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 (five 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 (five years ago) link

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

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

nerds with power

shudder

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

fantastic article, thank you for sharing

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

I am all in favor of techno-libertarian island

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

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

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

tru

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

yeah that is a more serious danger

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

I wonder if we can convince them to relocate to Canada

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

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

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

they all scramble for the surviving corporate monoliths

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

isn't his own camp bad enough???

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

maybe! I'm out of the loop

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

yes, nick land is fully in

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

yup

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

is there an app for that

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

will plain ole megalomania do.

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

I'd eat that pasta

so for people using ride services: did your city have a decent number of taxis pre-app, and have the numbers changed at all?

I haven't checked out the situation for a while, but unless you had a regular driver you could contact or you were at a specific taxi-friendly location (e.g. the airport) the experience was pretty variable

mh, Monday, 4 November 2019 14:23 (two weeks ago) link

Before Uber/Lyft, I could NEVER get a taxi to come to my house. Generally the dispatcher would pick up after like 50 rings, ask for my address, and hang up while saying "45 minutes!" Then the cabs would never come. We have Flywheel now in SF, but it's not very reliable, and they even added a "would you like to pre-tip 25%? That might make taxis more likely to pick you up!" bit that was pretty obnoxious.

DJI, Monday, 4 November 2019 19:11 (two weeks ago) link

Taxis were pretty terrible before Uber etc. Turned up. It at least made them buy new vehicles and it got rid of the medallion system which got more cabs on the road as well. Cab fares are still high and you get penalised for using a card to pay so I don’t bother.

Currently Uber, DiDi and Ola are in a three way fight for market share here. Fares are ridiculously low, to the extent that two people in a DiDi can be cheaper than the tram or train. They also, quite frankly make up for the fact that cross town transit is terrible in Melbourne. In and out of the CBD is great but if I want to go from here to Brunswick the busses are every 20 minutes and best and every 40 minutes at some points on the weekend if they run at all.

Transit plus Rideshare plus car share makes not owning a car very easy. Ride share is very exploitative, I’ve been doing some work with drivers for the electric vehicle company I’m doing work for and it’s a very tenuous existence, squeezed by the rideshare companies on one end and the vehicles hire companies on the other. All those discounts I’m getting are coming from their pockets, not Mayoshi Don’s or the Bin Salmans’.

I do find it slightly hilarious that three companies with SoftBank as a major investor are filing it out for market share.

American Fear of Pranksterism (Ed), Monday, 4 November 2019 22:41 (two weeks ago) link

Before Uber/Lyft, I could NEVER get a taxi to come to my house. Generally the dispatcher would pick up after like 50 rings, ask for my address, and hang up while saying "45 minutes!"

lol this sounds familiar

j., Monday, 4 November 2019 23:10 (two weeks ago) link

softbank is all about people with too much money trying to hold it elsewhere, make more money (because you can never have too much), or just straight up do money laundering

like, I’d be hedging by bets if I had softbank money and throwing my cash at every ride, bike, scooter, or hoverboard company I could in the hopes I’d get a (number of investments) multiplier on just one of them to break even

mh, Tuesday, 5 November 2019 00:54 (one week ago) link

*Masayoshi Son and yeah there are a lot:

https://www.businessinsider.com/running-list-softbank-investments-2017-7

Andrew Farrell, Tuesday, 5 November 2019 07:47 (one week ago) link

There’s plenty of companies on that list that don’t suck and some that might not suck but there are some real howlers there and some that just look a bit overvalued.

American Fear of Pranksterism (Ed), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 09:36 (one week ago) link

Before Uber/Lyft, I could NEVER get a taxi to come to my house. Generally the dispatcher would pick up after like 50 rings, ask for my address, and hang up while saying "45 minutes!" Then the cabs would never come. We have Flywheel now in SF, but it's not very reliable,

Did you/do you live somewhere "inconvenient"? When I lived in SF, I didn't have a problem getting cabs, though you had to plan for the wait time ime. It was like getting pizza delivered late night ... if they say 45 minutes, it's gonna be at least an hour. ... But I lived in a fairly dense residential neighborhood where taxis weren't common.

sarahell, Tuesday, 5 November 2019 18:41 (one week ago) link

I live in the Exclesior.

DJI, Tuesday, 5 November 2019 22:50 (one week ago) link

ugh, was just reminded of the time I was staying with an ex in her friend’s place in Humboldt Park in Chicago. Cab said it’d take 45 minutes to come pick us up, then when we tried to catch a cab on the way back they made lame excuses (“I’m going the other direction”) to not take us there when we were heading back

I think that neighborhood is now pretty gentrified but it was *fine* then

mh, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 01:10 (one week ago) link

...bright eyes.

Wow you know I was really worried about WeWork's future, but this slide from Softbank's earnings call really clears up all my concerns

Will make sure to use a slide like this with our other late stage companies pic.twitter.com/7IGf5FLni4

— DELIAN Asparouhov (@zebulgar) November 6, 2019

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 22:43 (one week ago) link

I live in the Exclesior.

I always hear this in the voice of Stan Lee (and with an exclamation point)

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 22:45 (one week ago) link

ya I can see why you had cab issues

sarahell, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 23:06 (one week ago) link

Ride sharing is one thing, but the proliferation of food delivery apps (which I use, to be fair) is getting out of control. I was at Shanghai Dumpling King on Monterey the other day, and this was the scene"

https://i.imgur.com/Trrxh48m.jpg

DJI, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 23:46 (one week ago) link

https://i.imgur.com/Trrxh48l.jpg

DJI, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 23:47 (one week ago) link

Increasingly we just order food somewhere and then walk over to get it.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 7 November 2019 00:22 (one week ago) link

to confirm, these are all people hired to pick up for other people?

we are a very lazy species. we all obviously need personal assistants to live.

