the t-o cult manifesto: a review

This week we read The Techno-Optimist Manifesto by Marc Andreessen to get a different perspective on AI rather than that we’re all gonna die. While this was definitely a tone shift from the negative criticism that populates the media, after reading it I feel that this manifesto went in the wrong direction of a good argument looked ahead, and still fell down the cliff.

While some of the points made were valid throughout the manifesto they were immediately stamped out by insane statements that were purposely made to guilt us. For example, they write about how intelligence leads to innovation and progress in our society which is something that I could possibly get behind if the idea wasn’t immediately followed by this attempt at obvious manipulation, “We believe any deceleration of AI will cost lives. Deaths that were preventable by the AI that was prevented from existing is a form of murder.” By essentially stating that if you don’t agree with this manifesto you’re a murderer is the most out of left field argument that is completely unsupported and leaves out all space for argument because then you’re a murderer.

It almost felt like I was being told “AI isn’t the problem focus on getting rid of the bad people of the world and everything will work out.” But obviously, that isn’t an option, and with technology advancing at increasingly faster rates that are easily available to the masses, it’s quite impossible to anticipate if the good will outweigh the bad. Because maybe all the movies were right and AI will take over and kill us all, maybe we’ll all become prisoners of technology that is ruled by bad people, or even the more impossible idea that we’ll all lose our jobs with most of the population falling under the poverty line except the 1%, not like that’s happening already. At least those fears have about the same support in reality as the manifesto does if not more.

The language of the manifesto really stuck out to me at the end especially. “We believe these captured people are suffering from ressentiment – a witches’ brew of resentment, bitterness, and rage that is causing them to hold mistaken values, values that are damaging to both themselves and the people they care about. We believe we must help them find their way out of their self-imposed labyrinth of pain. We invite everyone to join us in Techno-Optimism.” My immediate thought was, “This is a cult I gotta get out before it’s too late.” By stating that the real enemy is all the bad ideas being used and speech control and everything else except Techno-Optimism which will save the world from itself is just the definition of blind idealization formed by blind ideation which is again, essentially a cult. Wow, how did I get here?

In the end, I was stuck in a lecture that was a front for a cult induction into the secret society of humanoid androids telling me everything is ok and to trust the technology.


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. I love how you pointed out the manipulation tactics they used in the manifesto. I look forward to reading more from you this semester.

    • Glad you enjoyed it! The manifesto was so long and not what I was expecting that I was worried I was reading too much into it, so it’s great to see someone else agree.

  2. Ya know, ds106 was once called a cult :0 I think your reading of this as essentially the new religion of technology that is based on a faith-system of science does start to move into the realm of cultish thinking. You’re in or you’re out, you’re saved or you’re not, and the author behind the manifesto has everything to gain by you being in. Appreciate the close reading here, and the much needed skepticism. It is a cult of tech, and it’s the new religion.

    • I did not know about our previous cult status that is hilarious. I’ve done a bit of research into cults in the past so this may have been a bit of that mistrust coming out into this post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *