amor mundi

Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Monday, August 03, 2015

Beltway Iron Law

If a Democrat is doing well, they're in trouble. If a Republican is struggling, they're doing well.

Riddles of Polling

Somehow it's good news for Jeb he's polling so far behind Trump.
Somehow it's bad news for Hillary she's polling so far ahead of Sanders.


I truly hate it when defenders of a political position decry as "politics" the defenders of a different political position.


Abortion isn't more "disturbing" than an appendectomy. If you support women's healthcare stop conceding this ridiculous point to the forced pregnancy zealots.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

MHP Proposes Intersectional Analysis of Cecil the Lion Connecting White Racism and Human Animal Cruelty to Nonhuman Animals

Professor Melissa Harris-Perry really sets up the discussion with a thoughtful and provocative framing emphasizing the conceptual and historical connections of white supremacy and white racism and chattel slavery with human animal cruelty to nonhuman animals. MHP delved quite deeply into the topic, devoted two segments to the discussion, went into the ways in which selective anthropomorphization of some animals may facilitate empathy or may disavow the complexities of personhood and the complexity of the ethical responsibilities incurred by living others. I've been an ethical vegetarian for decades and wrote a critical theoretical piece years ago engaging some of these issues, Animal Rites and I take up these topics in my anti-futurological critique more often than you might think (as witness the texts in this archive). I strongly recommend Carol Adams' Neither Man Nor Beast for extended intersectional vegetarian-feminist anti-racist criticism and work.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Friday, July 31, 2015

Every Saint A Sinner

Sinners are born, saints are edited.

Humans ARE Animals

Cruelty to nonhuman animals enables cruelty among human animals.
Solidarity with nonhuman animals builds solidarity among human animals.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Queen of the Libertechbrotarians

From Business Insider, Wall Street's Former Queen of Commodities Just Made Her Pitch for Why Bitcoin Is the Future:
Bitcoin technology could reshape the way financial markets operate. That is according to Blythe Master[s], the chief executive of Digital Asset Holdings, and one of the biggest names in the business... Everything from stock to bonds and derivatives could be exchanged and paid for in the same way the cryptocurrency community is executing bitcoin transactions, Masters said. Still, it is early on. Masters compared where Bitcoin and cryptocurrency are now in terms of their development to early 1990s Internet. "In reality, the world is not there yet," Masters said. She said the industry would have to address regulatory hurdles as it confronts issues like authentication and security in coming years. Masters was one of a group of JPMorgan executives who helped create the market for credit default swaps in the 1990s, and later went to head its global commodities division.
Yes, a "Thought Leader" who helped engineer the global crash just a few years ago by peddling fraudulent financial instruments to circumvent regulations and sound investment norms is at it again.

And why not? This Business Insider piece wasn't written after a visit to Blythe Masters in the prison cell she belongs in, after all, and it's not like she has common sense or conscience to constrain her, that much is clear. Why, she's "one of the biggest names in the business," we are told! What else does anybody need to know?

The plausibility of "Bitcoin" and comparable crypto-currency schemes always derives (surprisingly explicitly surprisingly often) from anarcho-capitalist fantasies of natural market forces (of which there are literally none) generating optimally efficient and just "spontaneous orders" (of which there has never been nor ever will be one). The usual popular postwar Randroidal and Friedmaniacal just-so stories and nonsense rationalizations for plutocracy and white supremacy bubble and boil this discursive cauldron to its froth, of course. Note that regulation is figured here as a "hurdle" for "the industry," for example.

But notice as well that problems are figured as merely technical, and therefore technically solvable: "authentication" and "security" await their programming fixes, no social or ethical questions bedevil the pristine instrumental prospect... let us unleash the bulldozers! What the last thirty years has taught us above all is that it is techno-transcendental rhetoric in particular that transforms these commonplace confusions, deceptions, and self-congratulatory cons into the cadences of progressive and spiritual revelations that drive the popular imagination from solidarity and suicide.

The wistful call back to the glory days of the "early 1990s Internet" is a tip-off: You remember the early 1990s, surely, the beginning of The Long Boom, in which space was abolished, cryptoanarchy smashed all the states, Cyberspace was the Home of Mind, virtuality transformed reality, nanotech delivered superabundance, California Extropians said "No!" to Death and Taxes, and pop futurists were revealing on a daily basis the techs That! Would! Change! Everything!

Oh, for a to return to the days of Irrational Exuberance! The Smartest Guys in the Room could really squeeze a fortune from the rubes back then!

Even in this short, throwaway piece, you should notice that it is a futurological formulation that provides all the juice: "The world is not there yet."

A denial of basic knowledge is articulated in the form of a prophetic utterance, whereupon the brute force of technological determination and superlative destining are called forth to shunt the realities of precarious bodies, historical struggles, lawless violations, and ecosystemic limits out of sight, out of mind to make way for frictionless flows of capital and fountainheads of cyberspatial spirit-stuff.

Of course, state forms are the point of departure for any macroeconomics. So sorry to harsh your bliss, but what passes for "the market" in any historical epoch will be an artifact of laws, norms, pricing conventions, and infrastructural affordances articulated and maintained by states and public investment. Meanwhile, currency itself, not to put too fine a point on it, is what states authorize as instruments for the payment of public debt.

