Autonomía digital y tecnológica

Código e ideas para una internet distribuida

Linkoteca. capitalismo de plataforma


Yes, fuck, I have Amazon’s app on my phone. I’m that addicted to this company. And I’m not alone: Amazon reportedly controls 50 percent of online commerce, which means half of all purchases made online in America, which is obscene.

Launched in 2006, AWS has taken over vast swaths of the internet. My VPN winds up blocking over 23 million IP addresses controlled by Amazon, resulting in various unexpected casualties, from Motherboard and Fortune to the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s website. (Government agencies love AWS, which is likely why Amazon, soon to be a corporate Cerberus with three “headquarters,” chose Arlington, Virginia, in the D.C. suburbs, as one of them.) Many of the smartphone apps I rely on also stop working during the block.

“Quayside,” a 12-acre slice of Toronto waterfront in line to be developed by Sidewalk Labs, the urban-tech-focused subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet. Launched in 2015 by its CEO, Dan Doctoroff, and a number of other Michael Bloomberg affiliates, Sidewalk Labs makes much of its urbanist bona fides. The company is now primarily focused on turning the patch of Toronto-owned land into what it calls the “world’s first neighborhood built from the internet up.”

Quayside would test a novel “outcome-based” zoning code focused on limiting things like pollution and noise rather than specific land uses. If it doesn’t bother the neighbors, one might operate a whiskey distillery in the middle of an apartment complex.

a data-harvesting, wifi-beaming “digital layer” that would underpin each proposed facet of Quayside life. According to Sidewalk Labs, this would provide “a single unified source of information about what is going on” to an astonishing level of detail, as well as a centralized platform for efficiently managing it all.

Those residents might not have a choice in how much privacy they give up to call Quayside home, even if they don’t like the terms of use. The same could be said for anyone who uses its public spaces.

Cavoukian was an adviser on the Quayside project, but she resigned after Waterfront Toronto and Sidewalk refused to unilaterally ban participating companies from collecting non-anonymous user data.

Nearly every city-fixing proposal from Sidewalk Labs combines civil engineering with some element of data collection—what the vision document calls “ubiquitous sensing.” Quayside reduces carbon not just via a thermal grid, but by embedding each home and office with Alphabet’s Nest smart thermostats, which use “occupancy sensors” and predictive modeling to autonomously adjust temperatures throughout the day.

The city is literally built to collect data about its residents and visitors, which Cavoukian was clear-eyed about when she signed on to be an adviser. She’s worried about Sidewalk using all these cameras and sensors to track people on an individual level, to create real-life versions of the personal profiles Google already uses to track people online. Without anonymization, she said, a single person’s activities could be connected across multiple sources and varying databases to track his movements over the course of the day.

“I think it’s important to note that this project seeks to accomplish many things,” he said,“including delivering large amounts of affordable housing, a highly sustainable neighborhood, and economic activity and new jobs. All of that needs to happen along with policies that protect the public interest, including with regard to data. But, data is just one piece of this conversation.”

Quayside may very well accomplish these things, remaking the city as we know it and setting precedent for future projects like it. But the controversy has shown that it may need to reimagine not just traffic patterns and thermostats, but a set of rules for data, privacy, and corporate “innovation” in a context that has never existed anywhere else on Earth. Thus far, at least, that’s proved the most difficult project to pull off yet.

Ten years ago, Facebook already had 15 billion photos in its database. As you uploaded pictures and tagged friends and added date and location data, the software got really, really good at recognizing people’s faces. This facial-recognition capability is mirrored at other companies—and some, such as Amazon, sell it to whoever wants it.

There isn’t some global corporate conspiracy to get you to post a photo of yourself from the old days and today. There has been a global corporate conspiracy to get you to post everything about yourself, continuously, for the past 15 years. Which many of us have done, providing the vast data sets that companies have already trained their neural networks with. If you think that not posting these two photos does anything to surveillance capitalism or the platforms that succeed through it, that’s just not right.

