Monday, April 29, 2024

CfP: Legal Imaginaries — a Law, Literature and Humanities Association of Australasia Conference

I am delighted to pass along an announcement for a CfP for Legal Imaginaries —  a Law, Literature and Humanities Association of Australasia Conference and hosted by the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law. The Conference Concept Note provides a great overview of the event:
This Conference is an invitation to collectively examine, critique, and, for the more daring, transform the imaginaries that constellate our grasp of reality and sustain the authority of law – from the racialised and gendered representations that give form and force to the colonial and patriarchal imaginaries of both North and South; to the configurations of sovereignty that are held together by the sociotechnical and technoscientific imaginaries of the Anthropocene; to the confined and confining figures of justice that populate the modern imaginaries of the state…

If the ‘imaginary’ is not so much a social context, which risks reification, nor an historical curiosity, which risks uncritical periodisation, then we might think of it as a fluid. We are immersed in it; it saturates everything; it is in the air that we breathe; but more like water to whales than quicksand to humans: inescapable, perhaps, yet nonetheless enabling of individual as well as collective forms of expression. As with any body of water, there are currents and eddies, particular ways of imagining that coalesce and recycle, for a moment, for a decade, for hundreds of years – but always with the potential for new ways of imagining to flow through.

Which is why, for every vortex(t) of ideas, tropes, desires and fears, which sucks us in and hold us down, there must be counter-currents – streams – to help move us in new directions. For the list of Streams, follow the link below. These provide the Conference sub-themes, helping to put papers in conversation with each other while creating ongoing conversations across sessions.

The Conference features keynotes by Dr Daniela Gandorfer, Prof Peter Goodrich, and Dr Kojo Koram, as well as and other special events to be announced

Interested persons are invited to submit a paper, panel or creative session by following the link below. Deadline for submissions is 15 July 2024.

This is an in-person conference. Unfortunately we are unable to host online sessions. The list of streams follows below.

Mexico versus Ecuador Within the Theatrical Spaces of Embassies--Expectations and Cunundrums


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Empire has its privileges.  But there are consequences.  One recalls the scandal during the Obama Administration when in the wake of the 2013 Snowden leaks the leading powers went looking for him. Fearing he might be on the plane of the President of Bolivia (with the Bolivian President in it), certain European states closed their air space to the jet, which was forced to land in Austria.  No Snowden, but lots of fall out diplomatically. "The geopolitical storm churned up by Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive American intelligence contractor, continued to spread on Wednesday as Latin American leaders roundly condemned the refusal to let Bolivia’s president fly over several European nations, rallying to his side after Bolivian officials said the president’s plane had been thwarted because of suspicions that Mr. Snowden was on board." (NYT here). In the end, a few strategic apologies, some explanatory texts on an inter-governmental level, a delightful breakfast between the Bolvian and Austrian presidents on the Presidential jet, and the expected rebuke by high UN officials appeared to settle the matter (though not perhaps the feelings that it produced).

Among subaltern powers, however, the breaching of traditional baseline rules can produce much greater consequences.

On April 5th Ecuadorian police scaled the walls of the Mexican embassy (pictured) in Quito, Ecuador’s capital. They stormed the building and seized Jorge Glas, Ecuador’s former vice-president. He had been granted asylum by Mexico just hours earlier. (Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico’s president, is sympathetic to Mr Glas’s party.) For domestic police to raid an embassy is extremely unusual. It has outraged diplomats and been condemned around the world. Mexico immediately brought the case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. (Why Ecuador Risked Global Condemnation)
Almost immediately Mexico broke its diplomatic relations with Ecuador (here). Within weeks, the Mexican State, as is becoming quite fashionable among states that have now learned the benefits of engaging in politics through judicial mechanisms, filed an action with the International Court of Justice which sought among other things to "suspend Ecuador from the U.N. unless and until it issues "a public apology recognizing its violations to the fundamental principles and norms of international law, to guarantee the reparation to the moral harm inflicted upon the United Mexican States and its affected nationals" (Reporting here). And the expected condemnations followed--not that these were wrong, merely that, as in the Snowden adventure of a decade earlier, they were textual (eg here). The issue is clear enough, as a matter of law and norm, and the protection of a rightly perceived to be fundamental premise of inter-State relations--"'This is not a leftist thing, or a right-wing thing,' said José Miguel Vivanco, a Chilean lawyer and fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. 'It’s a fundamental principle that has been breached and deserves strong condemnation from the international community to make sure this isn’t going to become the new normal.'”(here)

Nonetheless, for the instigators, the benefit might well have been worth the price, at least according to analysis published in the New York Times in the wake of the action.

