Old and new futurisms in Silicon Valley
Futurism, cosmism, extropy, e/acc. Parallels, differences, philosophical foundations.
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Please scroll down for the main topic of this newsletter. But first:
Commenting “Terasem transcends time and space, enabling the collective future to transcend its nascent past,” Martine Rothblatt says interesting things about retrocausality in this video (after min. 39):
“We live in a world where time just seems to be a vector going in one direction and proceeding at a fixed pace and there's no possibility of going from the future back to the past. But a lot of astrophysicists and quantum physicists have elucidated the implications of Einstein's theories, that spacetime is just one and the same entity and that just as one can travel space one can travel time, because it is just a dimension that can be bent and manipulated in the universe. So I do not believe that there is a physical, scientific impossibility about having assistance from the future into the past… I think this simply says that Terasem, our collective consciousness, is unlimited and transcends any problems including time and space, and that this enables the future of Terasem to reach back and say to us ‘hey, the future needs you, get your act together!’”
Martine is agnostic on UFOs/UAPs and all that, but she mentions the possibility that UFOs/UAPs could be visitors from the future.
Retrocausality is a major theme of my next book (I promise to complete and publish it this year), both in the sense of direct influences from the future to the past and in the extended sense of global orchestration of events across the whole history of the universe and the whole structure of the multiverse. I think downward causation, where downward has both meanings of whole-part and future-past, is a central part of the cosmic operating system.
Natasha and Max also appear in a recent video titled “Transhumanism. What it is. What it is not” in conversation with David Wood and two representatives of the anti-transhumanist camp, Alexander Thomas and Émile Torres. I’m not familiar with the work of Thomas. I’m more familiar with the work of Torres. I very strongly disagree with most of what Torres says, but I must concede that Torres seems an intelligent and perceptive person, not without a certain endearing grace. However, BS is BS.
I’ve watched and listened again to the awesome conversation between Lex Fridman and Guillaume Verdon aka Beff Jezos, the founder of the movement called effective accelerationism (e/acc) and the company Extropic AI. This long conversation (almost 3 hours) touches a lot of things including physics, quantum, thermodynamics, Artificial Intelligence, LLMs, space, e/acc philosophy & metaphysics, and of course the meaning of life & all that. This is the most complete talk on e/acc so far and is likely to remain so for some time. Watch it all, and let’s accelerate the fuck away from mediocrity toward unlimited extropian and cosmist greatness.
See my previous posts on e/acc (1, 2). I see e/acc as the new kid on the historic block of futurism, cosmism, and extropy. The next Terasem Colloquium on July 20, the (alas 55th!) anniversary of the first human landing on the Moon, and the next issue of Terasem’s Journal of Geoethical Nanotechnology, to be published in July, will explore the old and new futurisms on the block: parallels, differences, philosophical foundations.
Topics: Artificial Intelligence (AI), Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), whether machines can think and have subjective experiences, consciousness & self, the future, space expansion, our duty to our mind children, and our duty to the universe. Also, why do people fear AI? But the real question is, who wants us to fear AI and why?
AI is part of my cosmist worldview. See my essay “Bats and bits” published in Terasem’s Journal of Personal Cyberconsciousness (Vol. 11, Issue 1 - 2023), to be further edited and published as a chapter of my next book.
A new issue of the Italian cultural magazine Prometheica includes a review by Adriano Scianca of the Italian translation (2023) of my book “Futurist spaceflight meditations” (2021). Scianca gives a good summary of my book and praises me for emphasizing the importance of mythopoesis: spaceflight must be supported “by a myth, by an epic narrative, by a mobilizing cultural factor.” Scianca agrees with me and Ross Douthat: “So if we want to really escape decadence… we need to find a way to climb, to make a ladder to the stars, and to offer future generations of humanity a new reality to explore.”
This is, indeed, one of my central points.
The same magazine issue includes a full Italian translation of Marc Andreessen’s “The Techno-Optimist Manifesto” (2023) with a very interesting commentary by Scianca titled “Marinetti nella Silicon Valley.”
In the commentary Scianca analyzes and criticizes (constructively) Andreessen’s manifesto. There is tension between Andreessen’s techno-libertarian optimism and a certain Faustian, heroic, cosmic undercurrent. Scianca is pleasantly surprised that Andreessen cites Nick Land, Nietzsche, and Marinetti: “Beauty exists only in struggle. There is no masterpiece that has not an aggressive character. Technology must be a violent assault on the forces of the unknown, to force them to bow before man.”
To Scianca, this is the most important aspect of Andreessen’s manifesto. This heroic, cosmic undercurrent in today’s Silicon Valley alongside is an “ideological virus” that Andreessen and other techno-capitalists are propagating.
Profit and individualism are not enough - we also need “a Faustian spirit of conquest… collective efforts and a new futurist dream.” The collective, with its culture and political organization, has and will continue to have a central role to play.
I agree. But I guess Andreessen (and Verdon) could reply that the techno-capitalist machine itself creates the optimal cultural and political conditions for its own survival and growth.
To me, paraphrasing one of my favorite quotes, it doesn’t matter whether the cat is one or a collective, as long as it catches mice.
See also the first issue of Prometheica. It includes a short history of accelerationism, whose roots are traced back to Nietzsche, Nick Land and variants of accelerationism (did you know that left-wing accelerationism is a thing?), and the editors’ own manifesto.
Now that e/acc is becoming popular, it is a good time to reflect on the philosophical foundations of old and new futurisms.