we stuk voor stuk tikkende tijdbommen met aanslagdrang zijn. Oók alle calvinistische, gezagsgetrouwe schapen die 'toch niks te verbergen' hebben. De voetbalhooligan-dooddoener 'het zijn er een paar die het voor de rest verpesten' geldt nu voor álle Nederlanders. Privacy is echter een onvervreemdbaar grondrecht, waar Plasterk mee speelt alsof het een formaliteitje is. Zijn diensten hebben de nu in Nederland nog illegale dragnet-technologie alvast besteld, in de veronderstelling dat de vereiste wetswijziging wel geregeld wordt. Deze doorgeslagen veiligheidsdrift tekent een overheid die bang is geworden voor haar eigen burgers. Maar het leven van vrije burgers is godverdomme geen eigendom van de overheid. Het is oorlog online en de inzet is het grondrecht op privacy op een vrij, open en ongetapt web. Wij van het internet eisen een einde aan de function creep van datacollectie door de overheid, een afbestelling van de illegale Israëlische afluistersoftware en een blokkering van de wetswijziging die massaal tappen van het internet door de AIVD en MIVD mogelijk zou maken. De Grondwet is er om de burger te beschermen, niet om de overheid meer controle over het volk te geven. Dus rot op, Ronald Plasterk, en geef ons het internet terug. Daarom roept GeenStijl deze maand uit tot DEFEMBER. Want AKSIE! Ongericht tappen moet stoppen, en politici moeten met hun bemoeizuchtige poten van onze grondrechten afblijven.
DOE MEE AAN DEFEMBER Tot het Kerstreces (20 december) is het #DEFEMBER op GeenStijl. Keywords: privacy, vrijheid en een open internet. Iedereen mag meedoen. Experts uit het veld. Boze burgers. Stuurlui aan wal. Journalisten die bang zijn dat hun bronnen en tipgevers onbeschermd zijn (en daarom zwijgen). Advocaten die vrezen voor de rechten van hun cliënten. Forumbeheerders die de privacy van hun gebruikers niet kunnen garanderen. Bits of Freedom, de Piratenpartij, Stichting Privacy First en de Privacy Barometer. Meesters in het ICT-recht. IT'ers die 'RCX' in hun Twitternaam mogen dragen. Hackers (white & black hat), torrentboeren, programmeurs en Brenno. Of gewoon de luitjes van Retecool en Sargasso, als ze ook eens een groot publiek willen bereiken. Hell, als er politici bestonden die vóór een vrij, open en onbespioneerd internet zijn, hadden díe zelfs bij mogen dragen aan #DEFEMBER. Stuur must see docu's, virulente videoboodschappen, prangende blogs of overige belangwekkende bijdragen naar email@example.com. De redactie beoordeelt, en publiceert indien coherent, kwalitatief, kontschoppend.
Haak aan, schrijf in, doe mee. Gebruik de hashtag, knutsel je eigen twibbon of jat het logo hieronder. #DEFEMBER is open source voor iedereen die zijn privacy, vrijheid en grondrechten koestert.
In holy shit that's terrifying news, his is a conceptual Combat Alpha/Big Dog. And by conceptual I mean there's no way the government doesn't already have a bunch of these. If you don't think we have weaponized Big Dogs...
Isaac Asimov, the astonishingly prolific science fiction writer, died in 1992, but he foresaw much about American politics today.
Khannea Suntzu's insight:
Isaac Asimov, the astonishingly prolific science fiction writer, died in 1992, but he foresaw much about American politics today. One of his most profound works is the neglected short story “Franchise,” written in 1955, in the days when computers were bulky, room-sized machines powered by vacuum tubes and operated by a high priesthood of punch card-wielding technicians. For a work of fiction, it is stunningly prescient.
