apocalyptic techno-optimism

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jennypenny
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apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by jennypenny » Wed Jul 25, 2018 7:53 am

A new article from Douglas Rushkoff ... Survival of the Richest: The wealthy are plotting to leave us behind.

It's touches on the ongoing evolution of techno-optimism from 'technology will save everyone' to 'technology will save a few of us'. A good, if depressing, read.

vexed87
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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by vexed87 » Wed Jul 25, 2018 8:43 am

Yes I stumbled across this too. The few very wealthy people I have met, 'sold my successful business for multiple millions' types, all take this attitude of isolationism and escape. It doesn't surprise me, as someone who is prepared to build a business from scratch to the exclusion of all else in life would take this attitude. The elite are sort of self-selecting in that regard.

They will last about as long as faith in our financial system holds out. Once that happens their privilege will unravel, and likely they will be targets of hungry desperate sort, as the article states, how will they maintain order in their bunkers if their security turn against them? Those covertly wealthy, think millionaire next door types, will fair better imo, most likely because they blend into their communities and are not so far removed from the common goals. Although, I do admit the wealth of the elite vs. the millionaire next door types are leagues apart, and these are very different people.

Depending on who you ask, the markets will collapse quickly, or slowly, I think the possibility of fast collapse scares the techno-optimists the most for hopefully self-evident reasons. I used to be of the slowly ratcheting down mindset, lately I'm leaning further toward the fast collapse. Particularly after reading Korowicz.

Also see:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQaw2fix3q0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0zOCy7b3xg

Technology cannot be a solution, as ours is not a technical problem, but a tragedy of the commons problem. The solutions will require social cooperation, not isolationism. The social arrangements that allow the lifestyles of the elite to exist in the first place will be shaken to their foundations. To me, the individuals in featured in the article sound like well resourced preppers, and not the type to think through the true implications of collapse, and thus the solutions we should be working towards. It's sad that they take the isolationist approach, rather than funding community resilience projects. It's better to have well fed and cooperative neighbours than hungry ones, and guns and bunkers.

TheWanderingScholar
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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Wed Jul 25, 2018 9:14 am

The title is clickbaity but here are my thoughts:

Cynical as Fuck-All:
As someone who was/is fascinated by the futurism movement (now more as a different way of thinking than as a legitimate path forward), I see many parallels in this article to the futurism movement:

Too many pies in the sky that are always twenty miles away, aiming theoretical silver bullets that turn into sugar glass when coming into reality.

And it annoys me when these multi-billionaires aim for the heavens and seek to create castles that surely sink, when one percent of their money could be used on business incubation in sub-Saharan Africa* to improving quality of living and push people towards more developed demographics, skipping the mistakes the current developed countries make, and help them adapt to more extreme climate events.

When aiming for biodegradable plastics are being researched when Pigovian taxes on plastic usage by companies are more direct and effective in helping the reduction in plastic reduction. Certainly cheaper.

When people bitch about sprawling cities of America, yet 95% people on the loop rides in only one car, with people looking down on people who use the bus as the bottom of society, and are unwilling to pay the money needed to use maintain these roads and colossus of streets.

Basically what I am saying:
People look to techno-optimism as saving grace annoy the shit out of me when the base of what makes a sustainable society, the humans, are unwilling to pay the actual cost that these services require, whether it is in toil or money.

Not as Fucking Cynical:
Many developing nations are actually pushing forward and making more sustainable choices.
Some companies are pushing out plastic materials on the general and trying to be more ecological stable
More economically suppressed areas in the US are making movements forward, with more "working with what you got" economic development policy.
My generation seems to be developing a general apathy towards car culture.
China is on track to reduce it climate emissions according the Paris Climate Agreement, its current pushback against importing plastics is certainly nice to watch as western countries no longer have easy access towards.
The hatred for public transport is mostly an American thing; many developing countries are supporting public transportation, at least in Europe and most of Asia. Africa I am not sure about.

*Reason as to specifically them? Largest economies developing in the future, therefore more waste and money going through there. Countries going from lesser economic developed to more developed economies have a tendency to have explosion of population and consumption of resources, which is not useful.

Riggerjack
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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by Riggerjack » Wed Jul 25, 2018 10:45 am

From the article:
Being human is not about individual survival or escape. It’s a team sport. Whatever future humans have, it will be together.
This reminds me of the sort of thing Ego would have said. It's a nice thought, not even remotely accurate, but nice.

Yes, yes. Our poor professor is good hearted, and good willed, and darn it, all the rich people just refuse to do the right thing, as he pointed out.

Or, a bunch of rich guys had fun at an egghead's expense.

Or, said good hearted professor needed something to pontificate about, and he had already spent the advance, so enter the shadowy evil capitalists, bent on taking all the resources, and starving all the children.

