Many colleges and universities in the US have defied their faculty, staff, and students in bringing students back to campus during a pandemic, and they can’t explain why. Could this be the straw that finally breaks the back of neoliberal education anti-management?

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from CDC-MMWR study of COVID-19 infection rates among college-age students, which increased 55% nationally during August 2020

When the COVID-19 crisis started, many of us in US higher education worried about university administrations using the crisis as an opportunity to push through policies they would otherwise be unable to enact. …

Overwhelming evidence shows that the blockchain/cryptocurrency space is mostly fraudulent

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Note: Amy Castor and David Gerard provided extensive commentary, editorial help, and in some cases the actual words used in this piece.

I have been writing about cryptocurrencies since at least 2013. From the beginning it has been clear to me how pervaded the entire space is with false claims, conspiracy theories, muddled thinking, and outright fraud of many kinds. It is therefore remarkable to me how much academic, journalistic and popular writing on blockchain accepts at face value dogma that any dispassionate investigation shows to be false, and that has been repeatedly and clearly shown to be false. This dogma serves both those who fraudulently (or at best, out of excessive self-interest) advance blockchain as a solution for… something, and the far-right actors who gave birth to the ideas of cryptocurrency and blockchain in the first place. …

“The White Man’s Burden (Apologies to Rudyard Kipling),” Victor Gillam, Judge magazine, 1 April 1899
“The White Man’s Burden (Apologies to Rudyard Kipling),” Victor Gillam, Judge magazine, 1 April 1899
“The White Man’s Burden,” (Victor Gillam, Judge magazine, 1 April 1899). Image source: Wikipedia

Note: This is a lightly edited transcript of a talk delivered at The White West III: Automating Apartheid (Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria, Feb 13–14, 2020). A fuller version with complete references is in preparation for the conference proceedings.

In the developed world, blockchain promoters insist the technology will solve what they call problems of governance, finance and trust, though historically these have almost exclusively been considered “problems” by the far right. In the developing world, promoters invert the terms of the bargain, arguing that the world’s most impoverished people need blockchain to make themselves more politically and economically equal. These suggestions reiterate in remarkable ways the “white man’s burden” discourse of earlier colonial periods, far in excess of more recent (and still often misguided) schemes to improve the circumstances of people in the Global South. Further, where those recent schemes can at least claim at some level to be honestly committed to helping people, blockchain promoters transparently pursue their own self-interest, often at very significant cost to exactly the people they claim need the technology. …

Calls to Limit the Use of Bad Technologies Only by Law Enforcement and Governments, Largely Via “Ethics” and Self-Regulation, Exacerbate Rather than Ameliorate the Anti-Democratic Harms of Digital Technology

Recently, more of us have started to realize just how destructive digital technologies can be. That’s good. As someone who has been nearly screaming about the topic for over two decades now, I can only say that it’s about time.

Yet one of the most prominent strains of this criticism is one that we should be almost as concerned about. …

Artificial General Intelligence and White Supremacy

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It may seem improbable at first glance to think that there might be connections between the pursuit of artificial general intelligence (AGI) and white supremacy. Yet the more you examine the question the clearer and more disturbing the links get.

Inspired in part by some recent work mentioned below, conversations with Chris Gilliard, a Twitter thread by Ash, ongoing work by Dale Carrico, and some other recent research mentioned below, I decided to try to see where the threads might lead.

This is a brief think piece intended to stimulate additional reflections. It is not meant as a personal indictment of those who pursue AGI (although it is not meant to exonerate them either), but instead a structural analysis that starts from an acknowledgment of the ways that race and whiteness work in our society, and how they connect to other phenomena that may seem distant from them. In the case of AGI, there is an odd persistence of discourse that seems far in excess of what science allows, and those most captivated by that excess are often the same people captivated by excesses about race. Part of this is visible through the unusual amount of overlap between AGI promoters and those who believe in a strong correlation between what they call “race” and what they call “IQ.” I suspect it would be possible to read through a lot of the media and texts about AGI and find many marks of a commitment to white supremacy that promoters do not recognize in themselves. That may be a project worth pursuing another time. …


David Golumbia

Professor, Writer on Digital Studies, Language, Theory

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