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Alternative text for "I'm a Luddite (and So Can You!)"

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I recently enjoyed the web comic "I'm a Luddite (and So Can You!)" by Tom Humberstone. It's a fantastic history and summary of the Luddites and how in the modern world you should also be a Luddite.

Unfortunately, it doesn't have any alternative text on any of the images so is inaccessible. To make this accessible to more people and with Tom Humberstone's blessing, I've written out the alternative text here. I've written it as one list item per panel, please see the original comic for the images.

Alternative text

  1. Two people using sledgehammers to break a laptop, with keyboard keys flying everywhere. One is wearing an apron, the other a waistcoat.
  2. Background of futuristic city. "The future is here already. AI art has arrived. Simply write a prompt..."
  3. Selfie above Upload file button. "Or allow a company unrestricted access to your likeness..."
  4. The same selfie but transformed by AI, has lots of fingers, face with horrible teeth and many eyes, a ridiculous number of fingers and buttons on shirt and a patterned background. "...And ta-da! Some absolutely serviceable hotel lobby art. But calling this 'AI art' uncritically buys into the AI hype machine."
  5. A digital hand stealing a piece of art from the wall in front of two alarmed people. "'Algorithmically generated art theft' might be more accurate."
  6. Nonsensical pen scribble. "Machine-learning software is 'taught' by feeding it existing art without consent, credit, or compensation. To the extent that mangled signature remnants remain visible on AI art."
  7. Protest of people with signs with AI crossed out. "Artists have begun to push back". Man saying: "Everybody who creates for a living should be in code red." "Matthew Butterick, co-counsel in a class action lawsuit brought against AI art by artists"
  8. caption: "A common refrain from defenders of AI art has been to label these naysayers:" with four speech bubbles: "Luddite!", "Luddites!", "Luddite!", "Luddism!"
  9. Four people having a meal around a table. "---a term synonymous with technophobia, anti-progress and reactionism. It's even used to describe being hapless with new tech." One of the people says "Oh, I can't use TikTok! I'm such a Luddite!" Further caption: "In truth, the Luddites were skilled with machines. They were simply fighting for better works rights."
  10. "In 1799, the British government passed legislation that prohibited trade unions and collective bargaining." a old-timey-looking aristocrat signing with a quill with mill-workers in the background looking at a mechanised loom. "Mill owners introduced more machines in their factories, reducing wages"
  11. Man swinging a sledgehammer. "And so, in 1811, after years of frustrating negotiations, a spate of coordinated attacks on mill frameworks erupted across the United Kingdom, lef by 'King Ned Ludd'".
  12. Warrior with a stick, protests and burning buildings in the background. "Ludd was an elusive figure, spotted with 'a pike in his hand' and a ghostly pale face. Which is surprising. Because Ned Ludd didn't exist."
  13. "He was a fiction. A symbolic figure whose 'existence' made it hard for the authorities to target leadership and encouraged decentralized campaigning." Two grinning men cheers a drink.
  14. "The Luddites' methods included letter-writing campaigns petitioning for better wages and the end of child labor." An older man with white hair sits between two huge stacks of letters.
  15. "Their concerns earned them solidarity from local communities." Well-dressed man in front of large crowd of people saying "You may call the people a mob, but do not forget that a mob too often speaks the sentiments of the people." Captioned "Lore Byron in his first speech to Parliament. Mill owners were terrified. Wages rose. Conditions improved."
  16. Soldiers with muskets, papers strewn everywhere, a gallows ominously slightly off-frame. "But then 14,000 soldiers were sent to protect the mills and quash riots. New legislation made frame-breaking a capital offense. Eventually, Key Luddite organizers were identified, arrested and executed."
  17. "Yet the movement lived on, Outbreaks of machine-breaking continued for years in the UK and beyond." Man saying "This is dew, Which the tree shall renew Of Liberty, planted by Ludd!" Captioned "Lord Bryon, 'Song for the Luddites'"
  18. Woman swinging sledgehammer and breaking something. "In 1837. a spinning jenny in Chalabre, France, was destroyed by workers. The women workers 'made themselves conspicuous by their fury and violence.' From local newspaper L'Aude"
  19. "In the 1870s, English textile designer, author and socialist William Morris began taking an interest in the production process of his designs. he was disgusted by the poor living conditions of workers and the pollution caused by the textile industry." A man in a suit says: "Why does a resonable man use a machine? Surely to save his labour. Under capitalism, machines were primarily used to increase production, thereby increasing the worker's drudgery."
  20. "People has been making similar arguments against AI art." Tweet from "Cat Bastard Quinn @QuinnCat13": "We could automate menial jobs so people have time to make art and music but apparently we'd rather automate art and music so people have time for menial jobs."