Or maybe, this is just the kind of fiction that gets clicks. I don't know.

@da, if you come up with the solution, I am all ears, but just deciding the problem is a "commons" problem doesn't get anyone any closer to a solution. The problem with people is always the people, but that doesn't get us closer, at all.

@ WS,
The hatred for public transport is mostly an American thing; many developing countries are supporting public transportation, at least in Europe and most of Asia. Africa I am not sure about.
Hatred of public transportation is related to mathmatical ability. Look up fuel usage per passenger mile, in BTUs. Light rail is about as fuel efficient as driving a full sized diesel pickup, by myself.

TheWanderingScholar
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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:15 am

Riggerjack wrote:
Wed Jul 25, 2018 10:45 am

Hatred of public transportation is related to mathmatical ability. Look up fuel usage per passenger mile, in BTUs. Light rail is about as fuel efficient as driving a full sized diesel pickup, by myself.
How much resources go into developing and maintaining a fleet of buses as opposed to everyone riding their own individual car. Does not help the fact that many people buy new cars, which require more resources to develop.

A bus fleet cost less resources to maintain as turnover and replacement is slower. Not only that but buying a bus ticket is much cheaper than paying for your own car. Second, the amount of people you can put on a road using a bus compared to everyone using a car meaning less congestion. Sure you can make the roads bigger but that will cost more money to maintain and subsides to maintain as compared to a bus.

So yes while the individual buses themselves are not as efficient by themselves, the cost of replacement, infrastructure to maintain them, and the amount of congestion they can relieve are much higher.

And if still you still don't like public transportation; just have denser cities so you can walk where you need to go, or even bike. I am pretty sure those are more efficient gas wise than cars.

And I live in a city of 100k more or less, I pretty much never use bus and just walk mostly.

ffj
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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by ffj » Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:19 am

@rigger

"This reminds me of the sort of thing Ego would have said. It's a nice thought, not even remotely accurate, but nice."

:) He does have a bit of a point though, doesn't he?


What strikes me is the short-term thinking on a lot of these problems. Especially things like bunkers and bugouts and the like. I always think of medieval sieges of castles where the enemy just starved you out or flung diseased carcasses over your wall.

Seems to me that population control would go a long way to at least slow down some of our problems. I think we have enough people on the planet.

Sustainable food production that didn't rely on petroleum would also help. I think permaculture practiced by billions would produce some impressive results.

Building infrastructure that would encourage alternative ways of living and transportation seems to be a good idea too. Incentivise the behavior you would like to see and fund it through slashing programs that are ineffective and counter-productive.

Here in the United States we are so wealthy that people can choose to live lives independently of the common good simply because we can. Nothing will change until change is forced upon us.

7Wannabe5
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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:27 am

I agree that this is how super-wealthy old men think. However, what the author of this article is missing is that it isn't just the case that this sort of thinking is "wrong", it is also incorrect. All modern cognitive research converges on embodied consciousness. The human mind runs on metaphors that are constructed in alignment with our muscular movements. The notion of the disembodied mind is just a weak construct of the embodied mind, and is not reflective of reality.

As Henri Poincare first noted over 100 years ago, even the simple core of mathematical reasoning, is directly tied to our physiology, because in order to count, we must be able to use our muscles to cause an alteration in our visual or tactile field. This line of analysis has been confirmed over and over again with research that reveals, for instance, that categorization of objects and concepts is directly correlated with reduction of flow of information from sensory apparatus to processing realms in the brain. IOW, any attempt to transfer brain to jar would necessarily result in collapse of core human gestalt.

daylen
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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by daylen » Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:32 am

@rigger

You do realize human need humans to produce more humans otherwise no more humans, right?

suomalainen
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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by suomalainen » Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:53 am

Riggerjack wrote:
Wed Jul 25, 2018 10:45 am
Hatred of public transportation is related to mathmatical ability. Look up fuel usage per passenger mile, in BTUs. Light rail is about as fuel efficient as driving a full sized diesel pickup, by myself.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_ef ... _transport

?

IlliniDave
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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Jul 25, 2018 12:43 pm

Seems like an empty life. Maybe a compulsion for some amount of hope, susceptibility to grand narrative, and respect, is not such a bad thing.

7Wannabe5
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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Jul 25, 2018 1:28 pm

@IlliniDave:

Agreed, given nod to post-modernists since any grand narrative is a collection of partially culturally constructed living metaphors (For example, Lakoff makes use of Love is a Journey in "Philosophy in the Flesh.") with limitations only imposed due to human biological structure.

