Alison McDowell is a mother and dedicated researcher studying the working parts of the World Economic Forum’s declared “Fourth Industrial Revolution” and the global takeover of industries and public policies by the central banks, multinational corporations, big tech technocrats and billionaire funded foundations.
Follow Alison’s work at Wrench In The Gears.
In mid-May 2020, Jason Bosch, documentary filmmaker and activist from Denver, came to Philadelphia to pick my brain about the things I’ve been researching for the past five years. He edited that footage into a series of five videos covering issues related to racialized technology, global finance, the Covid lockdowns, digital identity, and the rise of human capital data markets.
A lot of this is ground I have covered in previous posts, but I sense the conversational nature of this exchange may make some of this information more approachable.
Very grateful to Jason for sharing his talents. Phone videos can only take you so far.
My name is Alison McDowell and I’m a mom, I live in Philadelphia. I spend a lot of time doing independent research and following money. A lot of my work as an activist started out around the privatization of public schools in Philadelphia. I used to just be a mom that would help volunteer in the schools and I work half time so I do have a chunk of time to devote to other things. And that’s a great privilege.
Initially I was just working to support my child’s neighborhood school and eventually in 2013 Boston Consulting Group recommended for the closure about 23 schools in the city. It threw everything into upheaval, laid off 3,000 teachers and was really devastating for the district, for the educators, for the families who are coming to grips with that. Later that summer—that happened in the spring—the district hired a consultant to come in and start pitching this idea of school report cards, grading schools, and it would impact the regular public schools and not the charter schools. We organized in opposition to that. That work was underwritten by the Dell Foundation, Michael Dell, Dell computers Dell Dell computers works with—is a major contractor to the NSA.
So those public meetings were shut down and so in response I jumped in to working with education activists around opposing standardized testing. That was my first big effort and I was coordinated actually with a national group because this was happening nationally at the time through United Opt Out and Peggy Robertson who is based in Colorado. So we connected, this loose coalition of parents who were trying to oppose the use of both the standardization of education curriculum as well as the weaponization of scores against schools to close schools.
I did that for a while but then realized that really the endgame was shifting more towards all the time data collection on students through educational technology. Then my focus shifted towards looking into the ed tech as a global industry and what it meant for both surveillance of content delivered in the classroom, the commodification of children as data, and then again the use of the data collected to further privatize public education.
A lot of that work—I blog at wrenchinthegears.com—that’s the blog that I have—and over time I realized that even though I had come into it through public education, that this issue of commodifying people as data and doing the digital control and disciplinary mechanisms was really part of a much larger global financial apparatus. One of the parents that I organized with is Cheri Honkala. Our kids were in the same school at the same time. She has been doing work around housing rights and rights of the poor, organizing the poor, for decades [POOR PEOPLE’S ARMY: The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC)] and doing really amazing work outside the system.
So we connected and then my lens just expanded much more broadly: that this wasn’t simply about controlling public schools and children and families and educators but it was really about creating systemic global poverty and then managing that. That’s how I came into things. Now it’s gone from poverty management to pandemic which is creating poverty, just keeps getting bigger.
Jason Bosch: What did you say about the weaponization of data? What do you mean by that?
Eric Schmidt, former chair of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, said data is the new oil. I think that’s this common understanding at this point, that we’re reaching peak petroleum. This next extractive resources is data and a lot of the data in the world—increasingly as we smart up with sensors and things, our environment and even our phones are just a very basic sensor mechanism—our interactions with devices, with sensors embedded in the built environment, amongst sensors—that’s all generating data and the entities that can capture and analyze that data have tremendous power.
One of the things that I got into when I was working in the education front—ultimately when I was doing testing I realized that wasn’t the answer. That withholding the test wasn’t gonna be the thing to stop it because then they moved into this technology. The lesson I learned at that point was: they would like for you to do the work for them, to their end. You have to think a couple steps ahead because they have a 20 or 30 -year plan. And if they can give you a little lead on a controlled opposition—even though you may not understand that that’s what you’re doing—they’ll let you advance their agenda to a certain point. I didn’t want that to happen again.
What I saw happening was there was a huge organization around data privacy, student data privacy. While I’m very much in support of the premise of data privacy, for me the larger philosophical context is they would like for us to ask to become digital commodities. Those in power would like to offer us privacy in exchange for having our life turned into data so that they can extract value from that. That has to be a mutual agreement, that we will agree to be a data commodity. So it’s a false choice around data privacy; that we will get privacy but then essentially it won’t stop the educational technology, it won’t stop telemedicine, it won’t stop tele-therapy. We’ll still have to live in a digital world but somehow we can sell ourselves as data.
When I talk about weaponization, there are subtle nuances. They like to frame the argument in certain ways and though I probably lean—I mean at this point a lot of the educational process that I do with people is through digital. I’m not saying it’s easy to completely walk away from it. But I’m trying to say that living in a world of data is a world of binary decision trees that are only a shadow of the actual world and a shadow of actual relationships. By buying into that we’re allowing ourselves to live in their apparatus that they have constructed. Google builds a really nice box. It’s got a lot of bells and whistles. It’s fun. It can do things. We can share stuff. But ultimately it’s Google’s box.
So we’re not going to be able to conceive of things outside of Google’s box if we decide to live there. These are questions. I don’t tell people how to think about it but these are the things I think about.
That’s the commodification piece. The other piece is a book that was really influential for me, is Yasha Levine’s book Surveillance Valley [†] [isbn.nu] [58:00] It’s a military history of the internet and if you understand the Internet as a militarized space it puts a very different spin on things. And if you understand that it is this intersection of the corporate state and the militarists state and potentially predatory philanthropy are all operating in this digital space, that feels really cool, but also has a lot of risks that people are not aware of if you don’t know the historical context.
You have to consider the power and who actually in a cloud computing world—even though we’d like to imagine it’s decentralized with blockchain and different things—the people who are in control of the cloud, it’s a very small number of people, mostly a lot of white guys. Not exclusively but that power is highly concentrated and to operate in that space means to operate in their world.
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But money is power and that money and power is very concentrated. So I would say if you go to any of the major foundations and you start to peel back where their grants are from you can see how they can control things. Hewlett Packard is an entity that very few people—the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation—it’s not really one of those top ones that you hear pointed out. But they’re very influential. Essentially they have restructured the nonprofit industry to be data-driven to run these human capital markets that are coming.
I spent a good couple months essentially entering all of the data around these grants to nonprofits into this database system so that I could track it. And you can see—you can see this is how they bought all of the identity politics organizations. This is how they bought all of the philanthropic news media. This is how they bought all of the online giving programs. So you can actually map it by mapping the money and the nature of it it appears.
There are so many people who tell me, Alison, this isn’t coordinated. There can’t be a place where everyone’s planning this out. And I’m like, no there is. It’s Davos. It’s Necker Island. There are groups of people who are at this high level who maybe they don’t all have all the parts but they definitely have the overall strategy of what the plan is and they have like a 20 to 30 year maybe 50 year plan of how this is going to roll out and then they have backup plans depending on what the resistance is. So yes it is a conspiracy. It’s not hidden if you actually spend the time to look at the money which is what I do and which is why I’m not just taking somebody else’s word for it. I’m actually looking at what they’re saying in their white papers, in their grant projects, in their boards and seeing how it’s playing out in the real world.
The resistance will not come from the middle class. At the beginning it certainly won’t. It’s gonna come from the people who have been systematically—who are—if we can get to a point that people’s basic needs are met enough that they can collectively resist. To try to convince the middle class of what’s happening—most people—I’m not a normal person for whatever reason. I saw this and I can’t walk away from it. But that’s not most people.
Jason Bosch: Was it impact investing that got you seeing beyond just, the standardized testing or whatever. What was the next step for you?
I’m trying to remember how I first got to looking at pay for success.
One of my mentors—his name is Tim Scott—wrote a couple of pieces that touched on social impact bond finance. This was at the time where I was looking into educational technology and Gates was part of that.
There’s a very compelling presentation I recommend to everyone online and it’s Justin Leroy who I believe is an academic, a professor at UC Santa Barbara now, called Race, Finance, and the Afterlife of Slavery (1:03:15, May 2017). It was about social impact bonds in the afterlife of slavery. [See Also: BONDED LIFE - Technologies of racial finance from slave insurance to philanthrocapital, Zenia Kish and Justin Leroy, Cultural Studies, 2015.] What was really interesting was the context of that talk. There was an exhibit at the Whitney (trying to remember the exact year, maybe 2016) where Cameron Roland who’s actually a Philadelphia artist—he does work around found objects and ready-made and in relation to the carceral state and racial capitalism and that’s his work. This was an exhibit around debt. And he had used his apportionment to make art to actually buy a share in this social impact bond which was targeting incarcerated youth in Ventura County, which is interesting because that’s one of the county that’s coming up with the covid stuff now. So he bought—because that was the only way to get the terms of this social impact bond conference and contract and he framed it and he put it on the wall of the Whitney. And he asked Justin Leroy to come and speak as part of the the exhibit.This talk was given and it really hit home that what we’re looking at now with the turning of people into data and using predictive analytics to essentially set up these larger systems to gamble on people’s lives—and this is something that’s happening as a direct result of automation of labor and globalized labor management processes—this is the outgrowth of the carceral state. [i.e., policing, courts, custody, and state supervision. Policing should be understood to include not just municipal law enforcement, but the “soft” policing of welfare officials, state and federal law enforcement, the US military, as well as private security forces. All enact violence against poor communities, though the methods vary. The carceral state works hand-in-hand with “smart cities” and IoT deployment.
