Nikola Tesla Was Against Feminism?

By Penny Hoffmann

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) is known as a Serbian American inventor and engineer. What many may not know about him are his views on feminism.

In an interview for a 1924 news article by Galveston Daily News titled “Mr.Tesla Explains Why He Will Never Marry: Famous Scientist Felt Unworthy of Woman as She Used To Be, and Now He Can’t Endure Her Trying to Outdo the Men”, Tesla states that women who try to compete with men by taking on male roles are making themselves inferior:

“I had always thought of woman, as possessing those delicate qualities of mind and soul that made her in these respects far superior to man. I had put her on a lofty pedestal, figuratively speaking, and ranked her in certain important attributes considerably higher than man. I worshiped at the feet of the creature i raised to this height, and, like every true worshiper, i felt myself unworthy of the object of my worship. But all this was in the past. Now the soft-voiced gentle woman of my reverent dreams has all but vanished. In her place has come the woman who thinks that her chief success in life relies in making herself as much as possible like man – in dress, voice, actions, sports and achievements of every kind.”

Tesla also states that the feminist movement where females abandon their gender roles and become more masculine is a sign of the downfall of a civilization:

“Women, are becoming stronger than men, both physically and mentally. The world has experienced many tragedies, but to my mind the greatest tragedy of all is the present economic condition wherein women strive against men, and in many cases actually succeed in upsurping their places in the professions and in industry. This growing tendency of women to overshadow the masculine is a sign of a deteriorating civilization.”

Men have desired to reach for the stars because they are inspired by the woman they fancy, mothers, or just any female figure in their life that believes in them:

“Woman’s determined competition with man in the business world is breaking down some of the best traditions – things which have proved the moving factors in the world’s slow but substantial progress. Practically all the great achievements of man until now have been inspired by his love and devotion to woman. Man has aspired to great things because some woman believed in him, because he wished to command her admiration and respect.”

Vessels have historically been named after women for the same reason, but were alternatively named after goddesses and other historical figures with the idea of safety and protection so the vessel survives whatever journey it undergoes.

Tesla then explains further about how men would self-sacrifice when working to serve women, and that, maybe, the male in society is useless. If women agree with this, then, Tesla believes, the worst of the world’s human history is taking place:

“For these reasons he has fought for her and risked his life and his all for her time and time again. Perhaps the male in human society is useless. I am frank to admit that i don’t know. If women are beginning to feel this way about it, and there is striking evidence at hand that they do, then we are entering upon the cruelest period of the world’s history. Our civilization will sink into a state like that which is found among the bees, ants and other insects – a state wherein the male is ruthlessly killed off. In this matriarchal empire which will be established the female rules. As the female predominates, the males are at her mercy. The male is considered important only as a factor in the scheme of the continuity of life.”

Tesla states that, when women see themselves as independent from man in terms of her breaking gender norms in the business world and not wanting to co-operate, this limits man’s ability to be independent:

“The tendency of women to push aside man, supplanting the old spirit of cooperation with him in all the affairs of life, is very disappointing to me. Woman’s independence and her cleverness in obtaining what she wants in the business world is breaking down man’s spirit of independence. The old fire he once experienced at being able to achieve something that would compel and hold a woman’s devotion is turning to ashes. Women don’t seem to want that sort of thing today. They appear to want to control and govern. They want man to look up to them, instead of their looking up to him. Conditions abroad suggest that the same tendency is worldwide.”

Tesla states that women are the victim when choosing this behavior, not the victor as what they imagine to be:

“I am considering this question not merely from the standpoint of a man, i am thinking of the woman’s side of it. As we contemplate any change, we naturally take into consideration the results that may follow such an innovation. One of the results to my mind is quite a pathetic one. Woman, herself, is really the victim of, as she thinks, the victor. Contentment is absent from her life. She is ambitious, often far beyond her natural equipment, to attain the thing she wants. She too frequently forgets that all women cannot be prima donnas and motion picture stars. Woman’s discontent makes the life of the present day still more over-stressed. The high pitch given to existence by people who are restless and dissatisfied because they fail to achieve things wholly out of proportion to the health and talent with which Nature has endowed them is a bad thing for the world.”

