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Tag Archives: Society

As robots take our jobs, we need something else. I know what that is

Why bother designing robots when you can reduce human beings to machines? Last week, Amazon acquired a patent for a wristband that can track the hand movements of workers. If this technology is developed, it could grant companies almost total control over their workforce.

https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/07/robots-jobs-salaried-work-society-unpaid-george-monbiot

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Posted by on February 15, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Moralism and the Arts

It is hard to imagine admiring art that espouses child abuse, racial hatred, or torture. But just as we should not condemn a work of art because of the artist’s private behavior, we should also be careful about applying norms of social respectability to artistic expression.

NEW YORK – Chuck Close is an American artist, famous for painting large portraits. Severely paralyzed, Close is confined to a wheelchair. Former models have accused him of asking them to take their clothes off and of using sexual language that made them feel harassed. This behavior prompted the National Gallery in Washington, DC, to cancel a planned show of Close’s work. And Seattle University has removed a self-portrait by the artist from a university building.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/separating-art-and-artist-behavior-by-ian-buruma-2018-02

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Will tech giants move on from the internet, now we’ve all been harvested?

Much of the current hysteria about the technology industry is due to its highly ambiguous relationship with its users. Driven by the logics of both compassion and indifference, this relationship has always been erratic yet functional. These two clashing rationales, for example, allowed technology companies, frequently painted as Dr Evil, to claim the mantle of Mother Theresa. However, as the unresolved contradictions of these logics pile up, we can’t fail to notice the incoherence of the industry’s overall social vision.

The compassion story has some truth to it. Tech giants have pegged their business models on our ability to consume. Thus, their interests are somewhat aligned with ours: we need a paycheque to buy what’s being advertised. A charitable comparison might be to Henry Ford paying his workers enough to buy his cars; a less charitable might be to slave owners keeping slaves fed not to lose them to exhaustion. However, unlike Ford or slave owners, our tech moguls want someone else to fund their preferred solutions (eg the universal basic income).

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jan/28/morozov-artificial-intelligence-data-technology-online

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2018 in Reportages

 

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Belli e impossibili

“Credo che Will & Grace sia riuscito a educare il pubblico americano più di chiunque altro finora”, ha dichiarato John Biden nel 2012, parlando della più famosa serie tv con protagonisti omosessuali. Io ricordo una scena molto divertente in cui i due protagonisti maschi scherzano su un loro amico che è “un etero magro” e “un gay grasso”. Dietro quella battuta, però, si nasconde una realtà preoccupante: gli omosessuali maschi subiscono una fortissima pressione per quanto riguarda il loro aspetto fisico.

Nel documentario Dream boat, che segue cinque ragazzi in vacanza su una nave da crociera per soli uomini, l’indiano Dipanar, 32 anni, scopre in modo traumatico quanto sia spietato lo standard estetico a cui deve aderire.

Il ragazzo aveva accettato la sua omosessualità meno di due anni prima e la crociera era la sua grande occasione per trovare un’anima gemella. Si è preparato molto, tanto che sui fianchi morbidi si notano i segni di un dimagrimento fin troppo veloce. Ma le migliaia di ragazzi che affollano la nave – fisico scolpito, e per lo più bianchi – non sembrano neanche accorgersi di lui.

https://www.internazionale.it/bloc-notes/claudio-rossi-marcelli/2018/01/26/gay-belli-impossibili

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Life lessons from weightlifting: “strong women” are used to justify inequality

It is finally happening: I am becoming a strong woman. Not in every sense of the word – I’m still a squishy-hearted millennial snowflake marinated in political correctness. But these days I also go to the gym and chuck big bits of metal around.

Apparently I’m way behind the curve on this one. Trend watchers, and yes that is a real job, have been telling us for months that strength-training is the new craze among young and youngish women. For months, a great deal of presumably vital reporting has been done on how “strong is the new sexy”, with predictably patronising questions about what this really means for the moral and physical health of young women and thereby the nation: are these girls taking things too far? Do men really find muscular women attractive? Is this really empowering?

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/feminism/2018/01/life-lessons-weightlifting-strong-women-are-used-justify-inequality?amp

 

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Blade Runner 2049: A View of Post-Human Capitalism

How are capitalism and the prospect of post-humanity related? Usually it is posited that capitalism is (more) historical, and our humanity, inclusive of sexual difference, more basic, even ahistorical. However, what we are witnessing today is nothing less than an attempt to integrate the passage to post-humanity into capitalism. This is what the efforts of new billionaire gurus like Elon Musk are about; their prediction that capitalism “as we know it” is coming to an end refers to “human” capitalism, and the passage they talk about is the passage from  “human” to post-human capitalism. Blade Runner 2049 deals with this topic.

The first question to ask is: Why is the fact that two replicants (Deckard and Rachael) formed a sexual couple and created a human being in a human way, experienced as such a traumatic event, celebrated by some as a miracle and castigated by others as a threat? Is it about reproduction or about sex, i.e., about sexuality in its specific human form? The movie focuses exclusively on reproduction, again neglecting the big question: Can sexuality, deprived of its reproductive function, survive into the post-human era? The image of sexuality remains the standard one. The sexual act is shown from the male perspective, so that the flesh-and-blood android woman is reduced to the material support of the hologram fantasy-woman Joi created to serve the man: “she must overlap with an actual person’s body, so she is constantly slipping between the two identities, showing that the woman is the real divided subject, and the flesh and blood other just serves as a vehicle for the fantasy.“[1] The sex scene in the film is thus almost too directly “Lacanian” (in line with films like Her), ignoring authentic hetero-sexuality where the partner is not just a support for me to enact my fantasies but a real Other.[2] The movie also fails to explore the potentially antagonistic difference among androids themselves, that is, between the “real flesh” androids and an android whose body is just a 3D hologram projection. How does, in the sex scene, the flesh-and-blood android woman relate to being reduced to the material support of the male fantasy? Why doesn’t she resist and sabotage it?

