First, it was the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) vehicles speeding along on the road in front of our campsite. Then it was the Border Patrol’s all-terrain vehicles moving swiftly on a ridge above us. I was about 10 miles north of the border with Mexico, near Peña Blanca Lake in southern Arizona, camping with my six-year-old son and some other families. Like fire trucks racing to a blaze, the Border Patrol mobilization around me was growing so large I could only imagine an emergency situation developing. I started climbing to get a better look and soon found myself alone on a golden hill dotted with alligator junipers and mesquite. Brilliant vermilion flycatchers fluttered between the branches. The road, though, was Border Patrol all the way.
The New York Times Tech Guild has won their union vote, making them the largest majority union of software workers in the United States so far. The Tech Guild went public with their unionization efforts in April 2021, and faced an enormous amount of union-busting from New York Times management. At time of writing, the Tech Guild had counted an overwhelming majority of “yes” votes, with over 80% of the bargaining unit voting yes.
The most recent topic explored by the thinkers and activists who make up the Great Transition Network was “Technology and the Future”. As writer after writer posted their thoughts, it was heartening to see that almost all recognize that technology cannot provide real solutions to the many crises we face. I was also happy that Professor William Robinson, author of a number of books on the global economy, highlighted the clear connection between computer technologies and the further entrenchment of globalization today. As anyone who has followed my work will know, globalization is of particular interest to me: for more than 40 years I’ve been studying its impacts on different cultures and societies around the world.
Tech companies are the new empires of today: Alphabet annual revenue surpassed Hungary’s GDP, Facebook employs over 15000 content moderators around the world, and Microsoft has built datavcenters in nearly every corner of our planet. Yet we continue to be sold the myth that the workers of the tech industry, which spans every corner of the globe, have nothing to do with each other. To hold these tech companies accountable, tech workers in the United States have begun to organize. “Help us be Alphabet’s conscience”, proclaimed the recently-formed Alphabet Workers Union, a minority union composed of full-time employees, temporary employees, vendors, and contractors at Google’s parent company.
On the show today, Chris Hedges discusses the lies and fantasies told by the mainstream environmental movement about how to solve the climate crisis with authors and activists Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith. A new book shows how technology will not solve our environmental crisis. We will not extract ourselves from the death march toward extinction by recycling, building wind turbines, relying on solar panels or driving electric cars. This is a fantasy sold to us by an environmental movement that promises we can continue to indulge in orgies of consumption and maintain the levels of waste and perpetual growth that define the industrial age. The fact is our time is up. The forests are dying. Water is polluted, and in many places poisoned. Industrial farming is depleting the soil.
On a humid afternoon in late August, dozens of activists gathered at an intersection in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood to protest the Police Department’s use of ShotSpotter, the gunshot detection system. Days before, news broke that the city had quietly extended its multimillion-dollar contract with the company, outraging residents and some councilmembers. Alyx Goodwin, one of the event’s organizers, pointed to a light pole bristling with what looked like microphones. They were acoustic sensors used by ShotSpotter to pick up the sound of gunfire and alert police. “Once you see one, you start to notice them more,” said Goodwin, who works as a deputy campaign director for the Action Center on Race and the Economy, an advocacy group.
On May 17, the City Council of Mesa, Arizona, approved the $800 million development of an enormous data center -- a warehouse filled with computers storing all of the photos, documents and other information we store “in the cloud” -- on an arid plot of land in the eastern part of the city. But keeping the rows of powerful computers inside the data center from overheating will require up to 1.25 million gallons of water each day, a price that Vice Mayor Jenn Duff believes is too high.“This has been the driest 12 months in 126 years,” she said, citing data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “We are on red alert, and I think data centers are an irresponsible use of our water.” Duff was the only Mesa City Council member to vote against the development.
When thinking of AI futures, the classic sci-fi tropes tell us that machines will one day take over and replace humans, with robots rendering work as we know it obsolete: the outcome will either be a post-work utopia or robot-human war. But that future is here, and the reality is far more mundane. Instead of eliminating human work, the AI industry is creating new ways of exploiting and obscuring workers. Lurking behind the amorphous and often abstract notion of ‘AI’ are material realities. 80 percent of machine learning development consists of repetitive data preparation tasks and ‘janitorial’ work such as collecting data, labelling data to feed algorithms, and data cleaning – tasks that are a far cry from the high glamour of the tech CEOs who parade their products on stage.
The Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei plans to build its own manufacturing factories to face the US restrictions imposed against it with production lines with zero US components, according to a report published in the Hong Kong digital medium Asia Times. The online newspaper, quoting David P. Goldman, an economist and analyst specializing in Asian issues, pointed out that there is a good chance that by the end of 2021, Huawei will be able to produce a state-of-the-art chipset from its Kirin line factory within China, without requiring the use of any US equipment.
Nobody, anywhere, could have predicted what we are now witnessing: in a matter of only a few weeks the accumulated collapse of global supply chains, aggregate demand, consumption, investment, exports, mobility. Nobody is betting on an L-shaped recovery anymore – not to mention a V-shaped one. Any projection of global gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020 gets into falling-off-a-cliff territory. In industrialized economies, where roughly 70% of the workforce is in services, countless businesses in myriad industries will fail in a rolling financial collapse that will eclipse the Great Depression. That spans the whole spectrum of possibly 47 million US workers soon to be laid off – with the unemployment rate skyrocketing to 32% – all the way to Oxfam’s warning that by the time the pandemic is over half of the world’s population of 7.8 billion people could be living in poverty.
Any use of nuclear weapons, either by intent, accident or miscalculation, will cause catastrophic humanitarian consequences, so it is critical that policymakers and the public understand the pre-existing dangers of nuclear weapons as well as added risks posed by emerging technologies. Adopting measures that only seek to reduce or mitigate the additional risk that emerging technologies pose to nuclear weapon use is not an adequate response to the nuclear status quo.
At home, her family in Barnes County, N.D., often relied on a cell phone hotspot. However, their ability to access information was frequently constrained by their phone plan’s data limits. Tina routinely had to drive to the next town to access the internet, or she had to rely upon whatever books happened to be available for the four children that she home schools. This travel took a toll on her family, and Tina worried that her autistic son was not getting the quality of the education he needs. Fortunately, these challenges have since come to an end.
While the earlier technologies were perfected to create ever more advanced smartphones, 5G is designed not only to improve their performance, but mainly to link digital systems which need enormous quantities of data in order to work automatically. The most important 5G applications will not be intended for civil use, but for the military domain. The possibilities offered by this new technology are explained by the Defense Applications of 5G Network Technology, published by the Defense Science Board, a federal committee which provides scientific advice for the Pentagon...
The Massachusetts State Police have been quietly testing Boston Dynamics' robot dog named Spot and took it out into the field on two separate occasions. Boston Dynamics has been leasing Spot to a variety of companies, though it does prohibit them from using the robot dog to harm or intimidate people. Spot comes equipped with 360-degree video capabilities and is capable of walking up a flight of stairs and traversing uneven terrain. It can also open doors, using a mechanical arm that extends from its head.