President Daniel Noboa has been faced with flagging approval ratings amid rising violence weeks before a referendum that could affect his prospects for re-election next year. The spat with Mexico, which suspended diplomatic relations, may be just what he needed. . . Mr. Noboa’s ability to show that he can restore law and order to the nation of nearly 18 million may prove critical to his re-election, and that means tackling the country’s gangs, as well as corruption within the government that has enabled criminal groups, analysts say. (here)

But the story is more interesting that that.

Noboa admitted from Miami (Florida, US) in an interview with an Australian outlet that he did not regret ordering Glas' capture although it meant violating diplomatic conventions. He insisted he was on the “right side of history” despite worldwide condemnation. . . In his view, Mexico was the first to violate Ecuadorean sovereignty when assistance was provided to a fugitive and therefore ”we had to make a decision.“ Noboa added that Glas intended to flee Ecuador from the diplomatic mission. ”Justice is not negotiated,” Noboa also pointed out. (here)

The Ecuadorian position contrasts with the way that people thought about these things half a century agao when, for instance, clerics in one of the subaltern states of the Soviet Empire sought and was granted refuge in an embassy (Cardinal József Mindszenty living in the US Embassy in Hungary for 15 years from 1956). The new reality might not be Cardinal Mindszenty but Julian Assage, ironically a guest of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for 5 years ending in 2019 when he was asked to leave (here). Indeed, where the issue here includes corruption, the position of the Mexican States (though it can act as it likes to suit its politics of course, irrespective of the specifics around which those actions are undertaken) might be lessIn any case, there is a substantial gap between sympathy, strategic measures that force someone out, and a direct action.  And yet, again, for Ecuador, the benefit may be worth the price.

Far more interesting has been the effects within the domains of Latin American politics, especially among the CELAC states (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) including Cuba--the competitor organization to the OAS (Organization of American States) including the United States.  CELAC Member States support Mexico's claims and are now considering sanctions alongside the sanctions sought within the UN system. Ancient practices, unexamined in light of current conditions, but used strategically, can only produce the sort of theatrics that benefit those who are capable of taking advantage of its possibilities.  But States can no longer time travel back to the Era of the Pre-Modern because it may suit them strategically; and the web of norm constructed since 1945 ought to make that impulse somewhat more problematic. All of this leaves a host of questions that perhaps beg for conversation if not action, and they do not cut in any particular direction, though each points to a need, perhaps, to revisit ancient concepts in the current stage of global historical development: (1) what ought to be the relationship between the interference of one state in the domestic affairs of another when balanced against the privileges of embassies and related organs; (2) to what extent ought embassies to be protected when they are complicit in violations of international law and norms (for example, facilitating networks of corruption); (3) what remedy ought to be attached to what duty; (4) to the extent that it is a global good to treat embassies as beyond the law of a State (and there are good reasons for that) ought there to be a central mechanism for managing embassy behaviors built into the structures of the UN system; (5) ought one to begin to develop frameworks for coherence in approach to embassy issues, practices, expectations, and legalities when exercised polycentrically by regional, national, and international organizations; (6)  .

The Mexican President's summary of his presentation to CELAC (in Spanish), the Statement by the President of the Republic of Cuba Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez in support of the Mexican position, and an analysis authored by Marina Vanni for Latin Counsel follow below.

Just Published: Journal of Contemporary China 33(147)


 Delighted to pass along the contents of Volume 33(147) of the Journal of Contemporary China, which include some quite interesting contributions.


Journal of Contemporary China 

Volume 33 Issue 147 May 2024


Technology Innovation in China (Guest Editor: Shuanping Dai)

Innovation Network Formation and the Catalyzing State: A Study of Two Innovative Industry Clusters in China 

Shuanping Dai, Markus Taube, Jie Liu, and Gang Liu 

Page 373-391 


Centralized Regime Gaining Information Capacity: Can China Approach to Innovation Frontiers? 

