Project Zero
July 17, 2015 5:14 AM   Subscribe

 
Wired 1997 is calling - it wants its editorial back!
posted by symbioid at 5:32 AM on July 17, 2015 [34 favorites]


Information is capital.
posted by carter at 5:36 AM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I started out extremely sceptical, but there are some ideas in this article (and presumably the upcoming book it is extracted from) that are not easily dismissed. I’ve only read half and hope to finish it later, but here are some early key points that distinguish Mason’s ideas from coder utopianism (and temper the optimism of the title):
The business models of all our modern digital giants are designed to prevent the abundance of information.
Collaborative production, using network technology to produce goods and services that only work when they are free, or shared, defines the route beyond the market system. It will need the state to create the framework – just as it created the framework for factory labour, sound currencies and free trade in the early 19th century.
The opposing side is not just already in place, it is already fighting.
posted by ormon nekas at 5:39 AM on July 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


At the heart of further change to come is information technology, new ways of working and the sharing economy.

Um...Each of those items are the newest tools of capitalism, further enriching the upper percentiles, and keeping the rest even more at each other's throats.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:42 AM on July 17, 2015 [51 favorites]


Yeah, starry eyed libertarian is starry eyed.

And also is really ignorant of historical facts.

Wow. Wave your freak flag high, man.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:44 AM on July 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


Wired 1997 is calling - it wants its editorial back!

Actually, Wired circa 1997 was publishing crap like:

The Long Boom: A History of the Future, 1980 - 2020 (By Peter Schwartz and Peter Leyden) (Issue 5.07 | July 1997)
"We're facing 25 years of prosperity, freedom, and a better environment for the whole world. You got a problem with that?"
posted by Auden at 5:45 AM on July 17, 2015 [29 favorites]


I think Paul Mason is grasping at straws in the wake of the (disappointing but predictable) SYRIZA capitulation. If they can't transform current economic arrangements, maybe techno-handwave-information-utopia will! Unfortunately, one poorly-thought-out strategy is not a sufficient nor satisfying replacement for another. If anything, capitalism looks stronger than ever, arguably.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:48 AM on July 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Have faith, ye lowly! The Rapture Singularity Post-Capitalist Economy is coming to save us all! The last shall be first and the first shall be last!

Bullshit. It's the same garbage we've been fed for the past two thousand years. Optimism is a tool of oppression that serves only to keep the underclass docile and quiescent while they wait for things to improve, and all the while the hegemonic, parasitic powers grow richer and fatter off our blood.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:48 AM on July 17, 2015 [36 favorites]


Um...Each of those items are the newest tools of capitalism, further enriching the upper percentiles, and keeping the rest even more at each other's throats.

more like Lol Mason, am I right. I'm right of course
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:49 AM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


His entire argument hinges on the assumption that, as the cost of information approaches zero, every other commodity will become proportionally cheaper until everything is free. That is, he sees a downward sloping trendline, and gets from that that reductions in cost and increases in efficiency will continue unchecked indefinitely.

Which is a little like saying that the solution to automobile emissions is just to make gas engines more and more efficient until they don't need fuel anymore.

Wake me up when a western democracy plutocracy so much as considers a universal basic income.
posted by fifthrider at 5:52 AM on July 17, 2015 [23 favorites]


That's just the thing, fifthrider. The author acts like the historical left had failed, and capitalism won't be destroyed by it but by this sweeping evolution of Information.

But what he forgets is that a fundament of the anti-capitalism tradition is Justice (in a myriad ways) - it is the raison d'etre. He could be right about these changes to capitalism, but capitalism has changed before. Just because it changes, doesn't mean we get the better world for which we have been doing anticapitalism.
posted by entropone at 6:01 AM on July 17, 2015 [5 favorites]



Wake me up when a western democracy plutocracy so much as considers a universal basic income.


Don't go to sleep just yet, the Swiss already have
posted by bonaldi at 6:01 AM on July 17, 2015 [12 favorites]


Mason’s argument still implies that control of the state still has to be gained in order to create the conditions for technology to lead to emancipation, so I can’t see it as all that optimistic.

Having finished the article, there is very little on the physical economy of food-clothing-shelter-infrastructure, and as fifthrider notes, a failure to address the fact that ‘zero’ is never achieved, there are frictions and lower bounds and thresholds that can change everything. So OK.
posted by ormon nekas at 6:02 AM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think if certain momentums continue on their current trajectory, capitalism will indeed collapse upon itself (a policy of constant growth isn't sustainable anyway), but THE INTERNET and sharing economy are not the heralds of a new age.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:02 AM on July 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


The big postcapitalist example in the article is Wikipedia, which is edited by volunteers.

Know what else is edited by volunteers? Reddit. Go ask them how they're liking the whole volunteer thing these days.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:07 AM on July 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Two issues with this piece:

1) Feudalism did not "end" 500 years ago. Russia didn't abolish serfdom in law until 1861. The United States practiced chattel slavery until 1865. Feudalism in Japan lasted until the end of the Boshin War (1868). There are probably some African and Asian societies which now practice something that we would recognize as Feudalism (I’m looking at you, Mauritania). My point here is that history – and historical epochs, like “capitalism” or “feudalism” – don’t just transition from one to the next. In reality, these social systems continue to exist in different times and different places, depending upon local circumstances.

2) I’m not totally sure that networking and the free flow of information is going to undermine capitalism. The examples given – like the music industry – aren’t really good examples: the US government and other governments expend large amounts of money to threaten and punish copyright violators. They seem to be doing an effective job as well … you may illegally download all your music, but somebody is still keeping EMI in business, and they don’t seem to be going anywhere. Likewise, the idea of “factory labor will destroy capitalism” – held by Marx and others – turned out to be a dud. The capitalist class (and their clients in religion and government) simply developed new methods of social control: professional police forces, welfare agencies, The Dole, intelligence services, Evangelical Christianity, yellow journalism, overseas imperialism, etc. … all of this served to contain and suppress factory-floor democracy. And it apparently worked very well. Do YOU belong to an autonomous worker’s collective? Me neither. So Capitalism has been plodding along just fine.