Because women will be the victims instead of victors, women will not be happy:

“It seems to me that women are not particularly happy in this newly found freedom, in this new competition which they are waging so persistently against men in business and even in sport. The question that naturally arises is, whether the women themselves are the gainers or the losers. It seems to me that anything which adds to the great discontent which we observe on every side to-day must be a bad influence on out life. Women who keep themselves agitated by their tremendous ambition to beat man at his game are losing at the same time something that counts for more in the end, than the empty honors that success in business or one of the professions can ever give.”

Because of corruption and tricksters, Tesla does not choose to conform with the general public:

“Discontent makes for cranks and unnatural people. There seems to be an uncommon number of them about today. This is one of the reasons i remain apart from the crowds. The public, or semi-public, character is the target for all sorts of attacks and unpleasant communications. For example, i used to receive all sorts of strange notes, many of them letters from cranks threatening my life, because they have read about my experiments in manufacturing lightning bolts. They wrote that they believed i was using these lightning flashes to kill them!”

Tesla states there are many examples of women who do not compete or try to outdo men that become great influencers:

“The power of the true woman is so great that i believe if a beautiful woman – that is to say, one beautiful in spirit, in manner and in thought, in fact, beautiful in every respect, a sort of goddess – were to appear suddenly on earth, she could command the whole world. Her leadership, i believe, would be universally recognized. History has given us many examples of the wonderful influence exerted by unusual women. Among these have been the mothers of great men. But their influence lay not in their determination to outdo man, or even to compete with him. Perhaps because woman is a finer and more highly sensitized instrument she knows by instinct her power and understands that the extent of it lies in the high position she takes for herself. But the superior never descends to the level of the commonplace.”

PINE GAP: The U.S Intelligence Facility in Australia

By Penny Hoffmann

Pine Gap is a U.S intelligence facility based in Alice Springs, Australia. It is located in the centre of Australia to make foreign interceptions difficult. It is most-likely the most important CIA intelligence collection station globally.

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PINE GAP: located in Central Australia.

According to the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, Pine Gap plays a “vital role in the collection of a very wide range of signals intelligence, providing early warning ballistic missile launches, targetting of nuclear weapons, providing battlefield intelligence data for United States armed forces operating in Afghanistan and elsewhere (including previously in Iraq), critically supporting United States and Japanese missile defence, supporting arms control verification, and contributing targetting data to United States drone attacks”.

Pine Gap has three surveillance systems: fundamentally it is “the ground control station for geosynchronous signals intelligence (SIGINT) satellites developed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency”, but it also serves as a Relay Ground Station (RGS) which sends information regarding “U.S. missile launch detection/early warning satellites/Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR)” to U.S and Australian H.Q’s and command centres. Thirdly, Pine Gap has a foreign satelite and communications satelite interception function.

Pine Gap was first established by the United States in 1966 and became operational in 1970. The original mission was to collect information on the testing of Soviet missiles:

“During missile tests, information on the performance of various parts of the missile in flight is sent by radio signal to the test base. U.S. satellites in geo-stationary orbit sitting above the earth intercepted this missile telemetry, and downlinked the data to Pine Gap and other ground stations. That data was then processed into usable signals intelligence about the performance and capacities of new Soviet missiles.”

Pine Gap still collects information regarding foreign missile testing in places such as North Korea.

Pine Gap has undergone dramatic technological development:

“This has provided the technical basis for Pine Gap to provide data enabling the targeting of illegal U.S. drone attacks in countries with which the United States nor Australia are at war, including Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.”

 

 

PROOF: Democrats are working with social media companies to try and harm the 2020 Trump re-election and the Conservative and Alt-Right movement

By Penny Hoffmann

In a paper classed as private and confidential, titled “Democracy Matters: Strategic Plan For Action”, Media Matters, American Bridge, CREW, and Shareblue are all actively fighting against right-wing misinformation, and social media platforms such as Facebook and Google have agreed to be their allies.

In the document, the current hurdles for the goal are highlighted. An analysis of their opposition, what Shareblue and their associates have already accomplished to get to this goal, and what is promised for the future are detailed. Their mission began in 2017 and will last for four years, up until Trump runs for presidency again in 2020.