Kaidong Feng and Ziying Jiang 

Page 392-416 


Hong Kong’s Integration into China (I) 

Political Events and Cultural Othering: Impact of Protests and Elections on Identities in Post-Handover Hong Kong, 1997–2021 

Francis Lap Fung Lee and Chi Kit Chan 

Page 417-431 


Sources of Public Support for the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement in Hong Kong: Localism or Others? 

Kevin Tze-Wai Wong, Victor Zheng, and Po-San Wan 

Page 432-447 


Chinese Companies in Africa: Labor Conditions and Social Responsibility

China-Africa Encounter and Worker Resistance: A Case Study of Wildcat Strikes Against a Chinese-Owned Company in Ethiopia 

Chuling Huang, Yan Huang, and Jingyi Mai 

Page 448-464


Internationalizing China Standards Through Corporate Social Responsibility: An Exploratory Study of Chinese State-Owned Enterprises in Africa 

Ding Fei 

Page 465-485


Changing Relations between China and the European Union Countries (I)

Riding the Trojan Horse? EU Accession and Chinese Investment in CEE Countries 

Yuleng Zeng 

Page 486-501


The Chinese Public’s Perceptions of the European Union: Changes and Stability Revealed by 2010 and 2020 Surveys 

Lisheng Dong, Su Yun Woo, and Daniel Kübler 

Page 502-520


Research Articles 

In the Pursuit of the Constructed Truth: Courtroom Questioning as a Persuasive Genre of Talk 

Kege Li 

Page 521-543


Rising Income and Wealth Inequality in China: Empirical Assessments and Theoretical Reflections 

Zhao Simon Xiao Bin, Wong David Wai Ho, Shao Chen Han, and Liu Kai Ming 

Page 544-559


Friday, April 26, 2024

Part 7 (Part II, Chapter 6 UNGP: General Principles )--Vetting the Discussion Draft: "The United Nations Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights: A Commentary

Pix Credit here
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. Psalm 25:5

I have been working on the production of a comprehensive commentary of the United Nations Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.  This is a humbling task. It follows the production of both an official commentary, written in tandem with the UNGP itself, and a collective commentary of the UNGP undertaken by some of the most distinguished students of other fields of human rights, business, and its related fields of academic  study ( The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: A Commentary (Barnali Choudhury (ed); Edward Elgar, 2023).  

I am at a point where I can start vetting portions of the draft. I hope to share those discussion drafts with a wider audience in hopes of getting feedback. In these posts I provide a short summary of the draft chapter and a link t access a 'pdf' version.  All draft chapters may be found on my Coalition for Peace & Ethics Website website at UNGP Commentary Page HERE.

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With this post we move from Part I (On the Making of the UNGP), the five chapters of which introduced the reader to the background, context, and sources that contributed to the drafting and eventual endorsement if the UNGP. 
Part II  (chapters 6-9) takes a deep dive into the substantive provisions of the UNGP--its General Principles and its thirty one (31) substantive principles divided into a State duty, a corporate responsibility, and a joint remedial obligation.  
Chapter 6 considers the General Principles of the UNGP. The object of the General Principles to to describe the principles and parameters  to be used in reading, interpreting, and applying the UNGP's thirty one principles that follow.  That is, the General Principles serve as a interpretive guide, or better put, the guardrails against which the substantive Principles that follow. are to be understood.  These guardrails define the conceptual space within which it is possible to read the UNGP with a great deal of flexibility. And thus the somewhat ironic use of the Biblical Psalm that appears at the start of this description of Chapter 6. The truth to which the General Principles lead is flexible, contextual, permissive, and not locked into any space, place, time, or conceptual ideology, beyond, perhaps, the ideology of the guardrails themselves. Within the guardrails, ever path leads to truth, and every truth to the path. 
It consists of three core general principles which are recognized as the principles on which the UNGP are grounded. These are supplemented by an additional four principles. The first touches on issues of applicability. These limit the application of the UNGP to States and business enterprises.  Not covered are civil society organizations, religious institutions, and international organizations among others.The second on the appropriate approach to understanding the UNGP. That approach applies a "coherent whole" standard applied as a function of the two principle objectives of the UNGP: (1) enhancing standards and practices  respecting business and human rights to achieve tangible results for affected individuals and communities and (2) that then contribute to socially sustainable globalization. The third  adopts two related principles. The first is the twin interpretive principles of "no new international law obligations" standard; the second is the "no limiting and undermining State international legal obligations" standard of reading and applying the principles, their text, in whole or in part. The last imports a principle of non/discrimination. That principle is subject to application as a function of special needs and challenges of risk to vulnerable and marginalized communities. 