The free flow of information is indeed a threat to the current capitalism paradigm. I’ll admit that. But I think it’s silly to assume that the global capitalist system isn’t going to produce incredibly powerful and invasive control mechanisms as it comes to grips with the crisis. Over the past few years, for example, I can’t even recall how many times I’ve heard someone say “Don’t put [the topic of conversation] in an email, you don’t want to be on a Watch List, do you?”. I bet you’ve heard similar things. Often this is spoken in jest, but the reality is fairly accurate. People already silence some of their conversation (reduce their personal information flow) for fear of retaliation from the authorities. And this is in a free democracy such as ours.
Just something to consider, I guess.
posted by Avenger at 6:08 AM on July 17, 2015 [45 favorites]


I think if certain momentums continue on their current trajectory, capitalism will indeed collapse upon itself

And take world civilization along with it.
posted by Caduceus at 6:09 AM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Information technology and the sharing economy are tools full stop, not tools of capitalism or tools of post-capitalism. There is a first mover advantage however so help us build post-capitalist tools you lazy hippies. ;)

There is an awful lot one can do to bring down capitalism while earning a nice living in technology.

First, ask yourself "Am I putting anyone out of work?" If not, change jobs. If so, then ask yourself "Who am I putting out of work?" If the answer isn't someone who's job is useless anyways, like advertisers, bankers, managers, accountants, etc., then again you should consider if your talents can be put to better use. Self-driving cars are wonderful, but automated tax returns are better.

Second, ask yourself "Am I creating mechanisms of suppression?" I'd say not too badly if you work for say Uber, well they'll probably always have real competition, but if you work for Facebook, Google, Visa, etc., then you should really consider the details, and think about what else you could be doing.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:10 AM on July 17, 2015 [12 favorites]


I like how the price of a jetliner tends towards zero because it's all information now.
posted by chavenet at 6:10 AM on July 17, 2015 [14 favorites]


Second, information is corroding the market’s ability to form prices correctly. That is because markets are based on scarcity while information is abundant..

Information which, like this article, is mostly nonsense.
posted by three blind mice at 6:12 AM on July 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


As recently posted in the Oxi thread there is severe disagreement about this:
Greece Is Just The Beginning: The 21st Century 'Enclosures' Have Begun.
Information is just beans to keep the masses squabbling. Power will do what it wants.
posted by adamvasco at 6:17 AM on July 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's hard to believe that variation of the evolution of man image isn't intended as some kind of cruel joke. Is it possible the author hasn't already seen this more appropriate one?
posted by sfenders at 6:21 AM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Information may be free, and I agree that attempts to regulate it are mostly failures. So, indeed our society is changing. But until food, shelter, clothes and electricity are also free I don't quite see how an information utopia is supposed to bring us to a post-capitalistic world. Mostly think that capitalism is changing along with the new information paradigm just fine, and the current government structures across the world are only reinforcing the status quo.

So, while thought provoking this article is nothing more than the musings of a possible what-if situation that I feel has no real substance to it.
posted by Vindaloo at 6:21 AM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Mostly think that capitalism is changing along with the new information paradigm just fine, and the current government structures across the world are only reinforcing the status quo.

There's a reason that the TPP is being marketed as a "trade deal," but primarily serves instead to restrict intellectual property and freedom of information at a level above the domestic law of the party states.
posted by fifthrider at 6:25 AM on July 17, 2015 [12 favorites]


Well, I'm convinced that he's half right. I'm sure we're exiting the time when capitalism can meaningfully describe our economy. But his utopian vision of everything magically just kind of working seems really ill thought out.

Yes, information is valuable. No, it isn't going to feed you, shelter you, or clothe you.

The problem is that as we move more towards automation we need a social/economic system that can distribute things equably. What we're getting instead is an ever increasing disparity between rich and poor as the rich absorb very close to 100% of all economic growth from automation and leave everyone else bickering over the scraps.

And armed with more money than they've ever had before, the wealthy are turning out to be both more cruel and more fanatically devoted to keeping their bloated bank accounts than ever before. Look at Greece, and how the economic elite of Europe have managed to completely subvert democracy and impose a policy forcing literal starvation on the poor. The people of Greece voted against the plan to starve them in order to enrich the already obscenely wealthy, and democracy was ignored and the plan to starve them was implemented anyway.

How this will play out as automation increasingly puts more and more people out of work, and out of any chance of ever getting work, is disturbing to contemplate.

If the wealthy of the world had shown even the slightest bit of willingness to de-bloat their bank accounts in order to allow others not to starve I'd have hope that we might accomplish a transition without massive violence and bloodshed. But they haven't.

What really bothers me is that generally the political result of the sort of economic pain the elites of the world seem so hellbent on inflicting on everyone else is a rise in nationalism, ethnocentrism, and far right wing politics.

It isn't a coincidence that the Tea Party in the USA, the Golden Dawn in Greece, Jobbik in Hungary, UKIP in the UK, etc have all been rising to power over the past decade or so. People suffering from economic pain look for people to blame and strong leaders to follow. The left is much less willing to point a finger at the real culprits (banks, the ultra rich) than the right is willing to point a finger at scapegoats (immigrants, liberals, intellectuals, minorities), and worse the left has a long, depressing, history of doing absolutely nothing to really fight against the bringers of economic doom.

Look at Greece, there we had a rare instance of the left being willing to actually lay the blame where it belongs, and they were rewarded at the ballot box for this rare bit of honesty. But when the time came to actually stand up to the people and institutions they capitulated instead and now the Greek people have learned that the left won't really help them. The Golden Dawn and other Greek right wing parties must have been celebrating, because they know that at the next elections they'll win in a landslide.

But the right won't actually fix the problem, they'll just whip up hatred of their designated victim groups while collaborating with the elites to inflict even more economic pain on the masses. Regrettably the message of "we just haven't killed/beaten enough Jews/gypsies/homosexuals/immigrants/etc yet" tends to win elections for a long time. As Jim Crow in the USA demonstrated a depressingly large number of people are quite willing to suffer severe economic privation as long as they're given an even less advantaged group to beat up on.

