\\\\\\\\ Left Leaning Lines

The group is called Left Coast

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damn! i’m a line leftie… but thought you were talking about hands. will have to start another thread for that… though it won’t have such a cool title as this one!

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The San Francisco TWC is pretty good. Ares is a pal. On the Delete Your Account podcast, Ares and Kristen discuss some details of what labor organizing would look like for tech workers.

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Kill the banker in your heart.

I like this idea. It asks you to forgive debts, in a practical sense. So if someone owes you $100, just to let them know they don’t owe you that anymore. And then you stop worrying about when they’re going to pay you back.

Little changes like this add up, and form your personality. I’d like to see where I get to by doing little baby-step things like this to alter my way of thinking and change relationships with people.

Kill the banker in your heart.

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Not socialist/communist, but also not a full blown free market capitalist (I guess the correct term would something like “social democrat”), but I was wondering if any of you have looked into UBI, if so what are your opinions on it?

Personally seeing how fast the rate of automation and AI is growing in industries like retail and transportation etc, it seems like UBI is one of the few viable options that I have heard which tackles these problems.

As part of the UBI/AI discussion something that I heard recently is that there is a slight of hand being played in the discussion that mis-frames the problem.

The part that is just glazed over/assumed is that the additional efficiency brought about by AI then NECESSARILY results in the cutting of jobs. Instead–as the same task has become more efficient, and less time consuming for the worker–this could translate into more leisure time for the worker. Profit remains the same (not worse, not better) for the company/shareholders/etc. and the workers’ pay remains the same.

AI is only a problem if that step remains unquestioned, undiscussed, unmentioned even!

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I think a free market capitalist could be described with the term “neo-liberal” (:man_shrugging:) or “libertarian” (who tend to swing pretty far right). UBI as in what the Yang gang presents is garbage. UBI as full unemployment and automation for all is more my speed. Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work is my favorite text on what UBI could provide society.

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I totally agree with that in terms of professional jobs, it gets over-exaggerated a lot of the time. I think that automation/AI is a bigger problem when it targets a large amount of lower paying jobs where companies would gladly replace them with something that might not be better, but certainly more cost effective. Not to mention the rate of automation is a lot closer to being a problem sometime in the next decade.

I think that AI is amazing though, I think it will create a ton of jobs for engineers and data scientists though I don’t know if the people who will be loosing those jobs will be able to be educated or trained fast enough, especially when the rate of job loss could be much faster than we have seen before.

@lazzarello I agree too, UBI with full unemployment in the future should be the future that we should all aim for when we are able to fully automate things like food production/transportation/fabrication etc and when we are able to maintain solely from renewable sources.

I’m interested though why you think that UBI in a capitalist economy would be bad, at least as a stepping stone towards that future.

EDIT: Oh I worded that last comment a bit poorly, when saying social democrat I was referring to what I would probably be closest to. Thanks for the book recommendation too!

I believe that capitalism cannot imagine a Universal Basic Income beyond benefits or entitlements. The version I want is where a UBI is a right as a living member of society. Capitalism is not concerned with providing for all of society, the primary goal of capitalism is to maximize growth of the corporation. In many situations with big tech companies, they dream to exist fully outside of society and today some have nearly achieved that goal.

Ironically, some of the most successful corporations from capitalist society have an internal economy that is closer to a centrally planned communist model than whatever weird imagination is assigned to them by those who shape popular opinion. The People’s Republic of Walmart – How the World’s Biggest Corporations are Laying the Foundation for Socialism is on my list but I haven’t started it yet.

Let’s not forget Marx! Capitalism depends on the exploitation of labor to generate more capital. This demands those who wish to excel in this economy to exploit much of the remaining members of society. If most labor will be optional in the future, let’s leave this dysfunctional economic model on the curb.

update: it looks like Verso is on a roll with lefty automation monographs. Just found Fully Automated Luxury Communism – A Manifesto released this month. I’m kinda bummed out the author dropped “gay” and “space” from the title.

