The rise of technoauthortariansim (The Atlantic)

I agree with a lot of the points here, and even if you don’t, it’s worth a read regardless IMHO as we often discuss the various issues raised

The Rise of Techno-authoritarianism - The Atlantic

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Kudos to Ben Kothe for the lead image.

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I’m not much of a fan of The Atlantic, and some of it reads like an Elizabeth Warren speech, but LaFrance did an incredible job of capturing the essence of the tech elite -

We are smarter and we know better (and we are d@mn sure going to profit from it!

The Shakespearean drama that unfolded late last year at OpenAI underscores the extent to which the worst of Facebook’s “move fast and break things” mentality has been internalized and celebrated in Silicon Valley. OpenAI was founded, in 2015, as a nonprofit dedicated to bringing artificial general intelligence into the world in a way that would serve the public good. Underlying its formation was the belief that the technology was too powerful and too dangerous to be developed with commercial motives alone.

From the August 2019 issue: Henry Kissinger, Eric Schmidt, and Daniel Huttenlocher on AI

But in 2019, as the technology began to startle even the people who were working on it with the speed at which it was advancing, the company added a for-profit arm to raise more capital. Microsoft invested $1 billion at first, then many billions of dollars more. Then, this past fall, the company’s CEO, Sam Altman, was fired then quickly rehired, in a whiplash spectacle that signaled a demolition of OpenAI’s previously established safeguards against putting company over country. Those who wanted Altman out reportedly believed that he was too heavily prioritizing the pace of development over safety. But Microsoft’s response—an offer to bring on Altman and anyone else from OpenAI to re-create his team there—started a game of chicken that led to Altman’s reinstatement. The whole incident was messy, and Altman may well be the right person for the job, but the message was clear: The pursuit of scale and profit won decisively over safety concerns and public accountability.

The 21st century century version of the Robber Barons

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Yeah not a fan of Warren either, but she has been remarkably prescient on some of the downsides of the rise of big tech and especially facebook (she was already talking in the mid to late 2010"s about how bad actors, government or otherwise could use platforms like Facebook for aims that most definitely are in the companies interest versus the broader public.

Or how Musk regardless if you agree with him or not, or even on some things but not others, has weaponized Twitter/X to drive certain agendas.

It’s also true that sadly this seems to be a repeating cycle going back to the railroads, then the oil companies, then the “military industrial complex” and so on.

I think people continue to miss how pervasive and potentially corrosive the influence can be. I mean Apple, as much as I like some of their products and ideas (secure enclave being one), is also a total bully in the overall marketplace (the app store and the made for programs being most notable).

Or for that matter the way they have tried to steamroll Massimo with the blood oxygen sensor in the Apple watch. (Though Massimo is certainly not helping themselves by trying to out Apple, Apple in response).

It is UNBELIEVABLE how BAD the entire INDUSTRY thinks and acts. That’s why I harken back to the robber barons - who cared how many children died in service to their production needs; railroads v. Native Americans (watch the middle section of How the West Was Won for Richard Widmark v. George Leppard, not to mention real life Custer and Wounded Knee); oil and gas pollution and land theft - meh…

Now I know I’ve really fell off the cliff, and capitalism has also brought many fantastic advancements, but Andreesen’s comment is burning in my ears:

" ‘Our enemy,’ Andreessen writes, is ‘the know-it-all credentialed expert worldview, indulging in abstract theories, luxury beliefs, social engineering, disconnected from the real world, delusional, unelected, and unaccountable—playing God with everyone else’s lives, with total insulation from the consequences.’

The irony is that this description very closely fits Andreessen and other Silicon Valley elites. The world that they have brought into being over the past two decades is unquestionably a world of reckless social engineering, without consequence for its architects, who foist their own abstract theories and luxury beliefs on all of us."

