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Cyborg Labor Under Late-Capitalism

capitalism automation cybernetic labor productivity competition transhuman choice force robots

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For example how many of you would like to go back and live in the 1970s even if you had twice the amount of money you currently do? Very few because the standard of living and quality of products today is so much higher for even those of us suffering from relative poverty. 



Actually, I wouldn't mind.  In the seventies, I lived in a luxury house stocked with a decent collection of books in a very nice neighborhood.  We also had color TV, radio, telephones, etc.


Was the technology inferior?


Well, take telephones.  No.  We had land lines.  You could talk to somebody on the other side of the country and it would sound like they were just next door.  Clear as a bell.  Now, I find myself screaming into the cell phone as the customer complaint department keeps asking me to speak up so that they can hear me.


Of course, that is if I can make my way through the darn phone trees:


"Press one if you would like a menu in Spanish.

Press two if you would like to pay a bill.

Press three if you would like to upgrade your service.


Otherwise, get lost."


I think the only thing I would miss is my computer and a couple of aps on my cell phone.


I am also thinking of getting one of those new-fangled flat screen "smart" TVs.  


Tongue in cheek i presume 


No, other than the "otherwise get lost" I was entirely serious.

The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls



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Being "forced" to upgrade is not necessarily a bad thing. Humans have had to upgrade in the past. Today education is essential is one wishes to thrive. This is technically a forced "upgrade" where one spends years and tens of thousands of dollars to acquire knowledge and skills. Humans in the future will undergo upgrades that are necessitated by the occupations of the time as we always have been. Certainly some will be expensive and invasive. Now some may argue, as perhaps you were, that in the future this will alter some sort of defined sense of humanity but this line has already been blurred and continues to be blurred albeit not usually for practical or economic purposes. 


Spending several hours a day learning and preparing for a life as a working adult vs mutilating your body and slowly replacing it with cheap parts in order to compete with robots who could do your job better anyway, only because you need the money to survive and afford the next upgrade. Hmmm a legit comparison, no problems here




If we observe actual trends then we see that people are working less hours on average, have higher real incomes, and enjoy a higher quality of life than ever before. The continuation of the majority of these trends does not portend some dystopic future. Rather the empirical facts show that what we are suffering from is not dystopia but dysphoria propagated and promulgated by the media which feeds on our evolutionary biases that predispose us to seek the negative.  Of course you can point to certain trends such as the stagnation of incomes in the United States and ignore the continued progress of the vast majority of other nations and thus claim that the end is nigh. Too often people conflate problems within a system as a failure of the system writ large. 


No -- The relative prosperity of many First World nations is only possible through the extraction of labor and value from less fortunate parts of the world. This is how global capitalism works. It isn't that those places are "developing" to be more prosperous in any sense, it's more like they're being kept firmly under the thumb of foreign imperialism. Third-world countries are essentially vassals and their common good is not progressing in any beneficial sense. Meanwhile people in better-off parts of the world don't need to think about where their relative prosperity and cheap goods come from.

Here's a hint: it involves suicide-net iphone sweat-shops where people sleep and eat at their workstation for cents an hour - all because whatever company hired them had to maximize profit while minimizing labor costs.



Certainly capital is winning over labor in the end as Marx rightly predicted. However simple solutions are available to this conundrum such as UBI, diffusing capital, social safety nets, and a myriad other things. I do not fundamentally believe that inequality is bad simple because it is unequal. Rather if inequality were the root cause of problems then it should be targeted but if it is simply the result of a lopsided system then we must target those facets of said system that would rig it. This does not mean completely discarding any such system but rather implementing measures to ameliorate any undesired condition. 


I actually agree with you here - inequality on its own isn't fundamentally a bad thing. Humans are just unequal from person to person. My problem with capitalism is that resources go from those who need them most toward those who need them least, the profit motive does a shit job at contributing to the common good. There's just always this trend toward higher efficiency and these abstract notions of "prosperity" and "growth" with complete disregard for the human cost those things imply. THAT is what I'm referring to regarding cybernetics under late capitalism.


Hacking your body up to sell your parts and buy new ones is dystopian. The end

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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: capitalism, automation, cybernetic, labor, productivity, competition, transhuman, choice, force, robots

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