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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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

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

nerds with power

shudder

j., Thursday, 22 May 2014 05:42 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

fantastic article, thank you for sharing

famous instagram God (waterface), Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:15 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

I am all in favor of techno-libertarian island

a strange man (mh), Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:22 (four years ago) Permalink

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

Οὖτις, Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:25 (four years ago) Permalink

tru

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

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 (four years ago) Permalink

yeah that is a more serious danger

Οὖτις, Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:28 (four years ago) Permalink

I wonder if we can convince them to relocate to Canada

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

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

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

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 (four years ago) Permalink

they all scramble for the surviving corporate monoliths

Οὖτις, Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:44 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

isn't his own camp bad enough???

j., Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:54 (four years ago) Permalink

maybe! I'm out of the loop

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

yes, nick land is fully in

goole, Thursday, 22 May 2014 16:19 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

yup

Οὖτις, Thursday, 22 May 2014 16:54 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

is there an app for that

Οὖτις, Thursday, 22 May 2014 17:07 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

will plain ole megalomania do.

ryan, Thursday, 22 May 2014 17:37 (four years ago) Permalink

Speaking as someone standing in mud wait hold on

Ned Raggett, Friday, 13 July 2018 20:59 (two months ago) Permalink

Everything’s relative. I live up the street from Trump.

El Tomboto, Friday, 13 July 2018 21:16 (two months ago) Permalink

that's a good thread! Wired has long been my shorthand for the 90s iteration of the wide-eyed fusion of techno-utopianism and ostensibly countercultural libertarianism (which fusion, circa 1970, you would have found in the overlaps between bucky fuller and stewart brand). great to have that laid out, with links, in one convenient place.

This is a total Jeff Porcaro. (Doctor Casino), Saturday, 14 July 2018 00:58 (two months ago) Permalink

when i got to college in the early 90s my freshman year roommate described wired as "mondo 2000 for businessmen" which is still the best description i've ever heard

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Saturday, 14 July 2018 01:15 (two months ago) Permalink

(of it)

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Saturday, 14 July 2018 01:16 (two months ago) Permalink

as a college freshman I’d have been like “what’s mondo 5000?”

El Tomboto, Saturday, 14 July 2018 01:36 (two months ago) Permalink

I had a bunch of issues of Mondo 2000 when they were new in high school. That was my shit.

dan selzer, Saturday, 14 July 2018 02:45 (two months ago) Permalink

yay

about halfway thru bad blood right now and it’s a compelling mixture of ‘haha these corporate dumbasses deserve each other, how did this go on for so long’ and ‘wow these sociopaths really fucked a lot of lives on their way to jail’

― CARL MARKS PRINCIPAL INVESTING AND ADVISORY SERVICES (bizarro gazzara), Friday, June 15, 2018 5:39 PM (four weeks ago)

yeah, same here. ridiculously compelling book

k3vin k., Saturday, 14 July 2018 19:45 (two months ago) Permalink

Got the audiobook on hold…

devops mom (silby), Saturday, 14 July 2018 19:56 (two months ago) Permalink

Dave Karpf's book Analytic Activism changed my whole game btw highly recommended

BIG HOOS aka the steendriver, Monday, 16 July 2018 20:21 (two months ago) Permalink

Yeah the Bad Blood story is a traet, as they say. Can't wait for the company to finally dissolve next month.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 16 July 2018 20:23 (two months ago) Permalink

Reading Bad Blood (which is excellent) at the same time as going through a ‘disruption workshop’ at work has been interesting.

I work for a big company which, like many, is extremely nervous about being a big company. The external consultant running the event kept hammering the point that innovation isn’t enough - nor is being superior to the competition- you either have to change the entire frame of reference your industry is working with (a la Netflix, Uber, Air b’n’b) or get swept away by some start-up that will.