Yerac, Thursday, 7 November 2019 00:47 (one week ago) link

Yeah, those people were all picking up for delivery. Pretty much all for other people, as far as I could tell. I mean, the DUMPLINGS! at SDK ARE delicious.

DJI, Thursday, 7 November 2019 00:51 (one week ago) link

Wait is there a dump1ings feature on ILX that replaces the word with a capitalized version with an exclamation point?

DJI, Thursday, 7 November 2019 00:53 (one week ago) link

i love those random word replacements, i have no idea where most of them came from or why

tantric societal collapse (rushomancy), Thursday, 7 November 2019 01:00 (one week ago) link

yeah, the dumps thing is a thing.

Yerac, Thursday, 7 November 2019 01:01 (one week ago) link

Also possible that they're picking it up for themselves, right?

nickn, Thursday, 7 November 2019 01:15 (one week ago) link

Possible, but I don't think so.

DJI, Thursday, 7 November 2019 01:39 (one week ago) link

Look up DUMPLINGS! (film) wiki entry

Οὖτις, Thursday, 7 November 2019 03:15 (one week ago) link

I try to order ahead from Brandy Ho's so I don't have to stand around

Dan S, Thursday, 7 November 2019 03:22 (one week ago) link

I like how the recent trajectory of the “Silicon Valley Techno-Utopianism” thread has been “Holy crap the unicorns are self immolating!!! ... ... I do like being able to order a taxi from my phone on occasion ... ... DUMPLINGS! are pretty good”

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Thursday, 7 November 2019 04:38 (one week ago) link

Uh not sure why DUMPLINGS! wound up all caps with an exclamation point kind of kills the tone I was going for.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Thursday, 7 November 2019 04:39 (one week ago) link

Oh, lol

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Thursday, 7 November 2019 04:39 (one week ago) link

i first discovered this feature while posting about winston churchill swimming

difficult listening hour, Thursday, 7 November 2019 07:50 (one week ago) link

New story about the scooter companies: They Pay their workers less than half of minimal wage, no benefits, and they can get fined hundreds of dollars for calling in sick too late.

Burn the whole thing down.

Frederik B, Thursday, 7 November 2019 08:58 (one week ago) link

link?

weird ilx but sb (Doctor Casino), Thursday, 7 November 2019 12:07 (one week ago) link

That's from an untrustworthy tabloid, but they are referencing a real story, which is beyond a paywall. So, you know...

Frederik B, Thursday, 7 November 2019 12:15 (one week ago) link

Thanks!

weird ilx but sb (Doctor Casino), Thursday, 7 November 2019 14:06 (one week ago) link

does B*tch Don't Grill My Cheese sell cold cheese sandwiches?

$1,000,000 or 1 bag of honeycrisp apples (Sufjan Grafton), Thursday, 7 November 2019 19:36 (one week ago) link

that would also work in the extreme bacon thread

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Thursday, 7 November 2019 19:37 (one week ago) link

IDG what phrases the second and third ones are even playing on -- Wig the Fuck Out? Peace the Fuck Out? I guess the third one is Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe but it barely even works.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Thursday, 7 November 2019 19:39 (one week ago) link

they actually sell grilled cheeses for $7-11.25

$1,000,000 or 1 bag of honeycrisp apples (Sufjan Grafton), Thursday, 7 November 2019 19:46 (one week ago) link

adding jalapeno is $2 more

$1,000,000 or 1 bag of honeycrisp apples (Sufjan Grafton), Thursday, 7 November 2019 19:47 (one week ago) link

xxp
Get the Fuck Out?

nickn, Thursday, 7 November 2019 19:54 (one week ago) link

i just looked at their website -- "turn key solutions" is like code for "we are exploitative douchebags"

sarahell, Thursday, 7 November 2019 20:30 (one week ago) link

And from someone that loathes AirBnB more than I do -- link via the SF Tenants Union

https://www.theinformation.com/articles/airbnbs-q1-loss-more-than-doubled-new-data-shows

sarahell, Thursday, 7 November 2019 21:05 (one week ago) link

"turnkey solutions" is a term with a definite meaning in the construction/engineering world, they're just repurposing it into a different context where it's basically meaningless

Οὖτις, Thursday, 7 November 2019 21:28 (one week ago) link

Bill & Melinda for President. Benioff, VP. Warren Buffett, Treasury. Rabois, FCC. Thiel, Chief Justice. Ken Howery, Secretary of State. Joe Lonsdale, CIA Director. Emil Michael, Defense. Reid Hoffman, Commerce. David Sacks, SBA. Marvin Ammori, AG. Elon, NASA. Travis, Transport.

— shervin pishevar (@shervin) November 7, 2019

mookieproof, Thursday, 7 November 2019 21:29 (one week ago) link

xp - I have seen it for years in real estate investment land

sarahell, Thursday, 7 November 2019 21:31 (one week ago) link

I am opening a delivery-only restaurant in some rundown real estate (cashing in on the US Thanksgiving boomlet) called Turkey ******* Solutions

mick signals, Thursday, 7 November 2019 23:47 (one week ago) link

take a dumpling

maura, Friday, 8 November 2019 01:18 (one week ago) link

I don't know if this is accurate, but it's definitely scary: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/nov/08/how-big-tech-is-dragging-us-towards-the-next-financial-crash

Frederik B, Friday, 8 November 2019 12:10 (one week ago) link

I don't know if this is accurate, but it's definitely scary

― Frederik B

ladies and gentlemen - THE INTERNET!

tantric societal collapse (rushomancy), Friday, 8 November 2019 15:20 (one week ago) link


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