There is of course much more to say on these topics (do read Polanyi), but there is no point in saying anything at all before all the participants in the conversation grasp these fundamental and foundational facts of the matter at hand. To deny such things is not to have revolutionary thoughts but to testify in public either to complete ignorance on the topic at hand or to a willingness to engage in fraud. I don't know whether she is a market fundamentalist zealot, or a full on techno-utopian True Believer, or just a con-artist looking to hack together her next personally profitable bit of financial fraud, indifferent to the lives and hopes ruined by her clever schemes and technical gew-gaws. Blythe Masters is advocating nothing short of looting and warlordism and the neoliberal tech press, settled in the midst of the still smoking ruins and ballooning bodies of a world wrecked by these facile frauds, cheers her stupid destructive pieties as a "Deep Think," natch.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mike Makes Friends

I still wistfully remember the years before MA became an official Reactionary when he would sputter and fume at me for calling him a reactionary.


No technodevelopmental outcomes are inevitable but that futurologists will declare them so.

"Stand for Reality"

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Better Than Intelligent

Upgraded and Adapted from the Moot to this post, a reader says about the belief in Artificial Intelliegence:
I doubt that anyone is calling current software "intelligent". They call it narrow AI in some cases, but it has nothing to do with intelligence, it's just a term. I do think though that intelligence can arise just from algorithms, but they would have to be far more sophisticated than what we have now and furthermore intelligence, as we have it in humans, relies on numerous kinds of inputs related to biological processes, so I doubt it can be copied 100% in a computer, in a way it's also a result of some "broken" or imperfectly working algorithms, we tend to break down, be overzealous, ignore some facts and put others on pedestal... we are prone to search for patterns everywhere, faces on Mars, aliens who built pyramids etc. So I would agree that it would be very hard task to replicate human consciousness in a computer, because it's inherently flawed and a jumbled mess...
To these familiar but nonetheless rather revealing observation, I reply:
I  doubt that anyone is calling current software "intelligent". They call it narrow AI in some cases, but it has nothing to do with intelligence, it's just a term. 
The application of the "term" intelligent is what calling it "intelligent" means, surely? But I fancy you have stumbled on some subtlety that eludes me. 
I do think though that intelligence can arise just from algorithms 
Your belief in that possibility is not yet an argument for it, I fear. Given that you admit that artificial intelligence hasn't happened and could only happen if greater "sophistication" of an unspecified character happened as well, I cannot say things are looking up for your article of faith as yet. But do keep your chin up. Just because generations of cocksure True Believers have been nothing but serially wrong on this score for as long as computer programming has been around is no reason to entertain any doubts about it or suggest any qualifications of it, right? 
intelligence, as we have it in humans... [i]s also a result of some "broken" or imperfectly working algorithms, we tend to break down, be overzealous, ignore some facts and put others on pedestal... we are prone to search for patterns everywhere, faces on Mars, aliens who built pyramids etc. So I would agree that it would be very hard task to replicate human consciousness in a computer, because it's inherently flawed and a jumbled mess... 
It seems a little bit strange to me to describe as "broken" the only intelligence on offer, as compared to an intelligence which doesn't exist to be broken or otherwise. But I have never been able to follow religious logic particularly well in any of its forms: They tell me god is all good even when He is bad and all-knowing even when She is all-powerful and hence should be able to do anything including that which They don't or can't know? It's a pickle! I am fairly sure mine is an intelligence too "broken" to make sense of such things.
Presumptuous though it may seem, I want to say I am sorry that you seem to have such a low opinion of your own intelligence and that of your fellow humans. This insecurity and, sometimes, even self-disgust is commonplace among techno-transcendental futurists, I have found. I do hope that you will come to terms with your fears and hostility to your limits as a living, error-prone, aging, mortal being -- if that is what is happening here -- as you become a more experienced adult sort of person.
There is a suggestion in your phrasing that perhaps you actually identify in some way with the non-existing machine intelligence you regard as not only possible but superior despite its non-existence -- hence you seem to describe the errors and passions and ignorance that articulate the play of human thought as rather inferior, as though you observe them from an alien or Olympian height.
Of course, the artificial intelligence futurists so dote on in its imaginary perfection often looks to be a projection of their own errors and passions and parochialisms, after all, as the objects of human faiths tend so often to be... Perhaps a futurist scared of aging and disease likes the idea of an intelligent selfhood that is not tied to the frail vulnerable body one cannot command? Perhaps a shy or thoughtful person who has been frustrated or derided in company likes the idea of an intelligent selfhood capable of a compelling super-logical argumentation immune to the humiliations of emotion and error and derision from others one cannot control? 
In such a case I daresay we might all of us have a bit of a laugh at these human, all too human, follies as theirs and yours and (however different they may be) mine, together one day over wine.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Read It, Californians:

The 2016 California Marijuana Control, Legalization & Revenue Act in Plain Language.