  21. "Likewise, Morris was interested in what he called 'worthy work'. he wanted people to take pleasure in their work rather than 'mere toiling to live, that we may live to toil.'" Woman frowning in front of a laptop and a man working in an Amazon warehouse.
  22. "He understood that machines were only as progressive as the people who used them." Man in suit in front of loads of notification badges says "[An unfree man is a] slave the machinery; the new machine MUST be invented, and when invented he MUST - I will not say se it, but be used by it, whether he likes it or not."
  23. Workers working on a car engine, man in suit looking at pocket watch in front. "In America, mechanical engineer Frederick W. Taylor began using what he called the 'Scientific Management' in his factories. Taylor timed each worker's every movement, breaking down their work into a set of discrete tasks. Then demanded workers speed them up."
  24. "Taylorism," as it became known, was less a science than a political ideology concerned with remolding workers into pliant subjects." Workers on production line looking frustrated, Taylor in front says "A complete mental revolution on the part of the workingman... toward their work, toward their fellow men, and toward their employers."
  25. "But the spirit of Luddism lived on. Seemingly out of nowhere, there was a rash of mechanical breakdowns at Taylor's factories." Two workers shrug in front of smoke. Taylor, looking angry, says "These men were deliberately breaking their machines."
  26. "Despite setbacks and intervention from Congress, Taylorism spread." Pictured is a book "Sabotage, it's history, philosophy and function" by Walker C Smith, with the cover of a black cat opening a bag of money. Captioned "The Industrial Workers of the World responded by publishing two tracts on the topic of sabotage in 1913. 'The aim is to his the employer in his vital spot, his heart and soul, in other words, his pocketbook.'"
  27. Hands on a conveyer of plates, written on each: "'Automation' — as it was later dubbed by Delmar Harder, vice president on Ford Motor Company, in 1947 — continued unabated."
  28. "The legacy of the Luddites lived on in the latter half of the 20th century. Confined to the lowest-paying jobs, black workers were the first to be targeted by the midcentury push for automation." Two black woman work on riveting a piece of metal. A black man in the foreground says "Not only is the economic situation of the masses of blacks grim, but the prospects are that it wil not improve, rather it will deteriorate. This is due partley to the unregulated impact of automation." Captioned "Robert L. Allen, Black Awakening in Capitalist American (1969)"
  29. "The Black Panthers" were also quick to recognize technology and automation were not politically neutral." A black man at a microphone says "If the ruling circle remains in power it seems to me that capitalists will continue to develop their technological machinery because they are not interested in the people... Every worker is in jeopardy because of the ruling circle." Captioned "Huey Newton, cofounder of the Black Panther Party"
  30. "The Black Panether Party's Ten Point Program was updated in 1972. 'People's community control of modern technology' was added to the demands for 'land, break, housing, education, clothing, justice, peace'". A group of black people and workers stand in the background.
  31. "In 2019 McKinsey Global Institute found that: 'African Americans are overrepresented in occupations likely to be most affected by automation.'" A chart titled "Overrepresentation of African Americans in 3 occupation categories with the highest expected displacement, %" shows: Office support eg secretaries 36%; Food services eg fast-food cooks 35%; Production work eg machinists 34%. Captioned "And the 2030 outlook doesn't look much better."
  32. "The introduction of the computer in the 1970s only exacerbated growing tensions. Punch cards used in universities, similar to cards used for drafting recruits for Vietname, were seen as a symbol of bureaucracy and alienation. Students burned, vandalized, and otherwise destroyed punch cards for course registration."Pictured is a woman using a machine, a protext of students, someone holding a punch card labelled 'STRIKE' and a badge saying "I am a human being: do not fold, spindle or mutilate"
  33. Person saying "Many people simply stopped drawing distinctions between one card-enabled system and another. Whether the cards registered draftees or pupils, they helped 'the system'." Captioned "Lisa Gitelman, author of Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture (2008)"
  34. "Vietnam had become the first computational war, bringing a shift towards strategies rooted in quantitative data collection and automated analysis." pictured are some men working computer terminals and banks of controls with large screens.
  35. "Sensor arrays and unmanned drones became a big part of the war. An ongoing experiment with the intention of the eventual replacement of human pilots. American soldiers were sabotaging equipment, staging protests, and refusing to fight. 'Automation of war', as with the automation of industry, was a political strategy designed to, once again, reassert control over rebellious workers." pictured alongside a Tom Cat drone
  36. "Now as more of our daily lives are automated, people are finding that it doesn't always make our lives easier." A man looks confused at a self-service supermarket till as it has a big red X and says "Unexpected item in the bagging area!"