The Chapter starts by considering the significance of a set of general principles to a framework of Guiding Principles (Chapter 6.1//Signification: The Role of the General Principles in the UNGP). It then considers the text of the General Principles in detail. It looks then to authoritative interpretation or commentary to aid in understanding, looking principally to the travaux préparatoire. It then (re)considers the way that the General Principles  and its guardrail function contributes to the idea or spirit of the UNGP.  I end by considering the way that the General Principles define the UNGP and contribute to a deeper understanding of its spirit or significance, which is then contextualized and appropriated by others seeking to invest their business and human rights efforts with the UNGP spirit. 

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They may be reduced to the following major points:
(1) the framing of State duty around its legal obligations under international law (and likely as well its constitutional order);
(2) the characterization of enterprises as functionally differentiated organs, but necessarily embedded within any one or more States whose responsibility is centered on compliance first, and a more general (and coherent) respect for human rights second, understood as deriving from the “do no harm” principle;
(3) the fundamental requirement that human rights and obligations be matched (it does matter how just that it be effective) to remedy (judged as a function of appropriateness and effectiveness;
(4) the universal application of the UNGP framework to all States and enterprises leaving open the question of differential application;
(5) the imposition of an interpretive principle that starts from a principle of textual “coherent wholeness” which must be read, collectively and in all of its disaggregation against the objective of (a) standards and practices based goals assessable by reference to achievable and tangible results for affected individuals and collectives and (b)contribution to socially sustainable globalization (the precise definition of which is left open);
(6) the caution that neither new international law obligations ought to be extracted from the UNGP whether of a kind that requires assent or to which a State may otherwise be subject; nor may States use the UNGP as a means of avoiding or undermining their international legal obligations; none of these terns are defined with any level of specificity; and
(7) the UNGP must be read within and applied under a principle of nondiscrimination, though the measure of discrimination is left undefined, and the possibility of contextually based variation is accepted; that variation is treat is to be risk based but the risk based analysis may itself be triggered by exogenous factors tied to individual or collective vulnerability or marginalization.
There it is. That, in a nutshell is the idea and spirit, the signification, of the UNGP. The rest is operationalization and the fleshing out of the guardrails set out in these General Principles. (From Chapter 6).

The Chapter 6 discussion draft may be accessed directly HERE. The text of the draft of chapter 6 as of the time of this posting also follows below along with its table of contents.


6. The UNGP General Principles (Chapeau)

                  6.1 Text of the General Principles

                                    6.1.1 Signification: The Role of General Principles in the UNGP

                                    6.1.2. General Principles Textual Commentary

                                             The “Grounded in Recognition” Clause

                                             The Three Core General Principles

                                             The Interpretation of the Core General Principles: Application

                                             The Interpretation of the Core General Principles The Interpretation of the Core General Principles: Interpretive Coherence and Fundamental Objectives The Interpretation of the Core General Principles: The No New Obligations Caution The Interpretation of the Core General Principles: Heightened Attention

                  6.2 Authoritative Interpretation/Commentary

                                    6.2.1 The Travaux Préparatoire and the 2010 Draft UNGP

                                    6.2.2 The Pre-Mandate Texts and the Signification of the UNGP  Through its General Principles

                  6.3 Conclusion

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC): Upcoming Hearing "Factories and Fraud in the PRC: How Human Rights Violations Make Reliable Audits Impossible"


Pix Credit Wall Street Journal


The  Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), like other American authorities, have stepped up their pressure on US companies to more resolutely comply with US based sanctions regimes directed. among other places, to China. To that end they have been engaging in what I have called a two thrust policy.

[T]he CECC have begun to understand how one might engage these dual levers to project power across borders and to strengthen (and discipline) a specific norm enhancing narrative that aligns with national policy (and presumably national political and normative values).  To that then, the leadership of the CECC has recently engaged in a two track approach to projecting power and asserting pressure against Chinese policy and policy implementation in Xinjiang.  It has done this by announcing a two thrust campaign.  The first seeks to affect the societal sphere by putting pressure on market actors to evidence fidelity to national (and perhaps international) human rights values in accordance with a specific application, in their market transactions.  In this case CECC chose a high value target-- the endorsement deals of NBA players that are deemed to enhance the ability of Chinese authorities to continue to augment their implementation of what to the US are objectionable policies in Xinjiang. The mechanics are societal.  CECC produced a "noisy" and much publicized letter to the National Basketball Association, which was then widely reported through key press organs in the United States (see, e.g., US News & World Report; New York Times; South China Morning Post; Reuters; Daily Mail; etc.).

