Issue 45: Without worker control we are already at the bottom
19 Apr 2019
The bosses take control of our products, pick and choose whom to sell them to using their warped moral compass, and then turn around and tell us that they’re not responsible for the regulation of our products.
Brad Smith, the President of Microsoft, is shamelessly lapping up PR credit for cherry-picked sense of morality by choosing to not sell facial recognition to certain law enforcement programs. He turned down a contract to sell facial recognition software to a particular law enforcement agency due to the racism inherent in the technology. But he continues to sell to “open societies” with “western values,” whether it’s selling Azure and its facial recognition services to ICE or selling Hololens to the Israeli Defence Forces to bring “augmented reality to the battlefield.”
Instead of taking responsibility for the use of the products we make, he continues to try to pass the buck onto the public by calling on the government to come up with regulations. Tech companies lobby for regulations that let them continue to pursue maximum profits, with all blame absolved for abuse of the technology as “lawful and regulated practices.”
According to Brad Smith, without “greater regulation of facial recognition and other uses of artificial intelligence … companies amassing the most data might win the race to develop the best AI in a ‘race to the bottom.’” But our products are being used now in hellish prisons. Without worker control of our products, we are already at the bottom.
What the Mass IPOs Mean for Housing
Thursday, 4/25 at 6PM at 518 Valencia
TWC Portland Local Meeting
Saturday, 4/27 3PM at 2249 E Burnside Street in Portland
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In The News
Instagram content creators are organizing to seize the memes of production. The newly formed IG Meme Union’s demands include: “a more open and transparent appeals process for account bans; a direct line of support with Instagram, or a dedicated liaison to the meme community; and a better way to ensure that original content isn’t monetized by someone else”.
“Contractors happen to be the only underrepresented minorities on my team … You’re given full time employee work to get paid half the same amount”: Contract workers at Google, Apple, Facebook and others speak out to share their firsthand stories of the two-tier caste system built on racist segregation and extreme income inequality that makes Silicon Valley home to the wealthiest corporations in the world.
Workers in the Chinese tech industry are challenging “996” workplace norms, where they’re expected to work 12 hour days, six days a week. “In late March, a group of developers started a project on the code-sharing platform Github called “996.icu” – a reference to a comment by a programmer that working such a schedule could land an employee in the intensive care unit.” The CEO of Alibaba, one of the companies blacklisted on the Github project for notoriously long hours and compulsory unpaid overtime, said on the company’s internal WeChat, “you should get ready to work 12 hours a day. Otherwise why did you come to Alibaba? We don’t need those who comfortably work eight hours.”
Low pay rates, tip theft, lack of support, no worker protections, no compensation for tickets or gas: Amazon Flex drivers chronicle first-hand the abuse they receive on the job.
Half of employees at startup HQ Trivia signed a letter asking for the CEO to be deposed. He instead fired key organizers.
Uber and Lyft drivers are bringing attention to the fact that while riders are paying higher fares and surge-prices, drivers are receiving none of the difference.
Donate to the hardship fund for striking Stop & Shop workers.
Tesla’s workers comp manager pressured its clinic doctor to classify all worker injuries as “first aid” to ensure Tesla wasn’t on the hook for certain injured workers.