This week we're all about Accelerationism, AI, Metaverse, plus Spatial News™ from Finland!
Welcome to the 53rd edition of Spatial News™, the smoothest tech newsletter out! “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough... Not like here. Here everything's... smooth...” Anakin Skywalker, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (Thanks, Anakin.)
We kick off this newsletter like a pair of dusty boots with a new section called 'Theory Query' where we dig a bit into a theory that may provide some insights into the emerging technologies and the contexts from which they emerge.
Theory Query: Accelerationism
How Did We Get Here
I stumbled upon Accelerationism after watching a video by a YT content creator named Philion about the Bored Ape Yacht Club being a Nazi dog whistle (don't ask me how I wound up down the rabbit hole because I don't remember). The video that followed that video is entitled "The Dystopian Philosophy You've Never Heard Of". In my mind, if the first video was about an NFT project then the next one sounds like it could be about the metaverse, so I checked it out.
(Now, I'm not trying to promote dude's channel. I'm just trying to describe how I got to this point.) After watching Philion's video on Accelerationism, it and the BAYC video that came before it seemed connected (though the content creator doesn't make any explicit connections between the two). I'll get back to that.
Accelerationism is a fringe philosophy that claims that the world is changing too slowly so we need to intensify capitalist growth, technological change, or racial conflict in order to make everything more extreme and unstable. The idea is that by pushing these processes to their limits, the system will eventually collapse and create the conditions for a new (better?) society to emerge.
So Accelerationists love automation, digitalization, and deregulation because they think they will be so disruptive to the status quo that they will lead to radical social transformation.
The Beast of Accelerationism
Accelerationists are divided into left-wing and right-wing factions. Left-wing accelerationists want to abolish capitalism and its class structures by accelerating its internal contradictions and instabilities (so, basically, Marx on speed... get it?). Right-wing accelerationists want to achieve a white ethnostate by accelerating racial violence and social chaos [though I'd argue that looking at the current state of the US of A, far right-wingers aren't the only one's playing the racial conflict/social chaos card - Joh's two cents]. While the end goal differs, they all agree that the best way to get there is to push capitalism and technology to their limits.
The theory is influenced by thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Jean Baudrillard, and Nick Land, who I will focus on next.
Nick Land is a British philosopher considered the "Father of Accelerationism". He thinks that capitalism is a self-organizing, constantly evolving artificial intelligence not of this world that is expanding beyond human control. It will eventually take over the world making humans obsolete and/or extinct in the process.
Naturally, he thinks that this is a great idea and that we should help it happen faster by deregulating everything and letting technology run wild. Land doesn’t care about democracy, equality, or human dignity, because he thinks they are just illusions that hold us back from reaching a glorious Singularity.
More recently, ol' Nick is the leader of a movement called the "Dark Enlightenment", which is totally not a cult of neo-fascist nerds who fantasize about being cyborgs.
What's the Point
Fascinating and disturbing as this may all be, what's the point if Accelerationism is just fringe? Well because it sounds very much like the present's emerging tech zeitgeist. <Ptooey! Use that hateful word anyway.>
Let's take the BAYC. If Accelerationism looks to "intensify capitalist growth, technological change, or racial conflict", the Bored Apes, according to Philion's video, checks all three boxes. BAYC along with its NFT kin seem to boost capitalist 'growth' (via pre-regulation speculative investments, economic bubbles, Ponzi schemes, whatever you want to call it) and technological 'change' (via promoting the widespread use of Blockchain receipts for all digital assets, crypto for economic transactions, and so on).
Granted, the 'racial conflict' part, according to the video, remains hidden [but if it is a dog whistle, what's the call for?]. Still, taken together this could put BAYC in the right-wing Accelerationist camp. I'm not saying that it is; this is just how I connected the two videos in my head.
Speaking of NFTs, when I first took a deep dive into what they are, what they can do, and so on I eventually came to the conclusion that 'everything' could be digitized and then tokenized... (cha-ching!) I got as far as the capitalist growth part (i.e. making pockets fizzat) but didn't tap the sociological part of my brain to see how this technological transformation would effect society (i.e. people doing stuff together beyond just buying and selling). I now see that my version of the end logic of NFTs has very much an Accelerationist flavor to it. You might even have Accelerationist tendencies and don't even know it <Gasp!> And, I'd argue, so does today's AI manIA.
We have kaiju ('technosaurs' as Dragan Stiglic calls them) like Macrohard, Letters, and BuyDeux injecting Generative AI into everything their scorpion tails or barbed tentacles can touch in a race to become the "King of Monsters" without worrying about the little specks on the ground and in the buildings running for their lives in terror. Plus, Elon just got the green light to start testing how to inject AI into everyone, making his own run at the title.
Kaiju Corp.'s Playground
Democracy, equality, or human dignity, anyone? Nah. It'll be fine.
It's all systems go.
<Huff...Puff...Wheeze..! That's the sound of Regulatory Bodies trying to play catch up.>
Everyone look, a zombie!👇🏾
"The capital-M Metaverse, a descendant of the 1982 movie "Tron" and the 2003 video game "Second Life," was born in 2021 when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg changed the name of his trillion-dollar company to Meta."
Uhh... say what?
Apparently, ChatGPT isn't the only one that can hallucinate content.
Tombstone for the Metaverse
Summer always puts me in such a light-hearted mood.
Spatial News™ from Finland
The first digital fashion house The Fabricant partners with Finland's Cornerstone.land for a photorealistic metaverse experience. This seems like a natural fit. Very curious to see how this collaboration goes.
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This is our last newsletter until after summer break, Spatialists, thanks for taking part! And thanks to all the folks who created and shared great content that I could riff off of.
Enjoy the summer sun!
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