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Industrial Society and Its Future (Are Gonna Be Great!)

Today in fascism, and more Garfield than any of us were expecting.

Could the end of the AI hype cycle be in sight?” asked Tech Brew’s Patrick Kulp and precisely on time today here’s a doorstop of LinkedIn-brained crypto-(but-not-too-crypto)-fascism from Egg Andreessen titled “The Techno-Optimist Manifesto.” It’s very long, and you should absolutely not read it, but it’s useful for finally making explicit the fascist philosophy that people like Brad Johnson have long argued is growing steadily less implicit in Silicon Valley’s techno-triumphalism.

“Techno-Optimists believe that societies, like sharks, grow or die,” writes Egg, and Rose Eveleth was already like 🤔:

Rose Eveleth heavily foreshadowed: “‘Techno-Optimists believe that societies, like sharks, grow or die.’ Marinetti would have fucking LOVED this.”

But before going fully mask-off, Andreessen has some crazy things to say about AI.

There are scores of common causes of death that can be fixed with AI, from car crashes to pandemics to wartime friendly fire.

But AI can surely help us kill the right people in war much more efficiently, yes? Still, he needs to make a pseudo-moral case to keep pumping cash into the AI bubble, so we get this:

We believe any deceleration of AI will cost lives. Deaths that were preventable by the AI that was prevented from existing is a form of murder.

Got that, Untermenschen? Regulation == murder.

Killer Robot from “The Terminator” with glowing red eyes and skull-like face, and for some reason it appears to have *human teeth*, which is kind of messed up? I don’t know if I ever noticed that before. Anyway the caption reads “We believe any deceleration of AI will cost lives. Deaths that were preventable by the AI that was prevented from existing is a form of murder.”

But let’s get to the good stuff, in the section titled “Becoming Technological Supermen” (I swear I’m not making this up).

We believe in the romance of technology, of industry. The eros of the train, the car, the electric light, the skyscraper. And the microchip, the neural network, the rocket, the split atom.

We believe in adventure. Undertaking the Hero’s Journey, rebelling against the status quo, mapping uncharted territory, conquering dragons, and bringing home the spoils for our community.

To paraphrase a manifesto of a different time and place: “Beauty exists only in struggle. There is no masterpiece that has not an aggressive character. Technology must be a violent assault on the forces of the unknown, to force them to bow before man.”

This first two paragraphs here are just bonkers. He’s horny for trains? I guess he saw North By Northwest at an impressionable age. But that last paragraph contains the only quote in the whole piece that isn’t attributed to a specific source, and it turns out it’s not really a paraphrase, it’s a direct quote from Filippo Marinetti’s 1909 “Futurist Manifesto” with “technology” substituted for the original’s “poetry.” I wonder if Marinetti wrote any other famous manifestos?

In case we somehow still don’t get it, Andreessen specifies that “The Enemy” is “the ivory tower, the know-it-all credentialed expert worldview, indulging in abstract theories, luxury beliefs, social engineering, disconnected from the real world, delusional, unelected, and unaccountable…” and then drops an extended Nietzsche excerpt. You know who else hated the ivory tower and loved Nietzsche?

Alex Blechman: “(interviewing Twitter CEO) Interviewer: Musk said all users of X will be “combined into a single giant ball of flesh” and “the ball will be sentient, it will remember the people it used to be.” Is that true? CEO: He said that? Yes, he said that. We discussed it. I know all about the flesh ball”

That’s right: Garfield. Less Marinetti and more marinara, Aidan Pollock interviewed GarfieldEATS impresario Nathen Mazri, and while you might go into this profile thinking: “who?” you’ll probably finish it thinking: “who?” but in a slightly different tone. There is still some Marinetti though:

Why is someone still [struggling to buy] a piece of bread? It’s all about money. You talk to me about ethics, morality, and [it’ll] override it! We live in a triangle. There’s someone up there in the pyramid that is really controlling this world. I mean I know who, but maybe we’ll leave it for another interview.”

Pollock does not choose to follow up on who, exactly, Mazri thinks is up there in the pyramid controlling this world. I guess we’ll never know.