This is what’s coming next, social impact finance tied to different forms of state control that are outside of prison systems but also really brutal. It’s this legacy, it’s this arc on which our nation is built in which is below the surface in many ways and I think people who tend to rely on the constitutional rights and the good of democracy, often conveniently forget that the wealth and power of this country was built on land theft of the indigenous nations and genocide of indigenous people, enslavement of black people and family separation of those families and then unfree labor and forced labor until very recently. Those pieces, when we go back to the Constitution, don’t apply and the Constitution is really written to protect the property rights of powerful white men, many of which founding fathers were real estate speculators.
Where we are now with Trump is very much part of that larger trajectory. That is why, for me, understanding human capital finance and understanding that it is embedded in the way in which we were so brutal to indigenous people and black people is central to understanding that now this system is gotten to the point that it’s coming after everyone and we need to both reconcile with that history and really own it and also to look to those ongoing resistance strategies to enslavement as we move forward and try to come to some resolution and be allies in that process. That’s my personal understanding and the framing of it.
Jason Bosch: You mentioned the fourth industrial revolution. What is that?The fourth industrial revolution is a concept that’s advanced by the World Economic Forum. That’s the Davos crowd, transnational global capital and it is this future that is imagined for the world that is largely based on a digital world. It uses Internet of Things [IOT] sensors so that the way in which we interact with the world is digitally mediated, artificial intelligence, increasing use of synthetic biology, and bioengineering. Literally—I talked about us being commodities as data—but literally being potentially re-engineered at the cellular level which I believe is also linked in with these mRNA vaccines that are backed by Gates which are also bioengineering which has real concerns about eugenics and robots and automation.
But now we are very much getting towards not just robotics but also platform labor, telepresence labor, avatars, and digital—there’s humanoid robots, there’s other kinds of robots. They’re all of these manifestations of digital work that are taking place that are further marginalizing human beings doing the work and that’s what clearly we’ve seen with ed tech in schools, that’s what we’re seeing with telemedicine and healthcare teletherapy and social workers.
So the fourth industrial revolution is about this seismic shift and essentially to me it feels like it’s about dispossession from the world and in a wholesale clearing even further of the commons to the point that people may not may no longer even have full control of their bodies and their mental states in this world that is planned by the fourth industrial revolution.
It’s being planned by the telecommunications companies and the finance companies—these sectors. And so humans will be redundant. The billionaires I think would like to imagine a world that’s mostly them and their class and the robots and a few people batteries to keep the AI going, to feed off their data. It really is like the matrix, is where things are headed.
There’s a new center for the fourth industrial revolution that’s based out of the Presidio in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was watching a talk by Robert McChesney, it was from 2016, where he said—even then they had gotten into Davos and were listening to these talks and everybody in Davos is like, Oh yeah it’s like in a few years we could actually automate all of our factories around the world but the middle class would burn so we’re trying to figure out how to navigate that. We could do it but what would happen if we did it?
What I’m seeing and have been seeing in the rollout even in Philadelphia, which is a city of a lot of poverty already, is that we’ve seen increased high-tech policing, we’ve seen more and more surveillance systems, more and more social control systems. UBI I believe is the kind of the thing that’s going to try to keep the lid on the pot—keep it from boiling over—give people a little bit so that they don’t totally rebel....
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COVID and The Fourth Industrial Revolution
I think there are many aspects to the situation that we’re not meant to know. We’re not meant to have all the facts because not having all the facts leads to more speculation and more friction. For me I had done all of this research about the fourth industrial revolution leading up to this and I never would have figured that pandemic was going to be their trigger moment to make all of this roll out happen—wasn’t anything that was on my radar at all. But clearly once I started reading the World Bank stuff around pandemic bonds it was pretty obvious that there are whole markets set up in advance of pandemic to take advantage of the situation.
