the reality distortion field that goes the other way: the theater of yes-your-plans-are-succeeding manufactured for the benefit of the leaders, so they continue trying to make the New Economy happen
The parallel between hipster consumption of music and the African art fetish of 20th century anthropologists is striking.
“FOR OVER A week, the City of Atlanta has battled a ransomware attack that has caused serious digital disruptions in five of the city’s 13 local government departments. The attack has had far-reaching impacts—crippling the court system, keeping residents from paying their water bills, limiting vital communications like sewer infrastructure requests, and pushing the Atlanta Police Department to file paper reports for days. It’s been a devastating barrage—all caused by a standard, but notoriously effective strain of ransomware called SamSam. “It’s important to understand that our overall operations have been significantly impacted and it will take some time to work through and rebuild our systems and infrastructure,” a spokesperson for the City of Atlanta said in a statement on Thursday. Atlanta faces a tough opponent in cleaning up this mess. While dozens of serviceable ransomware programs circulate at any given time, SamSam and the attackers who deploy it are particularly known for clever, high-yield approaches. The specific malware and attackers—combined with what analysts see as lack of preparedness, based on the extent of the downtime—explain why the Atlanta infection has been so debilitating.”
“The notion that additional data will lead governments to formulate better policies also requires a reality check. Many states are currently trying to obstruct the movement of people, gripped by the notion that the world is experiencing an ‘unprecedented migration crisis’. In fact, the data show that the proportion of the global population moving from one country to another has remained remarkably stable for the past few decades. Similarly, while all of the evidence demonstrates that more people migrate from poor countries when economic growth occurs, industrialized states continue to act on the false assumption that pumping development aid into impoverished regions will encourage people to stay where they are. Looking to the future, there is a real risk that data management becomes an end in itself, absorbing scarce humanitarian resources while outstripping the ability of aid agencies to analyse the information they have collected and to use it in effective ways. Aid agencies that rely heavily on data collection and the introduction of new technologies may also limit the extent to which they interact with refugees and migrants at a human level, leading them to adopt an overly technocratic and apolitical approach to their work. Protecting people on the move starts not with better data, but with an ability to understand the key threats to their rights and to change the behaviour of those responsible for putting refugee and migrant lives at risk.”
“When similar health care systems have been automated, they have not always performed flawlessly, and their errors can be difficult to correct. The scholar Danielle Keats Citron cites the example of Colorado, where coders placed more than 900 incorrect rules into its public benefits system in the mid-2000s, resulting in problems like pregnant women being denied Medicaid. Similar issues in California, Citron writes in a paper, led to “overpayments, underpayments, and improper terminations of public benefits,” as foster children were incorrectly denied Medicaid. Citron writes about the need for “technological due process” — the importance of both understanding what’s happening in automated systems and being given meaningful ways to challenge them. Critics point out that, when designing these programs, incentives are not always aligned with easy interfaces and intelligible processes. Virginia Eubanks, the author of Automating Inequality, says many programs in the United States are “premised on the idea that their first job is diversion,” increasing barriers to services and at times making the process so difficult to navigate “that it just means that people who really need these services aren’t able to get them.” One of the most bizarre cases happened in Idaho, where the state made an attempt, like Arkansas, to institute an algorithm for allocating home care and community integration funds, but built it in-house. The state’s home care program calculated what it would cost to care for severely disabled people, then allotted funds to pay for help. But around 2011, when a new formula was instituted, those funds suddenly dropped precipitously for many people, by as much as 42 percent. When the people whose benefits were cut tried to determine how their benefits were determined, the state declined to disclose the formula it was using, saying that its math qualified as a trade secret.”
“In the textile town of Lowell, Mass., in 1846, the mill clock slowed down to lengthen shifts and then sped up at night when the workers were off, according to one contemporary reformer.”
“Taking it a bit further: maybe we are already molecular. Financialization, informatization, and algorithmic culture name a few of the already-talked about forms of molecular regulation. Behind them are digital methodologies that claims to get a more complex picture slice of the world, both in gradiance and scope. One appeal of the molecular, then, is its attention to complexity. And is this not a popular appeal in seminar rooms? “It’s more complex than that.” Same old story of the information-gap. But it is exactly wrong because we are in an age of oversaturation. The craving for more information is born out of a libertarian impulse for transparency, which is connected to the pornographic drive to overexposure that feeds network culture.”