Which is kind of fine if you are lending DVDs through the post, less so in a highly regulated, reputation-driven business where the outcome of your service has a meaningful impact on the direction of the customers’ lives. The Theranos model of getting a rapid prototype to market in the belief that you can iterate your way to something amazing as you go, and the Safeway / Walgreens fomo, leading to avoiding awkward questions about efficacy, are both hugely relatable traps. Thankfully there are enough safeguards in place within the business to stop that with us but the disrupt-or-die model is absolutely going to lead to a Theranos Of Nursing / Social Care, Theranos Of Education, etc, etc at some point.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Tuesday, 24 July 2018 19:04 (one month ago) Permalink

It already has if you’re in the states. Charter schools!

El Tomboto, Tuesday, 24 July 2018 19:11 (one month ago) Permalink

ShariVari, was there a breakdown of what the different company types are including one called "market shaper?"

Because I think my employer's executives were presented the same material and came up with presentations for the rest of us with some of that material

mh, Tuesday, 24 July 2018 19:13 (one month ago) Permalink

i mean there's a reason the word 'disruption' used to have / should still have negative connotations

a Stupendous Leg of Granite (bizarro gazzara), Tuesday, 24 July 2018 19:13 (one month ago) Permalink

I mean, fwiw I am in an industry where it's impossible for any product to make it to market in less than 5 - 7 years so no one's going to go wild and throw junk into the market but I _know_ people want to do exactly as you're saying.

I'd mention a couple missteps I know a little about but not outside 77 :P

mh, Tuesday, 24 July 2018 19:15 (one month ago) Permalink

I thankfully work in the one corner of technology business where “disruptive” is still a really bad term

El Tomboto, Tuesday, 24 July 2018 19:24 (one month ago) Permalink

I work for a multinational and we’re doing a mix of keeping our reputation high because everyone knows us and micro teams with startup culture mentality

Right now in one area we’re focusing on emphasizing selling a service/experience first and product second, while still staying competitive in the products we offer

Kind of a weird scenario but admittedly one only a huge company can get away with doing

F# A# (∞), Tuesday, 24 July 2018 19:37 (one month ago) Permalink

Uh, so famed batshit political toonslinger Ben Garrison decided to do one on Elon Musk:

https://grrrgraphics.com/teslas-musk-mobile/

Glower, Disruption & Pies (kingfish), Thursday, 26 July 2018 06:14 (one month ago) Permalink

ben garrison... otm?

a Stupendous Leg of Granite (bizarro gazzara), Thursday, 26 July 2018 06:59 (one month ago) Permalink

...yeah, fuckin' weird, ain't it

Glower, Disruption & Pies (kingfish), Friday, 27 July 2018 06:32 (one month ago) Permalink

Old Wired and computer mags are fun to read, even though I lived through the era/had several Geocities pages/etc. there's a feeling of unreality about early-mid '90s technology now.

louise ck (milo z), Friday, 27 July 2018 07:01 (one month ago) Permalink

wish I'd kept a stash of PC Magazine and Byte. the former to look at the John Dvorak columns and laugh about how they were insanely wrong just a year later. the Byte ones because it was just a solid publication

mh, Friday, 27 July 2018 13:56 (one month ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

see if you can spot the odd one out in this lineup of speakers for websummit, 'the best technology conference on the planet'

https://i.redd.it/m8eoc0tnr0g11.png

a space stewardess (bizarro gazzara), Tuesday, 14 August 2018 12:32 (one month ago) Permalink

was ready to be surprised, and result exceeded expectations

mh, Tuesday, 14 August 2018 14:15 (one month ago) Permalink

it's surprising!

a space stewardess (bizarro gazzara), Tuesday, 14 August 2018 14:17 (one month ago) Permalink

"Davos for geeks" - Bloomberg
"Glastonbury for geeks" - The Guardian

jmm, Tuesday, 14 August 2018 14:34 (one month ago) Permalink

davos/glastonbury for racists morelike

a space stewardess (bizarro gazzara), Tuesday, 14 August 2018 14:44 (one month ago) Permalink

Yeah, WebSummit has always been an embarassment but this is a whole new level. It's a fucking event that gets money from the government and city hall - should hope pressure will result in her getting kicked out before it actually happens.

