But with a few notes.
I just finished lost cause by Cory and found it worth the time. A bit didactic but still engaging
And I am the pessimistic side of a techno-sadist: you have left me and my enormous brain to reek havoc. I intend to do just that.
I think a techno optimist or humanist as it says in the piece are misguided slightly because we put humans in the centre of everything. Humans are a part of nature and yet we try to control nature with our technology. We don’t own nature or the world, we share it. And I think by always putting ourselves to the forefront of solving the problems we’ve created we are the definition of madness ‘doing the same thing again and expecting a different response’. I think it’s time we stopped thinking we can fix everything with technology and sat back for a bit. Let nature show us the way.
There is a cost to progress. Philosopher John Gray wrote extensively about it in his "Straw Dogs". The fact that Marc declared "sustainability" and "risk management" enemies to his manifesto should raise some alarm. He has a serious monetary stake in these new tech companies. I argue that with artificial intelligence it is different comparing to the green revolution. There is just too much of the unknown when considering the implications of highly intelligent new technology. We are basically staring into a Lovecraftian abyss. Only this time the abyss is literally staring back (GPT-4 vision). I believe our world will soon look a lot more surreal when the human existence and AI have interwoven in unexpected ways. But it sure is fun to explore that world with fiction writing.
Techno-optimism is a slippery concept. At its most benign, it is merely a belief that the arc of progress is generally towards making life better. But to its hardcore adherents (as Marc has now become) it is a materialist religion that views technology not merely as an economically desirable force, but an ethically compelling one.
Their solution to the problems of technology is always "more technology" - rather to consider whether neoliberalism principles may be insufficient to deliver the society we want. In what feels like a cosplay of "Atlas Shrugged" their threat is to retreat into gated communities of believers - whether in Solano County, Snailbrook, or the high seas as seasteaders, or on Mars.
For a readout on where techno takes the world, one look no further than Matrix. In your imagining “a more beautiful world” you seem to confuse “world” with America. This is a colonial/imperial mentality, that armed with technology that ever more deeply penetrates psychology, biology and ecology, will destroy the world. I think a much deeper reading and consideration is required before anyone, especially an American, declares themselves a “techno optimist”. .
I think it is unwise and naive - and this is not on you but on all of us - to think the techno world will be any different. Born out of capitalism, we see a growth in techno-feudalism. Those who see the warning signs have to join or they will be 'left behind'. But the same players are playing the same games only this time it is on different lines. The manipulation, the glossing over of stark harsh realities, the lack of principles, the big-dog-eats-smaller-dog, the routines that leave no space for family and which will lead to burn out both of person and planet are inevitable.
Is this as good as it gets? For the moment. Fascinating reading.
Reading the most popular works of Mariana Mazzucato and Shoshana Zuboff will disabuse you of any urge to cheer on self-enriching individuals like Andreessen.
Good job Elle!! You and your literary associates said it as well or even better than I can. I had the same reaction to his manifesto.
Technology also creates problems. Nuclear waste and weapons, for example. Industrial pollution. Our disposable product and packaging culture. The internet may help some feel less isolated, but as many of us have experienced, social media can also be harmful to our mental health.
And capitalism is not holy. It is only as moral as the wealthy individuals who wield it. And we know from experience and history, that profits often come at the expense of workers. And greed is a powerful motivator to do wrong.
It is good to be optimistic, but not blindly so. Humans use technology for evil as well as good. Hopefully, humans will improve along with technology. But that is a matter of the heart, not technology.
You really are a confirrmed optimist. You don't worry about the problems that crop when soetning new is created.
It's interesting that every one of those problems that he points out was solved by material gains has had catastrophic downstream effects to the reported well-being of people. I doubt the solution is mindlessly doubling down.
While I'm optimistic about technology, it needs to be continually merged with a deeper sense of knowing. Community, art, love. Without that, we're sterile and lost.
'Capitalism will be the driver that gets us there'. Capitalism is burning, sucking and bleeding this planet. I can see how young technos have optimism because they can make a huge amount of capital out of a burgeoning industry. But it is another artery of industrialisation. We must simplify. We need to learn how to pull back rather than drive forward. The losers may not be us but they will be the next generation, and the biggest loser is the planet. A reminder to self that this does all seem an inquiry towards the status quo that is causing the problems, driving it harder, pretending it can save, rather than a search for the alternative: a way to prevent the mega disaster propelled by man which will force us into a simpler but very foreign world.
Thanks for the response to Andreesen's manifesto. It was an interesting read.
I believe my "Manifesto for the Progress-based Perspective" is a more comprehensive and accurate take on progress than Andreesen's:
Really great piece 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼.
I don’t have a ton to add on this that hasn’t been said. I think there are some great critiques of his work (like the very eloquent arguments you make here). There’s also obviously a lot to agree with which you also point out.
I also think there are some people who are being quite harsh in their review. Those saying there’s nothing unique or particularly novel about his thoughts on the matter have gone a bit far. Maybe there is nothing brand new about being a believer in technology, this is true.
But how many people genuinely believe technology can solve all our problems? I would say that’s a pretty unique viewpoint worth publishing 🤷🏻♂️.