The document even highlighted how they got Facebook to support their plans:

“During the 2016 election, Facebook refused to do anything about the dangerous rise of fake news or even acknowledge their role in promoting disinformation: Mark Zuckerberg called the notion that fake news is a problem “crazy”. In November, we launched a campaign pressuring Facebook to: 1) acknowledge the problem of the proliferation of fake news on Facebook and its consequences for our democracy and 2) commit to taking action to fix the problem. As a result of our push for accountability, Zuckerberg did both. Our campaign was covered by prominent national political, business, and tech media outlets, and we’ve been engaging with Facebook leadership behind the scenes to share our expertise and offer input on developing meaningful solutions.”

This is what Media Matters and their associates have already accomplished:

“Media Matters has already secured access to raw data from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. We have also put in place the technology neccessary to automatically mine white nationalist message boards and alt-right communities for our archive. We will now develop technologies and processes to systematically monitor and analyze this unfiltered data.”

“Our digital efforts were largely focused on changing the narrative with the traditional media versus voters. This worked to a point but wasn’t enough in the face of a news media incentivised by profit and access and fearful of intimidation and bullying by the Trump forces.”

“In 2016, a full two-thirds of Facebook users used the platform to get news. Facebook’s algorithm fuels confirmation bias by feeding content from outlets that tell the users what they want to hear. Fake news purveyors exploited this vulnerability. Fake news purveyors exploited this vulnerability for profit and political influence.”

The paper also provided a “competitive analysis” whereby their rivals and the threats they pose were highlighted. Their competition is right-wing media, but more specifically: the Conservative Media Research Center, Breitbart, Steve Bannon, and Donald Trump (obviously) and his Trump TV.

Here is what the paper said about Breitbart, for example:

“Breitbart, which has received millions in funding from extremest billionaires close to the Trump administration, provides a nexus point in the so-called alt-right (the newest branding for American white nationalism, anti-Semitism, and misogyny) to exploit vulnerabilities throughout the media landscape. With a powerful ally in the White House (former chief executive Steve Bannon will be Trump’s chief strategist), Breitbart plans to export its brand of anti-establishment racism on a global scale.”

Media Matters lists what their top outcomes are and what they will “focus on achieving” in the next four years, which began in 2017:

“In the next four years, Media Matters will continue its core mission of disarming right-wing misinformation, while leading the fight against the next generation of conservative disinformation: The proliferation of fake news and propaganda now threatening the country’s information ecosystem.”

“- Serial misinformers and right-wing propagandists inhabiting everything from social media to the highest levels of government will be exposed, discredited. Journalists, activists, allies, politicians, and the general public will routinely utilize and weaponize our research products to understand and take action against the changing media ecosystem and the extremists seeking to manipulate it. We will continue to break engagement records and dramatically expand and diversify our reach by presenting our research in multiple formats on a variety of platforms. Key right-wing targets will see their influence diminish as a result of our work.

– Internet and social media platforms, like Google and Facebook, will no longer uncritically and without consequence host and enrich fake news sites and propagandists. Social media companies will engage with us over their promotion of the fake news industry. Facebook will adjust its model to stem the flow of damaging fake news on its platform’s pages. Google will cut off these pages’ accompanying sites’ access to revenue by pulling their access to Google’s ad platform.

– Toxic alt-right social media-fueled harassment campaigns that silence dissent and poison our national discourse will be punished and halted. Hundreds and thousands of activists will join our campaigns to push back on alt-right harassment. Key alt-right figures will lose credibility and influence in response to our research and pressure.”

American Bridge, a participant for this plan, is given orders that aim to make it “the epicenter of Democrats’ work to regain power”. It has three goals that will be in favor of the Democrats:

“American Bridge will cement itself as the standard-bearer of opposition research, build on its role as a progressive clearinghouse for information that drives the narrative on Republican officeholders and candidates, and be at the epicenter of Democrats’ work to regain power – starting in 2017 and building to 2020. Here’s what success will look like:

– Trump will be defeated either through impeachment or at the ballot box in 2020.

– The balance of power will shift back to democrats. We will measurably impact US Senate, gubernatorial, and state legislative races.

– We will free ourselves from solely relying on the press. Our robust digital program will reach voters directly online.”