I think this crisis brings to the fore a lot of larger issues of control, safety, privilege, thoughts about life, what is the meaning of life?, how do we deal with death? There are many things that are packed into this that when we get in these online discussions the gray area falls away. I think we would all like to feel that we’re in control of having a good life and that’s something that as white people we feel like we’re used to having that—many other people in the world are not used to having that so I think in many respects that may be feeding into some of this dynamic.
The stakes are super high on getting this industrial revolution thing in place around the world. It’s very clear that governments around the world have been very invested in biological weapons and synthetic biological weapons and printing viruses, synthetic biology viruses on computers. To me to think that at some point governments wouldn’t decide to use those technologies against domestic populations to accomplish the end that they want—I feel like it’s a possibility. I feel like there are no guarantees of safety.
I think people would like to roll back and feel like if they did all of the right things then we would be safe and I think there are probably—the black community—there are many people who just know it’s not safe. There are no guarantees of safety in the United States. That said I’m not trying to be cavalier about all these things but really trying to look at the data and I think what we’re seeing rolling out with the fourth industrial revolution is data driven. Everything is data driven. Government is data driven. Society is data driven. It’s all driven on data. But data can be used to different ends depending on what data you use, how you collect the data or don’t collect the data, how data is compromised or not compromised.
I think it’s highlighting all of these issues around data analytics and the power that data analytics have over society both in very specific policy ways but also just even on our mental states. Because two people can look at the same thing and interpret it very differently. That’s where I’m at. I’m not—we don’t know. There are many aspects of this that we don’t know but at the same time what I would say is under these conditions of extreme hardship that are advancing the fourth industrial revolution and further consolidating power in ways I think are going to have long-term negative consequences, we have to look out the other end and say when are we gonna say it’s okay to come out? Because I think from a mental health standpoint, an economic standpoint, there’s tremendous trauma that’s happening that can’t be discounted.
From hearing them talk about it, it sounds like the plan is waves on waves of this, that this is the new normal, is facing pandemic and whenever things get out of hand that’s the card that can be played. Whether it’s a pandemic in actuality, whether it’s a natural situation, or whether it’s something that is engineered by a political entity to a certain end. That’s just how it is and it’s kind of awful to have to think about it.
Jason Bosch: I think a lot people have a hard time thinking of their leaders or thinking of politicians or business people or philanthropists as having any ulterior motive. They can imagine some foreign leader being this horrible person but they can’t imagine someone of their own color or their own nationality or whatever, I don’t know. It’s very bizarre to me that people can’t grasp that there’s something else going on.
Well, I mean, there’s a huge mythology of America, right? For some people. I mean, about, just what we are and what America represents. When you start to peel back it’s not all rosy. If you look at the money, for me money and power, they’re the same thing. You just follow the money. This is where the fourth industrial revolution and Davos is so key, is that I think, you always hear the two wings of the same bird kind of narrative. But truthfully these programs are being advanced by powerful interests who have enough money to buy both sides. And they’ll brand things and frame things differently. But they bought both sides. Google has bought both sides. Jeff Bezos has bought both sides. And I’m not a psychologist but you know I do sense that there are ways in which people who are within that apparatus justify things to themselves and compartmentalize things.I’ve found in terms of people who won’t take meetings with me, they would prefer to have plausible deniability about what’s actually happening. If no one comes and tells them, then they can say they didn’t know when when the time comes of what was really going on. That’s why I feel like my little job is to run around with my half sheets of paper and say I know what you’re doing. It’s bad. Don’t do this thing. I may not be able to stop it but I can at least eliminate the plausible deniability piece because I say, listen I showed up to testify to tell you that this is what’s happening Poverty Committee: Goldman Sachs wants to turn the poor into data commodities with pay for success finance and digital identity systems.
The national NAACP has issued a resolution saying That is a bad idea to link digital identity blockchain to digitize public benefits. Not just me—the NAACP. So there you go, let me add that to the record so you all know you’re on notice that when this comes that someone said it was not okay.
At this point it’s very hard. I’m mostly a sole operator with the exception of a couple dozen other moms because we don’t fit any mold. We can’t go reform Party A or Party B. The Davos people are the ones, the Trilateral Commission, they’re the ones who are pulling the strings and you can’t get to them. I’m not saying we shouldn’t resist but they’re not touchable by an electoral process. Getting one or two more city council people who you think are going to be on your side doesn’t really—that level of reform doesn’t touch Davos.What we’re up against now is this brutal progression of bio-capitalism that’s coming on with drone robots yelling at you about social distancing and the robot police dogs in Massachusetts. Who is stopping that? Nobody’s stopping that at this point.
