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Movies by Michael Betancourt
 Going Somewhere
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archives begin in 1996


The Law of Automation

story © Michael Betancourt | published July 26, 2012 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print


The Law of Automation is very simple:

Anything that can be automated, will be.
The results of this law are immediately obvious: every low skilled job that can readily be described by a limited set of algo-rules will be replaced by automation. The first stages are abundantly on view around us: how long before the iPhone's voice response system SIRI asks, "Do you want fries with that?"

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Autonomous Individuality vs. Social Organization

story © Michael Betancourt | published October 28, 2011 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print


The idea that the government is an unmitigated evil has its origins in American society with the concept of the state of nature. Proposed by Henry David Thoreau, the ideological claims of this view of human nature reveal themselves as an idealized, pastoralone where society is responsible for everything that is wrong with culture, where individuals are seen as self-contained, self-sufficient and fully autonomous, corrupted only when they need to work together. It is a fantasy of independence, one where the very real social and cultural supports that make the cabin in the woods possible are systematically denied. To see the sociopathic tendencies of this ideology fully realized, one needs look no farther than Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber.

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Immaterial Labor on Social Networks

story © Michael Betancourt | published October 23, 2011 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print


The creation of social networks challenges traditional conceptions of intellectual property and this change makes clear how the rights assigned to the ownership of information come into question with the development of digital technology. That social networks violate privacy and survive through using their members information to sell ads is nothing new; the creation of free services enabling anyone with access to them to become an author signals a move away from the productive action of humans and towards the automated surveillance of data collection, collation and retrieval, and this transformation reflects a fundamental shift in our conception of both identity and authorshipwith implications for the idea of intellectual property as well.

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On the Significance of #OWS

story © Michael Betancourt | published October 20, 2011 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print


The current crisis continues not because those protesting the status quo are lazy, unwilling to work or demanding a government handout; it continues because of a fundamental problem with consumption-based capitalism that has accelerated under digital capitalism: the need for continuous growth. Immaterial production was posed as the solution to this failure when it emerged as a potentially dominant mode of production in the 1980s. The contemporary dominance of immaterialismwhere the physical constraints presented by scarcity are systematically ignored and left out of considerationdepends on agnotology to confuse, deceive and obliviate certainty; with this elimination of the most basic grounds for conclusions and evaluations, the potential for dissent is greatly reduced and the effectiveness of dissent when it does appear is curtailed.

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Education, Autonomy, and Off-Shoring

story © Michael Betancourt | published October 16, 2011 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print


The shift of responsibility for education onto the individual shows the middle and lower classes who aspire to change social position have adopted the ideology of autonomous achievement, through a myopic denial of the governmental role in their social uplift, producing a situation where the shift from public good to private improvement mirrors the self-serving ideology employed by the nineteenth century upper class: it enacts the premise that success was produced through individual labor without assistance. This ideology of personal responsibility for education coupled with an increase in the number of highly skilled, college educated workers both inside and outside the United States has helped create the current liquidity of immaterial labor evident in the rise of off-shoring and globalization.

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