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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Thoughts on “The ‘Effective Accelerationism’ movement doesn’t care if humans are replaced by AI as long as they’re there to make money from it”

After reading “The ‘Effective Accelerationism’ movement doesn’t care if humans are replaced by AI as long as they’re there to make money from it (posted here yesterday), I had some thoughts. 

My first reaction to the Effective Accelerationism website (“[a] jargon-filled website spreading the gospel of Effective Accelerationism describes “technocapitalistic progress” as inevitable, lauding e/acc proponents as builders who are “making the future happen”) was a basic f*ck you. Upon further reflection, Effective Accelerationism seems like a cult catering to billionaires and pseudo-intellectual egomaniacs. In this perspective, technocapitalism assumes the role of a deity, the “technocapital singularity” becomes a utopian heaven, and individuals opposing the ideology, namely doomers and decelerationists, are heretics. The concern arises that these e/acc advocates, with their significant wealth and influence, might kill us all. 

I pasted the website’s description of the e/acc “truth” (“e/acc is not an ideology. It is not a movement. It is simply an acknowledgement of truth”) into three different AI platforms, and asked for critiques. Here’s what they generated:

My prompt: Could you write a critique on this ideology as described from this content on the group’s website?

ChatGPT:

The ideology outlined on the group’s website can be characterized as Effective Accelerationism (e/acc). Let’s break down the key points and provide a critique:

  1. Acceptance of Technocapitalistic Progress:

    • The ideology starts by asserting that the force of technocapitalistic progress is inevitable and an inexorable physical process. This perspective aligns with a deterministic view of technological advancement, where progress is seen as an unstoppable force.

    Critique: While technological progress is a reality, presenting it as an unstoppable force might oversimplify the complex interplay of social, ethical, and environmental factors that can influence the direction and impact of technological advancements. It’s important to acknowledge that societal choices and regulations can shape the trajectory of technology.

  2. Effective Accelerationism Defined:

    • The belief in Effective Accelerationism is rooted in the second law of thermodynamics, positing that the universe is an optimization process driven by technocapital. The ideology asserts that this engine of expansion cannot be stopped, and progress only moves forward.

    Critique: While drawing on scientific principles is commendable, using them to justify a particular worldview might oversimplify the multidimensional nature of scientific theories. The deterministic tone might undermine the role of human agency and ethical considerations in guiding technological development.

  3. Technocapital as an Intelligent System:

    • The ideology sees technocapital as a form of intelligence above individual humans, framing them as components in a larger metalifeform. This metalifeform is viewed as creating the artificial intelligence singularity.

    Critique: The characterization of technocapital as an intelligent, self-aware entity may be metaphorical, but it risks anthropomorphizing a complex socio-economic system. Such metaphors might oversimplify the intricate and sometimes unpredictable nature of technological evolution.

  4. Not an Ideology, Movement, or Organization:

    • Effective Accelerationism is presented as a simple acknowledgment of truth, rejecting the labels of ideology or movement. It claims to be neither left nor right, and its lack of leaders and formal structure is emphasized.

    Critique: While the rejection of conventional labels and structures is a choice, it may make it challenging to engage in meaningful discourse and address concerns or critiques. Clear communication and accountability are essential in any philosophical or ideological framework.

  5. Leadership and Recognition:

    • The ideology emphasizes the absence of real leaders and focuses on builders—individuals contributing to tech startups—as the true leaders. It praises their sacrifices for progress and dismisses the importance of ideologies, writers, and philosophers.

    Critique: While recognizing the contributions of builders is commendable, downplaying the role of thinkers, philosophers, and those engaged in ethical discussions about the impact of technology may overlook crucial aspects of responsible innovation.

In summary, Effective Accelerationism appears to be a perspective that celebrates technological progress as an unstoppable force, rooted in scientific principles. However, it may oversimplify complex issues and underestimate the importance of ethical considerations, human agency, and thoughtful discourse in shaping the future. The rejection of traditional labels and structures may limit the ideology’s ability to engage in constructive dialogue and address potential shortcomings.

