On Marc Andreessen's "techno-optimist manifesto"
I don't know which claim was most absurd, but my 2 favorites were
1) "markets prevent monpolies", almost comical in its proven failure, and
2) those in "ivory towers...are disconnected from the real world, delusional, unelected, and unaccoubtable".
Talk about a self-confession.
Thanks for this thoughtful and incisive critique of techno-optimism. I, for one, would be very curious to hear Andreesen's response to the issues that you raise. Sadly, I doubt Andreesen will ever read your critique, let alone engage with it.
And that's the problem, isn't it? If the 21st Century tech industry has taught us anything, it is that becoming a billionaire is corrosive to a person's intellect. It makes its victims, not stupid, but lazy. Being a billionaire means never having to hear an opinion you don't want to hear, and never having to take "no" for an answer. It's becoming increasingly clear that very few people are able to thrive in such an intellectually sterile environment.
As a young technologist you need cooperation from others, so you are obligated to justify your ideas and sharpen them in response to criticism. You are perforce part of a community of minds that is greater than any single mind within it. All of that give and take, however, is hard work. Once you don't have to do it anymore, it's tempting to skip the hard part and voluntarily cut yourself off from the community. That's when the laziness sets in. Your ideas never improve beyond their first iteration; you never "update your priors," and you are diminished because of it.
Extreme relative wealth creates a special kind of narcissism. It must come with the cognitive dissonance of being a normal person, lucky to accumulate massive wealth and then in an echo chamber. To the point where they are completely convinced that they are right, everyone else is so clearly wrong. And if they just put it out there, people will finally understand… the Emperor’s New Clothes - Modern Remake - without the realisation at the end…
"Optimists" tend to make shitty Engineers, tbh.
Would you fly on a plane, designed and built on "Optimism"? (Or... an imploding sub?)
>Economic inequality does not solve itself.
I don't think anyone claims that the free market reduces inequality. Free-marketeers don't care about inequality. Inequality, to them, is just the natural hierarchy of talent/brains being reflected in your wallet. If we want to reduce inequality we need more regulation and all the stuff they hate.
Great article, thanks!
So the boy genius is still a boy at heart and never had to grow up or confront facts that suggest the world is more complicated than just another engineering problem.
Marc Andreessen's manifesto is just so much twaddle, unreadable non-sense.
Before reading parts of Andreessen's manifesto I was already growing tired of the tech billionaires' Messiah complex, but it's all worth it when reading pieces like this one. Thank you.
Great, great article, Dave! This hits every gnawing feeling I had when I first heard about and then read the Manifesto. The problem is, they never will learn. They'll just loudly “pivot” to the next scheme to make more money and gain influence. Or the next one in line will. I hope you’re right that, in general, we’re becoming more willing to rebuff, but I still fear the clapping mob will drown out those voices. That’s the pessimist's take on this reality.
He should have realised that the <blink> tag was the apex of his career arc and retired to grow boutique avocados in Pismo Beach. He may be less overtly fascist than some of his contemporaries, but his accelerationist narrative is pure magical thinking.
Just spit-balling here but many appear to be narcissists high on their own supply & interests.
Dave. This is just SO good.
(Humans always do technology - like clothes, shelter, pointy sticks for hunting animals. Netscape was just a very well compensated pointy stick. Our species is more rightly Homo Technicus than Homo Sapiens, though its manifest that you have a lot more wisdom than the tech billionaire class)
That was my reaction too.
There is an emerging dialog starting on the blog itself via annotations. I took some of the red meat when WOHanleycalled Marc a fascist. https://hyp.is/go?url=https%3A%2F%2Fa16z.com%2Fthe-techno-optimist-manifesto%2F&group=__world__
Heh. I’ve been looking forward to this since I saw your exasperated skeet the other day. Well done.
This is just a touch outside of my expertise...if a touch equals a universe. Still I love the concept of techno-pragmatism. Thanks for the introduction.