As We May Automate; additional perspective

Following As We May Automate my friend M., a human rights lawyer who specializes in modern slavery, serendipitously sent me the following paragraph out of Julia O’connel Davidson’s Modern Slavery: The Margins of Freedom:

There is a gap – a vast chasm even – between the discourse surrounding what may and may not be treated properly as a commodity, and the realities of social life (Constable, 2009; Kopytoff, 1986; Radin, 1996). In actuality, human attributes and capacities – especially the capacity to labour, but also sometimes human organs, tissues and blood – have been, and are still, marked as commodities, and whole human beings have also been commodified and sold across markets as chattel slaves in modern liberal societies. Indeed, one of the most striking flaws in the narrative that casts the European Enlightenment period as the birth of freedom, the beginning of an unstoppable march from status to contract, from hierarchy to equality and so on, is its disregard for the fact that liberalism as a political ideology actually developed and thrived alongside the expansion of European colonialism and transatlantic slavery.

And what is true for people’s bodies is also true for people’s data.


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