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Rethinking everything: Lesson #5

We must reject the assumption that our built environment must become one big computer. We should erect barriers against the spread of “smartness” into all of the spaces of our lives.

This proposal will no doubt be met with charges of Luddism. Good: Luddism is a label to embrace. The Luddites were heroic figures and acute technological thinkers. They smashed textile machinery in 19th-century England because they had the capacity to perceive technology “in the present tense.” They didn’t wait patiently for the glorious future promised by the gospel of progress. They saw that certain machines were endangering their livelihoods right then so they dismantled them.

Big tech companies talk incessantly about how “AI” and digitization will bring a better future. In the present tense, however, putting computers everywhere is bad for most people. It enables advertisers, employers, and cops to exercise more control over us—in addition to helping heat the planet. . . .

Ben Tarnoff, writing in The Guardian Sept 17, 2019

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