Silicon Valley Techno-Utopianism

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Thread for general discussion of, and feeble resistance to, our new overpaid 20-something savant overlords, starting with this lovely article:

http://thebaffler.com/blog/2014/05/mouthbreathing_machiavellis

Doritos Loco Parentis (Hurting 2), Thursday, 22 May 2014 05:27 (six years ago) link

is the baffler as smug and unreadable as it was in the late 90s/early 00s? to be frank all i ever got from them (or thomas frank solo) was a withering contempt for most of america, rather than any mournful concern.

display name changed. (amateurist), Thursday, 22 May 2014 05:41 (six years ago) link

haha to be frank see what I (unintentionally) did there?

display name changed. (amateurist), Thursday, 22 May 2014 05:41 (six years ago) link

nerds with power

shudder

j., Thursday, 22 May 2014 05:42 (six years ago) link

This is the first Baffler thing I've bothered with in a while. I thought it had its moments back in its earlier incarnation -- there was an essay on cities and the "creative class" that I still refer to mentally sometimes. I think the internet has kind of made the sort of bullshit-skewering it specialized in more widespread and diffuse.

Doritos Loco Parentis (Hurting 2), Thursday, 22 May 2014 05:46 (six years ago) link

oh yeah, they had some good articles from time to time. there was one incredibly condescending and snide and yet fascinating one about gay pornography. unfortinately they also published ray carney's screed against tarantino and a lot of other worthless crap. and i always felt tom frank needed to have a few beer bottles smashed over his head.

display name changed. (amateurist), Thursday, 22 May 2014 05:48 (six years ago) link

Frank seems kind of worse to me now in his Harper's editorials. I always hated Lapham's and it feels like Frank is really trying his best to assume the mantle.

Doritos Loco Parentis (Hurting 2), Thursday, 22 May 2014 05:53 (six years ago) link

Anyway

In a widely covered secessionist speech at a Silicon Valley “startup school” last year, there was more than a hint of Moldbug (see video below). The speech, by former Stanford professor and Andreessen Horowitz partner Balaji Srinivasan, never mentioned Moldbug or the Dark Enlightenment, but it was suffused with neoreactionary rhetoric and ideas. Srinivasan used the phrase “the paper belt” to describe his enemies, namely the government, the publishing industries, and universities. The formulation mirrored Moldbug’s “Cathedral.” Srinivasan’s central theme was the notion of “exit”—as in, exit from democratic society, and entry into any number of corporate mini-states whose arrival will leave the world looking like a patchwork map of feudal Europe.

Forget universal rights; this is the true “opt-in society.”

An excerpt:

We want to show what a society run by Silicon Valley would look like. That’s where “exit” comes in . . . . It basically means: build an opt-in society, ultimately outside the US, run by technology. And this is actually where the Valley is going. This is where we’re going over the next ten years . . . [Google co-founder] Larry Page, for example, wants to set aside a part of the world for unregulated experimentation. That’s carefully phrased. He’s not saying, “take away the laws in the U.S.” If you like your country, you can keep it. Same with Marc Andreessen: “The world is going to see an explosion of countries in the years ahead—doubled, tripled, quadrupled countries.”

Srinivasan ticked through the signposts of the neoreactionary fantasyland: Bitcoin as the future of finance, corporate city-states as the future of government, Detroit as a loaded symbol of government failure and 3D-printed firearms as an example of emerging technology that defies regulation.

The speech succeeded in promoting the anti-democratic authoritarianism at the core of neoreactionary thought, while glossing over the attendant bigotry. This has long been a goal of some in the movement. One such moderate—if the word can be used in this context—is Patri Friedman, grandson of the late libertarian demigod Milton Friedman. The younger Friedman expressed the need for “a more politically correct dark enlightenment” after a public falling out with Yarvin in 2009.

Friedman has lately been devoting his time (and leveraging his family name) to raise money for the SeaSteading Institute, which, as the name suggests, is a blue-sea libertarian dream to build floating fiefdoms free of outside regulation and law. Sound familiar?

