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Why the NSA wants to fire all its admins and replace them with bots

One, two, many Snowdens:

Let's leave aside the prognostications of sociologists about over-broad cultural traits of an entire generation.

Actually, this isn't a sociological problem. It's a political problem or, more precisely, a problem in political economy.

The key facts are: Generation X's parents expected a job for life, but with few exceptions Gen Xers never had that — they're used to nomadic employment, hire-and-fire, right-to-work laws, the whole nine yards of organized-labour deracination. Gen Y's parents are Gen X. Gen Y has never thought of jobs as permanent things. Gen Y will stare at you blankly if you talk about loyalty to their employer; the old feudal arrangement ("we'll give you a job for life and look after you as long as you look out for the Organization") is something their grandparents maybe ranted about, but it's about as real as the divine right of kings. Employers are alien hive-mind colony intelligences who will fuck you over for the bottom line on the quarterly balance sheet. They'll give you a laptop and tell you to hot-desk or work at home so that they can save money on office floorspace and furniture. They'll dangle the offer of a permanent job over your head but keep you on a zero-hours contract for as long as is convenient. This is the world they grew up in: this is the world that defines their expectations. ...

This means the NSA and their fellow swimmers in the acronym soup of the intelligence-industrial complex are increasingly reliant on nomadic contractor employees, and increasingly subject to staff churn. There is an emerging need to security-clear vast numbers of temporary/transient workers ... and workers with no intrinsic sense of loyalty to the organization. For the time being, security clearance is carried out by other contractor organizations that specialize in human resource management, but even they are subject to the same problem: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

We human beings are primates. We have a deeply ingrained set of cultural and interpersonal behavioural rules which we violate only at social cost. One of these rules, essential for a tribal organism, is bilaterality: loyalty is a two-way street. (Another is hierarchicality: yield to the boss.) Such rules are not iron-bound or immutable — we're not robots — but our new hive superorganism employers don't obey them instinctively, and apes and monkeys and hominids tend to revert to tit for tat quite easily when unsure of their relative status. Perceived slights result in retaliation, and blundering, human-blind organizations can slight or bruise an employee's ego without even noticing. And slighted or bruised employees who lack instinctive loyalty because the culture they come from has spent generations systematically destroying social hierarchies and undermining their sense of belonging are much more likely to start thinking the unthinkable.

Edward Snowden is 30: he was born in 1983. Generation Y started in 1980-82. I think he's a sign of things to come.

PS: Bradley Manning is 25.

With the caveat: When Strosser writes "Generation Y" he means "that subset of Generation Y that doesn't own or control the means of production." Sloppy! Great lesson on the limits of generational tropes, though.

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Submitted by cg.eye on

What euphemism followed "he's decided to spend more time with his family?" "His future plans involve using his expertise to establish a private consulting practice" -- when we all know that the sense of detachment consultants have destroy more companies than it has ever saved.

I shouldn't feel so much schadenfraude over this -- making disloyalty a national virtue of the educated servant class only makes the 1 percent double-down on imposing their fascist definitions of treason, obscenity and criminality on the rest of us, out of the fear of not holding us back.