So yes, capitalism is dying. No doubt. Automation means that full employment will never happen, and there will be an increasingly large number of people who are not merely unemployed but who have no hope of ever having a job.

The question is whether we'll get the Star Trek utopian vision of everyone sharing the immense wealth that automation will bring, or whether that'll be horded by the elites, the Robot Lords, guarded by drones, and the bulk of the population will subsist on crumbs that are always not quite enough and placated by right wing messages of hate towards minorities.

The latter doesn't seem very stable in the long run, but a few decades of that followed by a bloody revolution is seeming increasingly more likely than a nice smooth transition to the Star Trek future.
posted by sotonohito at 6:25 AM on July 17, 2015 [40 favorites]


Much like the apocalypse, people have been claiming Capitalism will end, and soon, for a long time. Every time, Capitalism finds a way to cling on and fuck people over again. The only way we'll be free of Capitalism is when we finally blow ourselves up into a pile of radioactive dust and pass the planet to its rightful heirs, the cockroaches.

And they'll probably create Capitalism once they evolve sentience.
posted by SansPoint at 6:27 AM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Whether or not information is free doesn't matter unless the means of accessing and interpreting information also are.

(And that basically sums up libraries, which are amazing, but haven't led us to a post capital society.)

His examples of collaborative production are all still very much part of a capitalist framework. Wikipedia runs off of the leisure time of a certain class and donations of money earned from non-collaborative labor.

In Greece, when a grassroots NGO mapped the country’s food co-ops, alternative producers, parallel currencies and local exchange systems they found more than 70 substantive projects and hundreds of smaller initiatives ranging from squats to carpools to free kindergartens.

Those things are not new, but mapping them is. Free lunches haven't destroyed capitalism yet.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:28 AM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Begun, it has and nothing to wear have I.

Actually, Wired circa 1997 was publishing crap like: The Long Boom: A History of the Future, 1980 - 2020

Well, it had a great cover ...
posted by octobersurprise at 6:29 AM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also, it's interesting that he doesn't talk about automation as much as the sharing economy. Automation usually means people working less whereas the sharing economy usually means people working two jobs.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:29 AM on July 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


The big postcapitalist example in the article is Wikipedia, which is edited by volunteers.

Know what else is edited by volunteers? Reddit. Go ask them how they're liking the whole volunteer thing these days.


Reddit is a very appropriate example in 2 ways:

1) The capitalists still own it, and they are happily pissing off their user base in the name of seeking more profit. So as you point out, the technical ability to share information easily isn't going to revolutionize anything if it's controlled by the same oligarchs. The volunteer mods only have as much say as the owners allow them.

2) A significant segment of the user base - notable the portion that is really angry right now - is a bunch of assholes who want the freedom to express their hate for many, many marginalized groups. So if the flow of information is really going to cause the revolution this article is predicting, we have to realize that this change is not an unmitigated good and there could still be awful power structures built in to the new system.
posted by Tehhund at 6:31 AM on July 17, 2015 [12 favorites]


Automation usually means people working less whereas the sharing economy usually means people working two jobs.

The "sharing economy" is the opposite of automation, really. Automation means machines working for people; the "sharing economy" requires people working for machines.
posted by fifthrider at 6:33 AM on July 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


Having finished the article, there is very little on the physical economy of food-clothing-shelter-infrastructure, and as fifthrider notes, a failure to address the fact that ‘zero’ is never achieved, there are frictions and lower bounds and thresholds that can change everything. So OK.

I agree. This is ignored to the degree that it makes me wonder what he thinks of his average reader. It's the obvious next step in his argument... he gets at it with a hilariously named "Project 0" (like a new flavor of diet cola), but that's fleetingly short on details. Maybe he's saving that for people who buy his book.

One situation where I could actually see his predictions coming true would be truly immersive digital simulation. If you could enter into a sort of low-grad coma state, eat nothing but cheap engineered smart food through a tube, and use as much power as it takes to keep you in stasis and run your share of the server. Such an invention would give a release valve for surplus labor that has been automated out of the job market: just hook them up to their pod, have them sign away their rights, and subsidise their meager costs of living to make sure that they don't come after you with a pitchfork later. It's far in the future science fiction stuff, but so were flying machines once upon a time. In my hypothetical you have something perhaps more horrific than our current situation: only the rich can experience reality!

edit: I forgot to add that my above situation already sort of happens. The NEET lifestyle often involves a reduced livlihood that is supplemented by cheap-to-free digital entertainment. I'm not sure that's something we should be searching to produce at scale.
posted by codacorolla at 6:34 AM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


What?
CAPITALISM is evolving!
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:35 AM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


They exist because they trade, however haltingly and inefficiently, in the currency of postcapitalism: free time, networked activity and free stuff.

Or, as I like to refer to it, slavery! Yes let's keep going and return to the days of the obscenely rich and squabbling poor who don't have any capital at all and are forced to communally organize childcare and trade services like peasants with iPhones. Because that's not where it's headed at all...
posted by jimmythefish at 6:54 AM on July 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Post-Capitalism is when Capitalism wins and crushes us all down into serfdom, right?
posted by Artw at 7:00 AM on July 17, 2015 [14 favorites]


If I have to read another article where the "sharing economy" is said to have democratized wealth distribution I will hire an Uber to run me over.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:02 AM on July 17, 2015 [32 favorites]


The latter doesn't seem very stable in the long run, but a few decades of that followed by a bloody revolution is seeming increasingly more likely than a nice smooth transition to the Star Trek future.

Actually, the transition in the Star Trek universe isn't that smooth; World War III is supposed to happen... hmmm, a few decades from now.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:02 AM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think the point of articles like this is to make you feel like you are saving the world from your armchair when you correct a typo on Wikipedia.
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:06 AM on July 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Actually, the transition in the Star Trek universe isn't that smooth; World War III is supposed to happen... hmmm, a few decades from now.

Somehow we missed the bit in the 1990s where Khan Noonien Singh controlled most of Asia, but at least we still have the Post-Atomic Horror to look forward to.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:06 AM on July 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


Actually, the transition in the Star Trek universe isn't that smooth; World War III is supposed to happen... hmmm, a few decades from now.

