What Techno-Optimism Seems to Suggest (Oligopolies, a Plutocracy, or Utopia)

February 23, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Science and mathematics are comparable to religion. These fields of study attract acolytes who study and revere associated knowledge and shun nonbelievers. The advancement of modern technology is its own subset of religious science and mathematics combined with philosophical doctrine. Tech Policy Press discusses the changing views on technology-based philosophy in: “Parsing The Political Project Of Techno-Optimism.”

Rich, venture capitalists Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz are influential in Silicon Valley. While they’ve shaped modern technology with their investments, they also tried drafting a manifesto about how technology should be handled in the future. They “creatively” labeled it the “techno-optimist manifesto.” It promotes an ideology that favors rich people increasing their wealth by investing in politicians that will help them achieve this.

Techno-optimism is not the new mantra of Silicon Valley. Reception didn’t go over well. Andreessen wrote:

“Techno-Optimism is a material philosophy, not a political philosophy…We are materially focused, for a reason – to open the aperture on how we may choose to live amid material abundance.”

He also labeled this section, “the meaning of life.”

Techno-optimism is a revamped version of the Californian ideology that reigned in the 1990s. It preached that the future should be shaped by engineers, investors, and entrepreneurs without governmental influence. Techno-optimism wants venture capitalists to be untaxed with unregulated portfolios.

Horowitz added his own Silicon Valley-type titbit:

“‘…will, for the first time, get involved with politics by supporting candidates who align with our vision and values specifically for technology. (…) [W]e are non-partisan, one issue voters: if a candidate supports an optimistic technology-enabled future, we are for them. If they want to choke off important technologies, we are against them.’”

Horowitz and Andreessen are giving the world what some might describe as “a one-finger salute.” These venture capitalists want to do whatever they want wherever they want with governments in their pockets.

This isn’t a new ideology or a philosophy. It’s a rebranding of socialism and fascism and communism. There’s an even better word that describes techno-optimism: Plutocracy. I am not sure the approach will produce a Utopia. But there is a good chance that some giant techno feudal outfits will reap big rewards. But another approach might be to call techno optimism a religion and grab the benefits of a tax exemption. I wonder if someone will create a deep fake of Jim and Tammy Faye? Interesting.

Whitney Grace, February 23, 2023


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