Weekend Reads: Dec 17

Ah, technology, the great savior of humanity. If the mirror is starting to look a bit foggy, if the accolades are starting to grate, perhaps these articles may point out towards why.

The Outline: Valley of the Dolts. Emmett Rensin.
+ The American Gods of Silicon Valley aren’t so much gods as they are robber barons in bad t-shirts
+ Our media-saturated culture supports their project of power and obscures the difficult realities underneath (terrible labor conditions, illegal “union-busting”, and particularly poor racial hiring practices)
+ Something’s gotta give — it always does

The New Yorker: Our Automated Future. Elizabeth Kolter. [Free article limit]
+ Software is eating the world; tech is eating the jobs; and the jobs are not coming back
+ Google has 65,000 workers; GM today has 215,000; GM yesterday had 800,000 – the exponential reduction is, and should be, deeply troubling, as the jobs created do not match the quantity of those permanently lost
+ The idea of universal basic income, i.e. , money just for breathing, needs to be considered seriously as the automation of work necessitates a reconsideration of the axis of money, value, and society

FT Alphaville: Inside the gig economy: The testimonial. Izabella Kaminska. [Registration required]
+ Deliveroo is a food delivery service in the UK; assume certain equivalencies to services like Lyft, Uber, and Seamless
+ The gig economy does not quite seem to live up to its hype; it seems to be coming at cost to those who think they can earn independence / living wage, but it does not seem to work out
+ Human labor at low-cost is the truest description; not to triple-down on the horrors of tech and the service economy, but, yes, this is the horror of tech on humanity

Final Thoughts
It has been a wild year and we still have two more weeks to go until it’s over. Markets are up…and down. Public sentiment is up…and down. Weather is up…and down. Everything, it feels, is trapped in the spin cycle of an agitated washer, and it is hard to get a handle on what the next days look like with any certainty.

Therefore, try not too hard to worry about it all, if you can. Spend time with friends and family, celebrate what you can when you can, drink responsibly, and enjoy all the hours of the weekend.


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