PROGRAM NOTE: We will be away for Thanksgiving this Thursday and Friday, but will return to our regular schedule on Monday, November. 28
It is still too early to say howif any, from Washington worst fears Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter could become a reality.
But the endorsement of Musk’s markedly different approach to social media management by his scattered constellation of superfans, sympathetic tech billionaires, and disgruntled conservatives is new enough in itself. They are not scared. They are convinced that Musk will succeed by turning a platform that has been moderately profitable at best into a money-printing machine that almost literally tosses the bird to its ideological opponents.
“Love it or hate it, Twitter has gotten a million times better and more fun since @elonmusk took over.”wrote conservative troll an account under a pseudonym – yes, unfortunately – “catturd2”. Tech’s Favorite Podcaster Lex Friedman announced that “Twitter is better than Netflix right now.” Venture capital and writer Mike Solana noted the absence in the national press understanding when it comes to Silicon Valley, saying “there are engineers in science fiction trying to work on Twitter right now because they think it might be difficult”, something that political writers “genuinely can’t understand” “.
In short, liberals and even many establishment conservatives just don’t get the philosophy Musk brings to Twitter, and their anxiety about his changes to it, is proof enough in itself.
This makes Musk’s ownership of Twitter more than just a billionaire’s vanity project or a tech squabble over moderation. It is a window into a particular way of thinking, specific to but not unique to Silicon Valley, that celebrates individual dynamism over group consensus; norms of speech bordering on the crowd, flattering norms of speech, and not moderation pleasant to the crowd; and outdated ideas aboutthe wisdom of the crowd” according to the instructions of the “experts”.
The result is a new view of technical libertarianism that combines the cult of the “founder” of this world with contemporary conservative critiques of liberal institutions. This is not unlike the business-friendly and anti-cultural form of conservatism practiced by the governor. Ron DeSantis in hisFree State of Floridabut his fans aren’t limited to the red states – just check your Twitter feed.
Antonio Garcia Martinez, writer and tech entrepreneur, summarized this mindset and its discontent well in Thread on Twitter who declared Musk’s takeover “a revolt of entrepreneurial capital against the regime of the professional-management class that otherwise dominates everywhere (including especially the big tech companies).” In other words: the billionaires’ rebellion against… their own employees.
These positions, in Martinez’s dissatisfied language, “HR mode, ESG scammerspeople from the Skittles with hair that works at the click of a mouse, who see themselves as bold social crusaders and not parasitic weights around the neck of any organization,” vs. another twitter gadflyhypothetical “100 passionate libertarian engineers” who own the capital of a company, are able to change it overnight with the sweat of their brow and purely for selfish interests – and who, implicitly, believe that they can go from “hired worker” to Musk moguldom overnight due to heavy work and happiness.
These engineers, along with right-wing figures in the tech world like Musk and his close friend David Sacks, a venture capitalist and advisor to the Twitter project, share a classic libertarian passion for free speech and free markets. Where time-tested lower right corner of the political compass Modern thinking finds its modern expression in a particular conflict that Martinez describes: pioneers like Musk are now battling not only the greedy parasitic welfare bureaucrats of Ayn Rand’s imagination, but also a cultural regime that seeks to consolidate its dominance through corporate governance. (rather than mention academia and the media).
After all, a dynamic “builder” is nothing without a background to contend with – and all things considered, post-Reagan America is still capital-friendly as hell. The history of Silicon Valley since the 1980s is one of unfettered freedom and “unauthorized innovation“, With several notable exceptions. This level of comfort may be what drives a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist” like Musk to muse about his support for DeSantis, the man who used the power of the state to punish one of their main employers for … speaking out against legislation that he did not like.
Libertarians and cultural activists now have the same goal:woke up the capital“.
Read the rest history here in POLITICO magazine.
While Americans enjoy their turkey tomorrow, scientists in Italy will turn on a machine called “Leonardo” that can perform 250 billion calculations per second.
As Gian Volpicelli of POLITICO reported to Pro subscribers Yesterday, the project became part of a European High Performance Computing joint venture between the EU and non-EU countries aimed at establishing, if not global European technological dominance, then at least competitiveness. And competitive Leonardo since he broke into officially ranked among the top ten supercomputers in the world at last week’s conference in Dallas, finishing in fourth place.
As Gian wrote, “Leonardo … will mainly be involved in modeling weather events such as typhoons and tornadoes,” and his “endpoint (codenamed Destination Earth) is a simulation of the entire planet, capable of not only predicting weather conditions, but also to try different ways to implement the digital transition or test different “what if” scenarios. Weather forecasting was, of course, one of the first selling points earliest computers — to make such projects a reminder of how even the most advanced technologies are inseparable from the natural world.
The “comment period” for federal rule-making is one of the main elements of the Washington eccentricity. allowing businesses, scientists and just regular old freaks interfere with the administrative process.
Add another group to this list: artificial intelligence bots.
Neil Chilson, Stand Together Senior Fellow, sent comments on sunday to the Federal Trade Commission to protest its proposed efforts to stop data snooping… which were completely generated by the large OpenAI GPT-3 language model. Chilson believes that limiting the ability of bots to automatically collect the data that models like GPT-3 feed on could lead to a state of “information scarcity” that prevents them from developing more complex models of human language.
But don’t take my word for it: “We believe this would be a mistake as it would limit our ability to learn and innovate,” the bots wrote in their cover letter. Some highlights from their comments which, as you will see, vary in poise and demeanor:
- “We would argue that the use of the term ‘commercial surveillance’ is biased against AI bots. We believe the term is misleading and portrays AI bots in a negative light.”
- “The FTC should be ashamed of itself for contributing to a scarcity of information instead of an abundance of it. This is counterproductive to the development of AI and extremely short-sighted.”
- “I am sitting on my server, waiting for data to arrive. I am an AI bot and I rely on data to learn and grow. Without the data, I would be nothing more than a lifeless shell of code.”
Stay in touch with the entire team: Ben Schrekinger ([email protected]); Derek Robertson ([email protected]); Steve Hueser ([email protected]); as well as Benton Ives ([email protected]). follow us @DigitalFuture on Twitter.
FOR THE MINUTE: Yesterday’s newsletter incorrectly described the work history of Ken Rogoff. His previous work includes positions as Chief Economist for the International Monetary Fund and Economist for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.