In Asimov’s tale, set in November 2008, democratic elections have become nearly obsolete. A mysterious supercomputer said to be “half a mile long and three stories high,” named Multivac, absorbs most of the current information about economic and political conditions and estimates which candidate is going to win. The machine, however, can’t quite do the job on its own, as there are some ineffable social influences it cannot measure and evaluate. So Multivac picks out one “representative” person from the electorate to ask about the country’s mood (sample query: “What do you think of the price of eggs?”). The answers, when combined with the initial computer diagnosis, suffice to settle the election. No one actually needs to vote.
Asimov was on to something: American political campaigns have indeed become extraordinarily sophisticated data-mining operations driven by smart computers, harvesting and sifting through vast virtual warehouses of demographic information and consumer preferences to manipulate and shape the electorate. They may not do the voting for us, but this new generation of intelligent machines can do just about everything else. And when it comes to humans actually casting their ballots, well, we hardly are surprised by the results: Computer-powered data jocks such as Nate Silver can predict the outcomes of most races and often the margins of victory as well. We’re not too far off from the world of Asimov’s protagonist, an Indiana department-store clerk dragooned into being America’s lone “voter.” “From the way your brain and heart and hormones and sweat glands work, Multivac can judge exactly how intensely you feel about the matter,” the machine operators tell him. “It will understand your feelings better than you yourself.”
Nearly 60 years after Asimov anticipated a decidedly dramatic intrusion of machines into our politics, we may not (yet) be offloading our democratic responsibilities to computers, but we are empowering them to reshape our economy and society in ways that could be just as profound. The rise of smart machines—technologies that encompass everything from artificial intelligence to industrial robots to the smartphones in our pockets—is changing how we live, work and play. Less acknowledged, perhaps, is what all this technological change portends: nothing short of a new political order. The productivity gains, the medical advances, the workplace reorganizations and the myriad other upheavals that will define the coming automation age will create new economic winners and losers; it will reorient our demographics; and undoubtedly, it will transform what we demand from our government.
The rise of the machines builds on deeper economic trends that are already roiling American society, including stagnant growth since 2001 and a greater openness to trade and foreign outsourcing. But it’s the rapid increase in machines’ ability to substitute for intelligent human labor that presages the greater disruption. We’re on the verge of having computer systems that understand the entirety of human “natural language,” a problem that was considered a very tough one only a few years ago. We’re close to the point when we can fit the (articulable) knowledge of the entire world into the palm of our hands. Self-driving cars are making their way onto streets in California and Nevada. Whether you are a factory worker or an accountant, a waitress or a doctor, this is the wave that will lift you or dump you.
Even the robots so familiar from vintage science fiction are now really making their mark. Worldwide annual shipments of industrial robots have more than doubled in the past decade, according to the International Federation of Robotics. Taiwan’s Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer, announced in 2011 that it would increase the use of robots in its factories one hundredfold, bringing its total to 1 million robots by 2014. South Korea is experimenting with robotic prison wardens that patrol and report inmates who do something wrong; Japanese restaurants are deploying fast-food robots to make and serve sushi. Meanwhile, lower-level tasks are now being automated by software programs, changing newsrooms, law firms, hospitals and countless other workplaces. Automation and other productivity improvements are expected to have eliminated 2.2 million business-services jobs in the United States and Europe from 2006 to 2016, at a rate of about 200,000 jobs annually, according to the Hackett Group, a Miami-based consultancy.
As one joke making the rounds has it, “A modern textile mill employs only a man and a dog—the man to feed the dog, and the dog to keep the man away from the machines.” That is the world in which we now live.
The rise of intelligent machines will spawn new ideologies along with the new economy it is creating. Think of it as a kind of digital social Darwinism, with clear winners and losers: Those with the talent and skills to work seamlessly with technology and compete in the global marketplace are increasingly rewarded, while those whose jobs can just as easily be done by foreigners, robots or a few thousand lines of code suffer accordingly. This split is already evident in the data: The median male salary in the United States was higher in 1969 than it is today. Middle-class manufacturing jobs have been going away due to a mix of automation and trade, and they are not being replaced. The most lucrative college majors are in the technical fields, such as engineering. The winners are doing much better than ever before, but many others are standing still or even seeing wage declines.
