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/tech/ - Technology

"Technology reveals the active relation of man to nature"
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File: 1633725430532.jpeg (54.19 KB, 496x768, E_NYL-VWYAQ2sdo.jpeg)

 No.12010

First of all, I'm posting this in /tech/ but I'll admit it doesn't involve a very rigorous analysis of any technology, so apologies.

So, Mark Fisher and the "lost future" have become such a cliché on the online left that it's barely interesting to talk about, but people usually focus on the death of _cultural_ imagination, and explain it in terms of _cultural_ factors. What I wanted to ask is more material: does anyone get a sense that there is no real substantial technological development coming in the next 10-20 or even 50 years? Isn't the reason we're unable to conceive of a new futurism simply that there is no future promised at all, not just by the artists but the actual technologists who were supposed to deliver it to us?

The futurists we wax nostalgic about were envisioning worlds that they thought were just around the corner, and that they thought could actually change their lives and make possible entirely new experiences: where you could be anywhere in the world within hours if not minutes; where we could explore and inhabit places no one had ever been able to explore (whether the ocean, space, or wherever); where we'd be able to live for centuries if we so chose.

Regardless of how accurate such visions were, they're gone now; and it's not like there weren't many amazing technological changes in the past few decades. But the amazing things that are in the cards don't seem like they're destined for _us_. They might be something our children and grandchildren will experience, but not us. Space, immortality, wherever. I'm not trying to start a discussion on whether these things are even desirable, by the way; I'm just trying to exemplify something more general.

What does seem like it's coming soon just feels… meaningless. Self-driving cars just let you not drive your car. Big deal; it's a slightly less stressful version of the bus experience. Oh, and they might cause massive unemployment, but that's not something to be excited about, exactly, is it? And who cares about smart appliances; so what if you can have a conversation with your toilet?

My point is, it feels like the "near future" has died not because we've stopped imagining it but because no one is actually developing it. All the technologies that are coming feel like one of either:
>stuff that makes your life slightly more convenient or efficient or cheaper, but not significantly more so
>stuff that will make life considerably better but only for a very small group of people

The hypotheses I have are:
>I'm alone in feeling like this and am being irrationally cynical. If so, fair enough
>there is widespread skepticism of the capacity of technology or corporations to actually better our lives, such that with any new invention we simply can't help but imagine the ways in which it will be disappointing or make our lives worse, regardless of how accurate this is
>most corporations have no interest in pursuing genuinely life-changing technologies, because slightly improving existing ones is a safer bet
>life-changing technological advancements have always been rare and we've only ever thought otherwise because of marketing and misleading histories

Let me know what you think or tell me to kill myself or post images that you find funny

 No.12011

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>>12010
You are correct, except for one little detail, you can't pin this on the technologists, i.e. the people that do the math on the scifi proposals, because they are still churning out feasibility studies for really transformative technologies: mega structures in space , giant floating cities, compression chambers that make it possible for humans to survive 15 G acceleration, actually working cryogenic sleep pods that aren't just expensive freezer coffins. There are workable designs for net power fusion reactors , and so many plans for lunar cities that the moon might not have enough surface area if we wanted to build them all. The capitalist ruling class just keeps saying no to all of this stuff.

There has been a slowdown for fundamental research as well, because they need big physics experiments and there might be some ideology in theoretical physics that is slowing things down.

 No.12012

>>12011
Lack of funding and engineering is slowing down science. Having money would enable to hire more researchers and build a supercollider.

 No.12013

File: 1633734597777.jpeg (29.17 KB, 320x247, Atompunk.jpeg)

>>12010
This applies more to classic scifi than cyberpunk. Cyberpunk was never about envisioning a good future, it was a political commentary on neoliberalism and where it would lead. It's essentially an extrapolation of the 1980s/90s into a possible future, a future than ended up not happening so now its a form of retrofuturism, no different than atompunk was/is for the 1950s.

The lack of progress is simply because capitalism slows shit down. Technological automation only happens as a labor saving device, if neoliberalism represses wages by repressing unions and exporting labor to third world nations then there's no incentive to automate. So capitalist exploitation slows down technological progress the more it exploits, Socialism which rationally costs labor, or even social democracy with higher wages would increase technology because it increases automation.

