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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/12/14

The New Feudalism and the Common Good

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If this is going to change -- and it must, because the imbalances in our political and economic systems are unsustainable - we need to recognize that global wealth inequality and the digital revolution go hand in hand and feed off each other.  

 

The mutual interests of Wall Street and Silicon Valley are creating an economy requiring a few highly-skilled 'knowledge workers' to write the algorithms for 'smart machines' that replace much human labor.   And so the middle class -- essential for a just and civil society -- is dying before our eyes.

 

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To distract them (us), we're bombarded with 'entertaining' images of violence and salaciousness, to hold interest until ads come on to incite our greed and envy.

 

Meanwhile global e-finance creates instruments so complex they are beyond human comprehension, and as evanescent as pixels on a screen. You can become a hedge fund billionaire in five years if your router is faster by a nanosecond that anyone else's.

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With every heavily promoted 'next new thing,' cracks become wider. The Internet of Things (IoT) will connect everything to the Cloud.   But there is little talk about the monumental energy requirements, never mind the risks of widespread crashing or hacking on a global scale.

 

Up to now, much digital technology has been about promoting the individual: personal computers, iProducts, personal ID numbers, MySpace"   And we've loved it.

 

But now global civilization is moving from the natural, the analog, into a privately controlled digital world.

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And a worst-case scenario is taking form:   Innovation promotes automation (machines replacing humans).   With diminished income, the unemployed or minimally employed are nevertheless constantly urged to consume, while at the same time under surveillance by increasingly paranoid elites in business and government.   And if the economically disenfranchised take to the street, the regime deals very harshly with them (evidenced by the ferocity brought down on the Wall Street Occupiers).

 

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Tom Mahon has written about technology for 40 years as publicist, journalist, novelist, dramatist, and activist. Since the early 1990s, he has spoken and written widely on the need to reconnect technical capability with social responsibility. (more...)
 

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