A couple of weeks ago, vaunted Silicon Valley venture capitalist and well known post-humanist Marc Andreeson released his Techno-Optimist Manifesto. That he has played a vital role in shaping the modern internet-era is without doubt. Like many of the Silicon Valley elite, he’s not been without his controversies. Andreeson is certainly smart and well connected.
This is a rebuttal, in part and a critique, of many missed points, ironies and contradictions. It is not meant to shoot down the manifesto (okay a little bit), but rather to add to a vital and necessary discussion as we move deeper into the Digital Age with technologies that will have incredibly profound impacts on humanity.
This is also a condensed version. A longer one will take time.
His manifesto is a clear stake in the ground and a bold declaration of where the views of this elite group, the Technorati, stand in terms of capitalism and the role of technology and humanity. It is distinctly libertarian and takes a deeply pragmatic engineers view. It is also resounding in its biases.
First I will look at what Andreeson and the technorati misunderstand, or simply lack knowledge of, in regards to humanity and our relationship with technology. Then I’ll look at where there are some good points.
What The Techno-Capital Manifesto Gets Wrong
Mostly what it means to be human. Especially when it comes to the co-evolutionary role of technology and humanity. Andreeson views technology and humans from a software engineering and venture capitalist lens. Narrowly and largely devoid of the progressive thinking he argues for towards the end of the manifesto.
His arguments are often contradictory, such that we are being lied to that technology is bad and takes jobs away. If this were the case, Apple wouldn’t be worth trillions and Facebook, Google et al, would not exist. Boxing shadows and all that.
Andreeson goes on to suggest that we have glorified technology for hundreds of years only. Humans have been glorifying it, so to speak, for nearly two million years. From the stone axe to Artificial Intelligence. But we’ve never really “glorified” technology, maybe some technologies, but mostly we just…