Today you can hardly tell when something is remade, because so often it is remade by code. When you press your foot down on your car’s accelerator, for instance, you’re no longer controlling anything directly; there’s no mechanical link from the pedal to the throttle. Instead, you’re issuing a command to a piece of software that decides how much air to give the engine. The car is a computer you can sit inside of. The steering wheel and pedals might as well be keyboard keys.
Over the last 10 years, America’s five largest tech firms have flooded Washington with lobbying money to the point where they now outspend Wall Street two to one. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon spent $49m on Washington lobbying last year, and there is a well-oiled revolving door of Silicon Valley executives to and from senior government positions.
US governments are already beginning to use the technology in a limited capacity. Last week the New York department of motor vehicles announced that it had made more than 4,000 arrests using facial recognition technology. Instead of scanning police footage, the software is used to compare new drivers’ license application photos to images already in the database, making it tougher for fraudsters to steal someone’s identity.
Amazon said in a statement that the company had “no plans” to use its Amazon Go technology to get rid of cashiers at the 465 Whole Foods stores it just acquired. But the Cornerstone analysis noted that airlines and banks made similar assurances about job losses when they introduced check-in kiosks and ATMs respectively; in both industries, employment and wages have declined.
The recent rise of all-encompassing internet platforms promised something unprecedented and invigorating: venues that unite all manner of actors — politicians, media, lobbyists, citizens, experts, corporations — under one roof. These companies promised...real, billion-strong mass participation; a means for affinity groups to find one another and mobilize, gain visibility and influence. This felt and functioned like freedom, but it was always a commercial simulation.
Google is “in the extraction industry.” Its business model is “to extract as much personal data from as many people in the world at the lowest possible price and to resell that data to as many companies as possible at the highest possible price.” And so Google profits from just about everything: cat videos, beheadings, alt-right rants, the Band performing “The Weight” at Woodstock, in 1969.
Before Palantir, building each profile was a time-consuming job...for an analyst to tie together information from disparate sources... Because Palantir could automatically integrate everything from citizen tips and crime incidents to field interviews and partial license plates, it dramatically accelerated the production of Chronic Offender Bulletins. What used to take an hour could be generated in three to five minutes. The analysts could now profile every single person stopped by police
Foxconn...has shown willingness to make a huge investment in Wisconsin — in exchange for a similarly hefty commitment from the state... On the table is up to $3 billion in state tax breaks... As long as Foxconn keeps hiring U.S. workers at the new flat-screen manufacturing facility, Wisconsin would cut the company $200 million to $250 million a year for up to 15 years. That works out to a rough cost to the state of about $230,700 per worker, assuming the factory goes on to generate 13,000 jobs.
Robots are...being used to attack the democratic features of the administrative state... the Federal Communications Commission put its proposed revocation of net neutrality up for public comment. In previous years such proceedings attracted millions of (human) commentators. This time, someone with an agenda but no actual public support unleashed robots who impersonated (via stolen identities) hundreds of thousands of people, flooding the system with fake comments against...net neutrality rules.
Russia’s cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before Donald Trump’s election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems ... In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day ... In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states