In New York Magazine Theo Baker, a Stanford undergrad who recently won the Polk Award for investigative reporting that led to former Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne’s resignation for manipulating research data, took a look at the hot streak of fraud Stanford is on lately. I don’t know that anyone would struggle to explain it, given Silicon Valley’s philosopher king up there waving around his pocket Nietzsche but it’s a good summary of where tech culture is at these days.

Mattie Lubchansky posted a comic: “having fun with AI” First panel: “Man… I’d love to know what it would look like if Garfield was smoking a big fat joint,” says red hat guy. “This is the Dream-song of my true heart.” The Mattie character looks kind of skeptical, but in panel two starts to say “Oh man, that’d be fun to draw—” before being rudely interrupted by a robot with (again!) glowing red eyes and yellow mouth squares that looks suspiciously like human teeth, who bleeps “SIMPLE!” In the third panel the robot tells a rapt red hat guy “…FIRST FEED ME THE CHARRED REMAINS OF AN OLD-GROWTH TREE. ALSO, MANY GALLONS OF WATER. ALSO I WOULD LIKE TO SEE DRAWINGS OF “GARFIELD” AND “A FAT J” DRAWN BY REAL HUMAN ARTIST TO PLAGIARIZE… I MEAN SCAN.” In the last panel, Mattie peeks around the trunk of a tree and says “you could have just commissioned—” but red hat guy, intent on dumping gasoline on the old growth tree, protests “Oh so now I’m not allowed to have harmless fun?”

Intern Meggie we seem to be stuck in an endless Garfield / AI loop today, please tell me you wrote about something else.

U Got It Bad

Halloween does not officially begin until haunted house daddy Mike Flanagan says it does. Flanagan has finished his rounds at Netflix to critical acclaim with The Fall of the House of Usher, a gothic Succession type series that follows the demise of a powerful family. Based on the Edgar Allen Poe short story, the eight episode arc centers around Roderick Usher, made powerful by seedy exploits in the healthcare industry and the consequences that come of his greed. Namely, the death of his children. One death (spoiler!) involves a face ripped off by a chimpanzee and I need everyone to know. Looks like SOMEONE in big pharma is finally “getting theirs.”

This final installation in the Flanagan universe marks the end of a very impressive six year Netflix run for Flanagan and his creative partner Trevor Macy. Pumping out works since 2018, their filmography includes family trauma masterpiece Haunting of Hill House, Emmy nominated Midnight Mass, and “wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole following a breakup” Haunting of Bly Manor, alongside Stephen King adaptations Gerald’s Game and Doctor Sleep. At Amazon, the duo hopes to finally adapt Stephen King’s Dark Tower series for me, personally.

If you’re looking for an entry point into Flanagan (a new FANagan?) start with Hill House. It is easily the scariest and under no circumstances should you watch it the same way I did (alone in my parent’s basement after being released from the psych ward). 

Gif of young Nell from Hill House saying “a bent-neck lady.”

Happy oversharing Monday!

—Meggie Gates will not be taking any questions at this time. 

It’s an Usher song, get it? Look I really struggled with the Intern tab title. Who else is struggling? Well, Joyce Carol Oates posted hog on main. The Wall St. Journal is disputing a report “that Iran ‘helped plan’ last week’s attack by Hamas” which appeared in The Wall St. Journal. “George Santos Has Meltdown While Holding Mystery Baby.” I can’t even, you just have to read it. Taffy Brodesser-Akner struggled to explain what being a Taylor Swift fan is. After five years the Bad Art Friend lawsuit has ended in a 0-0 tie. And it’s almost exactly two years since that tab happened, so I think we’re all struggling with that.

And finally, it’s not particularly new but I struggled real bad with this "Antidepressant or Tolkien Character” quiz.

Ethan Marcotte: “motherfucker shipped the `img` tag and he’s out here acting like he invented clouds,” and David Yee replied “we had a text problem and we invented <img>”

Today’s Song: Maximo Park, “Signal and Sign”

Happy Harper’s Ferry Day. Sorry the Tabs are so late, it’s because I wrote them late. Join me on Bluesky: bsky-social-leiip-gwmlc (limit one (1)). Thanks to Music Intern Sam. Come back tomorrow for hopefully 100% less fascism. Your paid subscription is the only thing standing between a smooth reading experience and more annoying interstitial begging so please subscribe while the begging is down here in the signoff, thank you.

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