inverting the technopoly

tags: walkaway

i was saying about the cyborgs[1].. get ready because this is a long one.

1: do cyborgs care?

i have noticed a tendency in myself to identify roadblocks by saying "we can't do X because Y", which isn't meant to say that X is not possible or should not be attempted. i am trying to change my approach with a similar, but more positive, inflection of the same idea: "i think Y may be an issue... i wonder if Z would be helpful". it isn't helpful to say "we can't do X" in any context really. i have also noticed this tendency in myself to say "A shouldn't do B because C" when i'm really trying to say that "i would do B" or "i should do B". rather than sharing a perspective, i am attempting to block and redirect an action or idea. i don't know why i do this and i'd like to change; i want to express more empathy, understanding, and encouragement. i have often thought of myself as an empathetic person, so where did i pick up this behavior?

the corporate cyborg

i wonder, in a world that is mostly owned and operated by machines[2], have we lost something of our humanity? technology can certainly be helpful, but are we certain that it serves us? who benefits from the divisive nature of online discourse in current year? a lot of this is driven by social media and news corporations who profit from high engagement[3] (anger, polarization) and are not held accountable for the effect of their "profit optimizations", but are the people who run the birdsite and even the facebook actually in charge? fighting back against high engagement is not a winning proposition when the bottom line (profit) says engagement cannot go down. with all of the technical mediation going on its hard to say, moreso when it comes to automated moderation systems. the crazy thing is that "profit" isn't a person, there's something else calling the shots here.

2: technopoly

3: high engagement

CYBORGS! arguably, smartphone-wielding humans can be considered cybernetic to some extent. your phone is definitely a part of you and it can feel odd when the device isn't nearby. cyber interaction can feel very natural, but i don't think the phone-human cyborg is directly the issue. there are problems here to be sure (addiction), but i think there are other cyborgs that are really driving the unhealthy aspects of the new digital age. i don't usually agree with the man, but Elong Muskrat[4] is right to say that modern corporations are an example of a large scale cybernetic entity. i don't think the human tendency to anthropomorphize everything[5] is enough of an explanation for the clear domination of corporate interests over the last decades[6]. further, i would argue that megacorporate social media platforms are actively pursuing an inhuman mind control project which is greatly exacerbating the existing social and political tensions for their economic gain.

4: monolith

5: Corporations are Cyborgs: Organizations elicit anger but not sympathy when they can think but cannot feel

6: Corporatism: The Cyborg Amongst Us

walkaway and technology

one of the major goals of the walkaway project is to use information as a tool of liberation[6], so how does that relate to this technopoly problem? let's first take a look at some of the reasons why this kind of angle is important.

7: walkaway manifesto

Proponents of such tyranny by the majority love to pretend that the only alternative is tyranny by the minority. But anarchist theory is all about removing the structures and means by which rulership can be asserted or expressed by anyone, majority or minority.

This is probably not the place to list them all like some kind of 101 course, but one example is superempowering technologies like guns that asymmetrically make resistance more efficient than domination. Such technologies are directly responsible for the increase of liberty over recent history. In an era where capital intensive undertakings like trained knights on horseback trumped anything else, you got rulership by elites; when the best weapons are one-kill-averaging soldiers, you just line up your troops and the one with the biggest count can be expected to win. But high-ammunition guns give every individual a veto against the lynch mob outside their door, allowing guerrillas to impede empires that vastly outscale them in capital. Technologies like the printing press and internet function similarly. And on the other side of the coin, the infrastructural extent and dependent nature of modern technologies of control or domination makes them brittle against resistance, easily prey to acts of disruption and sabotage. These tools — along with technologies of resilience and self-sufficiency — allow individuals to reject the capricious edicts of anyone, be they a minority or a majority.

Ideally anarchists seek to highlight and strengthen such dynamics with the political approaches we take, treating everyone like they have the most powerful of vetoes, capable of destroying everything, of grinding everything to a halt if they are truly intolerably imposed upon. This focus on individuals stops “the community” or other beasts from running rampant, forcing a detente tolerable for all parties. Such truces are far more likely to be attentive to the severity of individual desires, because “one vote per person” is incapable of reflecting just how much a person has at stake: something we could never hope to make objective and would be laughable to try to have a collective body legislate.

8: The Abolition Of Rulership Or The Rule Of All Over All


a hypothetical artifact like the walkaway handbook, which contains the secrets of post-scarcity praxis, would be a very powerful piece of technology. something like that would be a powerful veto against oppressive socio-economic situations and policies. sufficient study could theoretically provide a sort of "economic invulnerability" against a hostile environment. so the question arises, does this approach exclude the corporate cyborg from our humanitarian efforts? i've previously identified some specific cases[9] where a post-scarcity approach can level the playing field between mega corporations and independent software developers, but it is not clear if this can be generalized.

9: post-scarcity approach to communications infrastructure