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

Join DocuSign executives, along with industry visionaries from Progressive and Arm, to discover how they are transforming their agreement process. You’ll also hear from singer/songwriters and inspiring speakers like Michael Franti and Mick Ebeling of Not Impossible Labs.

sarahell, Thursday, 11 March 2021 17:32 (two months ago) link

seriously, what happened to Michael Franti

Hello Nice FBI Lady (DJP), Thursday, 11 March 2021 17:37 (two months ago) link

I mean, Docusign is a pretty solid program as far as electronic signatures go but .... seriously ... ya, right?

sarahell, Thursday, 11 March 2021 17:40 (two months ago) link

"industry visionaries" = vomit all over myself

Andy the Grasshopper, Thursday, 11 March 2021 17:48 (two months ago) link

davey's link is indeed a pleasant read and highlights how much these dumb assholes are just 1970s/80s neoliberal chamber-of-commerce mouthpieces but with a fresh coat of rock-star paint plus ted talks and twitter.

this honking's on a bobo (Doctor Casino), Thursday, 11 March 2021 18:39 (two months ago) link

There was a vinyl banner in SOMA San Francisco with some tech knob wearing a headset mic, and the pithy, airy quote: "We should only think of a technology as radical if it benefits every person on the planet."

And I thought "Bowls? Bowls is all I got. Maybe sandals?"

Andy the Grasshopper, Thursday, 11 March 2021 19:08 (two months ago) link

the wheel

Hello Nice FBI Lady (DJP), Thursday, 11 March 2021 19:17 (two months ago) link

the toilet

sarahell, Friday, 12 March 2021 02:46 (two months ago) link

the smallpox vaccine

davey, Friday, 12 March 2021 03:07 (two months ago) link

For real though instead of NFTs can't we just docusign stuff?

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Friday, 12 March 2021 03:24 (two months ago) link

the toilet


Not everyone!

Bruno Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (Boring, Maryland), Friday, 12 March 2021 03:43 (two months ago) link

xp - seriously, why isn't Grimes headlining the Docusign conference?

sarahell, Friday, 12 March 2021 05:46 (two months ago) link

pic.twitter.com/mmdI3ioIOf

— Nitasha Tiku (@nitashatiku) March 12, 2021

Joe Bombin (milo z), Friday, 12 March 2021 07:12 (two months ago) link

I'm howling

Hello Nice FBI Lady (DJP), Friday, 12 March 2021 15:50 (two months ago) link

is this intentional or unintentional comedy?

sarahell, Friday, 12 March 2021 16:05 (two months ago) link

The North Sentinelese in the Andaman Islands don't have wheels or smallpox vaccines. They may have toilets and/or bowls, nobody knows.

Andy the Grasshopper, Friday, 12 March 2021 16:14 (two months ago) link

The part about watching Jackson do design work live on twitch is the clincher.

Andy the Grasshopper, Friday, 12 March 2021 16:18 (two months ago) link

why does she speak like TTS software?

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Friday, 12 March 2021 19:27 (two months ago) link

two weeks pass...

This is extremely good and fascinating. Still not done with it:

https://www.thedigradio.com/podcast/counterculture-to-cyberculture-with-fred-turner/

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 29 March 2021 16:21 (one month ago) link

Anyone gonna watch this? I don't know.. the founder guy looks kinda like the Night Stalker

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVAESeO7dgc

Andy the Grasshopper, Thursday, 8 April 2021 18:58 (one month ago) link

three weeks pass...

Mind Capitalism: Braindreessen Horowitz pic.twitter.com/2OxuHn8r0s

— Ed Zitron (@edzitron) May 4, 2021

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Tuesday, 4 May 2021 01:37 (one week ago) link

What?

Clara Lemlich stan account (silby), Tuesday, 4 May 2021 01:42 (one week ago) link

Okay at first I thought it was inexplicable, then I thought it was some kind of sinister prank the universe was playing on me, but now I'm just really enjoying how dumb this tweet is. Man just had a thought and tweeted it without any of the wiser parts of the brain stepping in, they were just as transfixed as the rest of us.

lukas, Tuesday, 4 May 2021 01:46 (one week ago) link

this whole basecamp thing has been amazing

mookieproof, Tuesday, 4 May 2021 13:47 (one week ago) link

It's been a case study in how to set your company on fire

80's hair metal , and good praise music ! (DJP), Tuesday, 4 May 2021 14:03 (one week ago) link

I’m learning some leadership lessons certainly, like “don’t call in to the very sensitive all-hands from bed”

Clara Lemlich stan account (silby), Tuesday, 4 May 2021 14:43 (one week ago) link

my grad school adviser was a huge basecamp stan so I've been following it a bit, the whole thing to me really smacks of all the white tech guys I've encountered in undergrad/grad education at tech schools—the reactionary way of dealing with these conversations is basically an across-the-board thing, especially the general "I just want to build cool shit, why do we have to talk about things that are so ambiguous and divisive? also I have not experienced white supremacy or done it so it doesn't exist."