As I never get tired of pointing out, Star Trek also posited a series of riots based on massive wealth inequality and police oppression of the poor in San Francisco. By that timeline, we're about five years from the poor being rounded up in prison-ghettoes, then another four til the riots begin.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:08 AM on July 17, 2015 [23 favorites]


The "sharing economy" democratizes poverty, that's all.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:29 AM on July 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Information is capital.

No, but capital is made of information. Banking is obviously an information technology. The revolutions that capitalism has gone through have changed its relationship with society and its manner of operation, but not its basic nature. Wage labour has been around since ancient times, and became more popular each time old social structures it replaced were disrupted enough to give it a chance, as money became more abstract and more universal over the centuries.

Recent developments in information technology are as nothing compared to the changes wrought in the industrial revolution; and capitalism survived that just fine. The current wave of automation is no more likely to produce "free, abundant goods" than was that previous one.

"You only find this new economy if you look hard for it." It's as if capitalism has now taken over so thoroughly that the discovery that something still exists outside it has become a surprise to someone. This current situation might yet develop into the final crisis of capitalism, but it won't be due to post-scarcity magic. It will be some variation of the usual scenario of food production failing to keep up with population growth due to global warming and other such things that are on the cusp of going wrong.
posted by sfenders at 7:29 AM on July 17, 2015


With that headline I thought this was going to be a repost about the Twinkle Tush.
posted by saturday_morning at 7:31 AM on July 17, 2015


As I never get tired of pointing out, Star Trek also posited a series of riots based on massive wealth inequality and police oppression of the poor in San Francisco. By that timeline, we're about five years from the poor being rounded up in prison-ghettoes, then another four til the riots begin.

It sounds pretty likely, doesn't it?

His vision sounds so hopeful, and I like hope and want him to be right that things are going to get better. But he's awfully blithe about the Black Death being a great thing for tearing down feudalism (I'm sure that would have been such a comfort to its victims, if only they'd known!), and how climate change will act the same for capitalism. I assume because he feels it unlikely that he will be one of climate change's victims. Just, you know, those other people. Regrettable but maybe necessary for progress to occur. Which gives his optimism a rather sociopathic (and racist!) tinge.
posted by emjaybee at 7:31 AM on July 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Somehow we missed the bit in the 1990s where Khan Noonien Singh controlled most of Asia

We got the Spy Kids films instead.
posted by Artw at 7:36 AM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


We got the Spy Kids films instead.

So the Star-Trek universe won that one.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:38 AM on July 17, 2015


Actually, Wired circa 1997 was publishing crap like ...

Yep - looking back at Wired now, it being the heir and key popularizer of the Whole Earth Catalog's libertarian technoutopianism is even more glaringly obvious. Silicon Valley is still in thrall to the ideas of Stewart Brand, J. Baldwin, Kevin Kelly* et al, with increasingly delusional and toxic returns.

*Not an out-of-hand denunciation of any of these guys, but they are deeply wrong and blinkered by their privilege RE: the social impact of technology, for the most part.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:39 AM on July 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


Somehow we missed the bit in the 1990s where Khan Noonien Singh controlled most of Asia

We got the Spy Kids films instead.


You guys don't understand. We're all stuck in Biff's alternate 1985 timeline.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:39 AM on July 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


So many things have been declared dead or dying that I really wish that the next thing to die is naming things that are dead or dying.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 7:40 AM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


But he's awfully blithe about the Black Death being a great thing for tearing down feudalism (I'm sure that would have been such a comfort to its victims, if only they'd known!), and how climate change will act the same for capitalism.

Climate change (along with the array of other problems we face) does the exact opposite of what the black death is often said to have done. If 20% of the workers all die of the plague, you can see how that might be a good thing for the survivors: More work to go around, more farmland per capita to keep everyone happy, et cetera. If the problem is instead that people are going hungry because there's not enough land per capita to go around, nobody benefits. It's just a fairly normal situation for capitalism, which has proven remarkably tolerant of situations where it can provide its workers only just enough to survive or a bit less.
posted by sfenders at 7:51 AM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


"I believe it offers an escape route – but only if these micro-level projects are nurtured, promoted and protected by a fundamental change in what governments do. And this must be driven by a change in our thinking – about technology, ownership and work. So that, when we create the elements of the new system, we can say to ourselves, and to others: 'This is no longer simply my survival mechanism, my bolt hole from the neoliberal world; this is a new way of living in the process of formation.'"

I'll remember to stop in the midst of my new-reality-creation, hold up my index finger, adjust my steampunk pince-nez, and recite, in the proper Patrick Stewart intonation, "This is a new way of living in the process of formation! Hail the vanguard!" when the steroidally militarized cops, the vulturous debt collectors, and the theocrats in the GOP come pounding on my door.
posted by blucevalo at 7:59 AM on July 17, 2015


Star Trek also posited a series of riots based on massive wealth inequality and police oppression of the poor in San Francisco.

That wasn't Star Trek, that was Deep Space Nine.


he's awfully blithe about the Black Death being a great thing for tearing down feudalism . . . climate change will act the same for capitalism.

Climate change is going to kill one to two billion people outright in the short-term, mostly in places like Bangladesh, regardless of what we do or not do at this point.

It's also unclear where the food is going to come from to feed those who are left.

In the USA, we'll probably all be required to pay scores of billions of dollars for massive technological / infrastructural efforts to 'save New York' (that is, rich people's homes and the fiancial infrastructure) and other favoured places from rising ocean levels, increased storms, and whatever else happens as the Gulf Stream grinds to a halt.

I would like to hear how all that's going to tear down capitalism, as such.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:01 AM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


That wasn't Star Trek, that was Deep Space Nine.

Deep Space Nine was one of the Star Trek series - indeed, the very best of all the Star Trek series.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:08 AM on July 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


I agree that this article is over-optimistic. But I'm surprised at people calling a Marxist analysis "libertarian". It might be because there are lots of different strands and interpretations within Marxism, and this may be a less familiar one.

