The Valley’s hype machine has been in full grind mode since the dawn of AI as a mass market tool. Since the start of 2023, I’ve seen a lot of over-the-top nonsense masquerading as product promotion, but what I saw last week in venture capitalist Mark Andreesen’s verbose defense of the technology, is unprecedented. This is no longer PR or promotion. It’s religion.
The stakes here are high. The opportunities are profound. AI is quite possibly the most important – and best – thing our civilization has ever created, certainly on par with electricity and microchips, and probably beyond those.
The development and proliferation of AI – far from a risk that we should fear – is a moral obligation that we have to ourselves, to our children, and to our future.
Did you hear the man? We are morally obligated to adopt AI as our lord and savior. It’s bigger than electricity, after all.
Papal tone aside, Andreesen’s piece raises some interesting questions. Like what is “the most important – and best – thing our civilization has ever created?” If he’s referring to Western Civilization, I’d argue that Roman aqueducts and Greek theaters are pretty impressive. I’d also add wine, pizza, and pasta to the list of incredible inventions. How about airplanes? Or landing on the moon? What about antibiotics? Or music—from Bach to Muddy Waters? There are so many deserving creations.
Because the claims are utterly wild, albeit increasingly common in the echo chamber, I want to share more of the VC’s words with you. Here’s a small part of what he claims AI will deliver.
- “Every child will have an AI tutor that is infinitely patient, infinitely compassionate, infinitely knowledgeable, infinitely helpful.”
- “The creative arts will enter a golden age, as AI-augmented artists, musicians, writers, and filmmakers gain the ability to realize their visions far faster and at greater scale than ever before.”
- “I even think AI is going to improve warfare, when it has to happen, by reducing wartime death rates dramatically.”
Every child will have an AI tutor? Really? Maybe he means every child in Palo Alto. Hard to say. Or it could be every child with parents who believe in the promise of technology, even though the promises are coming from The Valley’s high priests who stand to make billions more dollars.
Moving on, it’s nice to know that technological utopians value the arts, even when they don’t know where art comes from or how it is made. When it comes to his claim about improving warfare, I’m dumbfounded. I do like the idea of reducing death rates, it’s just that I believe the best way to do that is via a revolution in consciousness (that leads to the end of imperialism). For more on this topic, let’s indulge in a musical interlude.
“There was a time when false information wasn’t so rampant in the sphere. Do you remember?”
Do you ever wonder what’s up with the people funding and peddling tech as the answer to every problem? Do you wonder what drives them to do what they do and believe what they believe? In Financial Times, Anjana Ahuja writes:
People who are very rich or very clever, or both, sometimes believe weird things. Some of these beliefs are captured in the acronym Tescreal. The letters represent overlapping futuristic philosophies — bookended by transhumanism and longtermism — favoured by many of AI’s wealthiest and most prominent supporters.
According to People of Color in Tech, TESCREAL stands for Transhumanism, Extropianism, Singularitarianism, Cosmism, Rationalism, Effective Altruism, and Longtermism. “These overlapping emergent belief systems all trace their lineage back to the first-wave Anglo-American eugenics tradition, and underlying all is a kind of techno-utopianism and a sense that one is genuinely saving the world.”
As we learned earlier, Andreesen—who is one of the most successful men in venture capital—is all about saving the world. And he wants our cooperation. He says we owe it to our children and the future to embrace AI. In other words, it’s high time to mesh with the machines, to count on them for the most critical tasks, and to make way for the flood of advances that are sure to come our way, just as soon as we drop our suspicions and fears.
After all, what reasons do we have for doubting the men from Sand Hill Road? Haven’t they delivered us from the dusty old 20th century? So what if they also ushered in a new Gilded Age for themselves? That’s just the cost of progress in a corporate-led and tech-fed hegemony. Right? Nothing comes for free. So, let’s bow down and chain ourselves to the machine and convince ourselves it’s the right thing to do, not for our own glory or enrichment but for the good of the collective.