There are still more dots that remain for us to connect, if you ask me.
I would point out, for one, that the so-called "acceleration of acceleration of change" that corporate-militarist futurologists and especially Robot Cultists so love to hyperventilate about (and actually this "accelerationalism" is a mainstream corporatist trope, but the so-called Singularitarians are its reductio ad absurdum) derives its plausibility as a notion from our shared experience of the instability of this neoliberal financialization. Indeed, apart from a few technical vicissitudes incomparably more modest than their hype ever remotely justified, the so-called "acceleration of acceleration" really amounts to nothing but that instability of neoliberal financialization only simply as that instability is experienced by the relative beneficiaries of that financialization, or those who at any rate identify with those beneficiaries.
The singularitarian nerd-rapture chorus line who have crowed loudest but not alone about this technoscientific "acceleration" toward digital transcendence, that is to say the ones who fulminated about a kind of historical "progress" but one without the materiality of actual social struggle in it, are usually the very same futurologists and techno-utopians who crow about an "intelligence" coded in software that is always imminent but never arrives, one without the materiality of brains or sociality to incarnate or substantiate it. They are often the very same futurologists and techno-utopians who pine for the enhanced "experience" of a "virtual reality" without the materiality of friction or chance or sublimity or entropy to substantiate it. They are often the very same futurologists and techno-utopians who pine for an immortal life "lived" somehow without life but as immaterial information in the cyberspatial sprawl or in invulnerable robotic shells, life as an endless prolongation of static senseless death-in-life where nothing can matter lest in mattering it "kill" the dead-alive "immortal" machine.
In the concluding chapter of my dissertation, Markets Without Materiality I discuss a futurological work by market fundamentalist David Friedman (son of the shock doctrine market fundamentalist guru Milton Friedman) in which he enthuses about the desirability or even necessity of a retreat into virtual reality as a means to escape the dilemmas posed by surveillance technologies according to another libertarian thinker, David Brin. I am compelled in that conclusion to note
the curiosity of the spectacle Friedman’s argument is making of itself here…. Robert Heilbroner has famously described economists as “the worldly philosophers,” as collaborators in the most relentlessly materialist humanist tradition on offer. And [yet] here, to preserve the norms and assumptions of political economy an heir to that tradition, one who has described as his chief contribution to it simply that he takes some of that tradition’s commonplace assertions to “their natural conclusions,” finds that he must denigrate the very material and bodily foundations on the basis of which that tradition has always defined itself and distinguished itself from all others. To retain what he takes to be a political economist’s conception of worldliness, a political economist finds he must disdain the world.Life is lived in material bodies, intelligence is incarnated in material brains, material situations, material dynamisms, peer-to-peer, social struggles play out in material histories materially circumscribed by finite ecosystems, mortal lives, error-prone efforts.
To deny or renounce these materialities in flights of fantasy, whether in fundamentalist religiosity or market fundamentalism or techno-utopian True Belief, is always to be supremely foolish to say the least and usually testifies to an infantile dread and denialism of our ineradicable and actually constitutive finitude, contingency, vulnerability, a dread and denialism that, whenever it is permitted to guide our affairs, leads always only to waste, deception, aggression, disaster.
Here in the consummation and bankruptcy and ruins (and not for the first time) of market ideology, we are reminded (and not for the first time) that the pace at which the tidal forces of "supply and demand" and the "education via unprofitability of ignorance or error" and the "rationalization via capital flight of panics and bubbles" and comparable "market mechanisms" manage to compensate for disruptive events and bad information is too different from the pace at which metabolism is maintained in human bodies and life is lived in human history for these mechanisms to sustain those lives and that history in a human way, however wholesome they may be in their own inhuman term.
Meanwhile, the assumption of infinite growth without which "market orders" could not be mobilized toward their indefinite ends in the first place is altogether too perilous to the actually-existing limits of ecosystems to sustain the planetary biosphere on which we all ultimately depend for our survival let alone flourishing. The life of that dead abstraction the market (a very different thing from the heterogeneous marketplaces in which people have gathered to trade goods and stories in their definitely different ways throughout history) is not curtailed by the end of your life, its mechanical pulse is not diminished in the cessation of your living pulse, its digital time is unfolding at a pace aloof from your life-time, its blind indifferent voracious ends are no more your ends than would be a glacier's, it is indifferent to the differences that are your all.
Since I borrowed the title of this blog from Hannah Arendt's motto, "for the love of the world," it will come as no surprise that my preoccupation with futurological discourse and Robot Cult nonsense more generally derives from my strong sense that these discourses arise from and express a profound hostility to and alienation from the world that must be loved in its material mattering, a material mattering very much including its materially situated materially inter-personal political substance, if it is to last and not be lost to us.
In this the futurologists are very much of a piece with (though some perhaps dupes of) more mainstream discourses of corporate-militarism, which likewise disdain the materiality of their suffering peers and of their creative peers, of true production and of true prosperity, of historical struggle and the actual experience of freedom in the world.
To love "the future" on whatever construal is in my view above all to disdain the present, or more particularly it is to disavow that futurity that is materially present in the present, in that diversity of peers whose palpable presence bespeaks the openness in the present to change for the better in acting in concert (in both collaboration and in contestation) with our peers who share the world.
We are not robots, progress is not a robot, history is not a robot, intelligence is not a robot, your brain is not a robot, experience is not a robot, peace is not a robot, creation is not a robot, production is not a robot, prosperity is not a robot, justice is not a robot, the environment is not a robot, life is not a robot.
There are differences that make a difference in the human world, differences that matter in human history, and to attest to a robotic indifference to these differences is not to exhibit prophetic insight or superior strength but to side with death out of idiotic greed or panic in the most brainless way imaginable.
Futurology is the quintessential discourse of this debased epoch of corporate-militarism. Let us leave "the futures" to the traders in futures, the robots to the robotic, and the rackets to the racketeers. There is still time to reconnect to the futurity available in the presence of our peers we call freedom, and in freedom build something better in the world. Fuck the futurologists and the financiers and the fraudsters.