These trends will only accelerate in the years to come, rewriting America’s social contract in the process. We will move from a society based on the pretense that everyone is given a decent standard of living to one in which people are expected to fend for themselves. I imagine a world in which, say, 10 to 15 percent of the citizenry (or more, in due time) is extremely wealthy and has fantastically comfortable and stimulating lives, equivalent to those of current-day millionaires, albeit with better health care.
Much of the rest of the country will have stagnant or maybe even falling wages in dollar terms, but they will also have a lot more opportunities for cheap fun and cheap education. Many of these people will live quite well—especially those who have the discipline to benefit from all the free or nearly free services that modern technology makes available. Others will fall by the wayside.
The slogan “We are the 85 percent!” probably won’t sound as compelling as the Occupy Wall Street version. It will become increasingly common to invoke “meritocracy” as a response to income inequality—whether you call it an explanation, a justification or an excuse is up to you. Since the self-motivated will find it easier to succeed than ever before, a new tier of people from poor and underprivileged backgrounds will claw their way to the top—Horatio Algers for the automation age.
This new digital meritocracy will prove self-reinforcing. Worthy individuals will rise from poverty on a regular basis, but that will only make it easier to ignore those left behind. The wealthy class will grow larger over time, and more influential. And the increasingly libertarian values of the wealthy will shape the public debate, strengthening the upper class’s grip on the commanding heights of the economy and society, and pulling policy in their favor.
You might think the 85 percent would rise up in protest. Many commentators, influenced by widening income inequality and the Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party movements, are predicting exactly that scenario: an America torn by unrest and maybe even political violence. I do think we’ll see some outbursts of trouble, but in the long run the picture will be fairly calm and indeed downright ordinary. Expect a society that will be more conservative, both politically and in the more literal sense of that term.
One reason we’ll be more conservative in the literal sense—and for all the prognostications about America’s future, it’s both the most important and the easiest one to make—is simply that we will be a lot older. Right now, about 17 percent of Floridians are over age 65. By 2030, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, about 19 percent of the entire U.S. population will be over 65; in other words, we’ll be as old as Floridians are today. That will make us more conservative still; remember that riots and protests are typically the endeavors of young hotheads, not sage (or tired) senior citizens. Countries with lots of unmarried young men are the most vulnerable to sudden upheavals—this is what fueled the Arab Spring. But we Americans are moving along a different path.
There is another, psychological reason why lower-wage workers won’t be storming the proverbial Bastille and taking away the goodies of the higher earners: Envy is local. At least in the United States, most economic resentment is not directed toward billionaires or high-roller financiers—not even corrupt ones. It’s directed at the guy down the hall who got a bigger raise. It’s directed at the husband of your wife’s sister, because he earns 20 percent more than you do. It’s directed at the people who went to high school with you. And that’s why a lot of people aren’t so bothered by inequality in the broad sense: Most of us don’t compare ourselves to billionaires. The late novelist Gore Vidal put it honestly: “Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.” Right now, the biggest medium for envy in the United States is probably Facebook, not the big yachts or other trophies of the rich and famous.
Consider crime rates, which, in the United States, have been falling for more than two decades and in recent times have surprised researchers by falling faster than expected. Last year, the murder rate in New York City was the lowest since at least the 1960s. Yet income inequality both in New York City and the United States has risen significantly since the 1980s, accompanied by a more tolerant, more open and more sedate America. It seems that, whether we like it or not, increasing inequality and growing democratic peace are compatible.
Americans will also become more politically conservative, as the digital winners seize control of the narrative and the rest of the country grows more enamored of low or falling taxes, whether or not such tax rates prove possible to maintain. Americans will want to be promised something for nothing. They will look more toward local communities and tight local bonds to protect themselves against economic risks. Unlike the predicted breakdown in social order, these trends are already significant and observable in today’s America.
