Socialize the Data Centres!
“Your work traces a distinctive path—unlike that of any other technology critic—from a grounding in the politics of post-Cold War Eastern Europe, via critique of Silicon Valley patter, to socio-historical debates around the relations between the Internet and neoliberalism. What was the background that produced this evolution?”
The ultimate battle lines are clear. It’s a question of whether all these sensors, filters, profiles and algorithms can be used by citizens and communities for some kind of emancipation from bureaucracies and companies. If current economic, social and political trends continue, we could conceivably end up with data-driven automation for the poor—so that all their time can be spent working—while the rich enjoy cultivating their senses, learning languages, getting to know art, studying. That’s what I fear. But this isn’t a matter of the future of computing as such; it’s about what it can be used for. On the one hand, we can foresee these companies extending their reach ever further into everyday life, to a point where it would become difficult to even articulate why you would want a different model, since our use of these technologies and the politics embedded in them also permits or restricts our ways of thinking about how to live. On the other hand, we can speculate about a utopian future in which technology plays the role that back in the sixties Murray Bookchin accorded it in his essays in Post-Scarcity Anarchism: helping us to live with abundance.