Marx himself never wrote about a "final crisis of capitalism". In volume 1 of Capital, which he completed himself, he talks about a series of regular crises within capitalism. Volume 3, completed by Engels after Marx's death from his notes, talks about "tendency of the rate of profit to fall", which can be offset by various factors.

One interpretation of this is that the tendency of the rate of profit to fall will create a "final crisis of capitalism". That's probably the best known.

Other interpretations are that the tendency is not inevitable, or that Engels didn't accurately reflect Marx's view.

But there is a strand within Marxism which suggests that the Communist revolution will arrive gradually without a final crisis. This is the view that's represented in the article.

David Graeber has made a couple of interesting points from within the same strand. He points out that Marx says that each stage of development contains within it the "seeds" of the next. So Capitalism itself might contain aspects of Communism. He points out that in some ways corporations act in a communist way. If you have a white-collar job in a corporation and you need a new pen, you don't buy it, you walk over to the supply cupboard where it's supplied for free.

Moreover, there are tendencies within corporations to move away from traditional rigid management hierarchies to alternatives like holocracy, Scrum and kanban. It's not impossible to see that trend gradually continuing towards full communism.

Consider kanban for instance, pioneered at Toyota. Traditionally at a car company, senior managers would plan to produce X sedans, Y pickups and Z coupes this quarter. They would then order enough parts: wheels, tyres, doors etc to produce them. Kanban replaces this with more decentralized teams producing just-in-time. The dealership sends a kanban card for one sedan to the factory. The factory sends out 4 kanban cards for wheels to the wheel team. The wheel team sends out cards for the tyres, the wheels, the hubcaps etc.

Systems without much reliance on management hierarchies could eventually transition more easily to a communist or anarchist society: you could potentially coordinate activity without a company existing at all.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:11 AM on July 17, 2015 [19 favorites]


I'm just impressed that someone managed to write a nonsensical techno-utopian pseudo-libertarian rant and not mention Bitcoin, the instrument du jour of achieving True Internet Freedom.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:21 AM on July 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Another historical tidbit that people often forget: the Cotton Gin - an early "killer app" that massively increased the efficiency and lowered the costs of certain types of agriculture - actually increased the value of slavery by an order of magnitude, rather than "democratizing" anything.

The app enabled greater repression, because the people working the fields (the slaves) were not in control of the means of production.
posted by Avenger at 8:23 AM on July 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


sfenders, I never completely bought that the Black Death actually meant more food because you needed a lot of people at that time to keep agriculture going, and though my history is fuzzy, I'm pretty sure that lack of labor in the fields meant famine for a lot of the survivors, at least immediately. Especially if those that died were the ones who had the knowledge to sow and manage crops. Which is just the kind of thing that this writer does not spend any time thinking about.

I get the need for big-picture thinking, but it's kind of like trying to write history before it happens. In the meantime, actual people are caught in capitalism's gears.
posted by emjaybee at 8:24 AM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Deep Space Nine was one of the Star Trek series - indeed, the very best of all the Star Trek series.

Setting phasers to squabble
posted by clockzero at 8:28 AM on July 17, 2015 [10 favorites]


Call me old fashioned, but I don't see any way out of this short of some kind of revolution. If we're lucky, and some kind of massive general strike happens extremely quickly, we might do it without bloodshed.

If any of the things this fellow talks about start to be truly general, they'll either be co-opted or corrupted. Look at how 'Occupy' shows up in DNC rhetoric.

The rich don't have to sacrifice their lifestyle to fight a class war. We probably will.

It's just awful, where we're at.
posted by Trochanter at 8:40 AM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I never completely bought that the Black Death actually meant more food

The main thing that the Black Death mean (economically) was a labour shortage, across the board: day labour, agro, trades, management, military ... in Western Europe.

Again, it's unclear that global warming -- by killing a similar proportion of the world population -- will have anything like the same effect.

Also, the author mentions the "New World" opening up (also increased intercourse with other mature technological cultures outside western Europe). Unless he is positing large scale colonisation of Luna, Mars, Charon, etc. (and the opening of a silkwormhole road to another planetary culture) there's no contemporary parallel.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:43 AM on July 17, 2015


the Black Death meant a labour shortage, across the board:

Uh, and consequent increase in the cost of labour and the power of Labour, I meant to add.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:46 AM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Climate change is definitely going to present some serious challenges to the status quo. And most of the obvious solutions require some kind of dramatic collective action - even if its just "everyone needs to move now." More likely, as things get worse and worse the population won't just sit around waiting for things to go to shit and they'll demand something different. Not necessarily in a political way. But just in a "the old ways of doing everything aren't working, gotta try something else."

Same thing probably happened in Europe when 1/3 of the population died because of the plague. And that's when things happen. We are actually witnessing some of the beginning now. But its only like the first adopters. People who are either desperate or brave. Only when shit gets really really real will the vast majority of the populace start to change their lives.

I might be alive for it. But I won't see it finish. That'll take generations.
posted by Glibpaxman at 9:23 AM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


This of choose illustrates why the Left is pretty much useless and irrelevant these days. Who wants to listen to a bunch of cynics saying "It's hopeless! Nothing can be done! It's all over and we've lost! Sackcloths and ashes for everyone!"?
posted by happyroach at 9:28 AM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sackcloths and ashes? Look at the starry-eyed dreamer over here.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:30 AM on July 17, 2015 [10 favorites]


Another historical tidbit that people often forget: the Cotton Gin - an early "killer app" that massively increased the efficiency and lowered the costs of certain types of agriculture - actually increased the value of slavery by an order of magnitude, rather than "democratizing" anything.

This is a case of the Jevons paradox, that the more efficiently the resource is used the greater the demand for that resource. Of course, "resource" here refers to enslaved people, but still.
posted by Thing at 9:40 AM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


This of choose illustrates why the Left is pretty much useless and irrelevant these days. Who wants to listen to a bunch of cynics saying "It's hopeless!"

