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Logistically Accelerating Techno-Economic Interactivity

5 min

The reason why social order is crumbling.

"Logistically accelerating techno-economic interactivity crumbles social order in auto-sophisticating machine runaway." —Nick Land, Meltdown

Logistical acceleration refers to the logistic function, otherwise known as an S-shaped growth curve. Something that is logistically accelerating is growing in the fashion of a logistic function.

A logistic function or S-curve

In the first phase, growth is slow. In the second phase, growth is vertiginous. In the third phase, growth slows again as it asymptotically approaches some saturation point.

The societal adoption of new technologies is widely understood to follow a logistic curve.

Adoption curves for a set of consumer technologies in the USA

Techno-economic interactivity is a key postulate of Land's ideas. Elsewhere, he will frequently use the adjective techonomic.

Not only are technology and money tightly interactive, but conceptually, using tools and saving money are essentially the same thing: A diversion of resources from the present to the future.

The shared essence of technology and money is Capital:

"As basic co-components of capital, technology and economics have only a limited, formal distinctiveness." —Nick Land, "Teleoplexy" in the #Accelerate Reader

The concept of "techonomics" is classic Landian compression. Economics and Technology are considered separate categories for essentially disciplinary reasons, but if you're aiming for maximum philosophical parsimony, you might as well compress them into one concept. There's nothing wrong with separate fields of study and experimentation; it can be very useful to distinguish between technology and economics. But if you're just a person trying to theorize ultimate truths then you should compress whatever can be justifiably compressed. Land is a master of such tactical, lexical compression.

Techno-economic interactivity accelerates because that's a formal feature of any positive feedback loop.

The mental model here is trivial. If X increases Y and Y increases X, then it only requires X or Y to increase by any non-zero amount for both X and Y to eventually approach, asymptotically, infinity.

In practice, external constraints typically create a ceiling or saturation point where the system maxes out.

In the absence of constraints, any positive feedback loop is better thought of as an explosion.

Compare the adoption curve of consumer televisions to the energy curve of a nuclear bomb. Both are positive feedback loops. When the first TV company sells its first few TVs, the company earns money and TVs enter society. The company uses that money to make TVs better and cheaper, which makes more people want TVs, but TV growth is capped by the human population. So it's a logistic curve. The TV is a manageable phenomenon.

A nuclear bomb, on the other hand, explodes. In a fission reaction, a neutron collides with a uranium atom and breaks it. The split uranium atom releases new neutrons, which collide with other uranium atoms, and so on. The result of a nuclear bomb is an explosion, the opposite of a manageable phenomenon.

One interesting question in the so-called accelerationist perspective is whether the acceleration of Capital is manageable or explosive. Is techonomic acceleration a nuclear bomb or a consumer television?

Perhaps the initiation of techonomic acceleration is like a fission reaction, which dooms every advanced society to extinction. Techonomic acceleration would therefore be one candidate for the so-called Great Filter, the reason why we don't observe any other advanced societies in the universe.

Or perhaps techonomic acceleration can be mastered by humans and channeled into a post-scarcity, multi-planetary species that lives in comfort forever.

Nick Land definitely seems to be in the former camp. He elsewhere calls himself a "horrorist." Land thinks modernity is more like a nuclear bomb, a metaphor he uses explicitly in his appearance on the Other Life podcast.

Interestingly, in this regard, most of the "woke" social justice activists are in the same camp as the "based and redpilled" libertarian tech figures. Your typical blue-haired professor of queer studies will agree with Peter Thiel and Elon Musk in their belief that technology should and can be controlled by humans. They have different visions for how techonomic acceleration should be managed and harnessed, but they agree that it should and can be harnessed.

Also surprisingly, blackpilled atheist edgelords like Nick Land are in the same camp as traditional millenarian Christians who believe in the eventual coming of the End Times. This camp rejects naive humanistic calls to control and manage the techonomic explosion, instead theorizing either a nihilistic merging-with-the-machines or some kind of final apocalypse.

Whatever you think of modernity's long-term equilibrium, there's no question that it crumbles social order. The history of capitalism is a history of crumbling traditional social structures.

As Marx famously said, with capitalism, "All that is solid melts into air."

The socially disruptive aspects of capital acceleration should not require too much elaboration.

Finally, we come to the concept of auto-sophisticating machine runaway. Most of this is already implied in the first half of the sentence, but there is one new and crucial idea added to the mix: The concept of the machine.

Other Life | Logistically Accelerating Techno-Economic Interactivity Crumbles Social Order
One sentence in Nick Land’s famous text Meltdown.
Listen to this post on the podcast

Here Land is using the word "machine" in a Deleuzian sense. You should not think of an industrial machine you'd find in a factory or even an AI robot. If technological devices and capital flows operate in a relation of positive feedback, it is easy to see that we are already talking about the increasing complexity and autonomy of essentially non-human entities.

Even mainstream research on artificial intelligence supports this view. If you look at Nick Bostrom's book Superintelligence, for instance, he acknowledges that capitalism can be understood as a kind of superintelligence. He dismisses it as only a "loosely organized" superintelligence, and passes over it quickly—but that's his mistake, and Nick Land's genius.

You can say humans are ultimately behind all technologies and all capital, and perhaps—but you can just as well say that technology and capital consume human beings. Look around you. Do you see humans controlling technology, or do you see technology controlling humans? Machines are not little toys that we use as we please. Our civilization is a machine too complex for us to fully comprehend, and this machine gets smarter every day.

In short, "logistically accelerating techno-economic interactivity crumbles social order in auto-sophisticating machine runaway."


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