The principal backer of the SeaSteading project, Peter Thiel, is also an investor in companies run by Balaji Srinivasan and Curtis Yarvin. Thiel is a co-founder of PayPal, an original investor in Facebook and hedge fund manager, as well as being the inspiration for a villainous investor on the satirical HBO series Silicon Valley. Thiel’s extreme libertarian advocacy is long and storied, beginning with his days founding the Collegiate Network-backed Stanford Review. Lately he’s been noticed writing big checks for Ted Cruz.

He’s invested in Yarvin’s current startup, Tlon. Thiel invested personally in Tlon co-founder John Burnham. In 2011, at age 18, Burnham accepted $100,000 from Thiel to skip college and go directly into business. Instead of mining asteroids as he originally intended, Burnham wound up working on obscure networking software with Yarvin, whose title at Tlon is, appropriately enough, “benevolent dictator for life.”

Doritos Loco Parentis (Hurting 2), Thursday, 22 May 2014 05:57 (six years ago) link

I love this stuff, these guys are like comic book supervillains.

Doritos Loco Parentis (Hurting 2), Thursday, 22 May 2014 05:58 (six years ago) link

yeah i dunno, this seems discountable. it's not going to get much traction.

display name changed. (amateurist), Thursday, 22 May 2014 06:33 (six years ago) link

i still think we shd take these guys out before they acquire sentience

coign of wantage (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 22 May 2014 06:35 (six years ago) link

another school of thought says that they just need to experience a moment of humanity to temper their wild anti-humanist delusions

we could administer this cure from a safe distance thanks to their work

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PspagsTFvlg

j., Thursday, 22 May 2014 06:41 (six years ago) link

Been dismayed with The Baffler since it's new revival. Seems about as shrill as Adbusters these days.

Elvis Telecom, Thursday, 22 May 2014 06:44 (six years ago) link

OTOH, there's these guys to make fun of: http://nymag.com/news/features/laundry-apps-2014-5/#

Elvis Telecom, Thursday, 22 May 2014 06:46 (six years ago) link

i still think we shd take these guys out before they acquire sentience

― coign of wantage (Noodle Vague), Thursday, May 22, 2014 6:35 AM (8 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

100%

purposely lend impetus to my HOOS (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:10 (six years ago) link

yeah i dunno, this seems discountable. it's not going to get much traction.

― display name changed. (amateurist), Thursday, May 22, 2014 6:33 AM (8 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

i'd be more willing to discount it if these weren't people with money, political fever dreams, and the ability to build & destory things

purposely lend impetus to my HOOS (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:11 (six years ago) link

Yeah I'm not exactly alarmed yet but I am a little o_O

Doritos Loco Parentis (Hurting 2), Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:12 (six years ago) link

these people aren't good at building things that people actually need to survive so I dunno - the rhetoric is horrible and these people are frightening, at the same time they're woefully inept

Οὖτις, Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:14 (six years ago) link

fantastic article, thank you for sharing

famous instagram God (waterface), Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:15 (six years ago) link

A seafaring community of 10 plutocrats is probably going to do just fine. They can just take a private jet back to the US any time they need fresh virgins to feed on. They don't want the rest of us anyway.

popchips: the next snapple? (seandalai), Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:18 (six years ago) link

Shouldn't that be Tlön, and holy shit we do not need techno-libertarians referencing Borges

a strange man (mh), Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:20 (six years ago) link

I thought the setting up a new country idea sounded really good, hopefully it would end like jonestown

badg, Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:21 (six years ago) link

I am all in favor of techno-libertarian island

a strange man (mh), Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:22 (six years ago) link

me too. preferably one that will be underwater in a few decades.