So it’s going to have to be people organizing outside of existing parties, I think. It’s not going to be an election. If you’re running around knocking doors for an election, I got to tell you, if it was going to be fixed it would already been fixed.
Human Capital Data Markets
Just as a background around the human capital markets: this idea of wealth being concentrated in a small number of people and then you have lots of poor people and it’s almost like a plumbing problem. Capital has to circulate in order for the system to keep going, for growth. For people that continue to make money, capital has to flow. If it gets locked up the whole system falls apart. That’s why even after the last 2008 crash everyone’s like, Still spend money because if you stop spending money the whole system falls apart.
To keep the money flowing that’s why we have to turn the poor into commodities. The data structure for that—and this is to channel transnational global capital—so these are the 2,000 of the world’s largest asset holders—Blackrock, Blackstone, UBS Bank, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs—all of these players—Vatican Bank, Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund—all of this money is locked up and it needs a place to flow. And we are reaching a point in which the general population did not have liquidity or buying power to keep that going. So that’s why this shift has to happen in terms of turning people into these gambling commodities so then the rich are playing amongst themselves this gambling game over who gets the more money.
That structure rolls through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which may seem to make not much sense. How does the UN connect to impact investing? It connects very directly. Two-thirds of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are about poverty. There are a few that are about water and carbon and climate but it’s only four or five of them. The rest are about public-private partnerships and about education and health and smart cities and justice and all of these things about managing populations.
Those were passed in 2015. The Global Impact Investment Network was set up right around the 2008 crash. That was getting everybody on board for impact metrics for social impact. They’re connected. That’s 2009, Judith Rodin and the Rockefeller Foundation. /p>
With the B Lab they got everybody set up with the metrics now to play their game.
In 2015 the everybody signed up the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. We’re thinking climate but really it’s a little bit of climate and a lot of poverty. Then there’s something called the Impact Management Project which are these 2,000 largest asset holders that are going to channel their capital into fixing the climate and solving poverty because that’s the apparatus that is the plumbing to keep the capital moving when the poor can’t buy anything. That’s the new model, the new economic model and this is largely backed by Open Society and Soros. It’s called the Institute for New Economic Thinking and he’s bought thousands of economists all over the world at like fifty thousand dollars a pop. Open society has to set this new economic system up so it’s all tied to the UN SDGs. Number three is health and number four is education.
They have said to make the impact markets work it all has to be mediated digitally through ICT—Individual Communication Technology—so that’s phones and tablets. All of the UN SDGs ironically are supposed to be channeled through digital devices. Why? Because they need the data for the impact investors. If you teach a kid something but it’s not on a dashboard does it count? It’s not going to account for UBS Bank so it all has to be on the dashboard.“I believe many of UN SDG indicators are not bad ideas. I like riding my bike. I like walk-able communities. I don’t want people to be hit by car. I believe women should have access to healthcare, and all children deserve a humane education. I oppose cash bail and want justice to be served. But policies must be grounded in communities, not governed by some uber-manager in the cloud who serves Ronald Cohen’s interests.”
What we’re seeing in terms of the shift to everything digital is to capture that data, to justify it for these—and it may not be fully online yet, but it’s normalizing it. The way in which you have playlist education, it’s not because that’s a better education, it’s because it’s a better data collection for these impact markets.
I know much more about the education side because I was tracking ed-tech for a long time. But health care is the other huge piece. The nodes of data collection on people are education and training (skill building), health care—and health care also includes mental health and also includes addiction treatment in that, and then supportive housing. That’s like housing for people and services around their housing for people who are unhoused.
Those are the three main areas of data collection. What we’ve seen with this lockdown situation now is all of a sudden at least two of these major industries that are connected, health and education, are all platformed. Everything is online. School is closed. No more school. Probably never more anymore school unless we wear hats with pool noodles on the top or something. I mean it’s ridiculous. As I was studying this for the last five years, this model is called the Learning Ecosystem and it’s supposedly I guess when we go out that you don’t have brick and mortar schools anymore. You just—it’s like Pokemon Go Education: you bump around and earn skill badges, like the Girl Scouts or the Boy Scouts and it goes into your learning locker that later you can be—the AI can profile you for a job. But you learn through projects in work-based learning settings and you go to the rock gym and earn a badge. You go places in your community but it’s all under surveillance and you do this instead of school and then most of it is online. For high school kids you would just have a cheap chromebook. And again it’s all consumption, it’s not creation, you can’t really make much on a chromebook. You can just consume and be consumed. And then the little kids would be in these alternative settings like the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club.
