Marc Andreessen’s “
Is he a techno optimist or techno Mormon?
Claiming that sustainability, sustainable development goals, social responsibility, trust and safety, tech ethics, risk management are all “enemies” is very weird phrasing and to me it just shows how far he’s detached from the realities that humanity faces daily.
Yes, there’s nothing wrong with having huge ambition and to dream of an interplanetary species but this is the stuff of science fiction written for a hundred years prior to his birth and nothing new. We had electric and hybrid cars over a hundred years ago but capitalism, political lobbying, greed and lack of infrastructure meant we had to wait a century before we had these choices available to us all. It wasn’t a lack of techno optimism that caused it, it was capitalism chasing profits and oddly enough the venture capitalists ensuring that it remained that way for safer returns.
I’d love to see a future like The Expanse or Star Trek but sorry to break it to you buddy you’re stuck living in the wrong century like the rest of us and technology will never accelerate the way you want it in your lifetime. You’ll be lucky to see a permanently occupied moon base or a16z bringing home a 10 trillion dollar tonne ore mining expedition to an asteroid by 2070. No amount of techno optimism will make it happen when the rest of the planet is still fighting poverty or warring over someone else’s God.
“Man stagnates if he has no ambition, no desire to be more than he is.” — Star Trek, This Side of Paradise
We will always need pioneers, someone who will build a crappy raft and set off from the shore for a distant land only to return an hour later with a leak. They’ll build another raft and try again and again until they make it or die trying, and then someone else will try. And another. And another. This was the way of things but times have changed and in a way, Marc wants to return to this time and ignore the real consequences we take into account for true innovation.
“Maybe we weren’t meant for Paradise. Maybe we were meant to fight our way through. Struggle. Claw our way up, scratch for every inch of the way. Maybe we can’t stroll to the music of lutes. We must march to the sound of drums.” — Star Trek, This Side of Paradise
We need more pioneers but Marc is advocating for a society filled with Oppenheimers, wanting to ignore the dangers and calling for those who consider these choices enemies. Perhaps we need both but there is balance and we certainly don’t incite the view that one is an enemy of the other. Perhaps we need more optimism and less worship at the altar of the techno barons instead.
Innovation is symbiotic, not bionic.
One thing is clear though, Marc likes to talk exponential and about the ultimate goal but never about the 10,000 steps in between to get there. There’s a gulf between his optimism and his actions as large as there is the gulf between space launch capabilities and the infrastructure needed to sustain us beyond Earth. Why? Because he won’t see it in his lifetime and that hurts, so he’ll just talk about it like it was real.
He speaks to techno optimism but then was responsible for the crypto dross that came out of web3 — there was no bright future there only a way for one venture capital firm to dictate how to quickly boost the ability to convince LPs and Family Offices their funds were on target. Never have VC firms cashed out of a trend quicker than web3, an elaborate pump and dump scheme filled with dodgy market makers and fake influencers masquerading as the new internet.
This wasn’t techno optimism, this wasn’t pioneering, but if you want to point fingers at enemies of real innovation then you only need look in the mirror, Marc.
Remember the Honda advert back in the early 2000s based on the lyrics and song “The Impossible Dream”? Marc’s manifesto is the antithesis of the words and meaning behind the song, he’s completely lost inside his own echo chamber wrapped in a comforting filter bubble he no longer has the ability to dream. Everything must be laced with technology, he simply cannot fathom the emotion behind an impossible dream. It’s why he insists that humans will strive for artificial companionship and is backing AI Girlfriend startups instead. The unreachable star to him is like finding his own humanity again.
Techno optimism is just another way for people who can’t relate to other humans to avoid them even more and to absolve themselves of the responsibility to others for their actions.
Maybe Marc just needs an extra hug now and then from his AI wife.
Also published here.