Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Your chance to see Martin Shkreli unironically say "Pay it forward."




 Last Wednesday and Thursday, we started a thread on Marc Andreessen's “The Techno-Optimist Manifesto” (along with a bit of prehistory Tuesday). The manifesto concludes with a truly odd list of "patron saints" of techno-optimism, and if you want to understand the culture behind the movement, that may be the best place to start.

 Many of the names are famous philosophers or scientists like Nietzsche  and Ada Lovelace who have said or done something vaguely relevant to the topic, though in many cases such as Bertrand Russell and Andy Warhol, you get the feeling that Andreessen may not have been all that familiar with most of their work.

There is at least one fictional figure, John Galt, in case you thought I was kidding about the whole Randian thing. Though somewhat curiously, Ayn Rand herself does not make the list.

But particularly for those who want to catch the numerous dog whistles, the most informative entries are the ones you've never heard of.

Max Reed, who we mentioned in our previous post provides some useful background.
The inspiration and audience of this manifesto is the adherents and proponents of “effective accelerationism,” or “e/acc,” a Twitter community nominally centered around the promotion of unregulated, uncaring, and extremely rapid technological advancement but whose real attraction is smug own-the-libs shitposting.
On an practical level everything you need to know about “e/acc” is that its foremost proponent is an anonymous A.I.-company founder with a Twitter handle “@BasedBeffJezos” (one of the “Patron Saints of Techno-Optimism,” according to Andreessen’s manifesto); that is, it’s less an ideology or philosophy than an affective organizer for bored men over 35 with MBAs who admire Jeff Bezos and still laugh at circa-2015 Twitter jokes.
As Read pointed out, a visit to Beff Jezos' Twitter page is an excellent introduction to the techno-optimist movement and the kind of people you meet there.

The myth of the Greeks and especially the Spartans looms large in this corner of Twitter, with 'myth' being the key word. The touchstone here is the movie "the 300." which shows up constantly both in the form of memes and as a source of information, and more to the point, misinformation about the period.  

It's not difficult to understand the attraction the Spartan myth holds for these people (and why they react so strongly when an actual historian like Bret Devereaux corrects the record). One of the explicit  tenets of the movement is the idea that, unlike previous ages, the modern world does not allow greatness, along with the implicit but still obvious belief that, had they been born in those earlier times, Beff, Marc, and Elon would have been kings and warriors, not the far more plentiful peasants and slaves. 

It's not just Spartans. The overwhelminlyg male e/acc crowd likes to see themselves as knights...

... and action heroes.

 I mean, seriously, these are grown men.

 They take themselves very seriously...
...even when talking about things that shouldn't be taken seriously.

The techno-capitalist worldview is one where tech bro founders and venture capitalists have no known limitations.

There is only one force that can hold them back.


This last tweet is a triple threat, not only childishly insulting regulators, but also featuring fan favorites Joe Rogan and a Cybertruck.

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