Despotism knows no allegiance to the right or left…

Here’s a different take and arguably a more honest one. Or quite possibly he has allowed other right-leaning agendas that have been ostracized and demonized and bullied and silenced by the highly leftist mainstream media to have an equal voice and equal footing in the digital public square again. So of course, when such a radical renormalization occurs after years of mounting and fierce polarization, it can be quite the shock to the laymen who have willfully swam or thoughtlessly gone with the flow of the status quo current.

I don’t disagree, but it feels like it has become a bizarre race to the bottom. Facebook and its ilk on one side (the left overall) and “X” on the right. Yet all are becoming increasingly filled with AI junk and I want to spend less and less time with any of them.

But it is NOT a “more honest one” because two wrongs do not make a right, only double-wrong. The right having a platform to spread disinformation and filth is no better than being shut out of the discourse and shouted down by the left. We, as a. country, are better than this - or at least I used to think we were…


A great way of putting it. The only thing I look at in X is my direct follows. The AI generated monstrosity on the left I don’t even check.

But Meta is definitely in the same boat.

I have never had a twitter or X account, so I am lost in this aspect of this discussion. I’ve had a FB page for my practice but that is because I don’t want a full fledged website (too much effort and it does not drive buisiness, at least the kind we want). No instagram. I don’t really see any of them as a way to develop business and don’t have any time to look at a million cat pictuires (sorry you cat lovers here). And, it’s not because I don’t understand or can’t handle the technology, I just don’t see what benefit is would be to my professional or personel life. One of the few places I do hang out on the internet is here.

I do think it is time to repeal 47 U.,S.C. 230 and declare all data generated by internet users as personal data, so that they can protect its misuse by the tech giants.


But is it disinformation and filth? Or is the left also spreading disinformation and filth? Or perhaps both sides are also sharing truth that neither does not want to listen to? And perhaps both sides are also sharing methods that are purely preferential and seek the same just ends? Given this, who then is the all-knowing and fully unbiased adjudicator who is properly equipped to make such judgments of who can speak in the digital public square and who cannot?

Certainly not the fact-checking organizations that have proliferated the market who hire individuals with no professional qualifications and of those few who have some research background, many of whom are, in fact, ex-journalists who largely identify as left and are therefore biased. Anecdotally, within the last year alone, I had to correct one such unqualified fact checker who cited an article as their source which had since been discredited by the professional community. For my part, I prefer the open-source “Community Notes” tool of X/Twitter because at least users can publicly cite sources and crowd-source information together, even calling on qualified professionals directly who also have accounts on the platform.

Au contraire. That is a terrible and distorted way of putting it. In fact, this mindset is what leads to cancel culture, branding giving another side of conversation as another wrong. I see two issues here.

First, Twitter/X allows everyone to participate so I would not call it a one-sided platform by any means. I see just as many liberals and leftists as conservatives and libertarians participating on the platform. It provides finally a place where conservatives also can speak freely without being silenced or canceled from the platform because it does not fit the leftist agenda of the company operating the platform. Labelling it wrong or labelling it as giving wrong for wrong when someone has made a place for freedom of speech and freedom of the press is, quite frankly, mindboggling and a dangerous precedent (cancel culture or silencing the opposition) to the very foundations of the free world as we know it.

Second, vilifying one side or the other for having the mere opportunity, the mere right to hold and speak an opinion is precisely what is wrong with society these days, and which is what you just did here, @dstrauss. It is not wrong or right having a place to discuss. No, it is a fundamental and requisite human right in a healthy, functioning society to have free speech. Everyone should be allowed to participate fully in the global conversation regardless of how much you or I do not see eye-to-eye with them. The issue here is both sides of the spectrum of worldviews should be allowed to coexist and communicate, just as artists and operators or strawberry and chocolate or Beatles and Beach Boys or so on and so forth.

I am talking more about the experience in the website and associated apps. X has so much spam in the comments. Meta has so much spam in the comments.

It is the experience going downhill.

No, I definitely agree with the idea of X allowing both sides to talk, and I do agree that Meta doesn’t allow that per se. It’s just the room has a lot more background noise that is drowning out the conversations in both platforms.

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