Paul Mason: "The great technologists believe that society exists apart from them" | Technology

Paul Mason: "The great technologists believe that society exists apart from them" | Technology



Paul Mason decided two years ago to become self-employed, after twelve years working as an economics editor on a BBC news program and a shorter period on Channel 4. "In the UK, we journalists work for public service media We can not participate in the political debate. In Spain I would do better with a rule like this, "says the journalist, now a member of the Labor Party. Visiting Barcelona as a speaker at the Decode symposium He defends nationalizing some of the services of the large technology companies. In an interview with EL PAÍS, he proposes "to take away part of the infrastructure and give them the option of offering business models on a base". "If I can change banks in 24 hours, why can not I choose between Facebook A and Facebook B?" He asks.

One of the Facebook could be paid and without advertising, another free with ads. One could guarantee you only take 10 facts about yourself and know exactly what they are: "Do I now have some way of knowing if my mobile is telling Facebook how long my steps are?" Mason asks. they would connect to the same network so that people could interact, similar to what happens with banks, they could also have clauses like one that guarantees that "my data will not be used for the Russian State or Donald Trump to manipulate the policy" .

"The great technologists seem to believe that society exists outside of them," says Mason, who sees Twitter as "the greatest anti-Semitic tool" in the world, a subject that he, also a film director, tackled in his first film, the short Astoria (2016). For this reason, he considers it crucial to "fragment technological monopolies until they behave, or if they do not behave". His next book, which will be published in 2019, takes the name of a fragment of a quote from Lev Trotsky: Clear Bright Future (Clear and bright future, in English). In it, imagine how society will change when artificial intelligence breaks through with force.

Technology must not dominate people through "algorithmic control" of some apps that influence their decisions and "shape their behavior". In his new work, Mason defends the "radical humanism", where the human being has to be at the center of "a prudent use of technology" at the service of "social justice". "Artificial intelligence is still no better than human intelligence", the journalist defends. However, he assures that the time will come when the machines "will answer questions that humans can not understand". "If we do not create them following a moral code, the first thing they will do is hurt people," he adds. Focused on the future already in his previous work, where he explored postcapitalismMason claims that the omnipresence of values ​​is vital.

Work fewer hours and give less weight to the salary

It is convenient to avoid that humans become mere algorithms, says the British writer, who mentions the forecast in this line made by the historian Yuval Noah Harari. "If you're an algorithm with a beautiful house and a yacht, it's one thing; if you work in an Amazon store and the algorithm tells you how to move your hand and you can not go to the bathroom, it's another, "reflects Mason. In his opinion, humans would have to work fewer hours and our economy would not have to depend 100% on wages. He thinks that charging for doing things that we like in our free time and that having health, transportation and free education would have to be guaranteed in the future by governments as a result of automation.

"A Uber worker, if you raise a 5% salary maybe does not care much, but if you give free access to the subway, it's something else," he says. "In the United Kingdom a few years ago there were 4,000 automatic car washing machines, today there are only 1,000, and 20,000 migrants, some illegal, washing them by hand. Is this progress? " "The right-wing parties are obsessed with creating jobs that there is no need for them to exist," he laments.

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