Simultaneously CECC's leaders have introduced legislation, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) HR 1155 (117th Cong. 1st Sess. 2021), which does two things.  First it serves to develop an authoritative narrative embedded in law (through the preamble and its findings).  This is a tactic that has become quite important in the way that the US legislature seeks to develop authoritative signification, that is the way that an authoritative interpretation of facts is developed by the political authorities in the United States ( UFLPA ¶ 2 (Findings). Second,  it serves to enhance a legal framework for decoupling trade that is connected to "all goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, or by persons working with the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region government for purposes of the ‘‘poverty alleviation’’ program or the ‘‘pairing-assistance’’ program which subsidizes the establishment of manufacturing facilities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region" (UFLPA § 4(a)). (The US Two-Thrust Campaign Against Chinese Policy in Xinjiang: The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) Coordinates Use of Markets (NBA Endorsements) and Statutes (Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act)). 

The two thrust strategy has been applied to the lucrative sports market (Ramping Up Sanctions Related Pressure on US Enterprises in Sport: Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) Versus National Basketball Association and its Players Association). And it has been applied to borrow the (mostly European) construction of a broadened narrative of complicity (The Emerging (Sanctions Fueled) Face of the Transnational Regulation of the Human Rights Effects of Economic Activity: The CECC Hearing on "Corporate Complicity: Subsidizing the PRC’s Human Rights Violations"). 

And now it has been applied, in a quite interesting way, to the emerging narratives of human rights due diligence. and forced labor. To that end, CECC appears to have begun to put a potentially powerful American spin (see eg here) on the European conversation on mandatory sustainability due diligence (here, here, and here) and forced labor (here). And, indeed, the synergies can produce something of a variegated united front. "Forced labor import bans also are in place in the United States (see here), Canada and Mexico (see here). Several jurisdictions also have modern slavery reporting statutes. The newest of these is Canada’s Fighting Against Forced Labour and Child Labour in Supply Chains Act. The first reports under that Act are due on May 31 (see herehere and here)." (here).  

These might have strong and potentially directed effects  on China. That certainly, may be suggested by the upcoming hearings of the CECC: "Factories and Fraud in the PRC: How Human Rights Violations  Make Reliable Audits Impossible."  The focus is social auditing.

Typically, social audits consist of periodic inspections of work sites, once every year or two. Many auditing firms conduct them on a contract-basis for a fee.  Inspectors—or “auditors”—have a herculean task. They have to assess compliance on a range of human rights concerns within just a few days. Auditors do this by going through documents that workplace managers produce, making observations, and interviewing workers. (Social Audit Reforms and the Labor Rights Ruse)

The hearing is to be held at the 2020 Rayburn House Office Building | Tuesday, April 30, 2024 - 10:00am. Information about the hearing and the program follows.  The written testimony of the participants will be posted when made available. 


Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Just Published (hybrid): International Journal for the Semiotics of Law (2024) 37(3) (Special Issues)


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Delighted to pass along links to the articles just published in Issue 37(3) of the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law (2024). The volume contains two special issues--(1) The Legal Semiotics of the Digital Face (Gabriele Marino and Massimo Leone):  and (2) International Arbitration in the Digital World (Magdalena Łągiewska and Vijay K Bhatia), along with (3) my review of Jan Broekman's book Knowledge in Change (2023) on among other things the virtual, and digital consciousness.

The table of contents with links follows. 

Monday, April 22, 2024

习近平词典丨新质生产力 Xi Jinping Dictionary丨New Quality Productive Forces: A Video for English Speakers and the Popularization of Leninist Concepts of ("Socialist Road") Production in the New Era



Revolution means carrying out class struggle, but it does not merely mean that. The development of the productive forces is also a kind of revolution — a very important one. It is the most fundamental revolution from the viewpoint of historical development. (Deng Xiaoping, "To Build Socialism We Must First Develop the Productive Forces" (Talk with some leading comrades of the Central Committee, April 1, 1980)).