However labor saving is just one side of the coin the other is innovation. Commercial innovation is usually based on taking public sector theories and ideas and tech developed by military or universities or NASA or something and commodifying it. Most of the algorithms and tech that went into shit like google, iphones, was publicly funded.

So while sometimes you get henry ford types who make shit from scratch, modern development of technologies is based on having a TON of upfront cost of research which private investors don't want to wait for which is why they tend to leach off public research instead, or monopolies and/or enormous corporations with R&D departments of the past (Bell Labs, Xerox PARC). This is also why investors like software startups because its extremely low barrier to entry and relatively low cost compared to making a chip foundry for a billion dollars or something.

The whole obsession with the "FUTURE" was a 20th century/boomer phenomenon which weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.

>Gibson thinks that during his lifetime the future “has been a cult, if not a religion”. His whole generation was seized by “postalgia”. This is a tendency to dwell on romantic, idealised visions of the future. Rather than imagining the past as an ideal time (as nostalgics do), postalgics think the future will be perfect. For example, a study of young consultants found many suffered from postalgia. They imagined their life would be perfect once they were promoted to partner.


>“The Future, capital-F, be it crystalline city on the hill or radioactive post-nuclear wasteland, is gone”, Gibson said in 2012. “Ahead of us, there is merely … more stuff … events”. The upshot is a peculiarly postmodern malaise. Gibson calls it “future fatigue”. This is a condition where we have grown weary of an obsession with romantic and dystopian visions of the future. Instead, our focus is on now.


Part of the whole cultural malaise is the fact that we are living in the end of history. We are no longer looking forward to the future, because we're already in the future - our time is the "future" relative to the 20th century which is still the frame of references for our general culture.

Of course technological rapid developments could offset this malaise, but would require a massive investment in green techs, high tech transportation, and massive funding of basic and medical science, rehauling the university as well. But that likely won't happen because too many western politicians are mentally stuck in 1994 post cold war neoliberal mindset and their brains can't comprehend any other form of governance other than privatize it and let muh market handle it even though that's clearly not working any more and leading to a slow decline.

 No.12078

>>12010
>does anyone get a sense that there is no real substantial technological development coming in the next 10-20 or even 50 years?
Maybe nothing that you notice because consumer electronics have stagnated. Now it's all about surveillance and control: smart homes, cameras in doorbells, better collection of data from devices, stronger crackers for encryption, etc.

If you zoom out so to speak, and look on the larger scale then: new vaccines, mRNA, they're developing cancer and HIV vaccines, and actually coming close to finding cures for diseases like herpes; organ transplants like eye transplants, artificial heart and organs, all of that is being developed as we speak; space propulsion, ion drive, general space stuff, China just put a space station in orbit that is way more advanced than the 30+yo ISS, also planned Moon bases; new weapons are being developed, autonomous killing robots and shit; they're developing mech suits too; 5G just got rolled out, some places have 100+mbps internet everywhere, soon 6G will roll out, dunno what that means for IoT but I bet it is a big deal. And so on.

Don't just look around your house and think "no innovation, I have a TV, microwave, fridge, telephone, but so did my parents!" because technological innovation doesn't happen for consumer products, consumer products are a byproduct of technological innovation. When parts and manufacturing of things become cheap enough to be made on a large scale, packaged and sold, that's when we get new consumer products and we get a taste of the "innovation".

 No.12079

>>12013
>The lack of progress is simply because capitalism slows shit down. Technological automation only happens as a labor saving device, if neoliberalism represses wages by repressing unions and exporting labor to third world nations then there's no incentive to automate. So capitalist exploitation slows down technological progress the more it exploits, Socialism which rationally costs labor, or even social democracy with higher wages would increase technology because it increases automation.

>However labor saving is just one side of the coin the other is innovation. Commercial innovation is usually based on taking public sector theories and ideas and tech developed by military or universities or NASA or something and commodifying it. Most of the algorithms and tech that went into shit like google, iphones, was publicly funded.


this seems like a proper marxist take

>>12078
>innovation is happening but it's unnoticeable
but innovation in the past was very noticeable, this is a cop out
>cameras in doorbells is innovation
people had peep holes in their doors for as long as they had doors
>surveillance and control
but the proletariat has no surveillance and control over capitalists, there is no innovation happening.
>better medical stuff
fair enough we can count that as long as everybody can get it

 No.12081

>>12079
>the proletariat has no surveillance and control over capitalists, there is no innovation happening.
in capitalism, the proletariat isn't the one making technological decisions. Technology isn't devoid of ideology, and technology doesn't just "grow" in a vacuum. it is to be expected that as capitalism decays the bourgeoisie will be requesting technology that controls the antagonisms. Elon Musk is offering the US government worldwide weapons delivery in minutes. Do you think StarLink has a benevolent purpose?