The brain is like a computer is, IMO, a soon to be dead metaphor, because we have now constructed tools that expand our sensory fields in a manner that has revealed evidence in opposition to this metaphor.

https://www.edge.org/conversation/philo ... -the-flesh

Riggerjack
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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by Riggerjack » Wed Jul 25, 2018 4:55 pm

I'm sorry. I didn't mean to send this thread into one discussing fuel efficiency. I was just pointing out the inefficiencies of the standard solutions. Buses are super efficient when you divide fuel efficiency by passenger capacity. And much less so when actual passenger miles are used. I have yet to see any justification for mass transit that would stand up to even cursory inspection. More transit, and more urbanites, is just more of the same problems we already choose not to solve. Green cities are fiction. Popular fiction, but fiction, nonetheless.

But the original article was fun. A Very Smart Person, complaining about how people will people, even though he knows better. And look at these cartoon villains, just totally failing, with all their villainous money, as they lay their villainous plans!

I've met villains. There is nothing cartoonish about them.

Though I have noticed a cartoonish pattern among those who summon up such strawmen...

Think about it for a minute. 5 very rich men, have so much money that they will pay a professor half a year's salary, to be a futurist, and all they want is to know how to ensure loyalty of henchmen. Makes me wonder if they all had bald cats and volcano lairs.

Because that's the only way I can envision such a meeting. 5 guys, with all those resources, and hiring a blogger who had so little to contribute was their best plan? No wonder they needed help. Did they also need their nappies changed? Their meat cut up into fork sized pieces? Did they all answer to Doctor Evil, or just the leader?

And this isn't such a tough question. 7w5 has worked it out in her spare time, while working on more difficult problems. But she doesn't have a blog, so I guess she wasn't qualified to answer the tough questions. :roll:

7Wannabe5
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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Jul 25, 2018 6:00 pm

I have actually discussed the possibility of brain-upload with my friend who possibly has enough money to afford such a procedure, and he would not listen to me.
I suggested that their best bet would be to treat those people really well, right now. They should be engaging with their security staffs as if they were members of their own family.
I think the author of the article was correct in suggesting this solution, but, as Lakoff would surely note, his frame on "family" is closer to that of "nurturing parents" which is associated with progressive politics, than family frame of "authoritarian father" which is associated with conservative politics. Therefore, I would note that humans most likely to wish to be employed as security personnel would probably hold innate preference for "authoritarian father" family model. So, "treating them well" should run tertiary to "acting like a winner/leader" and "promoting/rewarding discipline."

So, for instance, behavior such as supervising displays of regiment and valor from up on a high perch, and then bestowing praise and tokens of honor upon the winners would likely prove effective means of ensuring loyalty.

IlliniDave
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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Jul 25, 2018 8:04 pm

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Wed Jul 25, 2018 6:00 pm
Therefore, I would note that humans most likely to wish to be employed as security personnel would probably hold innate preference for "authoritarian father" family model. So, "treating them well" should run tertiary to "acting like a winner/leader" and "promoting/rewarding discipline."

So, for instance, behavior such as supervising displays of regiment and valor from up on a high perch, and then bestowing praise and tokens of honor upon the winners would likely prove effective means of ensuring loyalty.
More relevant maybe than "authoritarian father" would be some form of hierarchy predicated on competence--perhaps being a winner/leader more so than playing one on TV. Unfortunately, perhaps, in an situation where fighting ability is critical and not much else has exchange value--if S really HTF--competence in military leadership would trump other forms of competence. So maybe the best bets would be employing guards that are not essentially professional soldiers and who don't have a lot of inherent predisposition towards leadership. Stereotype mob muscle types might fit the bill. Otherwise, a coup led by a more militarily competent leader and seizure of whatever stored wealth was at hand would be the logical move for the troops.

Riggerjack
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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by Riggerjack » Wed Jul 25, 2018 8:21 pm

Maybe stereotype mob muscle types.
Right. Because the mob never had any self promoters?

I was thinking more about what 7w5 said in another thread. Something about a male bear, and the right amount of range. That claiming territory one cannot defend is no claim. Or something like that.

If Dr Evil's only claim on his security staff is monetary, that in itself says all that needs saying about what will happen when money is not a factor.

But, I think the moral of the story was that in America, getting rich is so easy, even a cabal of Dr Evil wannabes who throw ridiculous money at fantastically unqualified consultants can do it. Or at least that's what I got out of it. :twisted:

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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by jacob » Wed Jul 25, 2018 8:22 pm

This parallels the question I just saw elsewhere in the pf-sphere: "Which app do you use for home improvements?" :? :shock:

For some, both in this case and that case, reality has been abstracted sufficiently so that it's emphatically believed that reality is something one can manage with an app or a conference-call or a fucking spreadsheet. *Please share your favorite apps and spreadsheets for dealing with the annoying part of reality so I can optimize it with my smartphone".

The answers to these questions are already known. It's happening outside their bubble as we speak.

