Who Controls Your Future?

Resistance may have been effective in the first Trump term. Next time, it may be futile.

Who Controls Your Future?

It’s nearly eight years since Trump was elected president.

It’s a very recent memory for many of us. At the same time, the past eight years have proven that the wheels of justice in America can grind excruciatingly slowly.

Today, a porn star Donald Trump slept with in 2006 is testifying about a hush money payment she received eight years ago as part of a criminal scheme that helped Trump cheat his way to victory in the 2016 election.

Meanwhile, the 2024 election—an election that could decide the future of America, the planet, and the fate of humanity—is less than six months away.

So instead of talking about what Trump did in 2006 and 2016… or how many times he’s violated a Manhattan judge’s gag order… or whether he can still choose a puppy-killer as his running mate… let’s talk about the future instead.

Specifically, let’s talk about why you shouldn’t want asshole white men deciding everything.

The next five years will shape the rest of your life—and your children’s lives

Now in its fifth year, this newsletter has always billed itself as being “for people who care that democracy's bleeding to death and the planet's on fire.”

Those two concerns are not only still real, but more urgent than ever.

On democracy bleeding to death:

As Simon Tisdall wrote in The Guardian in January:

Far from being an exception to the rule, Trump reflects, amplifies and popularizes a regressive global trend towards authoritarian, totalitarian, dictatorial, nationalistic and religiously, ethnically and culturally majoritarian forms of rightwing governance.... To put it more simply, fascism is once more on the march – and liberal democracy risks being trampled under its marauding boots.

On the planet being on fire:

As Jane Goodall said in January 2024:

The planet's in a mess. It’s in a flipping mess, environmentally, socially and politically. And so many people are losing hope. And... if we all lose hope then we fall into apathy and then we do nothing. Because if you feel there’s no hope why bother to do anything? So my job now, my mission and my passion is to give people hope that if we get together—soon, soon, soon—we know what we should be doing to slow down climate change and loss of biodiversity, but we are continually up against vested interests of corporations and governments We just have to be prepared to fight for what’s right.

But now, I’m adding a third concern. This newsletter is now “for people who care that democracy's bleeding to death, the planet's on fire, and that AI could kill us all.”

On AI killing us all:

Leaving aside (for now) the human extinction threat, let's just highlight the potential—and potentially rapid—job destruction AI might cause.

In 2023, Goldman Sachs economists Joseph Briggs and Devesh Kodnani wrote that, looked at globally:

A new wave of AI systems... could expose the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs to automation.

But there's no reason to be alarmed, they insist. After all:

Jobs displaced by automation have historically been offset by the creation of new jobs, and the emergence of new occupations following technological innovations accounts for the vast majority of long-run employment growth.

This central idea of AI optimists—that humans, after being replaced by machines, will somehow be able to "upskill" themselves to do new jobs that the machines can't already do better, faster and cheaper—seems nonsensical to me.

The optimists also say we will be able to adjust the new age of "abundance" and "longevity" by giving everyone enough universal basic income (UBI) so we "legacy humans" can eat and clothes ourselves, while living as "pleasure blobs," finger painting, watching "personalized entertainment," and/or laboring over novels that no one wants to read any more. 

Don't let asshole white men decide everything for you

The next five years will be crucial.

It's not just fascism and climate change anymore. It also the reality that the rapid, potentially exponential acceleration of AI capabilities could propel us into a future we're not ready for.

In the wrong hands, AI can be a tool for all kinds of Big Brother abuses and devastating military and cyberwarfare uses. Even in the “right hands,” AI will cause tremendous economic disruption and job displacement. Up to and including the potential to make human labor obsolete.

Clearly, we should not give Trump, tech titans, thugs, corrupt judges, and Christian Nationalists the power to fully dictate what happens to our lives, our bodies, and our world.

Trump (and his advisers) have plenty of world leaders—past and present—to take notes from. Including the likes of Putin and Netanyahu, men so criminal and corrupt they make it impossible to separate their personal motives from their political acts—up to and including the use of wars and invasions to distract from domestic leadership failures.

New technologies—combined with corrupt and selfish motivations—will make it easier that ever for a global coalition of rich white men to lock in our current economic imbalances and power structures, especially in the US, where income inequality has long been at a level that would have previously caused citizens to revolt.

At the same time, a second Trump administration will have more tools than ever at its disposal to manipulate, monitor and overwhelm the population as the Christian Nationalists are fully unleashed to enact and enforce their Project 2025 agenda.

Resistance may have been effective in the first Trump term.

Next time, it may be futile.

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