Tag Archives | utopianism

Does Silicon Valley Want To Create Its Own Separate Nation?

balloonPlease leave me behind. CNET News dissects a talk given at Y Combinator this past weekend that echos the recent sentiments of Google co-founder Larry Page, eBay co-founder Peter Thiel, and others who imagine a libertarian, tech-utopian paradise as the ultimate goal:

At Y Combinator, Balaji Srinivasan, a Stanford lecturer and co-founder of genetics startup Counsyl, lays out his proposal for creating opt-in societies “outside the US, run by technology,” Srinivasan said, often reading from the slides he presented onstage with an authoritarian tone.

The idea is techno-utopian spaces — new countries even — that could operate beyond the bureaucracy and inefficiency of government. It’s a decision that hinges on exiting the current system, as Srinivasan terms it from the realm of political science, instead of using one’s voice to reform from within.

Calling his radical-sounding proposal “Silicon Valley’s Ultimate Exit,” Srinivasan thinks that these limitless spaces, popularly postulated by Page at this year’s Google I/O, are already being created, thanks to technology and a desire to exit.

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Unveiling The Delusion Of Disruption

disruption

Balkinization on the techno-utopian cult of disruption:

Why is the term “disruption” so popular nowadays? Elite media features a parade of thinkers keen on “disrupting” old institutions. Talk of social contracts is passé in an America obsessed with technocapitalist visions of a prosperous future.

The yen for “disruption,” an empty term for empty minds in empty people, makes traditional obstacles like social contracts suspect or downright pernicious. This has led to an embrace of proceduralism by those true believers who want an app economy to be the engine of capitalism. And such people rule the world.

The view of society as an institution-free network of autonomous individuals practicing free exchange makes the social sciences, with the exception of economics, irrelevant. What’s left is engineering, neuroscience, an understanding of incentives (in the narrowly utilitarian sense): just right for those whose intellectual predispositions are to algorithms, design, and data structures.

Unfortunately, the “disruptions” pursued by Silicon Valley giants (and their well-heeled consultants) often have little to do with challenging the biggest power centers in society.

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The Architectural-Utopia Desert Commune Of Arcosanti

arcosantiVisionary architect Paolo Soleri died in April at 93. His landmark work is the domed utopian village Arcosanti in Arizona, a communal, hippie-futurist "human laboratory" created in 1970, where hundreds of people still live with the purpose of developing new ways of physically organizing human life. ArchDaily writes:
Paolo Soleri spent a lifetime investigating how architecture, specifically the architecture of the city, could support the countless possibilities of human aspiration. The urban project he founded, Arcosanti, 65 miles north of Phoenix, was described by NEWSWEEK magazine as "the most important urban experiment undertaken in our lifetimes.”
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An Open Letter To Robot Cultists

Via amor mundi, Dale Carrico hopes to douse some sober reality onto those awaiting a transhumanist, technocratic future:

Any child can indulge in wish fulfillment fantasizing. It’s not a philosophy [or] a movement. And the way you Robot Cultists do it makes you a kind of techno-transcendental New Age cult too hype-notized to notice you are functioning as a crowdsourced cheerleading squad for celebrity CEOs and ramped up gizmo consumerism at a time when the world is literally perishing from extractive- industrial- petrochemical- consumer- indebted- corporate- militarism.

The digital revolution is a lie. Cyberspace isn’t a spirit realm. It belches coal smoke. It is accessed on landfill-destined toxic devices made by wretched wage slaves. It abetted financial fraud and theft at every level of society around the world. Its “openness” and its “freedom” turned out to be targeted marketing harassment, panoptic surveillance, and zero comments.

Your Robot Cult — whether in its eugenicist transhumanoid sects, or in its dead-ender AI (artificial imbecillence) Singularitarian nerd-rapture sects, or in its vitamin supplement replacement parts shiny robot body soul-migration techno-immortalist sects, or in its nano-santa nano-genies-in-a-bottle nano-cornucopiast sects, or in its greenwashing hyper-denialist “geo-engineering” sects — your Robot Cult, I say, takes all the lies of crass commercialism — it takes all its infomercial boner pills and anti-aging kremes and endless promises of consumer ecstasy — and then sets the volume dial on eleven, turning what was just ugly stupid embarrassing commonplace circus-barker deception and crack-pottery into full on fulminating faith.

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Experimental Architect Lebbeus Woods Dies

He exemplified the idea of the architect as someone whose role is to challenge the status quo, confront serious issues of human vulnerability, and expand the public imagination. Only one of Woods’s projects, the Light Pavilion in Chengdu, China, was actually ever built, yet his designs and ideas were highly influential, the New York Times writes:

In an era when many architecture stars [...designed] high-rise condominiums or corporate headquarters, Mr. Woods conceived of a radically different environment, one intended for a world in conflict.

He conceived a post-earthquake San Francisco that emphasized its seismic vulnerability. He flew to Sarajevo in the 1990s and proposed a postwar city in which destruction and resurgence coexisted. He imagined a future for Lower Manhattan in which dams would hold back the Hudson and East Rivers to create a vast gorge around the island, exposing its rock foundation.

Mr. Woods’s work was often described as fantasy and compared to science-fiction imagery.

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