Sunday, May 24, 2020

No Country For Old Palestinians



unz |  The previous shift of such magnitude occurred in late 18th century; it is called the Industrial Revolution. Then the factory owners had begun to replace their skilled labour with inexpensive machines, and the workers were losing their jobs, livelihoods and self-esteem. In 1811, the workers formed the Luddite movement. The Luddites would break into factories and smash textile machines. It lasted until 1816, when the movement ran out of steam. The workers were defeated, (a lot of them escaped to America), and the British bourgeoisie prospered. It took many years until the workers regained some of their previous positions in society, mainly due to the threat of Communist revolution.

Now we are coming to the new Digital Revolution, with workers being replaced by smart computers and an AI future. Millions of office workers already function as a human interface to the computer. You may have noticed this as you talk with them: they are trained to avoid making decisions; they say sentences that were scripted for them, and the decisions are made by the computer that was programmed to do their master’s will. As lockdown had forced millions to communicate with computers directly, a lot of workers became superfluous.

The process of shedding millions of workers in the existing economic system is likely to be painful for the unemployed. The virus-blamed lockdown and digital control allows the owners of the digital companies to carry out the revolution with minimal risks for them. What would need an army and police involvement against riotous unemployed workers, can be achieved with greater ease under threat of the pandemic. The economy will be modernized and made more efficient. Alas, for us this script presages the fate of highly qualified weavers in 18th century England, even if we shall avoid the total AI takeover Terminator-style.

Probably the scariest piece of news is not about the numbers of “infected”. It is a meaningless word, for there are persistent carriers who do not succumb to disease; the vast majority of the “infected” are asymptomatic, meaning they aren’t sick and aren’t infectious; the number of “infected” is in direct proportion to the number of tests; the tests are dubious at best, and none is verified by the methods accepted in pre-corona medicine, while the methodology approved and enforced by the WHO can’t be described as scientific. It is not about deaths, for we do not experience more deaths than in 2018. Moreover, in many countries, notably in France and in Norway there are 30% fewer deaths in certain weeks of April and May in this year than in the last year.

The scariest piece of news is that Zoom is worth more than the seven biggest airlines. These airlines with their accumulated labour (millions of working hours, hundreds of thousands of employees, highly trained pilots, masses of sophisticated equipment) just can’t be worth as much as a job done in a month by a few programmers and which can be done anew in a month. Money and stock market prices are useful tools if they measure human efforts; they do not that anymore. What began with bankers earning more money in a day than a hundred qualified workers and engineers in their lifetime, ended with the hi-tech lords earning more than a million workers in their lifetime. It means that Money had banked on the Digital Economy, a Union made in Hell, while the real economy came up for grabs. Money decided that we won’t fly anymore. They, the new masters, will fly in their private jets; the era of mass access is over. You will get satisfied with Zoom and PornHub, instead of the real thing.

Added to this the negative oil future price and the emission centres issuing more and more money, trying to smother the fire with gasoline, and you will get a picture of the coming world. There is probably no place for you and me in this world.