Si en un primer momento, las redes sociales permitieron la autoorganización de miles de personas contra sus gobernantes y contra las finanzas internacionales, ahora parece que escándalos como el de Cambridge Analytica nos dibujan un futuro quizá no tan complaciente. ¿Seremos capaces de usar la tecnología para construir un mañana post-capitalista o será usada en nuestra contra como una forma de control social?

El capitalismo moderno funciona colonizando la imaginación de lo que la gente considera posible. Marx ya se dio cuenta de que el capitalismo tenía más que ver con la apropiación del entendimiento que con la apropiación del trabajo. Facebook es la penúltima apropiación de la imaginación: lo que veíamos como útil ahora se revela como una manera de meterse en la conciencia de la gente antes de que podamos actuar. Las instituciones que se presentaban como liberadoras se convierten en controladoras. En nombre de la libertad, Google y Facebook nos han llevado por el camino hacia el control absoluto.

No queremos afrontar que lo gratuito implica siempre una forma de dominación.

El capitalismo tiene tendencia a pasar con gran facilidad del mercado al monopolio. Y ahí, con la represión de la competencia, empiezan los grandes problemas, la gran desprotección. Con monopolios, el capitalismo pasa de ser el sistema de la competencia a ser el de la dominación.

Even if Amazon optimized solely for consolidation and fuel efficiency, consumers are shopping so often that it makes sustainable, efficient delivery difficult.

Free and fast shipping has always been a Prime membership’s marquee perk — one that’s drawn in over 100 million subscribers who pay $119 annually. A 2017 study by UPS found that nearly all (96%) US customers had made a purchase on a marketplace like Amazon or Walmart, and over half (55%) said free or discounted shipping was the primary reason.

That convenience is encouraging people in the US to buy more, and to make more individual purchases rather than placing a single order for several items.

people aren’t offsetting the traffic to shopping malls and grocery stores by buying online. “The problem is we are still doing both, meaning there are more emissions and more congestion,”

Amazon is only speeding up customers’ options. In addition to free two-day shipping for Prime members, Amazon added free two-hour delivery with a new service, called Prime Now, in 2014, and it increasingly relies on hundreds of thousands of independent contractors with passenger cars to make those deliveries. Amazon’s Flex program, which operates in 50 US cities, is an app-based platform like Uber, but instead of dropping off people, Flex drivers drop off Prime packages or groceries.

Those drivers’ cars are typically smaller than commercial delivery vehicles, so they can’t fit as many packages or complete as many deliveries per tour. They’re taking longer routes, too. “Drivers are going from their home base to a warehouse to your house, and back to their home base. And warehouses are farther than the store you would have gone to,” Goodchild said.

El principio básico de la economía colaborativa es que el recurso que se consuma sea un bien temporalmente en desuso. Lo que se observa (Gil, 2018) en la mayoría de las plataformas es que los recursos que se introducen en el mercado no cumplen la función de ser bienes ociosos tratándose más de bienes de inversión que se han adquirido con el fin de que el bien produzca valor.

el tipo de actividades a las que se hace referencia con el concepto de economía colaborativa poco tienen que ver con relaciones de colaboración.

Uno de los filósofos contrarios a este tipo de prácticas es Byung-Chul Han (2014) que afirma que la economía del compartir conduce en última instancia a la comercialización total de la vida. Y subraya la importancia del dinero: “quien no posee dinero, tampoco tiene acceso al sharing”. Para este pensador surcoreano, “también en la economía basada en la colaboración predomina la lógica del capitalismo. De forma paradójica, en este bello compartir nadie da nada voluntariamente”.

¿Cuántos de ustedes poseen una taladradora? Rachel Botsman, la autora del libro The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, preguntó a la audiencia en TedxSydney en 2010. Previsiblemente casi todos levantaron la mano. “Ese taladro eléctrico se usará entre 12 y 15 minutos en toda su vida”, continuó Botsman con burlona exasperación. “Es un poco ridículo, ¿no?” Porque lo que necesitas es el agujero, no la taladradora.