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 (eight 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 (eight years ago) link

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

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

nerds with power

shudder

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

fantastic article, thank you for sharing

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

I am all in favor of techno-libertarian island

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

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

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

tru

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

yeah that is a more serious danger

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

I wonder if we can convince them to relocate to Canada

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

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

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

they all scramble for the surviving corporate monoliths

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

isn't his own camp bad enough???

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

maybe! I'm out of the loop

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

yes, nick land is fully in

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

yup

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

is there an app for that

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

will plain ole megalomania do.

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

recycles its cartridges for you. it gets up and walks to the curb and barfs out its trash? now i'm intrigued.

maf you one two (maffew12), Friday, 4 March 2022 02:11 (five months ago) link

xps the materials say "a range of wines", nowhere do they claim to be "good"

(probably grape drink with vodka)

maf you one two (maffew12), Friday, 4 March 2022 02:13 (five months ago) link

probably be handy on the ISS

Andy the Grasshopper, Friday, 4 March 2022 02:15 (five months ago) link

I mean IN THEORY the barrel aging, the soil, the peat, is all just molecules, so IN THEORY it could replicate all that if it could be measured accurately in the first place. But I doubt it has been or that this is sophisticated enough to do that.

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Friday, 4 March 2022 02:53 (five months ago) link

Looks completely worthless, thanks for sharing.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Friday, 4 March 2022 03:17 (five months ago) link

lol I thought this was the star trek thread at first because the season premiere of the Picard show does have him harvesting grapes and making wine

mh, Friday, 4 March 2022 03:19 (five months ago) link

too bad that's not a Kickstarter, I'd like to see how many dummies are setting $300-700 on fire

papal hotwife (milo z), Friday, 4 March 2022 03:29 (five months ago) link

automatic espresso machines aren't even good and all they have to do is grind beans, tamp them and push hot water through, they're not synthesizing Colombian crops

papal hotwife (milo z), Friday, 4 March 2022 03:30 (five months ago) link

It’s not 3d printing anything afaict. It’s a sodastream.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Friday, 4 March 2022 03:43 (five months ago) link

That is connected to the internet and charges per drink.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Friday, 4 March 2022 03:44 (five months ago) link

https://i.imgur.com/8v8GTM8.mp4

*hic* (cat), Friday, 4 March 2022 05:48 (five months ago) link

what i am gleaning from this is that cock is welcome, and i think that’s nice

*hic* (cat), Friday, 4 March 2022 05:53 (five months ago) link

if this was actually real it would be fuckin cool as hell

Tracer Hand, Friday, 4 March 2022 08:58 (five months ago) link

They must be doing a marketing push today, saw a post from Simone Giertz (a usually awesome builder/maker Youtube person) about her role as a seed investor in the company. At least she didn't go down the NFT route.

papal hotwife (milo z), Friday, 4 March 2022 09:01 (five months ago) link

I drink only NFTs now

Alba, Friday, 4 March 2022 18:17 (five months ago) link

I find it very hard to believe that isn't an outright scam.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Friday, 4 March 2022 18:42 (five months ago) link

"Yeah, it uses, um, molecules"

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Friday, 4 March 2022 18:42 (five months ago) link

Like what the fuck is in that cartridge than can make merlot, coffee, lemonade & gin?

"molecules!" gimme a fucking break

Andy the Grasshopper, Friday, 4 March 2022 18:47 (five months ago) link

kinda wanna poll the staff photos but maybe every snake oil startup has a gallery like this, i don’t browse enough of them to know

*hic* (cat), Friday, 4 March 2022 19:21 (five months ago) link

it's a sodastream. there are multiple cartridges.

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Friday, 4 March 2022 19:33 (five months ago) link

each bursting with molecules

maf you one two (maffew12), Friday, 4 March 2022 19:39 (five months ago) link

It's borderline Ali G. "Everyfing is made o moleules. So wha if me had all the kinds of molecules in one machine, me could make anyfing"

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Friday, 4 March 2022 19:47 (five months ago) link

I mean, it's not wrong in a sense so broad it's being catcalled by a legion of dudes from Guys and Dolls

xp but I am proud of this terrible joke so I am posting it

castanuts (DJP), Friday, 4 March 2022 19:48 (five months ago) link

i got yr drink right here
it's called the musk-ateer
and here's a guy that says ...

sarahell, Sunday, 6 March 2022 19:05 (five months ago) link

one month passes...

she is GETTING that emmy pic.twitter.com/wXo0aL1pte

— lucy (@heylucymay) April 8, 2022

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Friday, 8 April 2022 20:35 (four months ago) link

that felt too uncomfortably real

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Friday, 8 April 2022 21:21 (four months ago) link

It was a pretty good series. Waiting on the final episode of Super Pumped on Sunday (well, the final one of this season -- there's going to be a second focused on Facebook, in line with Mike Isaac's forthcoming book on same).

