Our September/October 2022 issue is at the printer and will soon be distributed to e-subscribers. (Not a subscriber? You can get a print or electronic subscription here.) Here is p. 2 editorial notes for the issue:
The power behind the machines
The tall robots holding clocks in Robert Ovetz’s cover art of artificial intelligence-based work management algorithms are, of course, a metaphor. Robots are not the same thing as artificial intelligence, for one thing, and as Ovetz recounts, algorithmic management is used to discipline many types of workers in many contexts, not just the factory settings that We show. And while robot overlords may haunt our imaginations and popular culture, the real power behind these latest surveillance machines lies with the bosses and managers who use them to control workers. Ovetz reminds us that resistance is not in vain, as European unions are showing us today, carrying on a long tradition of workers disrupting bosses’ attempts to control them with new techniques and technologies.
The images were produced by the DALL.E 2 text-to-image generator, “a new AI system capable of creating realistic images and art from natural language description.” DALL.E 2’s name is a mix between Disney-Pixar cartoon robot WALL.E and surrealist painter Salvador Dalí, perhaps because the images it generates in response to text prompts are sometimes surreal at times. point of being frightening. The program still struggles with faces, letters, and numbers, but has been remarkably successful at rendering robots in a variety of art genres and media that we’ve enticed it to emulate. (Should we consider this self-knowledge?)
Algorithmic management can contribute to deskilling, outsourcing and job loss. In Australia’s Technology and Design Magazine New Atlas, journalist Loz Bain raised similar concerns about DALL.E 2, calling it both a “dream tool” and an “existential threat to visual artists” – not implausibly, when an art director (or editor) can create artwork in short order that a trained professional would otherwise have been paid for the hours of design work. To D&Swe’ve always done some of our design work in-house, but we remain committed to using the custom work of professional visual artists and photographers, no matter how good the AI-powered tools are.
Other articles in this issue focus on climate change, finance and housing.
On climate change: Robert Pollin responds to a letter challenging his March/April article on the role nuclear power could play in a clean energy future. Pollin argues that recent events at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine only heighten security concerns about nuclear power. And Doug Orr reports on and analyzes the Security and Exchange Commission’s new reporting requirements for corporate climate risk, while Henry Williams reviews four recent books on the economics of climate change.
On finance (in addition to Orr’s SEC paper): John Miller assesses two finance-related tax provisions that were supposed to be included in the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act (which remains of the President Joe Biden’s original “Build Back Better” bill). One of the provisions, an excise tax on share redemptions, was incorporated into legislation; the other, a narrowing of the “carried interest” loophole that allows private equity firms to pose as bandits, did not. Miller explains why tax provisions, and others, are necessary to ensure that the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share. And Bill Barclay decodes the SWIFT financial messaging system that has facilitated the great expansion of global trade in recent decades and the continued dominance of the US dollar.
Last, but not least, housing: Ed Ford handles dismal numbers on US housing affordability, and Arthur MacEwan explains the multiple links between growing wealth inequality and homelessness.
Note that two of the finance articles in this issue – Orr’s article on SEC climate risk reporting requirements and Barclay’s introduction to SWIFT – are included in the brand new eighth edition of our manual Banking and finance in the real world. You will find ordering information on p. 19.