MCLR 2016

Information and Organizing for the 2016 California Marijuana Control, Legalization & Revenue Act is available here. Get educated, get involved and, if you want, get high.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Justice Is So Retro

It is hilarious that Yvette Cooper doesn't realize declaring Jeremy Corbyn's politics "retro" is just an argument for Tories and not Labour.

If the choice is GOP vs. DLC GOP-lite people will choose GOP.

If the choice is Tories vs. New Labour Tories-lite people will choose Tories.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Connecting Dots

The proliferation of weapons in guncrazy America exacerbates paranoid-aggressive police violence in racist America.

Freedumb Isn't Free

There are countries without mass shootings every week.

There Is A Difference Between Being Policed and Being Governed

To resist the white racist police state in America is to fight for the democratic government of America.

Always Look Behind the Curtain

Whenever anyone warns of robots of the future calling the shots militarily or economically you must always understand they can only really mean robot OWNERS calling the shots. To the extent that they insinuate otherwise, such utterances can only really function to distract attention from (and so collaborate with) those who are and will remain responsible for unethical and criminal acts.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Anti-Futurological Critique in a Nutshell

Futurology -- colloquially, "tech" talk -- is a marketing, not a critical thinking, practice. As a result: At their best, futurisms are consumer fandoms. At their worst, futurisms amplify marketing hyperbole and deception into outright techno-transcendental faith-based initiatives.

Color Line

Double Consciousness as the awareness that some of your fellow citizens are not living in the police state you are, right before their eyes.

Monday, July 20, 2015


The Big Database is always framing us in advance for eventual prosecution.

All Mixed Up

I've substantially revised a piece of mine from a couple years ago on the metaphor of the "mixed economy" and why I don't really think what passes for "capitalism" and "socialism" are political poles rather than democratiziation and anti-democratization. Tell me what you think.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

"Tech's" Assertive Disavowals of History: A Twitter Essaylet

erm, make do

as they also disable, grr!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Trump Harrumph

Although there was some half-hearted fluttering about the bald ugliness of what he was up to, GOP functionaries and corporate media outlets in my view still mostly legitimated and even amplified the brief Donald Trump surge of popularity with the bully bloc (aka the Republican Base), for all the world seeming to enjoy the side-show all the while offering up obscene euphemisms for his racism such as that he was "tapping into voter anger." Which voters? Anger about what exactly? With what justification? But never mind all that. Now that Trump has exposed the hypocrisy of the serial warmongering media pet John McCain we find the same talking heads now whomping up an outraged backlash at last. Better late than never, I suppose, but don't pretend that Trump's racism was the spur for this condemnation. It should have been, but was not.


I'm finding it very hard to get back into the blogging swing. I've got quite a few futurological pieces in the queue to respond to... but I've been binge-reading Roman historical novels and binge-streaming seasons of sfnal tee vee shows instead.


Is there an already available and accepted nomenclature distinguishing basic income advocacy which is treated as part of a bundle of democratizing entitlements as against basic income advocacy as part of a libertopian deregulatory/privatizing wrecking ball? As I have written here the difference between the two conceptions is politically crucial.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Oh, "Anger," Is It?

Donald Trump is not tapping into "voter anger." He is tapping into white racism. And he is not cute and saying otherwise is not cute either.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Haters Demand Hate

Those who are defending Major Garrett as "doing his job" seem to think journalism's job is asking Obama why he hates America so much over and over again in every conceivable variation.

Why "Stupid Or Evil?" Is So Often Stupid And Evil

For a conception of good connected to democratic virtues (eg, reliably informed nonduressed people are capable of consenting to the terms on which they freely associate with one another, government is legitimated through the consent of the governed, the scene of consent is secured by the provision of general welfare -- basic income, healthcare, education -- and equal recourse to the law and civil rights, government facilitates the nonviolent adjudication of disputes including disputes over the question of what violence consists of) the evil it opposes is often conjoined to stupidity, to the extent that stupidity is mostly the denial of warrantedly assertible beliefs about matters of fact that otherwise attract the consensus of reasonable people or relevant scientific experts.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Derp Bench

Trump? Cruz? Carson? Jindal? Perry? Huckster? Frothy? Randroid? All clowns. Killer clowns, sure, but clowns. What is truly terrifying and demoralizing about Trump's antics is the way they spotlight continuities in the present Presidential politics of the GOP: Face it, it's Trumps all the way down this time around in the Republican Party and that is a terrible and dangerous thing. What, I'm supposed to take fired failed Fiorina seriously instead? Or just as dumb but even less affable than W. Jeb! is supposed to be the Very Serious One? I said it back in March, only Kasich worries me even remotely as an opponent to Hillary in 2016. I get it that the Villagers want their horse race narrative for easy drama, but isn't it a pretty dramatic narrative, and certainly just as easy, to observe instead how palpably stoopid batshit crazy the Republican candidates either are or feel they must pretend to be simply to get through their primary right now? 2012 was more than ridiculous enough. Republicans are gonna be selling late-nite juicers and kitchen knives while trading lizard-alien conspiracy newsletters by 2020 at this rate. Given the institutional barriers confining the US to a party duopoly it really represents an ongoing and mounting crisis that one of the two national parties actually on offer is little more than a neo-confederate rump of bigots, lunatics, fools, and con-artists.