"The Left" is a really vague term, so we could be referring to totally different things, but mostly on Metafilter I hear "the left" suggesting totally plausible hopeful things like a guaranteed basic income, which would lead us closer to the idea of a post-scarcity society where work is not mandated and the absence of work, especially useless work, is not punished. But that would require actual effort, political effort and this article isn't really suggesting that. He's suggesting that we can be hopeful without having to do anything other than rent out our extra bedrooms. Or maybe he's saying that; he's kind of vague tbh.
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:44 AM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have news for you guys - the class war is being fought, and it's being fought on the rich's terms. Just this morning Google is up $86, or about 15%. How many shares do you guys have?

Yesterday the Bank of Canada lowered the prime rate by a quarter point. The banks responded by lowering variable interest rates by 0.15. That tenth just gets stolen from my pocket. The CBC ran an article the same day about how it's strange people are not more upset about this.

We're so used to being shit upon that we don't even get angry about it. The revolution is coming? How? We're all too busy using our phones to notice the world being stolen from under our feet.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:47 AM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


What?
CAPITALISM is evolving!


CAPITALISM used TRICKLE DOWN!

It's not very effective...
posted by idiopath at 10:23 AM on July 17, 2015 [16 favorites]


A dubious appreciation of scarcity in general. As things become cheap, other things become dear. It's human nature. Many fewer people are able to rich than can be rich, at any point in time, hence: capitalism.

An especially dubious appreciation of information-driven scarcity:

First, the more the gross volume of information, the more relatively scarce (and hence expensive) useful information becomes. Trillions of dollars of market enterprise value exists in the world today that didn't exist a few decades ago to source and render accessible useful information. (Ask an 80-year-old who was a 40-year-old college graduate with a white collar job in 1975 what his household information budget was ... even as a percent of income, tiny compared to that of a comparable family today.)

Second, he ignores the super-cycle that information-driven wealth creates demand for inherently scarce (because not information-volume-variable) assets. London real estate. Retirement costs of Chicago fire fighters. Etc.
posted by MattD at 10:29 AM on July 17, 2015


We're not saying it's hopeless, we're just saying that it's ridiculous to think that Post-Scarcity by itself will automatically mean "COMMUNISM!" (Socialism, whatever the fuck you wanna call it -- or you know Bookchin's Anarchism).

If anybody is anything it's pie-in-the-sky idealism and naivete in this article with no concrete plans or even concepts/theory to put into praxis besides the mythical Communist Ex Machina.
posted by symbioid at 10:34 AM on July 17, 2015


Silicon Valley is still in thrall to the ideas of Stewart Brand, J. Baldwin, Kevin Kelly* et al, with increasingly delusional and toxic returns.

Tomorrow’s Advance Man: Marc Andreessen’s plan to win the future.
By Tad Friend (The New Yorker, May 18, 2015)
posted by Auden at 10:37 AM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]



Tough crowd here. Did everybody run out of ecstasy the same week?
posted by philip-random at 10:59 AM on July 17, 2015


... and then a couple more serious thoughts.

A.
we are in the midst of some serious change, whether for good, bad, ugly. With change comes turmoil. I wonder how much of the negativity in this thread is because of that turmoil (ie: the trouble of negotiating the immediate now vs where it may be taking us).

B.
From the article:
But what is all this information worth? You won’t find an answer in the accounts: intellectual property is valued in modern accounting standards by guesswork. A study for the SAS Institute in 2013 found that, in order to put a value on data, neither the cost of gathering it, nor the market value or the future income from it could be adequately calculated. Only through a form of accounting that included non-economic benefits, and risks, could companies actually explain to their shareholders what their data was really worth. Something is broken in the logic we use to value the most important thing in the modern world.

No, information is not the most important thing in the modern world. It's probably the fourth most important beyond food, shelter, clothing. But none of these three ever-present NEEDS will ever be met (for all or certainly most) without far better means of making the most of all the available (increasingly free) information (ie: communicating better with each other across our various borders, languages, faiths, ideologies, philosophies, genders, fandoms etc). And good luck finding solutions for such in any past I'm aware of. So yeah, Denethor the future all you want, it's all we've got.
posted by philip-random at 11:28 AM on July 17, 2015


If capitalism is sick, I don't want to see it when it's healthy.
posted by Beholder at 11:44 AM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


On a more serious note, the most recent issue of Foreign Affairs was devoted to pieces on the future impact of robotics and technology on society. One of them was an interesting article by Financial Times economics writer Martin Wolf arguing that a lot of the talk about the changes being wrought is overblown, because the evidence doesn't show them to be as large as people think, and that the changes of the Second Industrial Revolution were much, much greater.

I'm not sure if I entirely agree, but it's an interesting perspective.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:00 PM on July 17, 2015


Post-Capitalism is already here, it's just not evenly distributed
posted by gwint at 12:43 PM on July 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Why is it that when a goofy political/economic article gets posted it seems I can depend on it being topped by the ensuing thread that follows?
posted by 2N2222 at 1:05 PM on July 17, 2015


Don't go to sleep just yet, the Swiss already have

and it looks like pilot projects in utrecht and groningen (among other dutch cities) are actually happening: "The city also plans to talk with other municipalities about setting up similar experiments. They are discussing with Nijmegen, Wageningen, Tilburg and Groningen and they want to start in the second half of this year."

The question is whether we'll get the Star Trek utopian vision of everyone sharing the immense wealth that automation will bring, or whether that'll be horded by the elites, the Robot Lords, guarded by drones, and the bulk of the population will subsist on crumbs that are always not quite enough and placated by right wing messages of hate towards minorities.

-A 'Star Trek' Future Might Be Closer Than We Think
-Notes on Trekonomics

but even in the neofeudal robot lord future of say stephenson's burbclaves and phyles, if you allow open borders or (non-territorial?) virtual citizenship where allegiances are fluid, people will migrate to freer societies; repression can only go so far, esp if it offers lower standards of living (or quality of entertainments...)

One situation where I could actually see his predictions coming true would be truly immersive digital simulation. If you could enter into a sort of low-grad coma state, eat nothing but cheap engineered smart food through a tube, and use as much power as it takes to keep you in stasis and run your share of the server. Such an invention would give a release valve for surplus labor that has been automated out of the job market: just hook them up to their pod, have them sign away their rights, and subsidise their meager costs of living to make sure that they don't come after you with a pitchfork later.