 No.12123

>>12081
From a Marxist perspective the only thing that counts as innovation are better means of production, because only those have lasting social and economic feedback effects that change the course of history. Anything that the bourgeois requests for them self's falls under the category of luxury or otherwise unproductive. Technology only interferes with the progression of history when the productive classes get better tools.
The working class, is the class that reproduces society, everything else is an appendage to this primary material cycle.

If ruling classes divert technical talent away from the primary reproduction cycle of society, society will either correct the mistake or go into decline and other societies will rise to become the new force that makes history progress. The means for power and control can't compete against the means of production.

>Elon Musk is offering the US government worldwide weapons delivery in minutes.

Musk builds weapons ? what kind?
Do you mean star ship ? If they load it with weapons, it's going to get rammed by a diverted satellite before it reaches orbit.
>Do you think StarLink has a benevolent purpose?
In my humble opinion the alternate purpose of star-link is passive espionage, that's the only way it's design would make sense, a plain old signal relay system for the internet can be had much simpler and cheaper, but weaponizing it with any kind of active system would lead to it's destruction (low flying satellites are very vulnerable)

 No.12124


 No.12125

>>12123
>Anything that the bourgeois requests for them self's falls under the category of luxury or otherwise unproductive.
The steam engine was made possible by the bourgeoisie. Watt's father was a teacher IIRC, and there were people around young James that were able to recognise his abilities and pushed him further towards study. Watt studied and worked at the University of Glasgow. It wasn't until Watt met Boulton that he was able to actually build a working model of his engine that could then be put on trains and ships. Boulton was a rich capitalist who saw a lot of profit in Watt's engine design.
>Technology only interferes with the progression of history when the productive classes get better tools.
You have something messed up here. History progresses via class struggle, that is the "engine of history". Technology doesn't interfere with the progression of history, but is an important part of that progression. We get a social revolution when changes in the superstructure are not able to follow the changes in the productive base. Steam engines have been around since 1712, Watt's was a game changer and by 1775 there were already working steam engines in factories around the country. American revolution happened in 1776 and the French Revolution happened in 1789.
>The working class, is the class that reproduces society, everything else is an appendage to this primary material cycle.
But the working class doesn't exist in a vacuum, the base and superstructure are contantly influencing one another.
>If ruling classes divert technical talent away from the primary reproduction cycle of society, society will either correct the mistake or go into decline and other societies will rise to become the new force that makes history progress.
But they aren't. Automation is a big one. They have robots flipping burgers, autonomous self-driving trucks, self-driving trains, robot warehouse workers, and so on. I'd even argue that the invention of the integrated circuit was the start of another industrial revolution, it ushered in an era of computers, internet, connectivity and globalisation, allowed us to put computers in literally everything. It started an unprecedented migration too, something that hasn't been seen since the great migration of Europeans to the "New World" in the 19th century. Reproduction of society is not in danger, because currently we produce more food than we can eat, we have more houses and apartments than there are people, there's plenty of clothes and other items to go around. In fact, because society isn't in existential danger, we can have "NEETs", anti-work people, nihilist anarchists, etc. without pushing society into crisis.
>Musk builds weapons ? what kind?
He builds weapon delivery systems (rockets).
>Do you mean star ship ? If they load it with weapons, it's going to get rammed by a diverted satellite before it reaches orbit.
<Elon Musk's SpaceX and the US military plan to build a rocket capable of delivering 80 metric tons of cargo anywhere in the world in 60 minutes.
https://www.businessinsider.com/musks-spacex-partners-us-military-to-deliver-weapons-by-rockets-2020-10
>the alternate purpose of star-link is passive espionage
That's also one of its uses, yes.
>weaponizing it with any kind of active system would lead to it's destruction (low flying satellites are very vulnerable)
They don't need active weapons, their orbits can be adjusted so they hit other satellites or stations, like the new Chinese Tiangong station that is also in Low Earth Orbit.
<falls under the category of luxury
I have to comment on this. Marx makes no distinction between "wants" and "needs", between "luxuries" and "necessities". Remember: "a commodity is any product that satisfies a human want or need". Marxism isn't about moralising and judging what people should and should not want.
<or otherwise unproductive.
Productive labour in capitalism, in Marxian terms, is the labour that goes into a commodity (product or service) and generates surplus value, that is, any commodity or service that contributes to the M - C - M' cycle. For example, a masseuse giving massages to people in her home is unproductive, a masseuse working for Massage, Inc., working at the Massage Centre, giving $25 half-hour massages to people for $10/hr. is productive labour. In the first case, the masseuse pockets the money and will use it on feeding herself, in the second case, the money from the customer goes to Massage, Inc., who will use this money to expand the company, perhaps offer more products and services, hire more workers, while paying the masseuse a wage.

