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    The dour feminist in me would like to point out that women are still struggling toward full autonomy in society after some 2000 years of ‘civilization’ ( :/ ), but the hot topic of self driving vehicles has crossed my desk and merits a comment or two with regards to society.

A healthy dose of skepticism is always in order when it comes to vaunted new technology promoted by the tech industry.  Because they, like other features of capitalist society, value profit over anything else, the tech industry will often jazz up, embellish, and often outright fabricate their claims to make their product seem like the next “must have” consumer item in society (consider the recent crapple failphone X – now with *twice* the screens to break).

Skepticism in place, we do need to realize that sometimes the technological advance is real and will have serious effects in society.  Consider the case of the elevator operators in the 1940’s.  It was a flourishing job opportunity, and even wielded social power as a 1945 elevator-operator strike in Manhattan severely clogged the engines of business industry.  Within a generation this profession was gone; automatic elevators had all but replaced human elevator operators and ran elevators more efficiently and cheaply ever since.

A shit deal if you happened to train for and be a Elevator Operator – with the phrase “this is progress looks like burning in your ears” you had to go out a get a different job, and most likely one that did not pay as well as being an Elevator Operator.

Fast forward to the present day – Truckers are now facing this very same conundrum as automated vehicles are entering their field of work.  Operating truck driving software and actually driving a truck are two very distinct categories; thus yet another blue collar job opportunity might very well be shut off to the people.  I’m not a Luddite when it comes to new technology in society, but the motivation behind the vehicles (and most of capitalism to be honest) has me worried.  “In Canada 1 in every 100 workers is a truck driver, some 300,000 people – it’s the second most common occupation reported by men.” (The Walrus – Overhauled by Sharon J. Riley).

Are we going to spend the money to retrain these people if the technology for self-driving vehicles actually becomes a standard?  Or do we just turn these people to the wind, like the Elevator Operators of the 40’s, “here’s your last paycheck, sorry about your luck , bu-bye now.”?  I highly doubt that the trucking industry – the prime mover in its quest for ‘automated-efficiency’-  is going to step up to the plate and sponsor job retraining for all the employees that have become redundant.  The responsibility for integrating these now jobless people back into the economic workforce will most likely fall to the government and as valiant as Canadian social services are, a three hundred thousand plus hit on our limited social resources just won’t end well.

So, the case looks like this – Business moves ‘forward’ creating more efficiency and profitability, while the social and economic damage caused by said advances is left to the government to haphazardly repair with the limited resources available to it.  This smells like a looming case of what in corporate culture is known as “externalities” or items that have a tangible economic or social cost but importantly not directly to the company itself (Pollution is a prime example of an ‘externality’).  So really, it will be the common citizen, who will be responsible for keeping society going while business plunges ahead willy-nilly chasing the most effective and profitable supply chain.

I have a problem with these technology driven calamitous ‘externalities’ that we will be facing, not just in the transportation sector but in other sectors as well.  This process is driven by greed, and greed gives no fucks for those who must perish in the process of efficiency maximization.  The argument against me would be such – but with greater efficiency and optimization more people will be better served by the industry at hand, thus society will be better and everyone wins.

It’s just that everyone doesn’t win.  The people put out of work by technological advances and their families are going to lose and lose big because they will have no income to afford the goods being delivered so efficiently and profitably to the stores.  Our profit driven corporate/business sectors almost always seems to ignore that fact that their profitability hinges on condition that people exist in the market that have the capacity to buy their widgets.   You may have the best widgets out there, but with no demand, nothing happens.  Of course you can keep profits going up through dubious accounting methods and the churn and burn of the stockmarket magic – but that is an illusion as you are just moving money around an not creating actual value in society; plus that financial shell game periodically crashes hurting everyone in society (see 1929, 2008 et cetra).

The way forward is clear, at least to me.  Technological advancement needs to examined and fined tuned through the lens of what society as a whole needs, and not just the business sector because the business sector is necessary too short sighted to see beyond the bottom line and what is good for them at the time.