Οὖτις, Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:25 (six years ago) link

tru

purposely lend impetus to my HOOS (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:25 (six years ago) link

im less worried about these creeps building their own bioshock dystopias than i am about them using their tremendous money and influence to undermine regulation and other democratic things (tm) at home

socki (s1ocki), Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:28 (six years ago) link

yeah that is a more serious danger

Οὖτις, Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:28 (six years ago) link

I wonder if we can convince them to relocate to Canada

a strange man (mh), Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:28 (six years ago) link

I think their politics might go over well in, like, Edmonton

a strange man (mh), Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:29 (six years ago) link

It should be fun to watch what happens when the VC money starts to dry up.

Doritos Loco Parentis (Hurting 2), Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:43 (six years ago) link

they all scramble for the surviving corporate monoliths

Οὖτις, Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:44 (six years ago) link

This Baffler article mentions Nick Land. That's kind of depressing, is he fully in that camp? I've only read some of his stuff but have liked work from his contemporaries.

a strange man (mh), Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:46 (six years ago) link

isn't his own camp bad enough???

j., Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:54 (six years ago) link

maybe! I'm out of the loop

a strange man (mh), Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:56 (six years ago) link

yes, nick land is fully in

goole, Thursday, 22 May 2014 16:19 (six years ago) link

this is all a lil weird to me cos reading these dudes has been a minor internet fascination of mine for a long time

if anything, land's story is evidence against the thesis that an encounter with adulthood will chill these guys out: he was a philosophy professor in the 80s (?) and 90s, left for china at some point to be a journalist, was a pro-war neocon type in the early 00s and at some point during/after the 08 crash flipped to austrian economics, "race realism" (if you don't mind me using their euphemisms for a sec) and all the rest.

i feel super weird that even know this shit tbh

goole, Thursday, 22 May 2014 16:22 (six years ago) link

the connection with silicon valley utopian-supremacy is only one leg of the thing, there are linkages to a lot of weird old righty type scenes that have been left behind by contemporary conservatism, which have been kept alive in its most public face by association with ron paul. but also the remnants of european throne-and-altar type stuff

goole, Thursday, 22 May 2014 16:25 (six years ago) link

this isn't what I think of when I think of 'techno-utopianism' these dudes are just idiots

dude (Lamp), Thursday, 22 May 2014 16:26 (six years ago) link

really the most salient through-line is hostility to democracy.

xp yeah this thread title is a little narrow & off from the corey pein article

goole, Thursday, 22 May 2014 16:28 (six years ago) link

feel like the broader 'apps with solve it'/obsessed with meritocracy and measurement/transnational professionalism stuff that permeates the valley and its politics is way more pernicious and worth countering than these dudes who cant help but marginalize themselves by being themselves

dude (Lamp), Thursday, 22 May 2014 16:28 (six years ago) link

I feel like these guys make better bad guys than the republican party, at least their politics are internally consistent

iatee, Thursday, 22 May 2014 16:30 (six years ago) link

idk i think their predilection for lingo and willingness to set up their own discursive zones is an important idea generator.

there's huge overlap with the PUA/men's rights scene, and *their* language and pop-psych antifeminism is reeeally short work way from being conservative canon

goole, Thursday, 22 May 2014 16:32 (six years ago) link

Definitely seems like there is at the root of a lot of it a bitterness stemming from a dissonance between the "meritocracy" these people have been sold on (in which their particular skillset is supposed to make them the fittest dudes) and the reality they grew up in, and the *other* reality they grew up in (having to attend high school and go on the dating scene and such) in which their supposed superior qualities didn't seem to help so much. I know this might sound like just a rehash of the "butthurt nerd" canard, but I think there's something about the combination of ego inflation AND deflation that they experience -- one world telling them they are geniuses and another telling them they are losers at the same time, that makes them want to remake the entire world in the image of the former.

Doritos Loco Parentis (Hurting 2), Thursday, 22 May 2014 16:49 (six years ago) link

Like you don't get this kind of worldview coming out of getting sand kicked in your face alone, it's more the rage that results from feeling entitled to alpha status and then getting sand kicked in your face.

