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This Machine Kills

This Machine Kills
68 episodes
A podcast about technology and political economy /// Agitprop against innovation and capital /// Hosted by Jathan Sadowski and Edward Ongweso Jr., Produced by Jereme Brown /// Hello friends and enemies Listen anywhere that fine podcasts are distributed. Subscribe at patreon.com/thismachinekills to get premium episodes every week.

Disclaimer: the content and artwork of this podcast are the property of its owner and are not affiliated with nor endorsed by Audiotrails.

67. Klobbering Klobuchar vs. Howling Hawley (patreon promo)

We give y’all an update on the state of antitrust politics in the US by riffing on two new books about antitrust that offer two different visions from two senators: Amy Klobuchar and Josh Hawley. It’s a knock-down drag-out match for the trustbuster title. In the center corner is Klobbering Klobucha…

66. Down and Out in the Neoliberal Code Academy (ft. Daniel Greene)

We’re joined by Dan Greene, author of an excellent new book, The Promise of Access: Technology, Inequality, and the Political Economy of Hope. Dan’s work provides a deep analysis of how public institutions like libraries and schools are being transformed in the image of startups — pivoting away fro…

65. TMK Book Club (Part 1) (patreon teaser)

The TMK Book Club is now in session! We’re discussing the Introduction and Chapter 1 of Autonomous Technology: Technics-out-of-Control as a Theme in Political Thought by Langdon Winner. Follow along with us as we take you on a guided tour of a foundational text in technological politics – one that …

64. Platform Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics

Cold open: https://www.npr.org/2021/04/13/984994360/he-tried-to-organize-workers-in-chinas-gig-economy-now-he-faces-5-years-in-jail We dig deeper into our explorations of technological and financial capitalism in China by discussing an invaluable source for rigorous, ruthless analysis: Chuang, a …

63. Prime Labor, Living and Dead (patreon teaser)

In part two of our analysis of Amazon, we focus on the labor processes and managerial practices within Amazon warehouses. “Factory work exhausts the nervous system to the uttermost,” Marx wrote in Capital Vol. 1, and through the despotic discipline of dead labour used to dominate living labour, cap…

62. Amazon, Vanguard of Class War (ft. Alex N. Press)

To conduct a post-mortem investigation on the Amazon warehouse union vote in Bessemer, Alabama, we’re joined by Alex N. Press—staff writer for Jacobin and one of our favorite labor reporters. As Alex wrote recently, “In the United States, every step of the unionization process is stacked against wo…

61. Potemkin AI (patreon teaser)

Cold open: Ghost in the Shell There is a long list of services that purport to be powered by sophisticated software, but actually rely on humans acting like robots. We discuss a critical concept—whether we call it Potemkin AI, fauxtomation, or ghost work—for understanding how so much so-called art…

60. We Live in a Society (of Control) (ft. Liv Agar)

Cold open: Garden Glossary - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBMRWwjGJHQ It’s time for theory chat! To analyse the techno-politics of smart systems, we need good theories at hand. And we’re joined by the great Liv Agar – philosopher, podcaster, streamer – to discuss the hyper-prescient work of Gil…

59. TMK x 4ZZZ Radio Reversal (ft. Anna Carlson and Natalie Osbourne)(patreon teaser)

This episode is from a guest appearance by Jathan on 4ZZZ Radio Reversal, a community radio show in Brisbane, hosted by great friends of TMK and critical scholars: Anna Carlson and Natalie Osbourne. We had a really fun conversation talking about the ramping up of workplace surveillance, labor organ…

58. Suez Canal /// Imperialist Infrastructure (ft. Laleh Khalili)

Okay, so the big boat is no longer blocking the Suez Canal. But that doesn’t mean we can go back to ignoring the global networks of capitalism and colonialism that make our world run. Laleh Khalili – author of the brilliant new book, Sinews of War and Trade: Shipping and Capitalism in the Arabian P…

57. The Arbiters of Asset Allocation (patreon teaser)

Premium – 57. The Arbiters of Asset Allocation We pick back up on our discussion of market indices and index providers, honing in on the close relationship they have with asset managers, how they exercise private authority by setting standards for corporate governance and evaluating the worthiness …

56. The Kingmakers of Finance

This week’s episodes are part of our ongoing, irregular series where we dive into the deepest, darkest crevices of how financial and technological capital operates today. In a sequel to our episodes on index funds and asset managers — the big three of BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street — we exam…

55. Journey into the Absurd (patreon teaser)

cw: we discuss school shootings and sexual assault in the second half of this episode. Cold open: We need to talk about AI ethics (H&M): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0x0zsVlp30 Sometimes you just gotta confront the absurdity of it all head-on. We give y’all a news feed roundup as we discuss …

54. Shooting for the Stars (ft. Aaron Thorpe)

The great Aaron Thorpe — co-host of Trillbillies, host of A Time of Monsters, the poster formerly known as posadist_trapgd — joins us for an extremely fun episode as we riff about why aliens would be communists, the paranoid imagination of imperialism, the wonders of luxury surveillance, the specta…