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 14 August 2018 14:49 (one month ago) Permalink

https://websummit.com/speakers

Glower, Disruption & Pies (kingfish), Wednesday, 15 August 2018 01:15 (one month ago) Permalink

lol oh shit I know someone on the first couple pages

gotta tell them to get Marine’s autograph

mh, Wednesday, 15 August 2018 02:58 (one month ago) Permalink

Wait how do u kno ronaldinho

F# A# (∞), Wednesday, 15 August 2018 03:00 (one month ago) Permalink

knew that was coming

he opens my beers

mh, Wednesday, 15 August 2018 03:03 (one month ago) Permalink

It’s so weird to visit a city so many times for over a decade and watch it literally turn to shit

F# A# (∞), Wednesday, 15 August 2018 03:14 (one month ago) Permalink

At this point, for me - and I’m paraphrasing myself from another thread I think - it’s like somebody you had a big crush on in high school and 20 years later they’ve basically hit rock bottom but their family’s still rich so who cares

El Tomboto, Wednesday, 15 August 2018 03:27 (one month ago) Permalink

Meanwhile... https://www.politico.eu/article/marine-le-pen-uninvited-from-web-summit/

Elvis Telecom, Monday, 27 August 2018 19:13 (three weeks ago) Permalink

that gizmodo article is disingenuous bullshit

Οὖτις, Monday, 27 August 2018 19:16 (three weeks ago) Permalink

like yes there is a poop patrol now but all of its snarky "points" are being made in bad faith

Οὖτις, Monday, 27 August 2018 19:16 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Over the years the page count just gets thinner and thinner.

http://owenyoungman.com/thenextmiracle/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/photo.jpg

Elvis Telecom, Monday, 27 August 2018 19:17 (three weeks ago) Permalink

that first paragraph deliberately misrepresents Kositsky (who is actually doing a really good job and is a very dedicated and p innovative guy) and his broader, actually correct point and then just goes downhill from there

xp

Οὖτις, Monday, 27 August 2018 19:18 (three weeks ago) Permalink

The UK edition is trying to keep the same kind of page count per issue by dropping issues down to 10 or maybe 9 a year now.

koogs, Monday, 27 August 2018 22:47 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Theranos hits the very, very end of the road, after not finding a buyer for the patent portfolio. Will settle with its secured creditor by handing over the IP (such as it is) and return the last $5m cash in the bank to unsecured creditors.

faculty w1fe (silby), Wednesday, 5 September 2018 18:54 (two weeks ago) Permalink

lol at the idea of theranos’ ‘ip’

‘uh we have this commercial blood-sample scanner we took apart and put back together again, badly’

bitch that’s the tubby custard machine (bizarro gazzara), Wednesday, 5 September 2018 18:59 (two weeks ago) Permalink

you never know when some stupid thing you wrote will turn out to be essential to someone else's invention if you squint hard enough

faculty w1fe (silby), Wednesday, 5 September 2018 19:04 (two weeks ago) Permalink

This is crazy stuff:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awADEuv5vWY&t=3s

I know Mary Lou through work, and she's legit. It's also possible she is overselling this technology.

DJI, Thursday, 6 September 2018 17:32 (one week ago) Permalink

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awADEuv5vWY

DJI, Thursday, 6 September 2018 17:32 (one week ago) Permalink

ELON MUSK: what should i do on joe rogan's show. its gotta be mega epic
TESLA SHORTSELLER WEARING A FAKE MOUSTACHE: you should do drugs on camera
ELON MUSK: yes

— KT NELSON (@KrangTNelson) September 7, 2018

Glower, Disruption & Pies (kingfish), Friday, 7 September 2018 21:43 (one week ago) Permalink

lmao

Larry Elleison (rogermexico.), Saturday, 8 September 2018 05:03 (one week ago) Permalink

he’s gone Full McAfee

Larry Elleison (rogermexico.), Saturday, 8 September 2018 05:03 (one week ago) Permalink


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