Understanding the Role of Technology in Both Building and Dismantling Capitalism – Update 1

For my first update, I have mostly completed background research on my topic of the role of technology in capitalism.While doing so, I have diverged slightly from my initial expectations for the project, while remaining focused on the same topic. I had originally intended to investigate how technology can be used by insurrectionists to dismantle capitalism. After conducting initial research though, I found that there are likely far better ways technology can be leveraged against capitalism than through traditional insurrectionary means. Of particular interest are the potential of artificial intelligence and the role of heat. I still plan on covering some insurrectionary tactics, such as the recent development of 3D printed guns, but they won’t be the main focus. I also found that the density of many of my sources made it more effective to read a variety of shorter articles, papers, and individual book chapters, than to read a small collection of complete works that make up the core of the subject, as I had originally intended. For example, rather than reading the entirety of Capital by Marx, I found that The Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall and Fragment on Machines contained all the relevant information I needed and saved me countless hours to explore other works and investigate topics in greater detail.

 

From my initial research, I have found that technology is essential to the capitalist mode of production. Capitalism is, at its core, a positive feedback loop designed to expand and develop the means of production. Factories produce commodities, which are sold for a profit, and the profit is used to make more factories. This exponential growth continues forever, exhausting all available resources. Since the means of production being developed and expanded are various forms of technology, this makes technology a core component of capitalism. The concept of positive feedback cycles is one I plan to focus on and investigate mathematically. Functions which are there own derivative, such as trig functions, may provide key insight.

 

Regarding how technology can be used against capitalism, I plan on focusing on Marx’s Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall. This law says that since the rate of profit is equivalent to the surplus value extracted from the workers divided by the total capital invested, and the nature of capitalism is to accumulate more capital, this ratio will tend to decrease as the tota capital will always grow at a faster rate than the surplus value. Furthermore, since the actions of capitalists are motivated by the rate of profit rather than the mass of profit, its tendency to fall highlights a clear fault in the capitalist mode of production that can be exploited. I plan on investigating this law from a mathematical standpoint, as Marx’s equations provide a solid framework but lack a thorough and generalizable proof. In particular the use of calculus to determine the exact relationships between variables should provide key insights. Moving away from conventional analysis I also plan to model the law as an attractor, a concept used primarily in topology. This was an idea I had watching lectures by Manuel DeLanda, who explained that attractors can be used to map tendencies. This would hopefully provide insight into the boundaries of the law, and help me connect my own theory regarding AI as a means of escaping capitalism.

 

The remainder of the project will consist primarily of investigating the mathematics behind the ideas previously mentioned. Depending on how long this takes and how successful I am, I may focus heavily on specific concepts or branch out more and include a wider variety.

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