Doritos Loco Parentis (Hurting 2), Thursday, 22 May 2014 16:51 (six years ago) link

yup

Οὖτις, Thursday, 22 May 2014 16:54 (six years ago) link

And to cross reference that with the "men's rights" stuff, it's not unlike "I'm a *nice* and *intelligent* guy and yet hot babes are not throwing themselves at my feet like they are supposed to. Therefore women are defective and dangerous and I must use 'techniques' to disarm and conquer them."

Doritos Loco Parentis (Hurting 2), Thursday, 22 May 2014 16:58 (six years ago) link

is there an app for that

Οὖτις, Thursday, 22 May 2014 17:07 (six years ago) link

i'm really skeptical of 'just a thwarted nerd' type explanations. some people just end up believing this kind of shit for reasons that aren't readily explicable. in many cases it doesn't appear to be true.

goole, Thursday, 22 May 2014 17:24 (six years ago) link

yeah 'chicks just didn't want him and he's not successful' doesn't explain peter thiel very well

iatee, Thursday, 22 May 2014 17:32 (six years ago) link

will plain ole megalomania do.

ryan, Thursday, 22 May 2014 17:37 (six years ago) link

kinda chill but mostly lol

sarahell, Wednesday, 20 May 2020 19:21 (two months ago) link

I think that's really an app for personal injury lawyers

avellano medio inglés (f. hazel), Wednesday, 20 May 2020 19:22 (two months ago) link

oof

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Friday, 29 May 2020 20:10 (two months ago) link

I keep seeing ads for this service called Block Renovation, which claims it is the "Amazon Prime of renovation" but seems more like, idk, the grubhub of renovation or something? I.e. it sort of pointlessly inserts itself between you and contractors to take advantage of the growing tendency of people to arbitrarily trust things more if there is some kind of tech intermediary.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Friday, 29 May 2020 20:10 (two months ago) link

Like they claim to also provide "design services" but AFICT all that means is you get a more generic bathroom by limiting your options to theirs, yet still pay a premium over what you would just pay a contractor. And then they work with contractor "partners" to do the renovation.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Friday, 29 May 2020 20:11 (two months ago) link

one month passes...

The audio chat had spiraled wildly out of control from a broader conversation earlier in the call about the state of journalism and what VCs should do to receive better coverage. Srinivasan, formerly a general partner at Andreesen Horowitz, claimed that "the entire tech press was complicit in covering up the threat of COVID-19," and claimed that relying on the press is "outsourcing your information supply chain to folks who are disaligned with you," comparable to the United States having outsourced its medical supply chain. He proposed that the approaches to truth and accountability offered by GitHub, venture capital funding, and cryptocurrency all offer better models for journalism than "the East Coast model of 'Respect my authori-tay.'"

mookieproof, Thursday, 2 July 2020 22:05 (one month ago) link

according to a friend of mine, his creepy behavior toward women online extends to offline as well

lukas, Thursday, 2 July 2020 22:33 (one month ago) link

i wonder if he would refer to white supremacy as "racial disalignment"?

sarahell, Thursday, 2 July 2020 23:19 (one month ago) link

The app was valued at $100 million after a reported $12 million investment from Andreessen Horowitz, and requires an invite to join.

That's a lot of money for "Zoom with no video"

Donald Trump Also Sucks, Of Course (milo z), Thursday, 2 July 2020 23:58 (one month ago) link

$12M at $100M valuation is like a Friday afternoon scratch ticket for AH, barely merits an all-staff email probably.

all cats are beautiful (silby), Friday, 3 July 2020 00:04 (one month ago) link

Ba1aji S. 5rinivasan attended Stanford where he was awarded a BS, MS, and PhD in Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engin33ring, and Bioinformatics. He has taught statistics, data mining, and computational biology at Stanford University.

...

