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20 December, 2016

Streaming Fascism

Police State appliances for your home.

Being a liberal, lately I've been inundated with warnings and calls to action, boycotts and protests, petitions and pleas to click and agree,...all of them in response to the election of Trump, who shows the most overt signs yet of being our first flull-blown fascist president. (Yes, Cheney fit the bill, but technically he was only VP.)

Being an American, lately I've been inundated with adds for Amazon's Alexa and some Googly thingy that can sit in my house awaiting orders. They will do amazing things like change the thermostat so that I can have indoor snowmen, or order tape so that I won't have to seal Christmas gifts with band-aids. These are the whimsical examples that tech giants are using to sneak into our homes.

And Americans could care less.

Not that we shouldn't be wary of Drumpf's scapegoating tendencies, his lashing out at the press, his promises to sue any critics and jail the opposition. We should fight that crap tooth and nail.

But we should also resist the urge to invite mega-corporations into our homes, relinquishing increasing power month after month under the guise of convenience. Sure, in aspirational, duped-by-the-dream America, it's common to wish that you are one of the wealthy, that you have a butler, and  these devices play right into that. Never mind that to actually get the right kind of tape, you'll need to answer a bunch of questions that not only take up time but inevitably lead you to Amazon check-out.

Checking out on such mundane household chores as setting the thermostat or thinking ahead and buying groceries is not without cost, and ultimately without loss of your autonomy and freedom. Amazon and Google aren't altruistically taking over your chores--they're insinuating themselves into your life, harvesting data, tayloring their marketing until you're captured. We put up with these intrusions because they're "consumer oriented." You can play with settings still to maintain the illusion of control, but once our homes are linked into a system roamed by artificial intelligences whose goal is to sell us stuff, we've just a flipped the switch to a level of of spying that the Stasi only dreamed of, of monitoring and coercion more thorough than Orwell nightmared of.

Some of you may suspect where I'm headed with this: that such a tool in the hands of a dictator would be ominous. But actually, I think it's bad enough as is. Entities whose only goal is profit are invited to spy on us. Not only do they not pay to collect data, they get us to pay for the data-collection device, they get us to sign up for the services that will deliver our data back to us, processed into gleamingly ads rendered irresistable by virtue that they were borne of our own behavior.

Don't buy this crap. Don't buy the device, and don't buy the message. Be sovereign, un-plug, and read a book.


  1. You could roll your own Alexa probly. FSVO "you". You could collect data on yourself and pay yourself to use it. Step 4: PROFIT!

  2. I thought the diapers I heard about a year or two back, which can monitor an infant's health, were perhaps the most absurdly scary thing I'd heard of yet.

    Then THIS:

    And for Christmas, I'm totally buying you an Ancestry DNA kit so you can go online and disclose the entire genetic profile of the family, without anyone's consent at all. FUN!

    Me, I want a t-shirt that says "Be sovereign, unplug, and read a (paper) book."

  3. Sorry. The only reason we are given paychecks at all is to spend every nickel of them on stuff. We are not citizens, we are revenue streams.