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Most American’s major life decisions, especially occupation, still seem horrifically tied to securing basic, essential resources like healthcare, education, and housing. My general lean towards optimism is frequently shaken when I re-remember the real price trajectories relative to median income of various categories of goods and services. The categories most closely tied to our basic needs in life are inflating rapidly while more frivolous entertainment and once-luxury goods are dropping in price and approaching ubiquity (contrast spotify+netflix subs with a massive CD and VHS collection in the 80s). What are the forces making this so? I don’t know. But it’s definitely a good way to keep people tied to the 40 hr/week wage slavery status quo and numbed with screens when they’re back home after work, exhausted.

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This is also the version that I also want, UBI should transcend benefits or entitlements, after all universal is universal.

I guess our difference lies between whether a capitalist economy can accept such a thing as UBI, maybe I am being too hopeful thinking that it can.

I do believe that UBI shouldn’t be the end all be all, we should continue to strive to include more things into the public goods category (non-excludable and non-rivalrous) and hopefully we can eventually reach that fully-automated utopia. (another interesting book recommendation by the way, I will definitely give it a peep).

As a farmer, I hope you’ll consider listening when I say that is not food you want to put into your body (to say nothing of the impact on the ecosystems that would produce it).

Automation certainly has dire consequences for labor we should be deeply concerned about. But “most labor will be optional in the future” is a highly unlikely sci-fi scenario.

The form of AI we are currently perfecting probably doesn’t deserve the label “intelligence” at all. Our current crop of neural nets are a statistical bag of tricks for noticing patterns. It’s a far cry from general intelligence. Come talk to me again after fully autonomous vehicles have been on the road for a decade and I might be singing a different tune.

It doesn’t necessarily require a conspiracy. Entertainments can be endlessly duplicated for free. Real nutrition requires real labor. Kind of a laws of physics thing.

UBI is a distraction. It’s a shape-shifting rhetorical gambit that serves the purposes of its wielder. Whatever you think it might be, you aren’t likely to see the check in the mail anytime soon.

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I mean lower paying jobs too. No one has to lose their job, or take a pay cut due to automation. That’s the point—if workers had more say in what happened to the profit created via the increased efficiency they wouldn’t opt to cut their own wages or jobs. That’s not what de facto needs to happen.

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I’m listening! But I need more details as to why a fully automated system can’t in principle provide nutritionally and ecologically equivalent (if not superior food). In practice, we may not be there yet, and it may take a long time to do so, but I have a hard time seeing why this isn’t primarily an engineering problem.

Apologies if I sounded conspiratorial, that wasn’t my intent. Good point about digital media duplication, but none of my physics classes had any laws explaining how good nutrition is directly contingent upon human labor. Certainly in 2019 there’s a positive correlation between amount human involvement in the food systems supplying food and the nutritional outcomes of people utilizing these human-centric food systems, but that doesn’t mean human labor is a necessary criteria for nutritious food. Sorry if this veers off topic a bit (and maybe is more related to the agrarian independence thread) but I do think the intersection of science/automation and food systems can be one of the few areas where the left tends to abandon evidence-based policies and justifications. As climate change increasingly strains food production systems in the future, I want my fellow lefties to be particularly self-aware of their stances in this area and look towards scientific evidence (plus ethical considerations of course) to be our guide. Climate change/collapse has already shown us how easy it is for a political party to completely stick its head in the sand instead of facing evidence head on. I see no reason why the left is immune to this sort of behavior either, though I hope for the best.

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It’s because farming isn’t an engineering problem. You need diversity of cultures in order to sustain closed loop systems that remove dependence on petrochemicals for propping up weak hybrids bred for the purpose. When you are cultivating many crops in polyculture you can’t rely on Monsanto’s engineers to explain the vagaries of your local microclimate as it changes through the seasons, or the details of your soil chemistry, or the health of your mycorhizae, or the bacterial health of your soil (or a dozen other things about your soil). Bayer won’t help you find the right seeds for the situation unique to your farm that I just sketched out. John Deere’s GPS isn’t accurate enough to navigate the intercropping.