  37. "In 2016, a study revealed that physicians spend two hours of computer work for every hour spent speaking with a patient face to face." Two medical works in the background are frustrated at a computer. In the foreground a man says "I'e come to feel that a system that promised to increase my mastery over my work has, instead, increased my work's mastery over me." Captioned "Atul Gawande, surgeon and public health researcher"
  38. "In the rush to claim success with new AI software, this invisible human work becomes even more insidious. Researcher Jathan Sadowski calls it 'Potemkin AI'." Three people use computers with red screens, man in foreground says "There is a long list of services that purport to be powered by sophisticated software but actually rely on humans acting like robots."
  39. "Writer and filmmaker Astra Taylor calls these modern-day Mechanical Turks an example of 'fauxtomation'." A woman says "[Fauxtomation] reinforces the idea that work has no value if it is unpaid and acclimates us to the idea that one day we won't be needed."
  40. "As a 2019 report by the think tank Data & Society concludes: Automated and AI technologies tend to mask the human labour that allows them t obe fully integrated into a social context while profoundly changing the conditions and quality of labour that is at stake." Pictured alongside a woman taking off a robot-like mask
  41. "Opposition to 21st-centure tech can be found in unlikely places. Silicon Valley executives are restricting their own children's screen time and sending them to tech-free schools." A quaint small "Waldorf School" has greenery outside it and a man says "You can't put your face in a device and expect to develop a long-term attention span." captioned "TaeWoo Kim, chief AI engineer at maching learning startup One Smart Lab."
  42. "In San Francisco, security robots sent to harass the homeless has been repeatedly assaulted, with one being covered in BBQ sauce and wrapped in tarp." A round, pillar-like security robot is covered in a dark liquid.
  43. "In Arizona, people are slashing the tires of driverless cards after a driverless Uber struck and killed a woman in Tempe." A driverless car has a smashed window. "People are lashing out justifiably. There's a growing sense that the giant corporations honing driverless technologies do not have our best interests at heart." by "Douglass Rushkoff, author of Team Human (2019)"
  44. Pie chart showing 85%. "A Pew research poll found that 85% of Americans favored the restriction of automation to only the most dangerous forms of work."
  45. "We're all living through an era in which we have become the product." People in the background are on phones and have $ signs above their heads. A woman in the foreground says "The age of surveillance capitalism is a titanic struggle between capital and each one of us. It it a direct intervention into free will, an assault to human autonomy. To tune and herd and shape and push us in the direction that creates the highest probability of their business success. [There's no way] to dress this up as anything but behavioural modification." Captioned "Shoshana Zuboff, author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism (2018)""
  46. "Many are also drawing attention to the biases of software made by an almost entirely male, predominantly white workforce" A black man's face is being scanned and there's a big red "Error" sign next to him. "I'm worried about groupthink, insularity, and arrogance in the AI community. [...] If many are actively excluded from its creation, this technology will benefit a few while harming a great many. Timnit Gebru, Black in AI cofounder"
  47. "VPNs, the dark web, and plugins like RequestPolicy are arguably Luddite responses to new technology". A man says in front of set of red security symbols: "A retrograde attempt to rewind web history: a Luddite machine that, as they say 'breaks' the essential mechanisms of websites." Captioned "Computer science students have already developed Glaze - a tool to precent AI models from mimicking artist styles. Maxigas, Resistance to the Current: The Dialectics of Hacking (2022)"
  48. Man saying "Luddism contains a critical perspective on technology that pays particular attention to technology's relationship to the labour process and working conditions. In other words, it views technology not as neutral but as a site of struggle, Luddism rejects production for production's sake: it is critical of 'efficiency' as an end goal." Captioned "Gavin Mueller, Breaking Things as Work (2021)"
  49. "Degrowth, Slow Living, Quiet Quitting and the I Do Not Dream of Labour movements could all be described as forms of modern neo-Luddism." Someone tears apart a sheet showing an upward-trending graph. "Lashed to the growth imperative, technology is used not to do the same amount of stuff in less time, but rather to do more stuff in the same amount of time. Jason Hickel, author of Less Is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World (2020)"
  50. A man rests a sledgehammer on one shoulder, looking away with trees and rolling hills in the background. "Questioning and resisting the worst excesses of technology isn't antithetical to progress. In your concept of 'progress' doesn't put people at the center of it, is it even progress? Maybe those os us who are apprehensive about AI art are Luddites. Maybe we should wear that badge with pride. Welcome to the future. Sabotage it."
  51. "From the Future Issue"

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