He proposed that the approaches to truth and accountability offered by GitHub, venture capital funding, and cryptocurrency all offer better models for journalism

mookieproof, Friday, 3 July 2020 00:20 (one month ago) link

apparently he's seen South Park, tho

mookieproof, Friday, 3 July 2020 00:21 (one month ago) link

wah wah I’m a big baby who can’t take it when people cover my company critically

this all reminds me of the villainizing of john carreyrou at theranos because he dared to write about how their company was a sham, when their company was, in fact, a sham

solo scampito (mh), Saturday, 4 July 2020 16:47 (one month ago) link

the endgame is in sight: https://jalopnik.com/this-blowjob-machine-designed-for-teslas-on-autopilot-i-1844296987

rob, Friday, 10 July 2020 14:57 (one month ago) link

"The San Francisco-based startup aims to upgrade the American trailer park, making it a network of intentional communities for the remote-working, previously urban professionals."https://t.co/JBjPczTK3n

— Cory Weinberg (@coryweinberg) July 21, 2020

mookieproof, Tuesday, 21 July 2020 22:02 (three weeks ago) link

love that tech is literally gentrifying poverty now

all cats are beautiful (silby), Tuesday, 21 July 2020 22:03 (three weeks ago) link

I have to admit that aside from the cringey techno-utopianness of that, I find the concept sort of fascinating. Burning Man meets We Work meets Mad Max meets Gummo

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Tuesday, 21 July 2020 22:12 (three weeks ago) link

spaghetti in the bath tub, but it's a really good sauce

a morley steve vai bad horsie what? (Sufjan Grafton), Tuesday, 21 July 2020 22:16 (three weeks ago) link

i live in an actual trailer park and your fascination can go fuck itself :) xp

Give me a Chad Smith-type feel (map), Tuesday, 21 July 2020 22:16 (three weeks ago) link

not having a home. so sexy

Give me a Chad Smith-type feel (map), Tuesday, 21 July 2020 22:17 (three weeks ago) link

tbc not in a "that sounds romantic and fun" sort of way, more like "Is this really something that young people are going to do/is this the marketing scheme for our new dark future" sort of way.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Tuesday, 21 July 2020 22:28 (three weeks ago) link

alright fair, i'm just totally repulsed by same

Give me a Chad Smith-type feel (map), Tuesday, 21 July 2020 22:35 (three weeks ago) link

1000 a month, cool cool

rv parks are literally one of the last places poor people can live especially in the western us, where the hell are they supposed to go.

Give me a Chad Smith-type feel (map), Tuesday, 21 July 2020 22:38 (three weeks ago) link

Does this displace other RV parks?

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Tuesday, 21 July 2020 23:06 (three weeks ago) link

I live in an RV park. And guess what, I used to live in a van. And I am also horrified by this development.

Christine Green Leafy Dragon Indigo, Tuesday, 21 July 2020 23:21 (three weeks ago) link

I kinda wanna look up what "communal space in San Francisco" this dude lives in ...

sarahell, Wednesday, 22 July 2020 21:01 (three weeks ago) link

lolllll he lives at ******, owned by ******** who made a bunch of tech money and bought a huge old Victorian

lukas, Wednesday, 22 July 2020 21:06 (three weeks ago) link

is this the place that got called out by SF Planning for code violations because it was group housing and not a single family residence?

sarahell, Wednesday, 22 July 2020 21:18 (three weeks ago) link

feel free to dm via ilx

sarahell, Wednesday, 22 July 2020 21:20 (three weeks ago) link

just sent to u

lukas, Wednesday, 22 July 2020 21:24 (three weeks ago) link

lol -- the place i was thinking of was in Hayes Valley but had a similar name

sarahell, Wednesday, 22 July 2020 21:25 (three weeks ago) link

one thing that's "interesting" about these types of tech things is the unintended consequences as far as legal regulations that end up affecting the less privileged whose "lifestyles" the tech startups want to re-invent. So, not only do you get the gentrification (which is the direct consequence), you end up with government agencies, like planning departments and building departments and so forth making rules in reaction to the tech things that end up screwing other people. And there's also an arrogance on the part of the tech people that somehow don't see how what they are doing is something that formally / structurally already exists ... just not for people like them.

