Billionaire ‘techno-optimist’ Marc Andreessen is tweeting up a storm about Sam Altman and OpenAI and he’s furious at the AI ‘doomer’ movement

William of England
By William of England 6 Min Read

The founding father of Andreessen Horowitz, who has staked his declare firmly in the “accelerationist” camp for years earlier than AI dominated the enterprise local weather of 2023, made his stance ultra-clear in October. His 5,200-word “techno-optimist manifesto,” posted on each his personal substack and Andreessen’s weblog web page, ripped into skeptics of huge tech in 15 sections, typically lyrical and poem-like. The conclusion is there proper at the begin: “We are being lied to,” he writes, excoriating those that declare know-how “takes our jobs, reduces our wages, increases inequality … [and] degrades our society.” (Andreessen has been writing tech-boosting manifestos for years earlier than AI exploded on the scene, reminiscent of 2011’s “Why software is eating the world” and 2020’s “It’s time to build.”)

It’s nonetheless not publicly recognized precisely why OpenAI, the most pivotal agency in the growth of generative synthetic intelligence, ousted its cofounder and chief Sam Altman, however a number of studies level to precisely these sort of worries as the purpose. The “accelerationist” camp that welcomes AI for being, as Altman stated onstage in San Francisco simply final week, like a Star Trek laptop, is opposed by the “doomers,” who fear about it posing an existential threat to humanity. Elon Musk surprisingly leads their ranks, and he’s criticized OpenAI from straying too removed from its nonprofit mission to learn humanity since he left in 2018. 

Understanding the nature of OpenAI’s founding is pivotal to understanding the creating story of Altman and his board. It was co-founded in 2015 by Altman, Musk, Ilya Sutskever (who stays at OpenAI and was one in every of the board members who ousted Altman) and Greg Brockman (the former board chairman who was stripped of his standing, earlier than resigning in solidarity with Altman). They explicitly selected to ascertain OpenAI as a non-profit entity in response to Google’s acquisition the yr earlier than of DeepMind for $600 million, and their fears that Google’s lead on AI would develop into a potential monopoly. Developing AI for the advantage of the humanity was all the time essential to OpenAI’s mission and the non-profit board and construction sits atop an uncommon capped-profit subsidiary. The “accelerationist vs. doomer” pressure was subsequently embedded into OpenAI’s construction earlier than exploding this previous week.

e/acc!

Andreessen’s exercise over the weekend confirms that he sees the subject by way of accelerationists versus doomers. “E/acc!” he posted on Saturday afternoon, a shorthand for “effective accelerationism.” It’s a play on the idea of “effective altruism,” made notorious by disgraced crypto fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried. As explained by Business Insider, the concepts of efficient accelerationism doubtless originate from Nick Land, a British thinker credited as the father of the broad accelerationism movement, however have since grown into a perception that innovation and capitalism needs to be maximally exploited to attain radical social change, even at the expense of social stability in the current. 

What Andreessen selected to retweet spoke much more explicitly on this path. At one level, he reposted a thread tracing again to Matt Parlmer, a founder and CEO of a Michigan-based company called General Fabrication. “Doomer people,” Parlmer wrote, obliquely referring to Altman’s firing, “I hope you all recognize that you shot your shot with this ridiculous stunt and now everybody is ready to bounce you out of polite sane person company for quite some time.”

Parlmer’s put up prompted one other reply from an account referred to as “Beff Jezos — e/acc,” who has a substack dedicated to effective accelerationism. “This was always their plan,” wrote their reply. “Infiltrate. Subvert. Co-opt. They spent their one shot. Now no one will trust EAs [effective altruists] and Doomers ever again. Make sure your board is e/acc-friendly rather than EA-inclined, anons.”

This sentiment was widespread in Silicon Valley posting over the weekend, recalling the febrile local weather earlier in the yr when Silicon Valley Bank instantly failed. David Sacks, the outstanding enterprise capitalist and Elon Musk ally, who was likewise vocal throughout the SVB collapse, appeared to talk for the Valley getting uninterested in Doomers typically and nonprofits specifically. “Sam should get his job back, the board should be replaced by founders and investors who have skin in the game, the nonprofit should be converted to a C-corp, and Elon should get shares for putting in the first $40M+. In other words, undo all the shenanigans.”

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