Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Futurolalia (from Latin futūrus, about to be + Greek lalein, to babble): A kind of glossolalia peculiar to online armchair "futurologists" and professional corporate "futurists," futurolalia is a manic mode of public discourse concerning global technoscientific change, consisting of superficially intelligible jargon and utterances expressed in a state of essentially religious inspiration. To the extent that "development" and "technology" discourses are defined primarily in connection to the concerns of incumbent interests with corporate and military "competitiveness," futurolalia conduces primarily to the benefit of the political right, whether insistently as in popular futurolaliacal performances in which ecstatic technophilia is wedded explicitly to market fundamentalist ideology, or more indirectly through an apolitical or anti-political technocratic endorsement of the political assumptions of the status quo.

See: Acceleration, Acceleration of Acceleration, Apocalyptic Threats, Artificial Intelligence (Strong Program), Cybernetic Totalism, Extropianism, Fetishism, Free Market Ideology, Exponential Trends, Golem, Grey Goo, Hype, Libertarianism, Militarism, Military-Industrial Complex, Mind Uploading, Moore's Law, Recursion, Reductionism, Scientism, Singularity, Sorcerer's Apprentice, Spontaneous Order, Technological Immortalism, Transcendence.


jfehlinger said...

> . . . Singularity, Sociopathology, Sorcerer's Apprentice. . .

You meant "Sociopathy", of course.

You could also add "Narcissism, Psychopathy" in between Moore's Law and Recursion.


Dale Carrico said...

I had narcissism especially in mind when I included it, as it happens, but have since decided to delete the term altogether. It's too easy to read it as a bland accusation of "evil," while the rest of the list is more specifically suggestive -- and in just the right ways, even oddly serendipitously so given that the order is straightforwardly alphabetical. As my partner Eric commented on seeing it, from "acceleration" to "transcendance" captures the whole sloppy delusive handwaving eschatological train of thought in a nutshell, doncha think? I'll add: With an emphasis on the "nut."

Robin said...

I probably would've jumped ship and become a neo-Luddite sheep farmer by now if there weren't still rational people like Dale at this party.

Jonathan Pfeiffer said...

The idea of non-meaningful speech having intelligible political consequences is peculiar, yet amusing.

jfehlinger said...

> The idea of non-meaningful speech having intelligible
> political consequences is peculiar, yet amusing.

Yes, it is peculiar, if not always amusing.

The speech of the religious right wing in this country, to
take a modern example (there are so many others) is
largely "non-meaningful" (IMO, if not in their O),
but it certainly has political consequences (whether
you consider those consequences "intelligible" or

The psychological and political dynamics of authoritarianism
seem to be largely invariant throughout history, in
contrast to their rationalizations of the moment.

Dale Carrico said...

The idea of non-meaningful speech having intelligible political consequences is peculiar, yet amusing.

Of course, the glossolalia on which I'm lamely punning here is a word denoting the babbling known as "speaking in tongues," presumably under religious inspiration (to take up the previous comment as well). I do want to point out that I did not introduce the phrase "non-meaningful" into this discussion. Futurolalia seems to me quite as susceptible of meaning-attribution as other essentially figurative (deviations from literal usage that are nonetheless meaningful) discourses, not to mention the ways in jargon and hype (both offered up as examples in the post) are non-standard but meaningful. As for political consequences, it seems to me that any discourse that either activates or consolidates panic or greed or social disdain or True Belief in the face of perceived disruptive change has crucial political consequences for democratic socities grappling with ongoing technodevelopmental social struggle.