it’s the system

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

“It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out.” —Carl Sagan, via @LucLalande

@suitpossum“The conflict is not ‘AI vs. Humans’. The conflict is ‘Humans who control AI infrastructures vs. Humans who don’t”

@MazzucatoM“David Ricardo was in 1821 talking about effect of mechanization on jobs and wages. But as long as profits were reinvested in economy, new jobs appeared. That stopped with maximisation of shareholder value. Blame financialization & bad governance, not robots! “

@gideonro“Without changes, we will eventually have algorithms to keep us perfectly perched just at the edge of financial ruin, but not over it.”

Universal Basic Assets by  @mgorbis

“In the face of rising economic inequality in a society where those with capital get richer far faster than those who labor, we need to focus attention on more equitable distribution and access to a variety of assets. This would ensure not only greater socio-economic mobility for individuals but also help sustain the social fabric of our society.

Let us not forget that high levels of economic inequality come at a price not only for the poor but also for the extremely wealthy themselves. Some are building protective bunkers on secluded islands as they prepare for the inevitable social upheavals. Historical research shows that any concentration of wealth and power requires investments in vast networks of expensive security institutions leading to what Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld calls privilege violence. Such violence stems from a “power structure that allows or enables violence against some citizens as the price for maintaining extreme privilege.”

Creating a new kind of economy based on Universal Basic Assets can enrich all of our lives. Without it, the future may be a much poorer place for everyone.”

Stop Saying ‘Smart Cities’, via @xformbydesign

“If you look at where the money goes (always a good idea), it’s not clear that the “smart city” is really about digitizing cities. Smart cities are a generational civil war within an urban world that’s already digitized. It’s the process of the new big-money, post-internet crowd, Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft et al., disrupting your uncle’s industrial computer companies, the old-school machinery guys who ran the city infrastructures, Honeywell, IBM, General Electric. It’s a land grab for the command and control systems that were mostly already there.

The GAFAM crowd isn’t all that well suited to the urban task at hand, either. Running cities is not a good business fit for them because they always give up too easily. America’s already littered with the remnants of abandoned Google Moonshots. Amazon kills towns by crushing retail streets and moving all the clerks backstage into blind big-box shipping centers. The idea of these post-internet majors muscling up for some 30-year urban megaproject—a subway system, aqueducts, the sewers—seems goofy.”

Image via Aine Carroll

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