Under Cover of Mass Death, Andrew Cuomo Calls in the Billionaires to Build a High-Tech Dystopia
By Naomi Klein
The Intercept (5/8/20)
OR A FEW fleeting moments during New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s daily coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, the somber grimace that has filled our screens for weeks was briefly replaced by something resembling a smile.
“We are ready, we’re all-in,” the governor gushed. “We are New Yorkers, so we’re aggressive about it, we’re ambitious about it. … We realize that change is not only imminent, but it can actually be a friend if done the right way.”
The inspiration for these uncharacteristically good vibes was a video visit from former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who joined the governor’s briefing to announce that he will be heading up a blue-ribbon commission to reimagine New York state’s post-Covid reality, with an emphasis on permanently integrating technology into every aspect of civic life.
It’s a future in which our every move, our every word, our every relationship is trackable, traceable, and data-mineable by unprecedented collaborations between government and tech giants.
“The first priorities of what we’re trying to do,” Schmidt said, “are focused on telehealth, remote learning, and broadband. … We need to look for solutions that can be presented now, and accelerated, and use technology to make things better.” Lest there be any doubt that the former Google chair’s goals were purely benevolent, his video background featured a framed pair of golden angel wings.
Just one day earlier, Cuomo had announced a similar partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop “a smarter education system.” Calling Gates a “visionary,” Cuomo said the pandemic has created “a moment in history when we can actually incorporate and advance [Gates’s] ideas … all these buildings, all these physical classrooms — why with all the technology you have?” he asked, apparently rhetorically.
It has taken some time to gel, but something resembling a coherent Pandemic Shock Doctrine is beginning to emerge. Call it the “Screen New Deal.” Far more high-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters, the future that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent — and highly profitable — no-touch future.
Anuja Sonalker, CEO of Steer Tech, a Maryland-based company selling self-parking technology, recently summed up the new virus-personalized pitch. “There has been a distinct warming up to human-less, contactless technology,” she said. “Humans are biohazards, machines are not.”
It’s a future in which our homes are never again exclusively personal spaces but are also, via high-speed digital connectivity, our schools, our doctor’s offices, our gyms, and, if determined by the state, our jails. Of course, for many of us, those same homes were already turning into our never-off workplaces and our primary entertainment venues before the pandemic, and surveillance incarceration “in the community” was already booming. But in the future under hasty construction, all of these trends are poised for a warp-speed acceleration. …
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2020. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )
Naomi Klein: Healthcare Industry Sees Privacy Shattering “Potential Bonanza” Of Profits In COVID-19 Crisis
Democracy Now! (5/13/20)
As the top infectious disease expert testifies to the Senate that needless death and suffering could result from reopening too quickly, author and journalist Naomi Klein says a “pandemic shock doctrine” is beginning to emerge. “The fact that a large sector of the economy, the healthcare industry, sees a potential bonanza here … that’s a win for them.”
Screen New Deal: Naomi Klein On How Companies Like Google Plan To Profit Off High-Tech COVID Dystopia
Democracy Now! (5/13/20)
In her new report for The Intercept on the “Screen New Deal,” Naomi Klein looks at how the coronavirus pandemic is more high-tech than previous disasters — and how the future we’re being rushed into could transform our lives into a “living laboratory for a permanent — and highly profitable — no-touch future.” She joins us to discuss what she found, and says, “I think we’re going to see very incomplete so-called solutions … that massively benefit private tech interests.”