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

Stanford Engineering alum/Youtube engineer techbro binges LSD in quiet hippy coastal town, ends up violently rampaging against friends, bystanders and finally law enforcement before being shot into submission.

https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/07/05/bodega-bay-deputy-shoots-s-f-man-in-grips-of-lsd-rampage/amp/

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Sunday, 7 July 2019 04:25 (two months ago) link

jeezus!

Vape Store (crüt), Sunday, 7 July 2019 05:18 (two months ago) link

what kind of lsd are these techbros brewing up that makes you do that

mh, Sunday, 7 July 2019 17:12 (two months ago) link

holy shit.

blue light or electric light (the table is the table), Sunday, 7 July 2019 18:57 (two months ago) link

what kind of lsd are these techbros brewing up that makes you do that

― mh, Sunday, July 7, 2019 10:12 AM (two hours ago)

"On the hill the stuff was laced with kerosene"

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Sunday, 7 July 2019 20:08 (two months ago) link

Wow, $300 is insanely cheap. I was paying more than twice that for a similarly sized space in Oakland around the same time.

idk, around that time probably about half of my friends were paying $300 - $400/month in rent in Oakland and SF. I was living in a kinda big 2 bedroom apartment w/my bf and we each paid $425. ...It's the beauty of rent control. Though some of them lived in "non-compliant" warehouse spaces.

sarahell, Monday, 8 July 2019 17:56 (two months ago) link

one month passes...

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EByG98VVUAExCxi.jpg:small

mookieproof, Monday, 12 August 2019 20:40 (one month ago) link

The Corn Belt is a place where agriculture is changed so often you can't call bullshit on someone who tells you they're going to do it too.

And sure, people who have never grown anything in their lives will write words & fill up paper with splotches of ink critiquing the people actually in the arena.

Even in the face of regulatory incompetence, the jealousy of the coastal organic food types, and the false narrative of a "big ag" backlash, America's farmers go on producing record yields that feed the world.

untuned mass damper (mh), Monday, 12 August 2019 20:50 (one month ago) link

They did put a golf course on the other side of the highway exit that only went to the county dump. Renamed the exit, they did. ... That was about 15 years ago though. They haven't really changed it since.

sarahell, Tuesday, 20 August 2019 15:54 (one month ago) link

lol mh

marcos, Tuesday, 20 August 2019 16:08 (one month ago) link

two weeks pass...

What does this even mean? pic.twitter.com/7EpH4wEzyk

— Nathan McDermott (@natemcdermott) September 6, 2019

/

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Saturday, 7 September 2019 18:32 (two weeks ago) link

you have to pay to zip them up & it takes ages

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 7 September 2019 19:01 (two weeks ago) link

They catch fire unexpectedly? The CEO is making an ass of himself on social media?

Anne Hedonia (j.lu), Saturday, 7 September 2019 20:03 (two weeks ago) link

get ready for self-wearing pants

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 7 September 2019 20:27 (two weeks ago) link

Insufferably annoying people wear them?

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Sunday, 8 September 2019 00:32 (two weeks ago) link

they’re ugly as shit?

beard papa, Sunday, 8 September 2019 03:18 (two weeks ago) link

think yall are over thinking it, those are actually wearable electric cars

wario in the streets, waluigi in the sheets (m bison), Sunday, 8 September 2019 03:29 (two weeks ago) link

btw in case it wasnt obvious you use your dick to drive

wario in the streets, waluigi in the sheets (m bison), Sunday, 8 September 2019 03:30 (two weeks ago) link

a thin veil of faux sophistication barely concealing an out of control musk

Non stop chantar (crüt), Sunday, 8 September 2019 04:52 (two weeks ago) link

Pretty scathing column in the Guardian on the whole Epstein mess and what it means for 'tech intellectuals': https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/07/jeffrey-epstein-mit-funding-tech-intellectuals

Frederik B, Sunday, 8 September 2019 12:16 (two weeks ago) link

xxp - so what does it say about the evolution of the dick that so few Americans drive manual transmission?

sarahell, Sunday, 8 September 2019 18:04 (two weeks ago) link

morozov also fired his agent for being a main conduit between epstein and these guys. it’s all so gross. and so damning as far as why tech has ultimately been so lacking in imagination despite all that money.

maura, Sunday, 8 September 2019 21:56 (two weeks ago) link

Kickstarter is doing illegal retaliatory firings of employees for union organizing:

https://slate.com/technology/2019/09/kickstarter-turmoil-union-drive-historic-tech-industry

Glower, Disruption & Pies (kingfish), Friday, 13 September 2019 18:58 (one week ago) link

Berkeley City Councilmember Ben Bartlett became the first elected official to purchase cannabis with cryptocurrency at a demonstration facilitated by the Blockchain Advocacy Coalition on Tuesday.

https://www.dailycal.org/2019/09/15/city-council-member-1st-elected-official-to-buy-cannabis-with-cryptocurrency/

He's running.