CREW is another participant in the plan to get Trump out of office. Crew has four goals that will aid in doing so:

“CREW will be the leading nonpartisan ethics watchdog group in a period of crisis with a president and administration that present possible conflicts of interest and ethical problems on an unprecedented scale. CREW will demand ethical conduct from the administration and all parts of government, expose improper influence from powerful interests, and ensure accountability when the administration and others shirk ethical standards, rules, and laws.
Here’s what success will look like:

– Trump will be afflicted by a steady flow of damaging information, new revelations, and an inability to avoid conflicts issues.

– The Trump administration will be forced to defend illegal conduct in court.

– Powerful industries and interest groups will see their influence wane.

– Dark money will be a political liability in key states.”

Shareblue, another participant, is planning to replace Conservative influence on social media with influence from Democrats instead. They plan to harm Trump’s presidency by “emboldening the opposition and empowering the majority of Americans who oppose him”. Shareblue has five goals in order to aid Media Matters’ plan:

“- Shareblue will become the de facto news outlet for opposition leaders and the grassroots.

– Trump allies will be forced to step down or change course due to news published by Shareblue.

– Under pressure from Shareblue, Democrats will take more aggressive positions against Trump.

– Shareblue will achieve financial stability while diversifying content offerings and platforms.

– Top editorial and writing talent will leave competitors to join Shareblue.”

Media Matters is against “even the slightest bit of normalization of Trump”. Funnily enough, Media Matters plans to resist Trump’s authoritarianism by utilizing authoritarianism themselves by means of, for example, collaborating with social platforms in order to remove what they deem as “fake news”. Thus, authoritarianism, in their eyes, is fine if they themselves do it:

“We are going to fight for the things in which we believe, and we are going to fight against any attempt to erode the cornerstone work and values of the progressive movement and this pluralistic nation… Media Matters will be vigilant in holding news media accountable for even the slightest bit of normalization of Trump. We will encourage journalists to defend standard practices, like the protective press pool and media credentialing, and strive for higher standards against this threat… we are going to resist the normalization of Donald Trump. His every conflict of interest, his every bit of cronyism, his every move towards authoritarianism, his every subversion of our democratic systems and principles, his every radical departure from foreign and domestic policy norms… we are going to contest every effort, at every level of government, to limit rights, rescind protections, entrench inequality, redistribute wealth upwards, or in any other way fundamentally undermine the tenets of egalitarianism that must serve as the bedrock of our democracy.”

Predictive technology, collaborating with social media platforms, omnichannel communications, and a massive grassroots truth squad are all methods Media Matters will use to monitor fake news. Predictive technology will allow individuals and outlets who participate in fake news, misinformation, and harassment, to be identified by Media Matters.

Here is what content Media Matters also corrects:

“Media Matters’ issue teams are focused on correcting misinformation on: gun violence and public safety, LGBT equality, reproductive health and gender equality, climate and energy, and economic policy.”

Insect Spy Drones? Revolutionary Technology is being created by the CIA and Other Groups

By Penny Hoffmann

In the 1970’s, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) created a spy drone called the Inectothopter that looks like a dragonfly.

These insect spy drones are used as surveillance technology that is disguised as everyday bugs and are that small that there is very small suspicion as to what their purpose is.

In an interview with the British Daily Mail, Zoologist Richard Bomphrey explains how flying creatures such as insects have been studied in order to understand how insect wings have have evolved to endure tough conditions. From studying this, important lessons can be learned:

“By learning those lessons, our findings will make it possible to aerodynamically engineer a new breed of surveillance vehicles that, because they are as small as insects and also fly like them, completely blend into their surroundings.”

Drones that look like other animals, such as a hawk, are also in existence and being created.

In 2007, the U.S military was accused of having insect spy technology when U.S anti-war protesters saw these drones flying above them. Government agencies at the time generally did not admit to having this technology, but some official and private organisations did admit to it.

Then, in 2008, the U.S military showed these inventions that are as “tiny as bumblebees” and were used to discretely “photograph, record, and even attack insurgents and terrorists.”

Whenever the military makes something public, it’s existence is usually decades old.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is reportedly planning to create laser weapons though The Excalibur Program, nanobots in the human body to monitor one’s health, cyborg technology where implants and improvements reliably connect to the human central nervous system via DARPA’s Reliable Neural-Interface Technology (RE-NET) program, Micro-technology for Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (MICRO-PNT) program  where GPS systems continue to work after losing signal, and other technology such as a gamma-ray laser called the Ultrabeam.