-the experience machine! [1,2,3]
-ready player one[*] :P

re: digital sharecropping, jaron lanier has addressed this in 'who owns the future?' (or, alternatively, who owns -- and can fix -- the robots?) which i think gets at the problem of modern-day 'you are the product' technological rentierism and 'monetization strategies' but any solutions proposed are necessarily provisional. like besides wikipedia one could say, like RMS has, that free software has been coopted by opensource... but how/why?

there was a recent discussion in econblog land about the nature of ideas in a public goods context of their rivalness and excludability. that is to what extent does the implementation of an idea impinge on another instance/iteration of it (like if you're drawing on a limited developer pool) and to what degree can you limit ideas from spreading (think about education levels of a population)?

you can then morph into a discussion of technological diffusion (unevenly distributed) and productivity growth (why so low?) and from that you can kinda sorta maybe bank shot across the secular stagnation debate to the zero lower bound, which, if ever there was a big flashing warning sign for the crisis of capitalism the ZLB would be it...

and as delong likes to say "to make say's law true in practice" central banks are having to resort to extraordinary measures over and beyond their institutional design.

so here we are; where do we go?

So Capitalism itself might contain aspects of Communism.

so one reason why i'm fascinated by central banks is that they are capitalism's central planners (as delong has also pointed out! also the bit about corporations as command economies ;) so one thing you can do to get a glimpse of what may come is to look at what they're doing, especially at the extremes -- buying assets (including stocks; see BOJ and PBOC), negative rates (riksbank, SNB, ECB), NGDP targeting, etc. -- or proposals like disintermediating banks and everyone having an account and ATM access at the fed or adopting fedcoin... and that's just for central banks to stay central and relevant!

waiting in the wings are decentralized shared ledgers that faithfully record public facts in open access public memory systems; a memory bank as it were :P

also btw...
-The WTF Economy
-A World Already Without Work
-The political economy of a world without work
-The Hard Work of Taking Apart Post-Work Fantasy
-Needed: More Government, More Government Debt, Less Worry
-The Datafication of Business and Society
-César Hidalgo on Why Information Grows
-Paul Romer on Why Information Grows
-Why the Techno-optimists Are Wrong
-Open Letter on the Digital Economy
-Where Are We Headed?
posted by kliuless at 1:49 PM on July 17, 2015 [14 favorites]


If you have a white-collar job in a corporation and you need a new pen, you don't buy it, you walk over to the supply cupboard where it's supplied for free.

Please don't give them any more ideas dude.
posted by bukvich at 2:15 PM on July 17, 2015


And don't even get me started on the institutionalized racism inherent in the theories handed down to the developing world.
posted by infini at 3:31 PM on July 17, 2015


How long do people need to work to buy a tv today vs twenty years ago? We are all fat dumb and happy and we are only getting fatter. Eventually it will be a scene from Wall-e....as alluded to above.

Capitalism is just a blip within a small blip in the evolution of this small corner of the universe.
posted by jasondigitized at 9:50 PM on July 17, 2015


I haven't finished reading this article yet but I'm going to just assume it ends with a coke commercial, right?
posted by Fizz at 7:48 AM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm finding this article disturbing because it's not 100% obvious why it is wrongheaded. My only criticism thus far is the author positing a technological rapture that's not arrived yet but it's been set in motion and therefore people in general should try to be optimistic. I'm not sure this is good reasoning.

In the Marx excerpt he forgets to evaluate the opposition between the introduced concepts of "knowledge power" and "general intellect". Only if the former is "equally" distributed in the latter can the author have his rosy future. So my second criticism is it looks to me like the author cheated by skipping a step.

I do feel like somewhere along my education I got taught an idea that automation can't solve society's problems, and that people who believe so are naive or even dangerous. Maybe it was a steady diet of Hollywood flicks involving bad robots misbehaving. So it's personally interesting to come across this article that forces me to try to reconsider these questions.
posted by polymodus at 11:33 AM on July 18, 2015


I'm finding this article disturbing because it's not 100% obvious why it is wrongheaded.

For me, it's not just because dude pretends he invented the term "post-capitalism", but more that his new age does not seem to really include the developing world at all. Like a lot of people who, while not so crazy about corporatocracy yet still want their toys, he seek some kind of easy-peasy solution to this dilemma, and he goes with what amounts to "tech will save us". Like luxury communism, it's the kind of delusional, rising-tide, trickle down optimism that either assumes the whole world will benefit from what is clearly a first world sea change or ignores the developing world altogether. Maybe the machines will make life easier for the developed world, maybe not. But capitalism runs on the backs of the cheap and slave labor that produces all those wonderful tech gadgets. I don't know if he has a blind spot to this or just doesn't care, but it makes for a less than convincing argument.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:39 AM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I haven't always been in the income bracket I am in today, and I'm reminded of that awkward moment at the dinner party where everyone has wonderful enlightened culturally liberal solutions to the world's problems ("if only folks like us ran things, and everyone grew their own organic food, and made their own hand-knit sweaters!") and the awkward silence when you suggest some of the poor might not deserve it.
posted by idiopath at 12:31 PM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Then there's the reverse - I carry the burden of seemingly to resemble at minimum half a billion of the poorest on the planet and am expected to be the dinner party's token rep. Oh, the irony.
posted by infini at 2:46 PM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


About the WTF economy article : Uber has not yet obsoleted Taxi drivers, but it rapidly obsoleted managers of Taxi drivers and investors who rent Taxi medallions to Taxi drivers. These are exactly the sorts of parasitical pointless middle and rent seeking jobs we want to eliminate.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:01 AM on July 21, 2015


Doug Henwood in Jacobin: Workers Aren't Disappearing
Paul Mason has a breathless piece in the Guardian making grand New Economy claims that sound like recycled propaganda from the late 1990s — though he gives them a left spin: post-materiality is already liberating us. I wrote a book that was in large part about all that ideological froth, published in 2003, and so far I’ve been struck by the non-revival of that discourse despite a new tech bubble. Uber and Snapchat don’t excite the same utopian passions that the initial massification of the web did.