This has all been set up for at least last 15 years, this infrastructure, as after school programming and summer school programming. I was always thinking—they call it Learning Eco-System, it’s out of Knowledge Works in Cincinnati—and I was thinking, How are they going to close all the schools? I was telling people, This is coming, This is coming and they’re like, We can’t see it and I’m like, How are they going to close all the schools? Who would ever do that? My husband, he’s like, No one’s going to close all the schools. Well, yep didn’t see pandemic coming. And so now we’ve closed all the schools and then the conditions under which in some places their reopening schools are so horrific it’s like a prison so people don’t want to send their kid back to school, One, either because they don’t feel safe because of health concerns or, Two, they just think it’s brutally awful.
So there you go—that’s the education piece. It’s pandemic leveraged, essentially the Learning Eco-System rollout once we’re allowed out with our QR codes to check in at all the places. This is tied in with blockchain vouchers, education vouchers, which will be these ESA savings accounts.
The other thing that we’ve seen too is telemedicine which is not—I’m not as deeply immersed in the medical side as the education side but clearly the same situations were being set up in medicine with electronic health records and the Affordable Care Act and standardizing medical care, standardizing all the health care codes, normalizing telemedicine. That has all been in the works for some time. IBM and Google working on AI analytics around medicine in other places, places with socialized medicine that they could get the big data sets. That’s already—now you can hardly see a doctor. You have to be screened through the telemedicine protocols.
The other piece on the supportive housing is that there are many people that despite restrictions put on evicting people now and postponements, there’s a very clear sense that a lot of people are going to probably be dispossessed out of their current living situations, like in the next year. While there’s a lot of organizing going on around immediate, like don’t evict these people today, and that’s what I was trying to convey within the past year with the Tenants Union and more socialist housing organizations, is that it’s not just about the people—we need to understand this pay for success infrastructure within supportive housing. Because eventually that’s the next frontier. It’s not just keeping people in affordable housing situations. It’s that we have to take on this affordable pay for success housing.
A lot of these supportive housing programs are run through religious groups. Essentially, the Vatican Bank is very deep into a lot of this. In Philadelphia Project Home is the lead person with pay for success finance. So then the question becomes if all of a sudden large percentages of people have to access housing through pay for success deals that are connected ostensibly through faith-based entities, god forbid you get associated with one that isn’t aligned with your belief system. what does that mean, like in order to not be on a street and you probably won’t be able to be on the street because the drones are after you—like you have to comply with the belief system that may not even be yours? And then someone is getting kickbacks because this is the new human capital commodity scenario.
There’s huge ethical questions that we should be asking. The other piece of this, there’s a model, Santa Clara County, California is the incubator for a number of these early phase pilot programs. There’s a pre-K one called Strong Start, an early literacy one, there’s one for mental health, and there’s one for housing.
The housing social impact bond is called Welcome Home. The Welcome Home Social Impact Bond—these deals, these Pay For Success deals are overseen by a third party that assesses its success or not according to the terms of the contract. The Welcome Home Social Impact Bond, the third party assessing the data is Palantir. Palantir is Peter Thiel’s company that maintains contracts with ICE, Department of Homeland Security and predicted policing contracts. So you’re unhoused in Santa Clara—maybe you have someone in your extended family who’s undocumented—and now all of a sudden your access to housing—your data is run through Palantir? Because someone structured it as a global financial market? And even in that, one of the investors in that deal was The Reinvestment Fund which is based in Philadelphia.
So you’re essentially turning people’s basic human needs into global investment markets and conditioning that on a level of surveillance that’s tied into a very clear predatory police state apparatus. And very few people are talking about that yet but that’s going to be the aftermath of this Covid situation.
What happens when your housing is predicated on a health status? And you leave for the day and somehow, somebody that you were in touch with two weeks ago changes your QR code you can’t get back in your housing. These are all things that are probably very technically possible now. They’re not perhaps scalable or socially acceptable and that’s what I keep saying. There are these pilots that are in place that should they become normalized, should they become scalable, will have profound implications for humanity. Silicon Valley are not our benevolent overlords, they’re just not.
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