Magic is an Industrial Process, Belching Smoke and Fire: On GPUs

AT THE END of ´The Wizard of OZ´, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer´s 1939-released, surrealist musical fantasy, our heroine Dorothy and her loyal comrades complete a long, arduous (but song filled) journey, finally reaching the fabled city of OZ. In OZ, according to a tunefully stated legend, there’s a wizard who possesses the power to grant any wish, no…

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On Kludges

As I type this, it’s hot here in Amsterdam. In the past, one might have said ‘unseasonably warm’ a phrase that, in our current circumstances, seems like a form of wishful thinking, an echo of an earlier time – not more innocent but not as burdened with the hyper-problem of C02. I mention the temperature,…

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Grapes of Metallic Wrath?

There are words, such as ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ which get tossed around like a cat’s toy, tumbling between meanings depending on the speaker. To this list of floating signifiers, we can add ‘automation’ which, when mentioned by business types, is meant to depict a bright and shining future but, when used by people on the…

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AI Ethics, a More Ruthless Consideration

According to self-satisfied legend, medieval European scholars, perhaps short of things to do compared to we ever-occupied moderns, spent countless hours wondering about topics such as, how many angels could simultaneously occupy the head of a pin; the idea being that, if nothing was impossible for God, surely, violating the observable rules of space and…

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A Materialist Approach to the Tech Industry

[In this post, Monroe thinks aloud about his approach to analyzing the tech industry, a term which, annoyingly, is almost exclusively used to describe Silicon Valley based companies that use software to create rentier platforms and not, say, aerospace and materials science firms. The key concept is materialism.] Few industries are as shrouded by mystification…

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AI Supercomputers, An Inquiry

When I was young, the word, ‘supercomputer’ evoked images of powerful, intelligent systems, filling the cavities of mountains with their humming electronic menace. Science fiction encouraged this view, which is as far from the (still impressive, yet grounded) reality of supercomputing as the Earth is from some distant galaxy. The distance between marketing hype and…

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On Niceness as a Tactical Failure

Attentive readers will note that this blog is primarily focused on dissecting and highlighting the political economy and social impact of what’s called ‘Artificial Intelligence’ and allied fields (such as supposedly autonomous robots). Till now, crypto, in all its fetidness, has escaped comment on these virtual pages. Well, ‘needs must’ as the old saying goes:…

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Cloud Technology: A Quick(ish) Guide for the Left

[I’m writing a longer piece about cloud computing from a personal and political economy perspective – because I was there at the start and remain in the thick of it as a ‘cloud architect’ so I have both thoughts and experience…in this short piece, I use the recent Amazon Web Services disruption to discuss the…

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The Psychoanalysis of Artificial Intelligence

This blog is dedicated to analyzing the field of ‘artificial intelligence’ specifically, and the tech industry generally from a materialist perspective. By materialist perspective, I mean a point of view informed, in large measure by historical materialism but also, by a deep analysis of the nuts and bolts – the supply chains, extractive industrial activity,…

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