Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Saturday, June 02, 2012
Robot Cultists Chastise Charlie Stross For Outgrowing Them
I find it highly curious that in the aftermath of Charlie Stross's recent harsh criticisms of transhumanism the Very Serious Futurologists at stealth Robot Cult outfit IEET have leapt to repost a 2009 interview between Stross and RU Sirius in which he wasn't quite so critical, or at any rate so blunt. It is clear from Stross's latest comments that his skepticism and the force of his critique have been amplified by his witness to the recent examples of economic and political corruption and predation by neoliberal elites that often style themselves as "technocratic" and give themselves over to techno-enthusiasms and facile techno-fixes, as well as to exhibitions of True Belief and questionable political associations of so many key figures in futurological discourse and its organized sub(cult)ures. In other words, the smart and insightful person of 2009 has since applied that intelligence to our present distress and arrived at different insights. Is that growth really what the Robot Cultists want to call our attention to? Don't they grasp its implications? The transhumanoids seem to want to ridicule Stross as some kind of hypocrite because he has changed his mind in the face of evidence, or insinuate that his critique is not even an argument at all but merely a kind of slur (the headline for the reposted interview implies that Stross's critique consists of calling transhumanism "a dirty name," a strategy that Giulio Prisco recently employed in comparing my own critique of transhumanism to queer-bashing, a strategy perfectly familiar to anybody who questions cults like Scientology or defensive marginal faiths like Mormonism in which criticism is always reframed as "ad hominem" attacks), or that suddenly, unaccountably, his views have gone from clever and incisive to "inexcusably sloppy" just because these views are no longer of propagandistic use to them. One wonders if unpersoning is next on the menu? As it happens, just last year Stross posted a widely-discussed piece, Three Arguments Against the Singularity, which, it seems to me, should already have provided a strong clue that he was growing away from sympathy with transhumanoid faith-based initiatives in techno-transcendentalism and neoliberal accelerationalization. Of course, the Robot Cult sometimes gives itself over to energetic sectarian skirmishes between its singularitarian and eugenicist wings, and the IEET has tended in the past to side with the latter over the former, and so that last piece may have seemed too useful in the moment for them to notice that it indicated the emergence of a deeper critique of superlative futurology from Stross that would encompass them as well soon enough.