An imposing castle represents a tech giant's platform in a landscape, with chaos outside its walls as people are turned away, symbolizing rejected immigrants. Inside, occupants tear down workers' rights banners, while a monstrous AI figure made of gears and wires looms above, casting a shadow over workers who train it before being dismissed. In the background, a graveyard of cars and bank vaults symbolizes the failure of technological promises, illustrating the consequences of vendor lock-in and the illusion of progress.

People call me prolific, but I’m nothing compared to Cory Doctorow. I can’t keep up with his mostly-daily newsletters, never mind his longer-form stuff.

In this piece, he talks about one of his favourite topics: vendor lock-in. However, the genius lies in the way that he explains, in a way that sounds so obvious that it feels like scales falling from your eyes, why people blame immigrants for the lack of jobs. The real, historical reason for the decline in good jobs is because employers (with government help) smashed the unions.

Moving onto AI, he points out the “monstrous proposition” of AI companies who suggest that their clients train models based on workers, then fire the workers, replacing them with the AI products. The latter are nowhere near good enough to actually do the workers' jobs, but all the AI companies need to do is sell the proposition.

That’s why there’s no jobs around at the moment: an illusion based on VC money. Remember how Uber was going to mean self-driving cars and the end of public transport? Remember how cryptocurrencies were going to mean the end of banks? Here we go again.

Bruce Schneier coined the term “feudal security” to describe Big Tech’s offer: “move into my fortress – lock yourself into my technology – and I will keep you safe from all the marauders roaming the land”

It’s a tried-and-true bullying tactic: convince your victim that only you can keep them safe so they surrender their agency to you, so the victim comes under your power and can’t escape your cruelty and exploitation. The focus on external threats is key: so long as the victim is more afraid of the dangers beyond the bully’s cage than they are of the bully, they can be lured deeper and deeper until the cage-door slams shut.

But here’s the thing about trusting a warlord when he tells you that the fortress’s walls are there to keep the bad guys out: those walls also keep you in. Sure, Apple will use its control over Ios to stop Facebook from spying on you, but when Apple spies on you, no one can help you, because Apple exercises total control over all Ios programs, including any that would stop Apple from nonconsensually harvesting your data and selling access to it:

Source: Pluralistic