“Gordon argued there are six headwinds that will slow future innovation: an ageing population in the mature economies; rising inequality; an increasing lack of competitive advantage for the mature capitalist economies; poorer education because public investment in education is being destroyed; increasing environmental regulations; and excessive debt. Gordon concluded that US real economic growth could fall to just an average 0.2% a year for the foreseeable future compared 2-3% of the past.“
Well well, my my my… Nothing spectacularly new there, but we continue:
“Gordon was criticised for underestimating the new technologies that will come into play in driving up productivity growth over the next few decades. In his sequel paper, he says “the primary role of the headwinds in predicting slow future growth escaped notice in the initial round of controversy about innovation” He retorts: ‘there is no need to forecast that innovation in the future will “falter,” because the slowdown in the rate of productivity growth over the past 120 years already occurred more than four decades ago. This sequel paper explains why the pace of innovation declined after 1972. The future forecast assumes that innovations in the next 40 years will be developed at the same pace as the last four decades, but reasons for scepticism are provided for that prediction.'”
Here I find some support for what the Accelerations Manifesto says, in point 3.3:
“Capitalism has begun to constrain the productive forces of technology, or at least, direct them towards needlessly narrow ends. Patent wars and idea monopolisation are contemporary phenomena that point to both capital’s need to move beyond competition, and capital’s increasingly retrograde approach to technology. The properly accelerative gains of neoliberalism have not led to less work or less stress. And rather than a world of space travel, future shock, and revolutionary technological potential, we exist in a time where the only thing which develops is marginally better consumer gadgetry. Relentless iterations of the same basic product sustain marginal consumer demand at the expense of human acceleration.”
Real techological advancement is then hindered by the development of the new iPhone, so to speak. We can see this in another way in the development of what people assumed would be this anarchic and decentralized haven of free anonymous creative capability: the internet. But alas, it failed. Or let me put it to you like this: when was the last time you used a search engine that wasn’t Google? I bet you have a Gmail-account. This ‘cloud’ where you store your things, who owns that? And since the arrival of Facebook and that paradigmatic shift, you probably aren’t even trying to be anonymous on the internet anymore? The internet is de facto monopolized. Or, as the source of this little rant puts it:
“But those days are gone. We’ve centralized the bejesus out of the Internet now. There’s one search engine (plus the one no one uses),one social network (plus the one no one uses), one Twitter. We use one ad network, one analytics suite. Anywhere you look online, one or two giant American companies utterly dominate the field.“
This centralization, this involving of big business in the internet cannot but bring capitalist relations to the fore. And those capitalist relations are of course to simply use it, but above all focus on making sure that you don’t move to another alternative (which could be anything). “They do it by having high standards of quality” you say. No, they do it by creating monopoly and they do it by creating a sort of climate and culture of the instans gratification of ‘likes’, of low-intensity exhibitionism etc. And since their motives aren’t to make our lives better but just to keep us there, generating info they can sell, they will not challenge us. The McDonalds-version of the internetz, you know. Nothing will rock the boat. And I’m no better than anyone else. I waste my life on facebook and instagram (and truly, I do). But these relations aren’t there to produce anything that we want or need. They are there to produce revenue to the companies involved.
Which brings us to the next point, namely that of bullshit jobs. A bullshit job is by this definition a job that you know really doesn’t need to be done. A problem has been created and you are hired to deal with the problem, but the problem is bull. Which is why you had a German man that upon his retirement sent a letter to his bosses and just about everyone else, explaining that he had done absolutely nothing in the last ten years. Which is why you have office slaves wasting over 20% (or more!) of their paid time on Facebook, for example. Basically, you have a class of people who are getting paid so they can consume. What it is that they actually produce is of lesser importance. But the money need to keep circulating. The article even mentions that there appears to be an inverse relationship to importance of jobs and wages, namely that the more important you job is the less you are likely to get paid, and more specifically important for this line of argument: vice versa. A school teacher isn’t paid very much. Neither is a nurse. But you’d notice if they went on strike. But would your country or city be brought to a standstill if all the creative directors would go on strike?
Anyhoodles, the point is this: technological innovation have been brought to a halt because capitalism sees no use in it. Why sell you something new and unproved when you could be sold the same thing again, but in a different color this time? And why would you bust your ass at work just to be able to buy the same shit you bought last time when you just as well can google pictures of kittens or write on your grandmas Facebook-wall (poor thing hardly understand how it works, but she gets so happy when you write and since you spend so much time at work you hardly have the time to actually visit her)? It’s all very Soviet. The important thing is that you have a job, not that you work.
And please believe me when I say that there’s no loathing involved in this. I don’t despise anyone doing any sort of job. But we are all trapped in a system, in a situation that might cater to us materially, but that’s just about the only thing it does.