Amidst the deafening anti-technology rhetoric, Marc Andreessen emerges as a champion for the power and potential of tech with his latest essay: 'The Techno-Optimist Manifesto'., which builds on claims Andreessen made in a June essay titled "Why AI Will Save the World".
"We are being lied to," Andreessen begins...
We are told that technology takes our jobs, reduces our wages, increases inequality, threatens our health, ruins the environment, degrades our society, corrupts our children, impairs our humanity, threatens our future, and is ever on the verge of ruining everything.
We are told to be angry, bitter, and resentful about technology.
We are told to be pessimistic. The myth of Prometheus – in various updated forms like Frankenstein, Oppenheimer, and Terminator – haunts our nightmares. We are told to denounce our birthright – our intelligence, our control over nature, our ability to build a better world.
We are told to be miserable about the future.
However, Andreessen argues that these are all lies.
Instead, with technology as humanity's spearhead, the Silicon Valley legend foresees a future driven by growth, invention, and unstoppable progress.
"...we have the tools, systems, and ideas to advance to a far superior way of living and being."
And he calls on people to embrace technology and work together to create a better world.
Markets, fueled by technology, offer a decentralized, complex system that promotes collective achievement and prosperity.
"We believe central planning is a doom loop; markets are an upward spiral."
This so-called techno-capital machine, with its unwavering belief in continuous evolution and progress, aligns itself with the power of intelligence and energy.
"We believe the techno-capital machine of markets and innovation never ends, but instead spirals continuously upward. Comparative advantage increases specialization and trade.
Prices fall, freeing up purchasing power, creating demand. Falling prices benefit everyone who buys goods and services, which is to say everyone.
Human wants and needs are endless, and entrepreneurs continuously create new goods and services to satisfy those wants and needs, deploying unlimited numbers of people and machines in the process.
This upward spiral has been running for hundreds of years, despite continuous howling from Communists and Luddites. Indeed, as of 2019, before the temporary COVID disruption, the result was the largest number of jobs at the highest wages and the highest levels of material living standards in the history of the planet. "
Most specifically, as technology evolves, Artificial Intelligence stands as the linchpin for a new age, heralding limitless possibilities.
"Artificial Intelligence is our alchemy, our Philosopher’s Stone – we are literally making sand think.
We believe Artificial Intelligence is best thought of as a universal problem solver. And we have a lot of problems to solve."
More ominously, Andreessen warns:
"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."
Andreessen argues that 'Techno-Optimist' enemies "are not bad people – but rather bad ideas."
"Our present society has been subjected to a mass demoralization campaign for six decades – against technology and against life – under varying names like “existential risk”, “sustainability”, “ESG”, “Sustainable Development Goals”, “social responsibility”, “stakeholder capitalism”, “Precautionary Principle”, “trust and safety”, “tech ethics”, “risk management”, “de-growth”, “the limits of growth”.
This demoralization campaign is based on bad ideas of the past – zombie ideas, many derived from Communism, disastrous then and now – that have refused to die.
Our enemy is deceleration, de-growth, depopulation – the nihilistic wish, so trendy among our elites, for fewer people, less energy, and more suffering and death."
But, there is hope:
"We will explain to people captured by these zombie ideas that their fears are unwarranted and the future is bright.
We believe these captured people are suffering from ressentiment – a witches’ brew of resentment, bitterness, and rage that is causing them to hold mistaken values, values that are damaging to both themselves and the people they care about.
We believe we must help them find their way out of their self-imposed labyrinth of pain.
We invite everyone to join us in Techno-Optimism.
The water is warm."
In conclusion, Andreessen’s Techno-Optimist Manifesto is a call to action for all those who believe in the power of technology's ability to change the world for the better, and fight the techno-pessimist "enemies".
We believe in the words of David Deutsch: “We have a duty to be optimistic. Because the future is open, not predetermined and therefore cannot just be accepted: we are all responsible for what it holds. Thus it is our duty to fight for a better world."
One thing to bear mind amid all this 'almost utopia' evocation, Andreessen and his partners stand to make cajillions more dollars from any continued growth in AI given their early investments in companies innovating in that area. Talking his book? Of course. But, unarguably, there are some good points.