 

Related reading and some of my paraphrase fodder – Overhauled – By Sharon J. Riley found in the Walrus Magazine December 2017.

 

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   Howard Zinn was an active and vocal opponent of the Vietnam War.  He brings insight, like Noam Chomsky, to the issues that our liberal societies won’t acknowledge.   The diffusion of Personal responsibility – and no, not the ‘personal responsibility’ (bootstraps!?!!!!) wielded by the corporatist right to bludgeon the poor, but actual personal responsibility is what is being discussed in the quote.  It happens all to often when it comes to how we react to the actions taken in our stead by our government.

“I didn’t vote for them,” or “I’m just doing my job…” or <insert excuse here> does not make you any less responsible for the actions committed in your name.

“The fact that there is only an indirect connection between Dow recruiting students and napalm dropped on Vietnamese villages, does not vitiate the moral issue. It is precisely the nature of modern mass murder that it is not visibly direct like individual murder, but takes on a corporate character, where every participant has limited liability. The total effect, however, is a thousand times more pernicious, than that of the individual entrepreneur of violence. If the world is destroyed, it will be a white-collar crime, done in a business-like way, by large numbers of individuals involved in a chain of actions, each one having a touch of innocence.”

-Howard Zinn.  On War (second edition). p. 64.

I knew as soon as I saw this on my facebook feed, that a great tide was coming. The tide of ignorant entitled men who would disparage the very notion of mansplaining and try to make the conversation about them and their very important needs and problems.

The great tide of mansplination has crashed and to their credit the individuals behind Philosophy Matters has been doing and excellent job of schooling the dudes on the related comment thread.

I’m still just taken a bit aback by how, at least nominally, intelligent people do not understand such simple concept.  I’m guessing that it has much to do with the (wrong) idea that the experience in society is roughly the same for everybody.

Long time readers of DWR will recognize that highlighting the differing experiences of females and males in society is something of a theme around here and here we have an example on social media illustrating that there is still so much work to be done.

Thanks internet for confirming that my dislike of humanity in general is well-founded.

 

 

Best option out of the ones offered?  Maybe.

   Welcome to the particular mental hell that many women inhabit.  In an insightful article on Tom’s Dispatch by Mattea Kramer we see how the negativity toward women in society internalizes itself and become women’s own inner self-critical voice.

 

“Girls observe and absorb such double standards, as well as the criticism they receive for speaking up. Then they police themselves. As adults in professional settings, women talk a lot less than men when they’re outnumbered by the opposite sex — 75% less, according to a team of researchers from Princeton and Brigham Young universities. And if they do dare say something, they tend to hear an inner voice telling them that they sound dumb.

“God, I just said such a stupid thing,” a campaign director at a national advocacy organization thought to herself. “You don’t want to come off as an angry black woman, do you?” said the inner critic to an executive recruiter. To a nationally recognized artist: “You sound like a dumb girl.” To a Ph.D. with a successful career in higher education, “I shouldn’t have talked so much.” And to a thirty-something paralegal: “Your boss thinks you’re an idiot, and it’s because you are one.” You can imagine how much she speaks up.

In an attempt to outrun such criticism and those voices echoing in their heads, many women wear themselves out striving for perfection. As one researcher summarized the situation, ambitious women “exist by putting out maximum energy at all times, trying to do everything and do it well. It is not enough that they attempt to be outstanding in their work; their perfection complex also causes them to strive for a Jane Fonda body, a house that could be on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens, and perfect children.” They think they’re only okay if they’re flawless — and in the end often come to believe that they’re unlovable. (Depression, as it happens, is more common among women.)

“If other people really knew you, they wouldn’t love you,” said the inner critic to a newly married woman. “You should just accept that you’re going to be alone for the rest of your life,” it said to an Asian-American woman in her thirties. To a writer and teacher who volunteers her time helping the mentally distressed, the critic, speaking of her friends, said, “Why would they love you?”

Living in patriarchy is grand eh? ” :(

 

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