It is always nice when a political collective developing important elements of its ideology shares that development with others. It is nicer still when the outreach is in English. One of the core areas of development of Chinese Leninism, as it moves from the Era of Reform and Opening Up to its New Era has been the evolution of the  concept of productive forces (生产力). In the Era of Reform and Opening Up and in the reforms undertaken in the situation left by the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the focus was on economic development.

We should research earnestly how to carry out socialist development. At this time, we are reviewing the experience gained in the past three decades since the founding of the People’s Republic. To sum up, it is as follows. First, we should not adopt “Leftist” policies by divorcing ourselves from reality or skipping over necessary stages. Otherwise, the task of building socialism will not be accomplished. We have suffered losses from “Leftist” policies. Second, whatever we do must contribute to developing the productive forces. In our effort to do this, we should stress economic results. Unless we develop the productive forces, we cannot gradually increase people’s incomes. We have suffered a great deal in this respect, especially during the ten years of the “cultural revolution”. We should research why so many African countries which have been developing socialism have become poorer and poorer. We should not consider it to be glorious merely to call our nation socialist, nor should we be content with this. (Deng Xiaoping, "To Build Socialism We Must First Develop the Productive Forces" (Talk with the delegation from the Party of the National Liberation Front of the Democratic People’s Republic of Algeria, April 21, 1980).

Nor just productive forces in its narrowest sense of state assets (however broadly defined), but productive forces as an integral part of the transformation of production and productivity from one centered on economic productivity (China as the factory of the world measured by output) to one in which economic activity is deeply embedded withing a comprehensive state policy to advance a complex of integrated policies to advance social welfare as a function of the core premises of the political economic (Marxist-Leninist) order now grounded in innovation, ecological civilization and core Socialist values which create a self-referencing cultural circle within which it is assumed possible to discern abetter and ore successful approach to productivity, and with it a means of overcoming the contemporary principal contradiction of unequal distribution that marks the New Era. The Chinese Consulate-General in Los Angeles has been helpful in explaining this to the masses of its principal competitor:

“New quality productive forces” is a major concept put forward by President Xi Jinping. Marked by innovation, new quality productive forces are advanced productivity in essence, with high quality as the key and substantial increase in total factor productivity as its core hallmark. As a new form of productivity, what is “new” about “new quality productive forces”? It is “new” because it aims at high-quality development driven by innovation. . . It is “new” because it aims at green development with a vision of harmonious coexistence of human and nature. . . It is “new” because it aims at a high-level opening-up with mutually beneficial results. New quality productive forces will not only invigorate China’s high-quality growth but also provide impetus for global sustainable development. . .  (Understand Top Chinese Buzzword: New Quality Productive Forces (17 April 2024)

This has been made clearer by the Chinese Communist Party General Secretary and popularized through well placed short essays. Consider in this respect 王波习近平总书记强调的“新质量生产力” [Wang Bo, "New High Quality Productive Forces" emphasized by General Secretary Xi Jinping ] (which follows below in the original and in a crude English translation; see also here). The essay notes:

生产力是指人类在生产实践中形成的改造和影响自然的能力。 生产力作为马克思主义政治经济学和唯物史观的最基本范畴,不仅是人类历史的物质基础,也是推动社会进步的最积极、最革命的因素。 没有生产力的发展,就没有社会的进步。[Productivity refers to the ability of human beings to transform and influence nature formed in production practices. As the most basic category of Marxist political economy and historical materialism, productivity is not only the material basis of human history, but also the most active and revolutionary factor in promoting social progress. Without the development of productive forces, there will be no social progress.] (see also 陈凯华 郭锐 面向数字化绿色化转型发展新质生产力 [Chen Kaihua Guo Rui: "Facing digital and green transformation to develop new productive forces"], Drones, and the Russo-Ukraine War).
And thus the focus on explaining this, in a quite specific and directed way to target English speaking audiences.
2024-04-22 17:30:55 来源: 新华社




策划:孙承斌 王进业 李忠发
文案/脚本:潘丽君 任垚媞
记者:李柯 郭沛然 任垚媞 潘丽君
图片:王建华 唐京伟 郑立新

责任编辑: 陈可轩


 Xi Jinping Dictionary丨New Quality Productive Forces
2024-04-22 17:30:55 Source: Xinhua News Agency

New productive forces are becoming an integral part of China’s economic sea
Strong new trend
The new quality productivity proposed by General Secretary Xi Jinping
What exactly is it?
Why does China need to develop new productive forces?