http://thephilosophicalsalon.com/blade-runner-2049-a-view-of-post-human-capitalism/

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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We’re Not Done Here

Oh, girls, look what we’ve done now. We’ve gone too far. The growing backlash against the MeToo movement has finally settled on a form that can face itself in the mirror. The charge is hysteria, moral panic, hatred of sex, hatred of men. More specifically, as Andrew Sullivan complained in New York magazine this week, “the righteous exposure of hideous abuse of power had morphed into a more generalized revolution against the patriarchy.” Well, yes. That’s rather the point.

Sullivan is far from the only one to accuse the MeToo movement of becoming a moral panic about sexuality itself, and he joins a chorus of hand-wringers warning that if this continues — well, men will lose their jobs unjustly, and what could be worse than that, really? The story being put about is that women, girls, and a few presumably hoodwinked men are now so carried away by their “anger” and “temporary power” that, according to one piece in the Atlantic, they have become “dangerous.” Of course — what could be more terrifying than an angry, powerful woman, especially if you secretly care a little bit more about being comfortable than you do about justice? This was always how the counter-narrative was going to unfold: It was always going to become a meltdown about castrating feminist hellcats whipping up their followers into a Cybelian frenzy, interpreting any clumsy come-on as an attempted rape and murder. We know what happens when women get out of control, don’t we?

 

Charges like this are serious. Too serious to dismiss out of hand. I don’t mean to do so, not least because I am a queer person, and I do not take the notion of sex panic lightly. Why, then, are so many people so anxious to believe that this is one? There is at least one simple answer. It is easier — much, much easier — to manufacture an attack on sexuality than it is to imagine an attack on patriarchy.

We’re Not Done Here

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2018 in North America

 

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Sign a contract before sex? Political correctness could destroy passion

In the West, at least, everyone has become massively aware of the extent of coercion and exploitation in sexual relations.

However, we should bear in mind also the (no less significant) fact that millions of people on a daily basis flirt and play the game of seduction, with the clear aim of finding a partner for making love. The result of the modern Western culture is that both sexes are expected to play an active role in this game.

When women dress provocatively to attract the male gaze or when they “objectify” themselves to seduce them, they don’t do it offering themselves as passive objects: instead they are the active agents of their own “objectification,” manipulating men, playing ambiguous games, including reserving the full right to step out of the game at any moment even if, to the male gaze, this appears in contradiction with previous “signals.”

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/414219-sex-political-correctness-relations/

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Asia Argento, Harvey Weinstein and Italy’s complex relationship with feminism

Italy has long been regarded as being backwards when it comes to gender rights and sexual harassment. So in many ways, its reaction to the recent wave of revelations about sexual harassment by men in positions of power all over the world was depressingly familiar. But, at the same time, it also revealed the strength and diversity of grassroots feminism there, despite the odds.

Simona Siri, a US-based Italian journalist, pronounced recently in The Washington Post that “the already present and strong sexist Italian culture now seems almost impossible to reverse”. This came following the startling backlash against Italian actor Asia Argento after she gave an an interview to Ronan Farrow for The New Yorker in which she accused Harvey Weinstein of a horrific sexual assault. Siri argued that Italy’s entrenched misogyny, embodied by the figure of Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, made fighting back futile for Italian women.

https://theconversation.com/asia-argento-harvey-weinstein-and-italys-complex-relationship-with-feminism-88496

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2018 in European Union

 

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With “Black Mirror,” Our Dystopia Gets the Television Show It Deserves

A fourth season of “Black Mirror” crept onto Netflix in late December and began to squirm through viewers’ heads already dizzy with the exhaust fumes of the outgoing year. The six roomy new episodes of Charlie Brooker’s anthology series play like a Rod Serling snack pack of dreadful speculation. The season tells tales of love in the age of asexual reproduction, about lives patterned by artificial intelligence, and about consciousness as a carceral state.

From 2011, when the first season of “Black Mirror” aired on Britain’s Channel 4, the show has figured media culture as a site of thorough depravity. In the conceptually perfect début, a Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is obliged, by kidnappers holding a princess hostage, to fornicate with a pig on film. The man behind the monstrosity turns out to be an artist bent on illustrating the evil of screen-culture circuses. In the following episode, Daniel Kaluuya plays a prole who, like all members of a teeming class that unavoidably consumes omnipresent junk culture, works a daily shift to earn his keep by pedalling a stationary bicycle to generate power. The character spends his nest egg to pay the fee for a pretty girl with a lovely voice to enter a reality show. On air, she is systematically diverted from this “American Idol” fantasy into captivity as a sex-film starlet; he, striving to avenge her subjugation by getting time on the show and speaking truth to power, is likewise led to commercialize his outrage, as if Howard Beale in “Network” signed a long-term contract hosting kitchen-gizmo infomercials. Elsewhere, in a second-season episode titled “White Bear,” the narrative line emerges from a blur of cleverly withheld context, and we see that we have watched the torture of a woman who, convicted as an accomplice to a gruesome murder, spends her days in a state of forced amnesia, running for her life from armed assailants while unaware that the hunt is a popular spectator sport.

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/on-television/with-black-mirror-our-dystopia-gets-the-television-show-it-deserves

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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