Naomi Klein’s Ignorance – We Want Tech Giants To Profit From Coronavirus

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Naomi Klein is doing well here in showing off her ignorance of how we’d like things to be. Her complaint is that the capitalists – this time in the form of the tech giants – are going to profit from the coronavirus.

Good, we’d like the capitalists to profit from the coronavirus. Because to make a profit – absent the State forcing people – you have to provide something that people want. That they will voluntarily take from you in return for whatever it is that you demand in return. That is, you’ve got to offer the people something they value more than you ask for in order to make that profit. And why wouldn;t we want people to be offered things they value more? This being rather the point of having an economy, that people get more of what they wantthey want:

Naomi Klein: How big tech plans to profit from the pandemic

Ms. Klein presents this as a problem. And yet it’s the very thing we all desire to happen.

If all of this sounds familiar, it’s because, pre-Covid, this precise app-driven, gig-fuelled future was being sold to us in the name of friction-free convenience and personalisation. But many of us had concerns. About the security, quality and inequity of telehealth and online classrooms. About driverless cars mowing down pedestrians and drones smashing packages (and people). About location tracking and cash-free commerce obliterating our privacy and entrenching racial and gender discrimination. About unscrupulous social media platforms poisoning our information ecology and our kids’ mental health. About “smart cities” filled with sensors supplanting local government. About the good jobs these technologies wiped out. About the bad jobs they mass produced.

And most of all, we had concerns about the democracy-threatening wealth and power accumulated by a handful of tech companies that are masters of abdication – eschewing all responsibility for the wreckage left behind in the fields they now dominate, whether media, retail or transportation.

This being the heart of the Kleinian idiocy. It is we consumers who get to decide all of this. If we, say, prefer online shopping to bricks and mortar then that’s what we’ll go and do. As we seem to for perhaps 20% of our retail expenditure at present. That wreckage is not because the tech plutocrats have made it possible, but because we, the peeps out here, prefer it.

This is actually one of those times that Dr. Heinz Kiosk is correct, we are all guilty. But then as a colonial Ms. Klein will not have been exposed to the eternal verities of that character.

Of course this is not a great surprise, Klein always has had that unerring instinct to pick up the economic stick by the ordure stained end. The real question has to be why the rest of us pay such attention to her maunderings. For she’s complaining that we’re getting more of what we so obviously desire to have more of. She wishes to change the world so that we don’t. Why are we listening to her?

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Esteban
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Esteban

In her world we wouldn’t have smart phones yet, the Oversight Board would still be working out how to make sure they didn’t have any security, quality and inequity issues or might, possibly, promote discrimination somehow, somewhere. etc.

Phoenix44
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Phoenix44

Why would we allow driverless cars if they “mow down” people? and obviously driverfull cars don’t do that now, do they?

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

There’s a certain group (fans of the ‘precautionary principle’) who demand driverless cars be perfectly safe. But we don’t need them to be perfect, just better at driving than the average motorist. And looking round, that’s not setting the bar very high.

Phoenix44
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Phoenix44

Exactly the point I keep making – if we currently mow down 1,000 pedestrians, then driverless cars just have to mow down 999 to be worth having. Same argument with trains and planes, but people want them to be perfect too, not just safer.

Bloke on M4
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Bloke on M4

“About the security, quality and inequity of telehealth and online classrooms” If anything is going to reduce inequity, it’s online classrooms. Online training courses are accessible to almost anyone today. Less than $100 for a whole load of instruction. As Schmidt says: “We should also accelerate the trend toward remote learning, which is being tested today as never before. Online, there is no requirement of proximity, which allows students to get instruction from the best teachers, no matter what school district they reside in …” You can learn about writing from David Mamet for $100. That’s hours of instruction from… Read more »

Spike
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Spike

She is simply a Luddite, paralyzed by fear about what innovation might get wrong! I used to worry about driverless cars mowing people down, and they probably won’t ever be perfect, as by the way, neither am I. Now I only hope they drive better than the border-jumpers on our highways.

The key is that the owner of the drone, or the data network, have legal consequences (preferably under laws that keep the liability from being open-ended). In the COVID shutdown itself, I don’t see any consequences for bad decisions, including those made deliberately to alter the political landscape.

Spike
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Spike

“concerns about the democracy-threatening wealth and power accumulated” – meaning fear that achievers get wealthy faster than gadflies do

“eschewing all responsibility for the wreckage left behind” – meaning the maker of the backhoe has to rend his clothes in guilt for the ditch-diggers who have to LEARN how to move more earth.

Let us hope our innovators continue to ignore blather like this!

TD
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TD

Many people working in technology in Silicon Valley vote for the Democrats. Bernie was popular and won the California primary, especially in the SF area. Yet, it appears there is a growing hatred by many on the left for technology companies. It’ll be interesting to see at what point that chokes off Silicon Valley support and funds. Or even if it does. The old bit about voting against your best interest really applies to many who vote for the Dems.

TD
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TD

The argument that tech companies are profiting because they are selling what we want to buy does not resonate with the likes of Ms Klein. She is not in favor of people buying what they want, but rather she believes in telling them what they might have and in making sure that’s all they get. All you can do is vote against her ilk and hope enough others do as well. She’ll scream loudly and never stop, but what can you do? I believe someone is profiting selling ear plugs.

Barks
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Barks

She’s whining about media losing its privileged position.