Let's open Chapter 3 of "Xi Jinping Dictionary"
and Li Ke, an American reporter from Xinhua News Agency

Let’s feel the pulse of new productivity together!

Chief planner: Ren Weidong
Planning: Sun Chengbin Wang Jinye Li Zhongfa
Producer: Zhang Zhengfu
Coordinator: Shang Yang
Copywriter/Script: Pan Lijun and Ren Yaoti
Director: Guo Peiran
Reporters: Li Ke, Guo Peiran, Ren Yaoti, Pan Lijun
Picture: Wang Jianhua Tang Jingwei Zheng Lixin
Editor: Lu Ye

Xinhua News Agency external
Produced by New Marco Polo Studio
Editor in charge: Chen Kexuan

The link to the video is embedded in the website of the credits HERE. It is worth a listen with the sensibilities of the premises of New Era Leninism firmly in mind (see its mapping here).

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Beyond Artificial Intelligence as Fetish: A Brief Glimpse at AI From the Perspective of Application


Pix credit here


Like many critical concepts around which social relations are dependent, artificial intelligence (AI)  has assumed a symbolic significance. That is, AI has become a term that represents more than itself. It has become the way in which people refer to a cluster of meaning, approaches, and premises about technology and its relationship to social relations. AI has become its own idea; as well as the vessel for a host of sometimes incompatible premises about humans, human society, technology, and more broadly consciousness, and the principles and assumptions around which social collectives (and individuals) cede authority over decision making (big and little) to processes, algorithms, analytics, and computational thought processes based on inductive reasoning from unending streams of iterative behaviors. What started out as a desire to produce simulation--the simulacra of humanity to solve problems, has become a linked set of processes and applications that can (in an ironically dialectical way) drive human behavior through the logic of its own programming (considered here).

The idea of AI blends together distinct streams of technological development (eg deep learning, natural language process, robotics, computer vision, problem solving reasoning (expert) systems). The first learns from data (pattern finding and projection); the second connects data learning to solve problems; the third translates and applies language as a sort of applied semiotics; the third embeds machines with capacity to perform tasks automatically; and the last comes closest to attempting to mimic human reasoning and decision making in the context of traditional human individual or institutional tasks (one way of looking at it here). In the aggregate, where various levels of technological development are inserted into an increasing number of human actions and interactions, on can arrive at a point where the individual and the collective are effectively managed or curated at the micro and macro level by and through clusters of tech based programing. At its limit, it can invert the relationship between the humans for whose benefit it is adopted and the ecologies of programs and functions that produce the benefit. 

Pix Credit clip from the Movie Brazil here
That suggests the question of the nature and points of insertion of the human in these ecologies of tech and their management. It is at this point that human societies have done what they always tend to do in contemporary society--to invoke the language and sensibilities of collective authority. These tend to produce variations on three impulses. The first is to suppress the creation of forms of big data tech or its use in whole or in part. The second is to control the biases built into data harvesting and analytics of big data tech to reflect privileged bias. The third is to determine points of mandatory human intervention in the operation, creation, assessment, or quality control oversight of these technologies and their use.  Nonetheless these are complicated legalities, and even harder to reduce to human intelligible text.  This is especially the case because while tech is IN THE FLOW OF time, its human regulatory mechanisms exist at ONE MOMENT IN TIME (eg here). It becomes likely that big data tech may become as necessary to its own regulation as it does to the regulation of its application.  More importantly, its various forms will likely become as embedded in public compliance regimes and the exercise of state power as it has become in other human social relations (see eg REMARKS HERE; ACCESS PPT HERE).

The idea of AI also blends together a host of tasks to which it is directed.  Many of them are a function of capacity--data based problem solving. Their differentiation is a function of the complexity of the problem to be solved and  the autonomy of decision making. Te later can be infinitely divided around sub-programing or aggregated to produce a "final" or "end product" decision or action. They are based on data, analyzed against premises, assumptions and expectations at least initially programmed into the process by humans. The analytics can themselves become part of the problem solving ecology permitting the technology to modify its analytical functions on the basis of its its encounters with data within the ultimate action parameters that may be inserted.  but also cap.  But large enough data streams can assume a life of their own--and projected through time can themselves serve as the basis for evolving analytics that then change the parameters of analysis.  In one sense it it a very high volume chartist approach but with expanded capabilities and functions (e.g., predicting the cost of transport).