 No.12127


 No.12131

>cultural imagination
>no one is actually developing it
Idealists/artists do not read science outside of whatever gets shilled in popular media to sell to consumers. It's like Trump saying "nobody knows about this thing I heard about ten minutes ago, nobody knew!"
>>12011
>There are workable designs for net power fusion reactors ,…The capitalist ruling class just keeps saying no to all of this stuff.
As braindead as ivermectin users who think the cure for cancer already exists but "they're hiding it"

 No.12132

>>12125
You don't understand what un/productive labor is.

 No.12133

>>12125
>Technology doesn't interfere with the progression of history, but is an important part of that progression.
that sentence makes no sense. Tech innovation is one of the major factor of social changes and class struggle. You cant have capitalism without steam engine or equivalent machines that allow the build up of capital. And its these material changes in production that caused the eventual bourgeois revolution. The fact it arised in europe (and more exactly england) was a decisive factor for the rest of the world history.

 No.12134

>>12125
go reread theory, productive labor is labor that reduce the cost of reproduction of labor

 No.12136

>>12132
>Cockshott
Go look up how Marx defines productive and unproductive labour.
>>12134
>go reread theory, productive labor is labor that reduce the cost of reproduction of labor
What a stupid definition. By that definition, an airplane factory worker isn't doing productive labour because the more planes there is doesn't reduce the cost of reproduction of. labour.

What do you think "reproduction of labour" means anyway?

 No.12137

>>12133
>>Technology doesn't interfere with the progression of history, but is an important part of that progression.
>that sentence makes no sense.
The sentence that preceded it made to sense. <Technology only interferes with the progression of history when the productive classes get better tools.
Why would technology "interfere" with the progression of history?

>Tech innovation is one of the major factor of social changes and class struggle.

=
>Technology […] is an important part of that progression [of history].
Literally what I said. I guess you just wanted to disagree with me. The rest of your post is also in agreement with me.

My issue was with the word "interfere".

 No.12138

>>12125
>The steam engine was made possible by the bourgeoisie.
the steam engine was an innovation that made production better, it made society progress to a higher level. All the new technologies to control people does jack shit for production, therefore it's personal consumption of the bourgeoisie, that is as irrelevant as a pompous yacht on the level of society. The human effort spend on keeping the ruling class in power is effort that is not spend on leveling up society. All the big data technology could be used in an innovative way where it has beneficial effects like the steam engine, it could be used for cybernetic optimization of the economy. Capitalists use computers, but at the most fundamental level they still calculate production on the basis of money, instead of using material metrics for optimizing production. With cybernetics we could use 100s of variables for optimizing the economy, but instead we still only use one. The society of control that the capitalists are building demotes digital technology to the level of Hero's aeolipile steam toy in the roman empire. The technical principles are all there, but the potential for productivity enhancement is not realized. The bourgeoisie was able to use the steam engine to move society forward, but with digital technology they don't seem to be able to. Maybe they are the wrong class with the wrong social relations to make it happen. Like in the roman empire that was a slave society dominated by slave capital that could not unleash an industrial revolution even-though they had a steam engine prototype.

>Musk's military drop ships

this is laughable, it can only land on a really flat surface made from a special material that can withstand rocket thrusters. One spaceship test vehicle blew up because bits from the landing surface got loose and ruptured the fuel tank. It's too delicate to land in a war-zone under enemy fire.