 

 

Is fear of automation merely neo-Luddite sentiment or legitimate concern?

By Stefan M. Kløvning

Insight – Pew Research published new findings on Thursday about public expectations for automation by computers and robots on the future job market in ten countries across the world. The countries investigated were Greece, Italy, Poland and Hungary in Europe; Canada and the U.S. in North America; Brazil and Argentina in South America; and South Africa and Japan in Africa and Asia respectively.

Chart showing that most think robots and computers will take over many jobs now done by humans

On the question of whether they expected robots and computers to take over many jobs during the next fifty years, US citizens were the most optimistic, with only 65% saying it would “probably” or “definitively” happen. On the top, we find Greece, Japan and Canada with 91%, 89% and 84% respectively. Greeks and South Africans were the most certain, at 52% and 45% of their populations respectively who claimed that such a transformation would definitely happen.

For most asked during the polling in almost all countries, the downsides significantly outweighed the upsides. They were presented with two potential downsides and two upsides: (1) people would have a harder time finding jobs, (2) the [wealth] inequality between rich and poor would be much worse than it is today, (3) the economy would be more efficient and (4) there would be new, better-paying jobs.

An average of 80% thought the first scenario was likely, with only 17 percentage points between the highest (Greece – 91%) and the lowest (Japan and Hungary – 74%). The second had a bit more differentiation, with only 63% of Italians and up to 87% of Greeks believing wealth inequality would worsen with automation. Still, almost 77% of citizens across the ten countries thought on average that this would be an important factor in the trend.

Far less had confidence in the propositions in (3) and (4). 74% and 61% of Japanese people and Poles, respectively, thought it was likely that the economy would become more efficient with automation, but this confidence wasn’t commonplace in other countries. 6 countries had less than 50% of its citizens thinking this was likely to happen, whereof 3 had less than 40%. Least confident were Italians, with only 33% thinking it was probable. People were even more pessimistic about the last scenario, with no country having more than 47% believing it was likely that automation would bring new and better-paying jobs to the market. Here, again, Italians are the least confident, with only 24%, but the Americans aren’t much different, with 25%. The only country with more confidence than Brazil and Poland, both with 37%, is Canada, at 47%.

Charts showing that publics are more convinced of the downsides than potential upsides of job automation

Richard Wike and Bruce Stokes, the authors of the report, also showed that whether the person asked believes the current economic situation is good or bad is a statistically Chart showing that those satisfied with current economy are more likely to have a positive view of job automationsignificant factor in the results.

The findings, overall, however, appears to be that people generally believe the downsides outweigh the upsides with automation, which begs the question: Will it?

To answer this key question, we must first look at whether this threat has at any time appeared before. Indeed, it did quite much so during the peak of the industrial revolution in England.

The latter half of the 18th century saw great technological innovation: the water wheel, the spinning jenny, the steam engine, etc. This was the beginning of what would eventually become part of the cause of increased economic prosperity and life expectancy rates. But this did not occur instantly. The English working class suffered under the transition, though, according to some historians, it was largely due to the Napoleonic wars, with food getting scarcer and more costly (Sidenote: just the conditions needed for Marx to get people to buy into his doctrine). Even under these poor conditions, some people still worried that machines could make it even worse as they would put them out of a job. The group known to be most serious about this threat were the Luddites. The Luddites was a radical group of textile workers and weavers, most active between 1811 and 1817, who destroyed weaving machinery as a form of protest. They had to fight against the British Army several times, but one time it got so far that there were more soldiers fighting the Luddites and other domestic protesters than Napoleon at the Iberian peninsula. The time they used to learn the skills necessary for their jobs, they thought, would go to waste as machinery would replace their role.

They were right, of course, but I don’t think many today would with hindsight say the downsides of the industrial revolution exceeded the upsides. After all, the life expectancy rate in the United Kingdom has doubled from 40 in 1800 to 81.2 today, a trend with most other countries following suit.

