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A bird's eye view of the vineyard
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In light of the slight interruption to normal life that is going on it is worth reassessing some of the known common knowledge about Big Tech and it's related area Artificial Intelligence (AI). Unless you have been asleep for the past 10 years, everyone will have heard of Edward Snowden who revealed in quite extensive detail the level of ongoing surveillance carried out jointly by the US and UK intelligence agencies, the NSA and GCHQ. Prior to his disclosure any suggestion of widespread spying was met with derision. Overnight the world changed and it was widely accepted as fact by everyone. What's more is that the depth and scale of the programs were far bigger than even the pessimists had imagined. It was this more than anything which has tarnished the reputation of technology as something that was always good to a demonstration of it's dark side. The state as such has dirtied its reputation with regards to technology.
An anarchist dismisses religious belief as a means of understanding the world that has been "superceded by science", sparking a lively debate. Is this argument simply showing disrespect to believers, talking down to the proles, or is it really the case that religion is "a dangerous drug" which means "handing over your brain to a priest, rabbi, or imam"? Read the arguments and make your own mind up.
Stephen Baxter has written a novel for the long haul – we humans are notorious for believing that our brief existence is of pressing importance, so any novel that spans 600 million years can reasonably be described as taking “the long view”
Two Stephen Baxter sites:
The Irish Recorded Music Association is to start legal action against 17 Irish people whom they accuse of sharing copywrighted music. IRMA announced the decision today, claiming they 'were forced' into the move and are 'unhappy' about it. They cite figures that the 'Irish Music Industry' is 'losing' €3.8m annually because of illegal downloading. Since 2002 they have seen profits fall from €146m annually to €118m, which is a 19% drop over 3 years. The put this drop in sales down to what they call 'serial filesharers'.
IRMA is the trade organisation representing 47 members, including major and independent record companies. IRMA say that file sharing is “effectively stealing the livelihood of the creators of music”.
But who is really 'stealing the livelihoods' of musicians?
Take an average new CD that costs between €15 and €20. According to Patrick Norager, who runs an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) net-radio station: “Artists only get 10 percent of (the money from) their sales before they pay managers and absorb breakage fees and other expenses... The fact is unless you can sell 250,000 copies on a major label you will probably get dropped. The way they do it, it’s like they’re selling toasters instead of music.”
So the artist (unless they are huge sellers like U2 or Metallica) will only get between somewhere between €1.50 to €2 or less for every CD sold, before additional expenses and record company 'recouperation'. The 'record industry' (the labels, the stores, the middlemen) and taxman get the rest.
Steve Albini, a longtime rock producer (perhaps most famous for working on Nirvana's final studio album) lays out a typical example of a new band signing to a major label, from an Indie label.
After signing for a £250,000 advance with a 13% cut of record sale profits (-10% of that 13% for 'packaging') - this band will find themselves having made a paltry $4000 each. And the really strange thing is that NONE of this comes from the record royalties - the band actually owes the record industry $14,000 for the album. The small amount of money made actually comes from touring and merchandise. As Dougie Thomspon, former Supertramp bassist, says: "make sure that you book as may shows as you can, as far in advance as possible, for as much money as you can get while the fire is hot."
It's surplus value gone mad - imagine a worker who ends up owing their boss money after they've carried out their work they were contracted to do!
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