wait, what is this thing?

sarahell, Tuesday, 4 May 2021 16:45 (one week ago) link

https://www.platformer.news/p/-how-basecamp-blew-up

mookieproof, Tuesday, 4 May 2021 16:46 (one week ago) link

if you're outside tech then they're obviously awful people just based on this story, but there's a huge amount of schadenfreude inside tech too because they've written a bunch of very strident "here's how to run a company" books.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Tuesday, 4 May 2021 17:02 (one week ago) link

Picked this book authored by the Basecamp co-founders off of the shelf and opened it to a section I had highlighted when I first read it. 🙄 pic.twitter.com/aJHptrC8XK

— JT (@thejoshtorres) May 4, 2021

lukas, Tuesday, 4 May 2021 17:16 (one week ago) link

Picked this book authored by the Basecamp co-founders off of the shelf and opened it to a section I had highlighted when I first read it. 🙄 pic.twitter.com/aJHptrC8XK

— JT (@thejoshtorres) May 4, 2021

lukas, Tuesday, 4 May 2021 17:16 (one week ago) link

I’m learning some leadership lessons certainly, like “don’t call in to the very sensitive all-hands from bed”

I thought this had to be a joke

80's hair metal , and good praise music ! (DJP), Tuesday, 4 May 2021 17:59 (one week ago) link

dan m, I think that Verge piece is exactly the same as what mookieproof posted?

80's hair metal , and good praise music ! (DJP), Tuesday, 4 May 2021 17:59 (one week ago) link

weird, I assumed since it was a separate URL that it would have been different, my bad

So this kerfufle was triggered by employees posting to ilx's "Abysmal Real Names" thread?

everything, Tuesday, 4 May 2021 21:21 (one week ago) link

Feels good to not know what Basecamp does.

Joe Bombin (milo z), Tuesday, 4 May 2021 21:35 (one week ago) link

^^

DJI, Tuesday, 4 May 2021 21:56 (one week ago) link

dan m, I think that Verge piece is exactly the same as what mookieproof posted?

― 80's hair metal , and good praise music ! (DJP), Tuesday, May 4, 2021 1:59 PM (four hours ago) bookmarkflaglink

i think the author has a deal where he's allowed to post his stuff to his own site (which he sells subscriptions for) and the verge pays him to syndicate it.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Tuesday, 4 May 2021 22:02 (one week ago) link

the basecamp thing is definitely one of those “we’re the good guys” scenarios where leadership was even “doing the work” by telling the employees about the books they were reading, only for the employees to say “hey, maybe we’re doing some things wrong” only for the boss to point at the “we’re the good guys” sign on the wall

mh, Wednesday, 5 May 2021 14:56 (one week ago) link

Ha otm.

I read their book about remote work when I went remote and it’s no better than any airport business book but it’s written in that y combinator style that simulates clear thinking.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Wednesday, 5 May 2021 15:07 (one week ago) link

Ironically for ilx I am reading this right now https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3828902 (who was into this idea and posted about it in re: Arsenal? I can’t remember). I kind of thought it was a cult 70s thing like the whole earth catalog and chaos theory etc. bit I saw it recommended a bunch and it is at least very short so I’m giving it a shot.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Wednesday, 5 May 2021 15:09 (one week ago) link

I was going to post "The Limits to Growth was a huge deal" but my supervisor is writing a book about the history of models, so I may have a pretty skewed perspective on this

rob, Wednesday, 5 May 2021 15:33 (one week ago) link

Re not knowing what they do. This talk of "building cool shit" is much funnier when you do. What a bizarre economy.

maf you one two (maffew12), Wednesday, 5 May 2021 15:56 (one week ago) link

the line between the Whole Earth Catalog and Q running through silicon valley, the free software foundation, and gamergate is a very bright and straight one

Clara Lemlich stan account (silby), Wednesday, 5 May 2021 15:57 (one week ago) link

someone on twitter reminded me that the guy who was canned from Google for “just asking questions” originally had @Fired4Truth as his twitter handle

this will never not be funny

mh, Wednesday, 5 May 2021 17:14 (one week ago) link

I'm asking what you think. You say it's a bad idea to hire people who say things for shock value. Presumably you mean to include Antonio, or you wouldn't have mentioned this. So are you saying that in a world of properly run companies, he should never work again?

— Paul Graham (@paulg) May 13, 2021



this entire thread is hilarious. someone tells paul graham, hey, I wouldn’t hire a guy who says crap like this. graham turns it into some sort of thought exercise, because.. you can’t just run a SV company, you have to be creating some platonic ideal of How to Run a Company

mh, Friday, 14 May 2021 12:41 (three days ago) link

I ain’t clicking through on that

Clara Lemlich stan account (silby), Friday, 14 May 2021 13:40 (three days ago) link

I think you can get the point without clicking. PG just being obtuse and acting like “don’t hire jerks” means that all of our best thought leaders will be unemployed

mh, Friday, 14 May 2021 13:50 (three days ago) link


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