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The key to understanding this phenomenon is what is often termed as “creative destruction.” Creative destruction, first described by Joseph Schumpeter in 1942, is the “process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.” This happens when an innovation changes the traditional arrangements and frees resources to be used elsewhere. The labour and resources would no longer be useful in one arena and thus transferred to another where they are more needed. However, this redeployment will not happen immediately after they’re put out of work, which makes rapid automation a legitimate concern.

David Rotman delineates the parallel for Technology Review:

At least since the Industrial Revolution began in the 1700s, improvements in technology have changed the nature of work and destroyed some types of jobs in the process. In 1900, 41 percent of Americans worked in agriculture; by 2000, it was only 2 percent. Likewise, the proportion of Americans employed in manufacturing has dropped from 30 percent in the post–World War II years to around 10 percent today—partly because of increasing automation, especially during the 1980s.

However, he quotes Lawrence Katz, a Harvard economist who has done extensive research into how technological advances have affected jobs over the last decades, claims that there is no historical pattern which suggests that it leads to a net decrease in jobs over an extended period of time. “While it can take decades for workers to acquire the expertise needed for new types of employment,” he says, “we never have run out of jobs. There is no long-term trend of eliminating work for people. Over the long term, employment rates are fairly stable. People have always been able to create new jobs. People come up with new things to do.” Katz expects this trend to follow in the future but concedes that there is something different about today’s digital technologies that could potentially affect a broader range of work. “If technology disrupts enough, who knows what will happen?” Rotman rhetorically asks in his reportage, “Will the job disruptions caused by technology be temporary as the workforce adapts, or will we see a science-fiction scenario in which automated processes and robots with superhuman skills take over a broad swath of human tasks?” Thus we’re back to where we started. Will it?

Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee claim to have proof that the current technological advance does, in fact, destroy jobs faster than it is creating them. The two infographics pages to the right illustrate the problem. The first graph shows that U.S. productivity and employment have been more or less congruent during the 20th century, but diverged in the 2000s, what they call “the great decoupling.” Brynjolfsson is certain that this is because of technological change, but there’s no consensus among economists as to the cause of this great decoupling.

We can see an even greater divergence between U.S. GDP per capita and household income. For those who don’t know, GDP per capita means total output (the value of all finished goods and services) divided by the number of citizens in the country. Its divergence from average household income can easily be explained by technological advance making the economy more efficient but doesn’t say as much as the former graph about the degree to which jobs are being replaced. This should, however, disprove the claim that automation doesn’t lead to the economy being more efficient, point (3) in the Pew poll.

The second page tells us a bit more. Workers in the first and last percentile of skill have increased most in the change in share of employment, with .2% and .3%, respectively. The middle, however, doesn’t appear to have changed much. Those from 50 to 80 in the skill percentile have barely increased their shares at all, and those from 10 to 50 have seen their share decreased.

On the right on the page, we also see an overview of the vulnerable and fastest growing jobs. 8/10 of the fastest-growing jobs have to do with computer systems, networks, and software, showing the bright side of creative destruction, but again, we have to recall their argument that jobs are being depleted faster than they are created.

We’ll conclude by looking over the legitimacy of the four propositions laid out in the Pew poll but in opposite order.

  1. There would be new, better-paying jobs.
    • On the table with the fastest-growing jobs, we see that most of them are caused by technological advance, working the wonders of creative destruction. To figure out whether these are better-paying jobs than the ones who are being replaced would require its own thorough analysis, which is beyond the scope of this study. In other words, there will be new jobs, but whether these are better-paying is uncertain.
  2. The economy would be more efficient.
    • Brynjolffson and McAfee’s statistics indicate that technological advances increase productivity, especially in the 2000s, though the latest decoupling has split the line between that and employment. An increase in productivity is a strong indicator of the economy as a whole getting more efficient.
  3. The [wealth] inequality between rich and poor would be much worse than it is today.
    • There’s been a great amount of talk about inequality lately, especially since Piketty’s publication of Capital in the 21st Century in 2011. His research had great influence on the attention of the entire economist community on the trend, but he also received a lot of critiques (see: Anti-Piketty). If we accept his proposition of growing inequality, however, how does technology work as a factor? Rotman writes in another Technology Review article connecting the lines between Piketty’s and Brynjolfsson’s work:

      Brynjolfsson lists several ways that technological changes can contribute to inequality: robots and automation, for example, are eliminating some routine jobs while requiring new skills in others (see “How Technology is Destroying Jobs”). But the biggest factor, he says, is that the technology-driven economy greatly favors a small group of successful individuals by amplifying their talent and luck, and dramatically increasing their rewards.