You see, a farmer isn’t unskilled labor. She’s more like a scientist who augments her observation and experiment with intuition and wisdom.

It isn’t an engineering problem. It’s a culture problem. We have largely forgotten how to grow food.

As for the rest of your comment, have you ever heard the phrase “don’t teach your grandmother how to suck eggs”? It’s appropriate here.

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It seems to me that what you’re saying and what @pax is suggesting aren’t mutually exclusive or contradictory.

I also know that farming is not an engineering problem in most ways from my exposure through my family to that whole industry, from tiny farms to giant agricorps.

However, I do feel like a lot of the complexity could absolutely be augmented by technology in a useful and responsible way, helping us get the food we need in a much higher quality and ethical way than big agriculture does now, which is a total mess… largely for the same capitalistic reasons that giant corporations are all a total ethical and ecological mess. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to scale agriculture, it’s just the fucked up way we have it now.

@jasonw22 - And for those of us following along and wanting to learn more about the topic, which we may not have direct experience with, just saying to “not teach grandma to suck eggs” doesn’t really help with the level of discourse. I’d be more interested in your actual thoughts on @pax’s comments.

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It’s just really hard to maintain composure when being lectured to about something I’ve been passionate about for decades.

If you don’t have personal experience with a thing, it’s probably best to avoid so many categorical statements.

I’m not in the mood to write more at the moment, but I’ve written extensively on the subject in the past. I’ve also recommended quite a few books, which really is what’s required for a meaningful discussion on this topic.

But briefly, I’ll state that technology has very little to do with healthy farming. Even the use of a tractor is debatable when it comes to soil health.

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Still hot under the collar, but I remembered this post, which actually does a great job of explaining this very (extremely) complex topic. I’m sorry I don’t have the calm patience of this man.

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this is awesome, thank you for all that you do. not currently in a union but I grew up marching (my dad worked on telephone wires for 35 years) and my cousin/“godfather” was just voted president of the local IBEW. very proud of him and everyone else fighting for workers rights.

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(To quote myself as well from the Climate Collapse thread.)

This has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s been on my mind in some form kind of forever.

I’m interested in policy solutions that move us away from whatever shitty mode of capitalism we are in. I’m interested in what what demonstrates to cultures that movement away from what we are doing right now is good and necessary. Grassroots green and soclialist movements are obvously part of the equation.

I’m with @jasonw22 on UBI, it can sound nice, and we may live to see some form of it implemented somewhere, but that’s quite a gamble to lean on. Automation is certainly coming, but the practical impact of that is poorly communicated. AI is indeed a powerful pattern matching trick, but definitely a misnomer. Questions of what it could mean are important, but there are so many steps between here and there, it feels very heady sci-fi. It’s going to have a much bigger impact on our ability to trust sources of infromation than on the employability of humans in our more immediate future.

I remember seeing this:

It’s interesting to see a non-profit tech company. I honestly don’t know much about them beyond the article, so I’m not promoting them, but I it’s nice to see a functional operation in reality.

As music people, we’re all likely aware of Moog’s employee ownership model. I want to see more of that.

I don’t have personal experience with unions, but I am extremely pro-union see their benefits. As a tech art contractor whose prices are constantly cut with no protections in place, I feel it very practically. I’m a short string of bad luck from a very hard place – not a situation in any way unique to me.

That seems to be very true.

I just have a hard time imagining the Seattle, American culture that I live in dramatically shifting in my life time - outside of the very real threat of disasters.

That’s why I’m interested in more practical policy solutions – not for a lack of desired change, but for giving people avenues to explore alternative modes and helping people understand that there are other ways to operate and other reasons to do things than to produce as much wealth as possible, while also having to live in the system while it changes. I’m very in favor of sweeping or revolutionary reforms, but other people need different things to see the point of all this.

If people know of other subversive modes of business oragnization, I want to hear about them.

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