Thursday, August 4, 2016

Elite articulations of the fourth industrial revolution: Pseudoscience that needs to be challenged


That unregulated globalization processes have produced large-scale global inequalities in the distribution of resources and opportunities is empirically documented.

These inequalities are so dramatic and the disaffection produced by them are so widely registered that elites and their mouthpiece pundits can no longer ignore the level of inequalities.

Having acknowledged the inequalities though, particularly in the backdrop of the financial crisis, elites fall back upon propaganda to justify and perpetuate the neoliberal status quo.

Rather than look at the inequalities as the product of unmitigated globalization processes that privilege those with power, experts offer theories that render as natural the state of inequalities.

One such elite explanation suggests that the large-scale inequalities we are witnessing today are the product of the "fourth technological revolution."

Without any data to back up their claims, these elites therefore prescribe smart strategies of adaptation to the status quo rather than fundamentally interrogating the status quo or questioning the overarching logics of trickle-down flow that constitute the status quo. Wearable technologies, driverless cars, automated workplaces are paradoxically offered as solutions to global inequalities.

In the face of the data that point toward the large scale job loss in the realm of automation or introduced by innovations that replace workers, these technological fixes to problems of unemployment and inequality paradoxically are the problems rather than the solutions they are pitched to be.

However, to offer a technological solution to a structural problem retains the structural configuration while at the same time continuing to co-opt the participation of disaffected workers in technologically embodied narratives of adaptation and skills improvement.

Rather than interrogating the political-economic formations that constitute the current state of global inequalities, these elite articulations prescribe new technologies and innovations to solve the problems of inequality and poverty that were generated on the first place by techno-deterministic policy formations.

The pronouncements made by elites at global forums are neatly packaged as scientifically derived.

Close examination of such elite claims however depict the absence of data or evidence to back up the new age imaginations of the fourth technological revolution.

The pseudoscience of "trickle-down economics" continues reinforcing itself, generating investments and venture capital funding for the next technological fix to global inequality that would simultaneously generate profits for social enterprises and transnational capital.

2 comments:

Mr C C SASIN said...

Yes the fourth industrial revolution will bring about job losses and greater inequalities in places but it will also provide to the most needy and i believe it will do more of the latter than former. For example, access to practical resources has undergone a big shift, fully functioning computers are available for $4US and with access to open source software. This alone empowers people on a scale never before achieved. So what if one can not afford a 4 dollar raspberry pi? One solution could be to focus a charity to gear up people to use this technology. On a side note i will have a brief poke at you and say this is what you should think about facilitating for it is 99% a fact that Industry 4.0 is happening thus you are wasting your time and in my opinion causing more harm than good by encouraging people to not empower themselves. That said, who am i to tell you what to do. I have so much more on this subject and how you are misinformed but will finish by saying keep an open mind here, you are a man who wants the best for those you love or humanity in general, that's clear to see but i must stress you must turn your gaze at yourself from time to time and keep an open mind, especially over the next few years - decade.

avinash said...

I agree with you Mohan for your call for questioning the rhetoric of the next industrial revolution and being a part of it or you will be left behind. However, what i am most concerned is the environmental impact of all our unquestioned exploitation of resources in the name of progress and devastation it brings not to mention the inequities in leads to. I recall Mahatma Gandhi's call for understanding the root cause of our inequities which is in our treatment of each other. And Mr Sasin, technology is a boom but as a civilization we are at a crucial stage and need to decide how much of it is good and how much bad.