      Brynjolfsson argues that these people are benefiting from a winner-take-all effect originally described by Sherwin Rosen in a 1981 paper called “The Economics of Superstars.” Rosen said that such breakthroughs as motion pictures, radio, and TV had greatly broadened the audiences—and hence the rewards—for those in show business and sports. Thirty years later, Brynjolfsson sees a similar effect for high-tech entrepreneurs, whose ideas and products can be widely distributed and produced thanks to software and other digital technologies. Why hire a local tax consultant when you can use a cheap, state-of-the-art program that is constantly being updated and refined? Likewise, why buy a second-best program or app? The ability to copy software and distribute digital products anywhere means customers will buy the top one. Why use a search engine that is almost as good as Google? Such economic logic now rules a growing share of the marketplace; it is, according to Brynjolfsson, an increasingly important reason why a few entrepreneurs, including the founders of such startups as Instagram, are growing rich at a staggering rate.

      The distinction between Piketty’s supermanagers and Brynjolfsson’s superstars is critical: the latter derive their high incomes directly from the effects of technology. As machines increasingly substitute for labor and building a business becomes less capital-intensive—you don’t need a printing plant to produce an online news site, or large investments to create an app—the biggest economic winners will not be those owning conventional capital but, instead, those with the ideas behind innovative new products and successful business models.

      This appears to indicate an increase in inequality, but the exact impact technology has on it calls for its own study, and is not certain based on the citations from Brynjolffson. Daron Acemoglu wrote a paper for the NBER in 2003, saying “This consensus is built on the notion of technology-skill complementarity: technical change favors more skilled (educated) workers, replaces tasks previously performed by the unskilled, and increases the demand for skills. Consequently, many commentators see a direct causal relationship between technological changes and these radical shifts in the distribution of wages taking place in the U.S. economy. … These considerations imply that technical change that increases the demand for skills can have much amplified effects on inequality, because it also will change labor market institutions and preferences towards redistribution.” As Acemoglu argues against other factors, such as globalization, I’ll judge this fear legitimate, though I think fiscal policy will have an influence on its significance (P.S. The degree to which inequality as such is bad de facto is also up for debate).

  4.  People would have a harder time finding jobs:
    • This is the million dollar question. In making such a forecast we can not say anything for certain, we can only think in probabilities. According to Brynjolfsson, the jobs are running out faster than they are creating because of the technological impact delineated in his and Acemoglu’s work. On the other hand, Katz expects things to go alright as it has before. Brynjolfsson and Acemoglu make a strong case for why creative destruction, as a result of technological advance, might, in this case, be leading to more jobs being replaced than created. High-skill work and creativity is in high demand and appears to only get more so as manufacturing jobs get automized. A net decrease in work will make it more difficult to find a job, but the different kinds of work demanded also calls for a reform in what is taught and how in the education system, though that’s a topic of study on its own. Anyway, as the job market changes, the education system must adapt accordingly.

We’ve here seen that much of the concern about the downsides of automation have proven more or less legitimate, that the current situation is significantly different from that during the industrial revolution, and that the economic upsides have been underestimated. Creative destruction has produced great benefits in the aftermath of the first industrial revolution, but today jobs seem to disappear faster than they are created. The technological change has increased economic output but at expense of an increase in wealth inequality by especially targetting low-skilled jobs, and increases the demand for high-skill labour. Between 1980 and 2005, the share of employment by the most low-skilled employees still increased, indicating a feud between theory and data, but the statistics still show that much of low-skilled labour is on the decline. If there were only the market involved in the process, it would be simpler to make a forecast on what would happen in the future, but as the government intervenes, for the better or worse, the trend could go a lot of different ways depending on what incentives are put in place and which legislation is passed to address the issue. Should we trust Congress to act fairly and effectively? Despite being constantly pushed by lobbyists for this and that, we should hope so, and have a debate about what suggestions could work and should be set in place, and advocate them to be instated.