Pluralistic: Brian Merchant's "Blood In the Machine" (26 Sep 2023)

Today’s links Brian Merchant’s “Blood In the Machine”: Reclaiming the Luddites from the victors’ history. Hey look at this: Delights to delectate. This day in history: 2003, 2008, 2013, 2018 Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current writing projects, current reading Brian Merchant’s “Blood In the Machine” (permalink) In Blood In the Machine, Brian Merchant delivers the definitive history of the Luddites, and the clearest analysis of the automator’s playbook, where “entrepreneurs'” lawless extraction from workers is called “innovation” and “inevitable”: History is written by the winners, and so you probably think of the Luddites as brainless, terrified, thick-fingered vandals who smashed machines and burned factories because they didn’t understand them. Today, “Luddite” is a slur that means “technophobe” – but that’s neither fair, nor accurate. Luddism has been steadily creeping into pro-labor technological criticism, as workers and technology critics reclaim the term and its history, which is a rich and powerful tale of greed versus solidarity, slavery versus freedom. The true tale of the Luddites starts with workers demanding that the laws be upheld. When factory owners began to buy automation systems for textile production, they did so in violation of laws that required collaboration with existing craft guilds – laws designed to ensure that automation was phased in gradually, with accommodations for displaced workers. These laws also protected the public, with the guilds evaluating the quality of cloth produced on the machine, acting as a proxy for buyers who might otherwise be tricked into buying inferior goods. Factory…Pluralistic: Brian Merchant's "Blood In the Machine" (26 Sep 2023)

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