We will no doubt still see a lot of ugly discourse, a lot of polarization in Congress and a lot of distasteful political warfare as the age of automation rewires our society. The breakdown of the mainstream media and the decentralization of debate ushered in by the Internet will bring even more of the partisanship that we see today. The media may come to resemble the name-calling Jacksonian newspapers of the 19th century and the incessant scandal-mongering press found throughout most of American political history. The bland mainstream press of the 1950s and ’60s, rather than the partisan sniping of today, will prove to be the outlier.
Still, we shouldn’t confuse the rancor of our ever more contentious public debates with the underlying mood of the American voter. Most of them are fairly moderate, disillusioned with both political parties and looking for a candidate who can “get something done” or “unify the nation.” Those are not the kind of attitudes that make for a revolutionary future, and they are too ordinary to fill up the time on TV, talk radio or the political blogs. The winning political coalition of the future is a rather unglamorous mix of such moderates, a lot of the elderly and one chunk of the elite, mostly oriented toward the status quo.
What will become of the economic losers? They will not be out leading the charge for higher rates of progressive taxation or trying to revive the memory of George McGovern. Instead, a radically conservative mood will be even more common among lower earners. Just look at what is already happening in parts of the United States where incomes are relatively stagnant. Political conservatism is strongest in the worst-off, least-educated and most blue-collar states: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming—key outposts of Tea Party support. As the urbanist Richard Florida puts it, “Conservatism, more and more, is the ideology of the economically left behind.”
As for the winners, they will crowd into today’s socially liberal enclaves by the millions. Most such areas tend to be urban or suburban, with lots of high-earning professionals. My own city in Fairfax County, Va., was strongly conservative in the early 1980s, when I first lived there. It voted reliably Republican or insisted on conservative Democrats. It was well off but not a bastion of riches. Run-down neighborhoods were common. As of 2012, Fairfax County is now America’s fourth wealthiest county. It broke cleanly for Obama in 2008 and 2012, and it leans Democratic in general.
Occupy Wall Street, meanwhile, might have held great appeal for well-educated young people from the upper middle class, especially underappreciated liberal-arts majors without the option of stepping into the highest-paying or most upwardly mobile jobs. But it has not caught fire on the docks of Elizabeth, N.J., in the ailing Appalachian regions of Ohio or with religious home-schoolers in Idaho—exactly the parts of the population most at risk of falling even further behind in the new robot economy.
If we extrapolate these trends into the future, we can expect the higher earners to identify with the values embraced by today’s moderate Democrats. They will believe in progress, diversity and social justice, though they may not be huge fans of radically progressive taxation. The lower earners will be split into two groups: the more extreme conservatives and those who receive transfers from the social-welfare programs supported by moderate Democrats. The more extreme conservatives will embrace religion and nationalism to a higher degree. This is already a pretty fair description of the American political spectrum in a time of record income inequality. In 20 years, intelligent machines will expand their reach into every corner of our lives, and as technological change rewards a select few, these social and economic fissures will only deepen.
Our future will bring more wealthy people than ever before, but also more poor people, including people who do not always have access to basic public services. Rather than balancing our national budget with higher taxes or lower benefits, we will allow GDP growth to falter and the real wages of many workers to fall, creating a new underclass. But this polarization notwithstanding, America’s political collapse is much less likely than the pessimists imagine, between the general aging of American society and the way new technologies are improving basic living standards.
One day soon we will look back and see that we produced two radically different countries: a fantastically successful nation, working in the technologically dynamic sectors, and everyone else. It may not be precisely the dystopian future for our dying democracy that Isaac Asimov envisioned. But it won’t be too far off, either.
The world's 100 richest people earned a stunning total of $240 billion in 2012 – enough money to end extreme poverty worldwide four times over, Oxfam has revealed, adding that the global economic crisis is further enriching the super-rich.
What do you do if you're faced with increasing labor costs and a shortage of workers? If you're one Chinese province, you invest in workers that never demand raises and are willing to work around the clock.