Andrew Farrell, Wednesday, 18 September 2019 17:10 (five days ago) link

what the FUCK

After firing hundreds of staff, the WeWork CEO held a somber all-hands meeting explaining why it was a necessary move, but then trays of tequila were handed out and DMC from Run-DMC burst into the room and performed "It's Tricky" https://t.co/t9oGq8ebTb pic.twitter.com/cuq0aM1Tqi

— Tom Gara (@tomgara) September 18, 2019

Is it true the star Beetle Juice is going to explode in 2012 (bizarro gazzara), Wednesday, 18 September 2019 19:41 (five days ago) link

I’m reading the Dune series and every time Herbert describes the spice trance I’m like damn... this must be how Jack Dorsey feels all the time

— Ipod ₂₀₀₁ (@alexqarbuckle) September 18, 2019

untuned mass damper (mh), Wednesday, 18 September 2019 19:50 (five days ago) link

that wework story is amazing

untuned mass damper (mh), Wednesday, 18 September 2019 19:51 (five days ago) link

yeah, it’s incredible in every sense of the word

Is it true the star Beetle Juice is going to explode in 2012 (bizarro gazzara), Wednesday, 18 September 2019 19:57 (five days ago) link

He told at least one person directly that his ambitions included becoming Israel’s prime minister. More recently, he said that if he ran for anything, it would be president of the world, according to another person who spoke with him.

“The influence and impact that we are going to have on this Earth is going to be so big,” he said last year at a “summer camp” southeast of London, where the company’s staff were all flown for a music festival-like event. One day, he proposed, the company could “solve the problem of children without parents,” and from there go onto other causes such as eradicating world hunger.

untuned mass damper (mh), Wednesday, 18 September 2019 19:57 (five days ago) link


He relishes trips in private jets. Last year, We bought one for more than $60 million, people familiar with the sale said. Mr. Neumann has borrowed more than $740 million against his stock and has sold multiple hundred million dollars of shares, people familiar with those sales say, eliciting widespread criticism from analysts and Silicon Valley investors. These share sales weren’t disclosed in the IPO prospectus.

this guy's net worth is like negative hundreds of millions lol

untuned mass damper (mh), Wednesday, 18 September 2019 20:03 (five days ago) link

all this for the incredible revolutionary idea of... providing places where people can use their laptops

Is it true the star Beetle Juice is going to explode in 2012 (bizarro gazzara), Wednesday, 18 September 2019 20:09 (five days ago) link

finally got around to reading this, which is majestic

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/08/26/silicon-valleys-crisis-of-conscience

mookieproof, Thursday, 19 September 2019 15:24 (four days ago) link

jfc these people

Before the presentation, Van Noppen hosted a breakfast for a few members of the audience, including Justin Rosenstein, a former Facebook employee and a co-inventor of the Like button, and Chris Messina, a former Google employee and the inventor of the hashtag. Messina wore a polo shirt, revealing a tattoo on each arm: a hashtag on the right, a Burning Man logo on the left.

Is it true the star Beetle Juice is going to explode in 2012 (bizarro gazzara), Thursday, 19 September 2019 15:30 (four days ago) link

co-inventor of the Like button!!

maffew12, Thursday, 19 September 2019 15:35 (four days ago) link

at first it was just the "li" button but he thought of putting the "ke" on the end

Οὖτις, Thursday, 19 September 2019 15:39 (four days ago) link

sometimes you really wish skynet would hurry up and get here so all these tech people will stop acting like history's greatest innovators and start denying that they're history's greatest monsters and hiding in underground caves and stuff

j., Thursday, 19 September 2019 16:28 (four days ago) link

the title of 'inventor' probably puts those two items on a higher pedestal than is necessary. but jumping from like button and hashtag to skynet risks doing even worse.

Tart Prepper (Sufjan Grafton), Thursday, 19 September 2019 16:38 (four days ago) link

well i wouldn't wanna do anything risky

j., Thursday, 19 September 2019 17:03 (four days ago) link

haha react

sarahell, Thursday, 19 September 2019 18:15 (four days ago) link

Tech executives respond to incentives, but not all incentives are financial. “Zuck wants money, he wants power, but more than anything he wants to be admired,” Tavis McGinn, who once worked at Facebook as Zuckerberg’s personal pollster, told me. “If you can affect his ability to walk into a room and command respect, that’s a real leverage point.”

how about affecting his ability to not behave like a fucking five year old.

The Pingularity (ledge), Thursday, 19 September 2019 19:47 (four days ago) link

Adam Neumann is the logical conclusion of ten years of artificially low interest rates combined with no wage or demand growth. A guy who believes he is god because he loses money renting out desks.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Thursday, 19 September 2019 20:16 (four days ago) link

pretty fucked up that large banks and investment groups made up of billionaires are just shooting their shot at anything that might make money because.. they have all the money already and can't make it grow any further

untuned mass damper (mh), Thursday, 19 September 2019 21:15 (four days ago) link

Burn Silicon Valley to the ground and salt the earth IMO

Greta Van Show Feets BB (milo z), Thursday, 19 September 2019 23:59 (four days ago) link

dude, that's mean, considering it was pretty fertile agricultural land before

sarahell, Friday, 20 September 2019 16:17 (three days ago) link

Okay, beat their Teslas into plowshares and set up the world's largest organic farm.

Anne Hedonia (j.lu), Friday, 20 September 2019 19:24 (three days ago) link

so turn it into skywalker ranch?

Tart Prepper (Sufjan Grafton), Friday, 20 September 2019 22:23 (three days ago) link

thx for the link, Tracer Hand

A is for (Aimless), Friday, 20 September 2019 22:40 (three days ago) link

you're welcome!

Li'l Brexit (Tracer Hand), Friday, 20 September 2019 22:55 (three days ago) link


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