>space warfare

this will lead to so much scrap and trash flying around up there that earth orbit will become unusable

>>12131
Fusion reactors are realistic but it would need first priority funding, like cutting the worlds military budgets in half and redirecting it to fusion.

 No.12139

>>12136
>Go look up how Marx defines productive and unproductive labour.
Yes but Marx only does this as a description how the internal logic of capitalism works, it's not a endorsement.
He says look what capitalists do, he doesn't say that what capitalist do is correct.

 No.12147

>>12138
>All the new technologies to control people does jack shit for production
Keeps people working, doesn't it?
>The technical principles are all there, but the potential for productivity enhancement is not realized.
Of course not, because the name of the game is profit, and innovation is not always profitable. Surveillance technology helps keep class antagonisms down, protecting the status quo.
>Like in the roman empire that was a slave society dominated by slave capital that could not unleash an industrial revolution even-though they had a steam engine prototype.
Just because they had a "steam engine" (questionable), doesn't mean they could have an industrial revolution. It took Watt 30 years to find a craftsman that could build the types of cylinders he needed that wouldn't break. And it was only after Watt added a separate condenser to the Newcomen steam engine, that the steam engine became efficient enough to be useful. Then you have the fact that you need to build trains and ships that are strong enough to carry the steam engine, the steam engine moves and shakes, you need to bolt it down to something strong. Also, the steam engine was used to power things that more or less existed, cotton gins, ploughs, saws in saw mills, etc. they basically replaced the animal/human power driving the machine with a steam engine. Romans didn't have any of that. A technological innovation can come too early and not find purchase in the technological society, so to speak. A more recent example is YouTube, there was YouTube in the 90s, streaming video and video sharing platforms, however since everyone had dial-up and ISDN, it didn't make sense to stream video, it was too slow to be watchable and the quality was poor.
>this is laughable
The point isn't whether the current iteration is viable, the point is that people like Musk, who sort of claim they are doing these things for humanity, are actually all just fighting for those sweet "defense" contracts and a piece of the spoils of imperialism.
>this will lead to so much scrap and trash flying around up there that earth orbit will become unusable
Earth's orbit is already full of junk, the ISS has a close call every other week.
>>12139
>Yes but Marx only does this as a description how the internal logic of capitalism works, it's not a endorsement.
Sure, but we are talking about labourers as they are now, in capitalism.
>He says look what capitalists do, he doesn't say that what capitalist do is correct.
Capitalists don't decide what is productive and unproductive labour, those are descriptors of relationships of workers to capitalists and the capitalist cycle of production. I think it is a good way to cut through workerist bullshit and build solidarity. I hear this idea thrown around that unless one is a blue collar worker, one is not "producing" and therefore is not really exploited, because the job one does is not a necessary part of a functioning society.

 No.12163

>>12147
>Keeps people working, doesn't it?
Wow they reinvented the whip. Such innovation.

The roman empire could have started the industrial revolution, they could have invented carbon steal and all the other precursors needed to get use from a steam engine, they just didn't because of their class structure.

Offensive space military is a meme there are no defensible positions, if somebody starts shooting at stuff, put up weapons platforms or use it for other hostile military deployments, everything gets destroyed. People should be working on space trash collecting, try selling it as "debris defense screen" to the space force or something. if they put soldiers on musks new rocket they would be starship troopers

The marxist definition of productive and unproductive labor isn't a moral judgement, and it's not a apologetic for excluding certain workers from the socialist movement. Societies should divert their efforts to the accumulation of persistent wealth. What kind of activities are productive is linked to the productive forces. New technology can make it possible for more types of labor to create persistent wealth. Story tellers became productive with the invention of ink and paper, and are now called book authors. It's not all about persistence. If you build 200 Mc mansions for capitalists that isn't productive either, but if you build housing for workers that is productive. Mind the class character of productive labor. Basic stuff like if your society spends too much labor on building fancy castles for the rulers it can't advance it self. The capitalist bourgeoisie isn't wasting labor the same way as feudal lords, but their new technology for controlling people is not increasing the productive capacity of society, the labor of a worker is not producing more, it's just for them, not for society, and therefor it's not productive. It may lead to a new dark age, and advancement only returns once people break it with a new enlightenment. The capitalist class is becoming the new feudal lords trying to hold back society.


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