I’ve been hearing murmurs about a recently formed philosophy called “Effective Accelerationalism”, described as:
...an ideology that draws from Nick Land’s theories of accelerationism to advocate for the belief that artificial intelligence and LLMs will lead to a post-scarcity technological utopia. E/acc communities on Twitter were primarily fostered on Twitter Spaces, with e/acc manifestos being shared using the newsletter platform Substack.
is: life emerged as a principle of a generalized 2nd law of thermodynamics
is: due to this physical (observed) law, life tends to seek to capture “free energy” (aka the accursed share in terms of Bataille perhaps) to increase its scope/complexity or maintain its existence
ethical/moral claim—the ought: we should seek to “accelerate” (must mean to intensify, not in the physics sense of acceleration, where acceleration could simply mean constantly changing direction) this process of growth of organisms/meta-orgranisms to achieve greater and greater capture of free energy and thus more complex systems of intelligence (they demarcate this as ultimately being about the imperative that “in order to spread to the stars, the light of consciousness/intelligence will have to be transduced to non-biological substrates”
I don’t know enough about complex systems and epistemology to be able to assess these arguments, which is why I’m posting about them here. My outside view is that the majority of e/acc discourse appears to be memes on Twitter, which doesn’t give me much hope in the epistemic rigor underlying the philosophy? Reddit user
I-am-a-person- summarizes what was close to my initial reaction after reading the Substack post:
The problem with this argument is that it does a really bad job arguing why “capturing free energy” is actually the goal we ought to strive for.
If I understand the gist of e/acc correctly, I’m very skeptical of the idea that maintaining diversity/competition/entropy by accelerating and open-sourcing AI capabilities research is more likely to result in good outcomes for society than being more cautious and authoritarian.
Some questions to spark conversation
What are your thoughts on the community behind this philosophy and its bizarre, memetic method for outreach?
If you know enough about thermodynamics/philosophy/etc and read the whole manifesto, how do the object-level arguments underpinning e/acc hold up?
Do you think this movement poses a serious risk of accelerating AI capabilities research?
I have not listened to either of the following pieces of content.
Moment of Zen episode 12: Effective Accelerationism and the AI Safety Debate w/ Bayeslord, Beff Jezoz, and Nathan Labenz
Anonymous founders of the Effective Accelerations (e/acc) movement @Bayeslord and Beff Jezos (@BasedBeff) join Erik Torenberg, Dan Romero, and Nathan Labenz to debate views on AI safety.
Reason is Fun episode 0: Effective Altruism, X-risk, (e/acc)
Lulie asks physicist David Deutsch about the epistemology of Effective Altruism, how to make progress given the unpredictability of knowledge, and whether we should be concerned about existential risk. In the second half, she asks about Effective Accelerationism (e/acc) – specifically, is its thermodynamic physics legit?