Ned Raggett, Friday, 8 April 2022 21:28 (four months ago) link

I have trouble imagining workers actually expressing enthusiasm for having that dude as a boss / leader. I've only seen the first episode of Super Pumped so far and I can understand the workers sitting around fucking off and getting paid, or doing their tasks in the background, but actually enthusiastically cheering for dude's speeches?

sarahell, Sunday, 10 April 2022 07:36 (four months ago) link

Yet we see it happen. WeWork was notorious for it, the “fuck you Carreyrou” chant at Theranos occurred, people do buy in. It’s goofy as hell but there ya go.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 10 April 2022 13:48 (four months ago) link

Once a company reaches a certain size, you get a number of employees where their role isn’t easily connected to what the company actually sells, and bizarre corporate sloganeering pops up. I think the majority of people at non-startups just kind of passively ignore it, but there are outliers who latch on to that internal marketing to justify their work lives

My impression is that startups, especially ones that don’t turn a profit, push that company culture bit a lot harder because the company doesn’t necessarily do anything yet!

mh, Sunday, 10 April 2022 15:12 (four months ago) link

i just wonder about the people who buy into it. the followers, as it were. otoh ... idk why i have trouble accepting this since Hitler and Trump but ... sometimes i have to be reminded

sarahell, Sunday, 10 April 2022 17:15 (four months ago) link

I think the majority of people at non-startups just kind of passively ignore it

yeah, this attitude I understand ... like, clerks at Walgreens don't seem really gung-ho about "Team Walgreens"

sarahell, Sunday, 10 April 2022 17:19 (four months ago) link

Companies regularly place more demands on their workers than even a good, conscientious worker can satisfy. I always figured if I delivered somewhere between 90% and 95% of 'perfection' I was not just earning my pay, but an excellent employee. I totally ignored the motivational hoo-hah and quietly met my own standards.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Sunday, 10 April 2022 18:36 (four months ago) link

I totally ignored the motivational hoo-hah and quietly met my own standards.

Yup.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 10 April 2022 18:44 (four months ago) link

Well you're hardly going to get yourself a waffle party with that attitude, are you?

kinder, Sunday, 10 April 2022 18:46 (four months ago) link

I feel better already.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 10 April 2022 18:48 (four months ago) link

;) I'm enjoying Severance

kinder, Sunday, 10 April 2022 18:50 (four months ago) link

Having a couple of times in my life been around cultish professors or bosses and gotten taken in by them (though nothing to those extremes) I found myself kind of willingly suspending disbelief just because (1) it was sort of fun and (2) it can be self-serving to do so, since true believers tend to reap benefits. I always maintained a little bit of psychic distance and had almost a split consciousness about it, but I get it.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Sunday, 10 April 2022 23:49 (four months ago) link

Sucks that the main takeaway from Steve Jobs' story is that everyone thinks you have to be an asshole cult leader to be an effective CEO.

Elvis Telecom, Monday, 11 April 2022 02:55 (four months ago) link

Now speaking of cults

Elon has decided not to join our board. I sent a brief note to the company, sharing with you all here. pic.twitter.com/lfrXACavvk

— Parag Agrawal (@paraga) April 11, 2022

Ned Raggett, Monday, 11 April 2022 03:25 (four months ago) link

three months pass...

Perfect.

VC Marc Andreessen has railed against cities like San Francisco for failing to build more housing.

But when his own hyper-rich, manicured SF suburb proposed a zoning change to allow a small number of multifamily homes, Andreessen and his wife wrote this. https://t.co/YzqdfSV20q pic.twitter.com/Aq9HhDpKPk

— Will Oremus (@WillOremus) August 5, 2022

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Friday, 5 August 2022 14:59 (one week ago) link

the egg man is bad

mh, Friday, 5 August 2022 15:01 (one week ago) link

This guy on Hacker News is buying up the entire town of Pine Bluff, Arkansas for reasons that seem unclear even to him. Someone please help him go home to his children pic.twitter.com/6wO0JIyxQ1

— Brooks Otterlake (@i_zzzzzz) August 15, 2022

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Monday, 15 August 2022 21:02 (yesterday) link

His twitter handle is the same as his username there, it's just post after post of him getting robbed by Pine Bluff tweakers.

papal hotwife (milo z), Monday, 15 August 2022 21:58 (yesterday) link

a new wrinkle I didn't see yesterday

oh. pic.twitter.com/TFiddlxQAA

— Amy Hoy (@amyhoy) August 15, 2022

papal hotwife (milo z), Monday, 15 August 2022 21:59 (yesterday) link

Pine Bluff thing is like one of those great, long, self-owning threads slowly documenting a guy's deranged and ill-informed home renovations, or hapless efforts to establish a utopian compound or whatever.

Doctor Casino, Monday, 15 August 2022 22:03 (yesterday) link

that falls under the reddit DIY-fail thred or whatever

lol great minds xp again

twit’s creek

Tracer Hand, Monday, 15 August 2022 22:31 (yesterday) link

this is like if something from the SA forums got VC money

mh, Tuesday, 16 August 2022 15:08 (thirty-two minutes ago) link


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