“The Resistance”

A rag-tag but growing collection of Prevailists are beginning to fight back against a technological revolution that they see as having gone astray, according to this article in The Washington Post by Joel Achenbach.

Meet the digital dissenters: They’re fighting for a better internet

Jaron Lanier, a musician, composer, performer and computer scientist, is the dean of the digital dissenters, having largely turned against the tech tribe. “I’m the first guy to sober up after a heavy-duty party” is how he describes himself. (Nick Otto for The Washington Post) █  Lanier, 55, is a man of considerable girth and extraordinary hair.

Some slur these folk as Luddites — ignoramuses who want to return to the spinning wheel. But they’re not. Many in fact have worked very close to our new machines. Jaron Lanier, for example, invented virtual reality as a shared experience. Most are throughtful, including Pope Francis. As the piece says:

“Techno-skeptics, or whatever you want to call them — ‘humanists’ may be the best term — sense that human needs are getting lost in the tech frenzy, that the priorities have been turned upside down. They sense that there’s too much focus on making sure that new innovations will be good for the machines.

“ ‘I’m on Team Human!’ author Douglas Rushkoff will say at the conclusion of a talk.”

Their critiques include the notion that social media that started off as laudable methods to bring people together in novel ways, have turned into means for mining who we are and selling it to giant corporations. Sharing technologies that started off as admirable means for us to own less stuff, have enabled a new kind of serfdom, in which we work for the machines.

What this is really about is folk who, twenty year ago, were techno-optimists who cheered the rise of our revolutionary new order as a blow against The Man. Now they see it as going horribly wrong. They want to take it back. And they have ideas about how to do that.

The goal, they say, is for us to take control of our own futures, not to have it dictated to us by our creations and the corporations that have come to dominate them.

Very Prevailish.

1 Comment

  1. Luddite – A person opposed to increased industrialization or new technology: a small-minded Luddite resisting progress

    “Our technology today is so new that we haven’t had time to understand how to use it wisely. We haven’t quite learned how to stop ourselves from texting and driving; many of us are tempted to tap out one more letter even if we’re going 75 on the highway”

    “…grave concerns that robots are taking the jobs of humans. And the robot issue leads inevitably to the most apocalyptic fear: that machine intelligence could run away from its human inventors, leaving us enslaved — or worse — by the machines we created.”

    And lets not forget the “Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus” the summary of which reads in part “Digital technology was supposed to usher in a new age of distributed prosperity, but so far it has been used to put industrial capitalism on steroids.”

    They advocate for the destruction or uprooting of “the basic infrastructure of the developed world” in favor of “a co-op model: people dealing directly with one another without having to go through a data-sucking corporate hub”

    “Most painful for progressives has been the rise of the “sharing economy,” which they initially embraced. They feel as though the idea was stolen from them and perverted into something that hurts workers.”

    Based on their expressed views, they meet the literal definition of Luddites and to label them as such is not a slur but merely an accurate categorization of their particular stance. If being labeled a Luddite carries some particular stigma perhaps it is because the Luddite position is poorly reasoned and unsupportable by evidence.

    They’re right in as much as how we got where we are is based on what people choose, but what they want is for increased government regulation of how people get to interact with technology. They want you to be able to choose, as long they approve of your choice and it doesn’t ‘pervert’ their ideal. If you can’t figure out how to unplug that’s your problem, don’t point a fucking gun at me and tell me it’s for my own good.

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