None of this makes much sense without beginning to appreciate the extent to which dependency is already emerging within complex webs of differentiated big data tech. But even getting to data to answer that query, in contemporary society, requires or is made possible only by invoking the technology itself. Thus, for example, a Google" query on "AI applications" produces a suggestion that one use Google Cloud. Even the search itself is possible through the application of big data tech. Even a cursory search suggests the current breadth of use. 

Some examples: (1) Sam Daley describes "56 Artificial Intelligence Examples Shaking Up Business Across Industries;" (2) Avijeet Biswal describes "18 Cutting-Edge Artificial Intelligence Applications in 2024" across a variety of sectors; (3) Passionate also notes 18 sectors in which various forms of AI may be encountered (here); (4) Forbes describes "Applications of Artificial Intelligence Across Various Industries" suggesting that, at least for the moment, "AI usage is particularly prominent in finance, digital spaces (like social media, e-commerce, and e-marketing) and even healthcare"; (5) Siddhesh Shinde for Emeritus explored the ecologies of big data tech in heathcare, e-commerce, robotics, education, finance, marketing, banking,  social media, business, and sustainability (here); (6) 

These programs focus on the automation of processes and interactions, compliance, and all forms of data based decision making. Its robotics and chatbots can project these functions beyond a computer, that is make them mobile and able to be projected from all sorts of other devices. One begins to see the ecologies, the networks, of automated action and decision making and interaction that together already provide a substantial connection between big data tech and its human users. It is now far more likely that these programs and applications in the aggregate will shape the terrains and interactions between tech and humans (individuals and collectives) from the bottom, than the current crop of top down efforts coming from traditional hierarchically superior human institutions.  The flow of time makes less relevant any single instance of its memory recorded, for example, as law. It is therefore likely, as well, that legality must find of way of inserting itself back in time--to become automated in a sense. 

Pix credit here
That, in turn, may require a fundamental shifting in our understanding of the role of law in the management of human social relations--and the state. To those ends, the future does not come so much from the top but from the bottom--not from the conceptual universe of control but from the realities that shape human collectives within the interlinked platforms of functionally differentiated users and producers. AI moves from fetish to form, and the fundamental ordering principles of consciousness, control, subjectivity and its dialectics (iterative inductive, deductive) become a function of the interplay between the ideal and the imagined ideal represented in the aggregate and moving collective manifestations of an infinite number of interactions  that harden into principles that can be applied to (re)shape those behaviors. In the process the normative foundations--human rights, sustainability, constitutionalism, administration, may find themselves in their current forms on the wrong end of history. And the state--a meta-platform of automated decision making, descriptive and predictive analytics in the service of norm maintenance, policy, and the mechanisms of interaction with a subject population. Mimesis also suggests the morphing of the democratic principle from active consultation and elections, to passive extraction of sentiment by and through analytics (machine based and perhaps automated) of trends in aggregate behaviors with the state as the coordinator and client of a large focus group society in dialectical conversation with its objects.  But all of this is far too early to tell, though not too early to begin to see in broad and tentative outline.

Pix Credit Clip from the Movie Brazil here
  So here is a guess: Law and its legalities (however expressed) may have to shift from command to principle and objective; it may have to shift from control to oversight and from prosecution to quality control and accountability. It may have to reconstruct itself  from external enforcement to internally produced nudging with positive and negative consequences--substantially automated. That, at least, may work for the everyday world of routine behaviors: a great shift of authority from elected officials and a direct connection between the population and its government, to masses of techno-bureaucrats functionally differentiated to develop, construct, and apply the machinery of big data tech to the project of managing humans. And over it all a new sort of law--constituting but not constitutional, normative but not statutory, providing the ideal against which the machinery of control may be deployed--and a new sort of bureaucracy. Law will become less precise to survive and the locus of law process will coalesce around the management and control of the classes of administrators whose role will be to manage tech and to exercise discretion in iteratively evolving human activity.  Abuse of discretion and good faith--already within the palette of legal doctrine, will likely emerge as the great centers of constitutional control. And "street level" law will become a manifestation of automated decision making. At its limit, even the techno-bureaucrats at the bottom will be superseded by tech. And the question will divide into three parts: (1) what one does to or for people "left behind"; (2) what one does to or for the redundant human; and (3) how one manages and controls the enormous industry of norm making and the care and maintenance of these networks of automated control.