In the land of accelerators and doomers, the techno-optimist stands tall. While Silicon Valley was in upheaval the weekend before Thanksgiving over the sudden firing of AI face Sam Altman, venture capitalist billionaire Marc Andreessen generally spoke out on Twitter, saying the equivalent of ” I told you so “. It sounded a lot more like “e/acc”.
The founder of Andreessen Horowitz, who positioned himself firmly in the “accelerationist” camp for years before AI dominated the business climate of 2023, made its position crystal clear in October. Its 5,200 words “techno-optimistic manifesto”, published both on his own substack and on Andreessen’s blog page, addressing big tech skeptics in 15 sections, often lyrical and poem-like. The conclusion is there straight away: “We are being lied to,” he writes, castigating those who claim that technology “takes our jobs, reduces our salaries, increases inequalities… [and] degrades our society. (Andreessen has been writing manifestos to boost technology for years before AI exploded onto the scene, like this one in 2011Why software is eating the world“and the 2020s”It’s time to build. “)
It’s still unclear exactly why OpenAI, the most prominent company in the development of generative artificial intelligence, ousted its co-founder and CEO Sam Altman, but several reports point to exactly these kinds of concerns as the reason. The “accelerationist” camp that welcomes AI because it is, as Altman said on stage in San Francisco last week, like a Star Trek the computer, meets opposition from the “convicts”, who fear that it represents an existential risk for humanity. Elon Musk is surprisingly at the top of their ranks, and he has criticized OpenAI for straying too far from its non-profit mission to benefit humanity since his departure in 2018.
Understanding the nature of OpenAI’s founding is essential to understanding the evolving history of Altman and his board. It was co-founded in 2015 by Altman, Musk, Ilya Sutskever (who remains at OpenAI and was one of the board members who ousted Altman) and Greg Brockman (the former board chairman who was stripped of his status, before resigning in solidarity with Altman). They explicitly chose to create OpenAI as a non-profit entity in response to Google’s acquisition the previous year. deep mind for $600 million, and their fears that Google’s lead in AI could become a potential monopoly. Developing AI to benefit humanity has always been crucial to OpenAI’s mission and the board and nonprofit structure sit atop an unusual profit-capped subsidiary. The “accelerationist versus catastrophic” tension was therefore anchored in the structure of OpenAI before exploding last week.
Andreessen’s activity over the weekend confirms that he sees the problem in terms of accelerationists and doomers. “E/acc!” “” he posted Saturday afternoon, shorthand for “effective accelerationism.” It’s a play on the theory of “effective altruism,” made infamous by disgraced crypto fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried. As explained by Business InsiderThe ideas of effective accelerationism likely originated with Nick Land, a British philosopher considered the father of the broad accelerationism movement, but have since evolved into the belief that innovation and capitalism should be harnessed to their maximum to achieve a radical social change, even at the expense of innovation and capitalism. of social stability in the present.
What Andreessen chose to retweet was even more explicit in this direction. At one point he reposted a thread dating back to Matt Parlmer, a founder and CEO of a Michigan-based company called General Fabrication. “Doomer people,” Parlmer wrote, indirectly referring to Altman’s shooting, “I hope you all recognize that you pulled this ridiculous stunt and now everyone is ready to take you out of the house.” company of polite and sane people for a while.”
Parlmer’s post prompted another response from an account called “Beff Jezos — e/acc”, which has a sub-stack dedicated to efficient accelerationism. “This has always been their plan,” their response wrote. “Infiltrate. Subvert. Co-opt. They’ve spent their one shot. Now no one will trust the EA [effective altruists] and Doomers never again. Make sure your board is e/acc friendly rather than EA friendly, anons.
That sentiment was widespread across Silicon Valley this weekend, reminiscent of the febrile climate earlier this year, when Silicon Valley Bank suddenly went bankrupt. David Sacks, the prominent venture capitalist and Elon Musk ally who was also vocal during the SVB collapse, seemed to speak for the Valley that was fed up with Doomers in general and non-profit organizations lucrative in particular. “Sam should get his job back, the board should be replaced with founders and investors who have skin in the game, the nonprofit should be converted to a C-corp, and Elon should get stock for having invested the first 40 million dollars and more. In other words, undo all the shenanigans.