53. Necropolitics of the Techno-Fix (patreon teaser)

We go in on the dangerous obsession that billionaires like Bill Gates have with framing the most existential risks in society, from public health to climate catastrophe, as problems of market failure that can be solved through clever engineering, technological innovation, and property rights. All o…

52. Pharma Profiteers, Vaccine Apartheid

It’s time for a TMK fact check: coronavirus vaccine edition. We give five out of five pinocchios to the claim that Big Pharma won’t profit hand over fist from the production of vaccines. Five pinocchios to the claim that countries in the Global South will receive fair and cheap access to vaccines a…

51. Clover the Big Red Flag (patreon teaser)

Cold open: CNBC turns on Chamath and Clover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRWnxUsyVDg We pick back up on the story of Clover Health—which is sure to be a business school case study of investors beware—and talk through Hindenburg Research’s damning report that raises a number of very serious co…

50. King of SPACs v. Hindenburg

Cold open: Chamath, Clover, CNBC https://www.msn.com/en-us/music/video/chamath-palihapitiya-addresses-some-concerns-surrounding-clover-health-spac/vp-BB19KRae SPACs are blowing up. Everywhere you turn, it’s SPAC this, SPAC that. What the frack is a SPAC? After an explainer on this cool new financ…

49. Of Mind Control and Revolution (ft. Cory Doctorow)(patreon teaser)

Cory Doctorow joins us again for an excellent, wide-ranging discussion about his critique of surveillance capitalism, the mind control fallacy that captures critics, how monopoly jurisprudence is trapped in the 80s, sectarian schisms in science fiction, the difficulty of imagining revolutionary mom…

48. Who Uses the Users? (ft. Cory Doctorow)

Cold open: excerpt from UBIK by Philip K. Dick Outro: amazing new track by Jereme, "End of Time" We’re joined by Cory Doctorow — prolific author, longtime activist, friend of the show — to learn about a critical issue that much of his advocacy work centers on: adversarial interoperability, a.k.a c…

47. The Leviathan and The Consumer (patreon teaser)

Picking back up on the fight between Big Media and Big Tech, we dig deeper into the type of power of platforms wield, how their political influence operates, the prioritization of consumership over citizenship, and their threats to return us to the state of nature — where life is solitary, poor, na…

46. Banning Australia (ft. J.R. Hennessy)

After months of threats, Facebook finally hit the big red off button on the server labeled Australia and Google is making big backroom deals with media barons like Rupert Murdoch. To help us parse through the policy debates and online discourse about the Australian news media bargaining code, we’re…

45. Platform’s Republic of Facebook (patreon teaser)

We riff on the archetype of the tech guy who can’t bear his California dream being soured by the existence of other people struggling to get by in a city his industry has immiserated. Then dive into the formation of Facebook’s Oversight Board—their very own so-called Supreme Court—and how their cos…

44. How to Think About Data (ft. Salomé Viljoen)

We discuss the limitations of existing approaches – and democratic alternatives – to data governance in informational capitalism with Salomé Viljoen (https://twitter.com/salome_viljoen_), a legal scholar in the NYU School of Law and Cornell Tech Digital Life Initiative, who is doing some of the mos…

43. Libertarian Mind Palace (patreon teaser)

It’s part two of us ripping into David Friedman’s anarcho-capitalist fever dream, The Machinery of Freedom. And we get real nutty with it as we detail his libertarian transitional program where school vouchers and surge pricing for streets lead us directly into a new frontier of freedom filled with…

42. The Machinery of Stupidity

Cold open: excerpt from Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=6021&v=ZypJn0PgAHA Have you ever considered that the most important human right is property rights? Are your thoughts preoccupied with kissing the feet of capitalists? Do you dream of abolishing society and clea…

41. BlackRock: CEO of the World (patreon teaser)

After jumping into the abyss of indexation, we’re now smacking directly into BlackRock bottom. The world’s largest asset, which oversees $8.67 trillion, has grown at an unimaginable scale and pace—thanks in no small part to their fintech platform Aladdin on which sits at least $21.6 trillion from m…

40. The Boardroom of Global Capitalism

{The first 15 minutes or so of this episode is a little glitchy, but it gets better} We could have done a full episode about the GameStop affair, but there’s already so many good (and bad) explainers and analysis of that, so let’s talk about the real winners in an economy where the line just keeps …

39. Blueprints for a Better Everything (patreon teaser)

Continuing the story of the Lucas Plan, we lay out how this radical blueprint for socially useful production faced opposition at every turn by entrenched interests who saw it as a threat to their power – and rightfully so! We then explore how the philosophy of social useful production confronts the…

38. Production for the People!

We take a deep dive into another example of a real utopian project from the 1970s, this time from the UK, which provided detailed concrete plans for how to actually do radical techno-politics. The militant labor union at Lucas Aerospace sought to democratize the means of production, giving workers …