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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Windows Vista as Neoliberal Instrument

Synopsis Last night, before nodding off to sleep, a stray memory flitted across (or through?) my synapses; a posting I made to the Left Business Observer Listserv, titled “Windows Vista as Neoliberal Instrument”. This was, I think, my first attempt to merge my work in information technology with my (always in formation and never complete)…

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Techno-Skepticism: A Tactical Skill

Techno-skepticism is a vital and necessary response to a world awash in self-promoting boosterism and the capitalist utilized ideologies of techno-optimism and techno-determinism. To define terms, techno-optimism is the belief any proposed technology is possible and good. Optimists look to past examples of things that were once impossible which became possible – such as machine…

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The Metaverse: A Brief Inquiry

Facebook’s plan to become a ‘Metaverse company‘ (and indeed, completely rebrand the company around this concept) has attracted a lot of comment in tech media and social media spaces. This is unsurprising; both because the idea seems futuristic (being based on a science fiction confection introduced in Neal Stephenson’s dystopian 1992 novel ‘Snow Crash‘) and…

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What’s Behind the Explosion of AI?

Synopsis The spread of AI (algorithmic) harms such as automated recidivism and benefits determination systems has been accelerated by the cloud era which has made the proliferation of algorithmic automation possible; indeed, the companies providing cloud services promote their role as accelerators.  Background  We are witnessing a significant change in the way computing power is used and engineered by public and private organizations….

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