I suppose I can be appreciative of Carleton University and the department of Sociology and Anthropology. My experience as a graduate student of the institution and its people certainly helped burn away any veneer of the noble academic and the pursuit of higher education as a path of enlightenment and betterment for societies.
I had hoped my research which sought to uncover how hackers who manage and design technologies on which democratic processes rely, engage in transparency and accountability practices, could be used to reinforce digital rights and the democratic processes which necessitate those rights. What I hadn’t considered is that these technologies, broadly speaking we can think of this as “artificial intelligence”, have already been used to compromise democracies by way of economic and financial institutions.
High Frequency Trading (HFT) is the perfect example of a 3rd order technology, one which operates without the intervention of humans, is opaque to all but those who designed and paid for those technologies. The wealth and consequently the power those systems afford a handful of individuals has performed an end run around the battlegrounds I had been focused on.
Surveillance is a great example of that, and while resisting surveillance and its ability to extract information which is used against individuals is critically important, that battle will not change the fact that democracy itself has already been usurped a handful of individuals who are wealthy beyond comprehension. Our economic systems have already been infiltrated and their control has been wrested from the nation state thanks to the algorithms which make possible processes like high frequency trading and its hardware infrastructure.
I don’t think it’s possibly to meaningful resist HFT in the same way organizations like the Chaos Computer Club and the Electronic Frontier Foundation do surveillance. How HFT has been implemented, and the resources available to those who use them, in addition to the laws which protect them has placed them out of reach. I’m not going to hold out hope for a Mr. Robot-esque solution to that problem. Regardless we can, and should, continue to pressure governments for fairer markets and economic structures but I don’t think this is the way the war can or will be won. Simply put, I believe organizing at the local level by strengthening our ability for individuals to help through mutual aid, in particular unions, will be the only way grow a critical mass of support capable of exerting sufficient power to challenge a capitalist market structure which has simply detached itself from material reality.
Hopefully something better will rise from the ashes of the third financial crisis of my lifetime.
As for me, the consequence of my suicide attempt has made it incredibly difficult to think/concentrate/express myself through “academic” endeavour. I think this its the end of the line for me with regards to writing and “thinking”. Thanks Carleton University, you fucking horrible monster of an institution.