sarahell, Wednesday, 22 July 2020 21:33 (three weeks ago) link

You'll never have to make your bed again pic.twitter.com/qTQjUnjvjE

— Mashable (@mashable) July 22, 2020

mookieproof, Wednesday, 22 July 2020 21:36 (three weeks ago) link

otm xp

Give me a Chad Smith-type feel (map), Wednesday, 22 July 2020 21:37 (three weeks ago) link

like earlier this year, pre-covid, i got asked for tax advice about structuring a non-profit RV park -- as in a charitable org was planning on taking vacant land and developing an RV park for actual poor people and what the tax issues would be .. and I thought, that's actually an interesting model for non-profit affordable housing.

sarahell, Wednesday, 22 July 2020 21:37 (three weeks ago) link

xp how bout you watch this dick suck itself instead, OH!

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Wednesday, 22 July 2020 21:38 (three weeks ago) link

so part of me is like -- yeah, start up bro, you should do this, but you should also be required to have a % allocated for low-income people who have access to the same dope wi-fi and snacks as yr techpals

sarahell, Wednesday, 22 July 2020 21:39 (three weeks ago) link

two weeks pass...

this is good

https://pycnocline.substack.com/p/tech-brain

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Friday, 7 August 2020 20:33 (one week ago) link

Desperately searching for guidance, on TWITTER, is where this guy went wrong. Everything in that article is about Twitter.

DJI, Saturday, 8 August 2020 02:34 (six days ago) link

There seems to be a whole ecosystem of journalism around how shitty the discourse is on Twitter. Cancel culture, decontextualizing, dunking, phony aphorisms and vapid bits of received wisdom. Then don't read Twitter, Stephanie, like the other 78% of Americans who don't use it. I'm pretty sure you'll feel better, even if you miss out on some hilarious dunks.

DJI, Saturday, 8 August 2020 02:38 (six days ago) link

it's by a woman.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Saturday, 8 August 2020 04:14 (six days ago) link

Figured that out by my second post 😜

DJI, Saturday, 8 August 2020 16:52 (six days ago) link

ime it's definitely too twitter-focused but I think she is decribing a real thing

the quar on drugs (Simon H.), Saturday, 8 August 2020 16:55 (six days ago) link

In the 17th century version of twitter (c'est-à-dire, Les pensées), Pascal put it like this:

The difference between the mathematical mind [esprit de géométrie] and the perceptive mind [esprit de finesse]: the reason that mathematicians are not perceptive is that they do not see what is before them, and that, accustomed to the exact and plain principles of mathematics, and not reasoning till they have well inspected and arranged their principles, they are lost in matters of perception where the principles do not allow for such arrangement.... These principles are so fine and so numerous that a very delicate and very clear sense is needed to perceive them, and to judge rightly and justly when they are perceived, without for the most part being able to demonstrate them in order as in mathematics; because the principles are not known to us in the same way, and because it would be an endless matter to undertake it. We must see the matter at once, at one glance, and not by a process of reasoning, at least to a certain degree.... Mathematicians wish to treat matters of perception mathematically, and make themselves ridiculous...the mind...does it tacitly, naturally, and without technical rules.

Joey Corona (Euler), Saturday, 8 August 2020 17:09 (six days ago) link

hueg if treu/booming post. Pascal OTMFM

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Saturday, 8 August 2020 17:11 (six days ago) link

ha. it really is Pascal, I was gonna write Bob Marley but I don't feel like fucking around with this

Joey Corona (Euler), Saturday, 8 August 2020 17:13 (six days ago) link

she's right tho i remember that tweet and it's irritating af

Larry Elleison (rogermexico.), Saturday, 8 August 2020 22:22 (six days ago) link

That specific tweet reminds me more of Willy Loman than anything else.

lukas, Saturday, 8 August 2020 22:25 (six days ago) link

The worst thing about that tweet, and the reason she’s right to talk about two things, one of which is more benign and facile, is that the author is actually one of the smarter and more interesting Silicon Valley billionaires. He’s a major character in uncanny valley. But that flattening broetry voice is so contagious.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Sunday, 9 August 2020 00:54 (five days ago) link


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