I’ll pass on refuting Mason’s article, because I already did that twelve years ago. But I do want to comment on one point that Mason makes — one that’s ubiquitous in a lot of economic commentary today: capitalists don’t need workers anymore. As he puts it:
Postcapitalism is possible because of three major changes information technology has brought about in the past 25 years. First, it has reduced the need for work, blurred the edges between work and free time and loosened the relationship between work and wages. The coming wave of automation, currently stalled because our social infrastructure cannot bear the consequences, will hugely diminish the amount of work needed — not just to subsist but to provide a decent life for all.
I can’t make sense of the “currently stalled because our social infrastructure cannot bear the consequences” — has capitalism ever skipped an innovation because of its social consequences? — but there’s no evidence that info tech is “hugely diminish[ing] the amount of work needed.” Sure, wages and benefits stink, but that’s about politics and class power, not because of the latest generation of Intel chips or something fresh out of the latest TechCrunch Disrupt.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:56 AM on July 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Interesting interview with the author here:
He says that the internet is already allowing a "human revolution" in lifestyles – "We are preparing ourselves to be able to live this life that is now possible." I think it sounds like early Marx writings about what the communist life would be like – "Hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner" – and Mason is enthusiastic: "It is exactly early Marx. Exactly that.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:34 AM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Fundamentally glowing but interesting review by Irvine Welsh here.
posted by bonaldi at 5:36 AM on August 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Vaguely related : Paris makes rent cap regulations a reality
posted by jeffburdges at 12:44 PM on August 4, 2015


Is 'Secular Stagnation' a Monetary-Financial Problem or a Fundamental-Technological Problem? - "My view is that the problems lumped under the heading of 'secular stagnation' are primarily monetary-financial problems... at their root instead of also technological-fundamental."
I think:
  1. A failure of financial regulation has left us with a set of financial intermediaries who are untrustworthy and untrusted.
  2. As a result, they cannot mobilize the risk-bearing capacity of society as a whole to any sufficient degree.
  3. And, as a result, they cannot credibly promise to bear risk themselves and thus to stand behind claims that the securities they issue are low-risk.
  4. Thus we see a very large spread–because of the shortage of mobilized risk-bearing capacity on the one hand and the shortage of safe assets issued on the other–between the equilibrium risky real return on investments in capital (say 5%/year) and the equilibrium real return on safe assets (say -3%/year).
  5. But, with an inflation target of 2%/year, the real market rate of return on safe assets cannot fall below -2%/year.
  6. Hence sometimes we have depression and low employment, as realistic assessments of real returns promised by investment in physical, intellectual, and organizational capital are not high enough to divert enough finance from safe assets with a real yield of -2%/year to reach full employment.
  7. Hence in order to reach full employment we need unrealistic assessments of real returns promised by investment in physical, intellectual, and organizational capital: we need bubbles.
Note that in this view secular stagnation can be solved in any of three ways:
  1. A higher inflation target that would allow for the possibility of a real safe interest rate of -4%/year would make it straightforward to induce enough finance to fund enough investment in physical, intellectual, and organizational capital to carry the economy to full employment.
  2. Better financial regulation to create a financial sector that could actually mobilize the–enormous–risk-bearing capacity of society as a whole would shrink the wedge between safe and risky required rates of return from its current 8%/year or so down to something like 3%/year, or less.
  3. Alternatively, a government that took on responsibility through its spending for maintaining full employment could do the job that the private sector’s shortage of risk tolerance is keeping it from doing–and in the process process it could create enough safe assets that the private sector would be eager to finance risky investment in physical, intellectual, and organizational capital as well.
But there is a view–powerfully argued by Larry Summers, if not in a manner that makes it easy for me to grasp–that a higher inflation target or a better mobilization of societal risk-bearing capacity would not be adequate solutions. What we have, instead, is a fundamental imbalance between investments that can be undertaken profitably and the savings that households and dynasties wish to hold. Such an imbalance could only be solved, the argument goes, by the government’s taking on the role of spending more and providing more savings vehicles, by income redistribution to lower the savings rate, or by policies that raise the return on investment.
also btw...
  • Recovery without Military Keynesianism - "A big program of spending on infrastructure would clearly benefit the economy both on the supply and demand side. And yet, there is no evidence of movement here, particularly given the refusal of certain elements to consider more tax funding for such measures."
  • Radical Banking: The World Needs New Tools to Fight the Next Recession - "If interest rates can be cut as much as necessary, central banks alone have plenty of firepower to end the next recession, even without any help from fiscal policy... if the Fed could have cut interest rates to -4% throughout 2009, the US could have had a robust recovery by the end of 2009 instead of bad economic times dragging on as long as they did."
  • A Central Bank 'cryptocurrency'? An interesting idea, but maybe not for the reason we think - "If everybody has access to central bank money, then why do we need payment systems?"
  • Star Trek Economics: Life After the Dismal Science - "The first thing to consider is how to distribute the fruits of plenty. If we can harness renewable energy to ward off a collapse when fossil fuels run out, then it's a good bet that increased automation, virtual reality and other technological advances will provide us with a world of plenty unimaginable in previous times. Current world annual gross domestic product per capita, in purchasing power parity terms, is only about $13,000 -- enough to put food on the table and a roof over one's head. What happens when it is $100,000, or $200,000?"
  • Our Highest Selves? - "Brain technology is about to radically change the way we live and work."
  • The moral argument for using science to design healthier, longer-lived children - "What if we could deliberately edit a germline to lengthen someone's life expectancy and make them healthier? Would we not have an ethical obligation to do so?"
  • Enhancing Humans, Advancing Humanity - "Over time he expects that human gene editing will lead in the opposite direction from the enforced conformity depicted in Brave New World and the film 'Gattaca'. Instead people will relish exploring variety, and the plummeting costs of the technology will mean that the poor will benefit as well as the rich."
posted by kliuless at 4:44 PM on August 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


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