BRUTE
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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by BRUTE » Thu Jul 26, 2018 12:45 am

vexed87 wrote:
Wed Jul 25, 2018 8:43 am
Technology cannot be a solution, as ours is not a technical problem, but a tragedy of the commons problem.
can technology not solve social problems? the fence solved a lot of tragedy of the commons problems. the invention of private property did. that doesn't mean that all social/ToC problems can be solved by technology, especially technology that is close enough for humanity right now, but brute would suggest that, in principle, it is possible, and has historically happened a lot.
Riggerjack wrote: Hatred of public transportation is related to mathmatical ability. Look up fuel usage per passenger mile, in BTUs. Light rail is about as fuel efficient as driving a full sized diesel pickup, by myself.
the need for public transport doesn't necessarily arise from average fuel efficiency, but from peak bandwidth limitations. the bus and light rail might be empty most of the time, but they allow a higher density of humans to travel during peak times, usually commuting rush hours. this allows a higher amount of humans to work in the city, because cars simply would not fit. also see: every major metropolitan area in the US right now.

thus even if average fuel cost per person actually transported is higher, it can be worth it, because it enables a higher density of humans in the city, which has large economical network effects.
7Wannabe5 wrote: The brain is like a computer is, IMO, a soon to be dead metaphor, because we have now constructed tools that expand our sensory fields in a manner that has revealed evidence in opposition to this metaphor.
the main problem with the metaphor is probably not that it's untrue, but that most humans don't understand how computers work.

how would 7Wannabe5 say that the brain is not like a computer? (for reference, brute thinks the brain is a computer).

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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:13 am

the main problem with the metaphor is probably not that it's untrue, but that most humans don't understand how computers work.

how would 7Wannabe5 say that the brain is not like a computer? (for reference, brute thinks the brain is a computer).
What I should have said was something more like "The human mind is not like a computer in the sense that anything resembling continuation of consciousness would be possible via upload."

One of my reading trails recently led me directly from "Complexity: A Guided Tour" by Melanie Mitchell to "The Foundations of Science" by Henri Poincare, because he was referenced as the founder of dynamical systems theory. Another one of my reading trails hopped from "12 Rules for Life" by Jordan Peterson to "Philosophy in the Flesh" by George Lakoff, because I was seeking a more scientifically informed response to post-modernism. So, it was interesting to me to note the level of correspondence between Poincare (stone genius) and Lakoff (extremely intelligent/access to recent research and high-tech tools.)

There is also a level of correspondence between Peterson and Lakoff that could better allow me to explain to myself why I believe that Peterson is 20% dead wrong. If Lakoff and Peterson had a debate, Lakoff would be able to offer defense and respect for Pierre Bourdieu in the same manner that Poincare offers defense and respect for other scientists who imagined an ether.

Anyways, I would probably have to read at least 8 more books and think about them for a couple years before I could offer a very good response to your question, so for now I will just copycat Lakoff for my reply.
There is no such thing as a computational person, whose mind is like computer software, able to work on any suitable computer or neural hardware- whose mind somehow derives meaning from taking meaningless symbols as input, manipulating them by rule, and giving meaningless symbols as output. Real people have embodied minds whose conceptual systems arise from, are shaped by, and are given meaning through living human bodies. The neural structures of our brains produce conceptual systems and linguistic structures that cannot be adequately accounted for by formal systems that only manipulate symbols.

daylen
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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by daylen » Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:30 am

Cognitive linguistics is probably my next obsession. Thanks for the reference. :)

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Re: apocalyptic techno-optimism

Post by Sclass » Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:53 am

And how exactly will the rich guy keep the guards from taking the food and giving it to the guard’s family? Those hedge fund guys can think about the future alright. I think the first thing that’ll happen is Richie Rich will get thrown to the wolves.

I think feudalism is the answer. Not the solution but rather what things will degenerate into if things get really bad. I can think of some recent examples like Afghanistan and Syria where local lords rose to protect their local lands. Bankers are always easy targets when feudalism takes set like in 1925 China.

The sad thing about the article is we are experiencing something like the hedge fund solution now. These guys are already isolating themselves from the toiling masses. They’re already eating cleaner food, drinking cleaner water, filtered air in penthouses, living behind fences with guards.

But I guess we haven’t reached SHTF yet. It seems this class is trying to extend what is already working for them.

The most current example I personally know is a rancher friend of the family. He allows the families of his workers to live free on his land. They protect it fiercely. They grow a lot of their own food in gardens. And they show up with pickups and shotguns when people wander on to the land. I suspect they owe money to the rancher because I’d heard through another channel that you had to ask permission If your on-Ranch family members to take jobs offsite. I also heard rumors that there is rancher DNA in the farm hands. I was disgusted when I heard this but it was explained to me that it was an honor for the families to be related to the landlord.

Not exactly tech. Feudal. One big happy family. :?

Without government being a leader looks very stressful. Look at organized crime bosses.

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