Commit 060adf0f authored by Roger Merryfield's avatar Roger Merryfield 🦆
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title: "A Criticism of Accelerationism"
date: 2021-07-18 07:52:05 -0500
tags: needs
tags: tech
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# A Criticism of Accelerationism
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Many machines are designed with this sort of user interface philosophy. It is the foundation of casinos. Slot machines are designed to give users the illusion of control over chance; the penny slots using their remarkably small cost per play along with a credit card reader to disguise the expense of hundreds of dollars lost to its jowls. The acceleration of slot machines doesn't produce anything that allows gamblers to liberate themselves from the cycle - if anything, it reinforces it. Through industry developments across technology, finance, psychology and law, it finds a means to extract even more pennies from pockets - smaller, much harder to find change, hiding away between the cracks - by breaking up the dollar bill as a subject, virtualizing it into the abstraction of the number in an online credit card account. Sliced into microscopic values beyond any decimal place previously possible with metal currency, the extraction of surplus value is magnified exponentially, squeezing every last possible figment of value through a linguistic revolution accelerated by the development of automated silicon machines. It doesn't end at floating point math in an algorithm unit. The structure of the casino itself evolves and adapts with incoming connections from outside society, producing the stage in the casino - dark, loud, drunken, shrouded in smoke - conditioning players as subjects within a world where time and money dissolves in a carefully curated gambling zoo. The colorful screens and dynamic sounds serve to pull people further and further through the gravitational forces of user interface design towards the black hole that absorbs any photons of income that venture too close to its grasp. This is what the advent of acceleration of technology and finances has done to the dollar. But this exploitation of acceleration is not news - the 1999 movie Office Space centers around this very premise!
What the acceleration of technology is actually accelerating is the crystalization of the semionization of capitalist interactions of labor and consumption. In other words - the hardware whose production is accelerated also smooths out the signifiers that direct our movements as we interact with this technology, making them more efficient and realified to the end user. No longer does Windows require hundreds of pages of manual to understand how to use, but is simply something repeated through symbols in society as a distributed help diagram of its interface, to the point that such design language drives nearly every interaction we have on a computer - GNU or otherwise. The user interface becomes a machine language between our bodies, labor and the capitalist machine, replicating through society like a virus produced on these physical machines interacting with each other, reproducing the capitalist subjectivity with more and more granular detail. Like the penny slots, the development of computer production exists to produce a language that directs our actions through interfaces, one that pulls us closer and closer towards placing nearly all productive activity in the figurative black coin hole.
What the acceleration of technology is actually accelerating is the crystalization of the semionization of capitalist interactions of labor and consumption. In other words - the hardware whose production is accelerated also smooths out the signifiers that direct our movements as we interact with this technology, making them more efficient and realified to the end user. It is through this process that Windows can convert the less efficient 800 page manual into the efficient social system of signs. The user interface becomes a machine language between our bodies, labor and the capitalist machine, replicating through society like a virus produced on these physical machines interacting with each other, reproducing the capitalist subjectivity with more and more granular detail. Like the penny slots, the development of computer production exists to produce a language that directs our actions through interfaces, one that pulls us closer and closer towards placing nearly all productive activity in the figurative black coin hole.
A break in this process of semionization is required to actually begin to address these issues. Many interested in the history of tech and the history of its complicated relationship with capitalism are quick to turn to the open source community as a form of this escape. However, the open source community has only replicated these structures within itself. While its efforts on liberating information from the corporate circle through releasing source code to the public was admirable, because of GNU-licensed software's ability to be replicated so freely and easily, it was readily captured by capitalism within 10 years of its inception. Linux infiltrated the corporate infrastructure with its superior security and user interface langugae for developers, finding itself used by almost every major institution, as servers, as terminals, as storage. Linux was not a political revolution, it was a weapon. Through this corporate ecosystem, companies focused on the production of open source technology, such as Canonical or Red Hat, make direct contributions to the Linux core, further integrating capitalism into Linux's core.
A break in this process of semionization is required to actually begin to address these issues. Many interested in the history of tech and the history of its complicated relationship with capitalism are quick to turn to the open source community as a form of this escape. However, the open source community has only replicated these structures within itself. While its efforts on liberating information from the corporate circle through releasing source code to the public was admirable, because of GNU-licensed software's ability to be replicated so freely and easily, it was readily captured by capitalism within 10 years of its inception. Linux infiltrated the corporate infrastructure with its superior security and user interface langugae for developers, finding itself used by almost every major institution, as servers, as terminals, as storage. Linux was not a political revolution, it was a weapon. Through this corporate ecosystem, companies focused on the production of open source technology, such as Canonical or Red Hat, make direct contributions to the Linux core, further integrating capitalism into Linux.
Open Source also accumulated major industry-wide labor issues. As jobs in software technology become more competitive as the industry becomes more open to lower income backgrounds, a cultural expectation of contribution towards open source projects grows. Many jobs expect contributions to online repositories to demonstrate skill. Through this cultural change, open source projects like Linux have exploited tens of millions of unpaid labor hours, mostly from underdeveloped countries - so successful is its labor model that it's been replicated by major corporations such as Google and Microsoft. Internally, Linux replicates corporate structures within its internal hierarchies, notorious for minority suppression and abusive clique behavior. Open source was a failed, incomplete escape, one that was immediately captured back by the gravitational forces of the corporation, to be "useful". All open source has done is let us look at the code - nothing more - a function that gave rise to the means to optimize the production of this capitalist subjectivity even further.
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