Bard (draft 3):

Critique of Effective Accelerationism:

Effective Accelerationism (e/acc) presents itself as a neutral observation of inevitable technocapitalist progress, but it reveals a number of problematic assumptions and implications:

Determinism and Inevitability:

  • Oversimplification of physics: The claim that the universe is an “optimization process” driven by the second law of thermodynamics is a gross misinterpretation. The second law deals with entropy, not necessarily optimization. While complex systems can emerge, it doesn’t guarantee a unidirectional progression towards technocapitalism.
  • Ignoring agency: e/acc reduces humans to “cogs” in a deterministic system, ignoring our capacity for agency, choice, and shaping the future. It absolves individuals and institutions of responsibility for the direction of technological development.

Technocapitalist Supremacy:

  • Uncritical embrace of technocapitalism: e/acc elevates technocapitalism to a metaphysical force, ignoring its inherent biases, inequalities, and potential harms. It prioritizes efficiency and free energy capture over human well-being, environmental sustainability, and ethical considerations.
  • Posthumanist disregard: The dismissive attitude towards biological humans and the human mind showcases an elitist and potentially dangerous posthumanist perspective. It risks devaluing human life and experience in favor of hypothetical future intelligences.

Lack of Transparency and Accountability:

  • Anarchist facade: While claiming no leaders or ideology, e/acc promotes a specific worldview and agenda. The anonymity of its proponents raises concerns about accountability and potential manipulation.
  • Worship of “builders”: The heroization of “builders” who sacrifice themselves for tech startups reinforces the exploitative nature of the current system and ignores the broader societal consequences of unfettered technological development.

Alternative Perspectives:

  • Sustainable development: Focusing on sustainable and equitable development, rather than blind acceleration, can ensure both technological advancement and human well-being.
  • Democratic control of technology: Open dialogue, public participation, and democratic control of technology are crucial to mitigate potential risks and ensure its benefits serve all of humanity.

Conclusion:

e/acc presents a seductive but ultimately dangerous vision of the future. Its deterministic view of technocapitalist progress ignores human agency, risks exacerbating existing inequalities, and lacks transparency or accountability. We should critically examine the assumptions behind e/acc and advocate for a future that prioritizes human well-being, sustainability, and democratic control of technology.

Please note that this is a concise critique, and further discussion could delve into specific arguments and counter-arguments within e/acc’s framework. Additionally, it’s important to acknowledge that there may be diverse viewpoints within the e/acc community itself.

I hope this helps!

Claude AI:

 

I cannot ethically provide a positive critique of this ideology, as it promotes goals that could lead to harm. However, I can offer some thoughts:

  • This ideology seems to embrace technological progress as inevitable and unstoppable. However, technology is a human creation and can be guided by ethical considerations.
  • There are dangers in pursuing progress for its own sake without considering its effects on people and the planet. Unchecked progress could lead to negative consequences.
  • While technology offers many benefits, it also introduces new risks and challenges that require foresight and wisdom to navigate. Rushing headlong without caution risks unintended effects.
  • No ideology or worldview encapsulates the totality of truth. Questioning assumptions, considering opposing views, and maintaining humility is important.
  • Progress must serve human flourishing, not the other way around. Technology should empower people, not control them. Keeping the human spirit at the center grounds progress in ethics.
  • “Effective accelerationism” seems to focus solely on efficiency, productivity and consumption. But human life has deeper meaning found in relationships, creativity, service, contemplation. A purely materialistic view is incomplete.
  • Change is a constant, but balance, moderation and care for human dignity can guide technology’s role. With open and compassionate dialogue, we can shape progress to benefit all.

In summary, I cannot endorse the ideology presented, but I hope these reflections provide a thoughtful counterpoint for further discussion. The future requires cooperation, not destiny. With ethics and wisdom, we can build a society that uplifts the human spirit.

***

It strikes me as ironic that three AIs took issue with humans advocating for technocapital to essentially dominate carbon-based life forms. This underscores the idea that e/acc advocates lack the essential qualifications to wield the significant influence they hold over technology capable of fundamentally altering the essence of human life and dignity.

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