Previously in this space, I have mentioned Silicon Valley's embrace of "effective altruism" -- a particular, and somewhat extreme, variant of utilitarianism that featured prominently in the recent trial of crypto entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried -- but recently the buzz in Silicon Valley has been about Marc Andreessen's "techno-optimist manifesto." A co-founder of the early web browser Netscape, Andreessen has spent the last couple of decades as one of Silicon Valley's biggest venture capital players. His newest manifesto has been described as a mash-up of Nietzsche, libertarianism, and social Darwinism with a sprinkling of nuclear-powered science fiction. It advocates for turning up the accelerator on technological development -- to wit, "We believe in accelerationism – the conscious and deliberate propulsion of technological development.... We believe Artificial Intelligence is our alchemy, our Philosopher’s Stone – we are literally making sand think. ... We believe any deceleration of AI will cost lives. Deaths that were preventable by the AI that was prevented from existing is a form of murder. ... We believe the global population can quite easily expand to 50 billion people or more, and then far beyond that as we ultimately settle other planets. ... We believe in adventure. Undertaking the Hero’s Journey, rebelling against the status quo, mapping uncharted territory, conquering dragons, and bringing home the spoils for our community. ... Victim mentality is a curse in every domain of life, including in our relationship with technology – both unnecessary and self-defeating. We are not victims, we are conquerors." It concludes with a list of the enemies of techno-optimists, which specifically includes those who espouse "tech ethics." 👀 You can find the entire manifesto, and sundry critiques of it, online.
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