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  • Finlay McPherson

Effective Accelerationism: The Ideology of the Future?

Effective Accelerationism is social media’s favourite ideology. Its believers and stalwarts have garnered hundreds of thousands of followers across various social media platforms, easily identifiable through their tag ‘(e/acc)’. They articulate the Effective Accelerationist response to various topics and news stories, and have come to the forefront in the battle over AI - but what actually is Effective Accelerationism; what does it want, and who supports it?

Firstly, it is important to note that Effective Accelerationism partially arose in response to the creation of Effective Altruism, which was eventually adopted by individuals such as now-disgraced FTX-founder, Sam Bankman-Fried. Opposed to the research and evidence-based philanthropy supported by Effective Altruists, Effective Accelerationists believe in the unabashed and unregulated seizing of all opportunities and technological advancements, regardless of any barriers.

It champions a devil-may-care attitude to capitalising on potential technological and commercial development opportunities, opposing any efforts to regulate the AI or technology industries. Effective Accelerationism advocates for capitalism and development to be pursued at all costs, in turn driving social upheaval and rapid change in the social structure we see today. Those who believe in it think that there is no idea that is out of reach, that whatever may be possible should be chased and pursued until it is a reality, and that this process will ultimately be a huge benefit in driving forward humanity.

Effective Accelerationism also has an element of physics to its philosophy and belief system. On the website titled simply ‘Effective Accelerationism’, it states that:

‘Effective Accelerationism is a belief, rooted in the second law of thermodynamics, that the universe itself is an optimization process creating a life which constantly expands. The engine of this expansion is technocapital. This engine cannot be stopped. The ratchet of progress only ever turns in one direction. Going back is not an option.’

In this instance, ‘technocapital’ refers to the relationship between technology and capitalism, and how technological innovation can drive forward economic growth and social change.

Effective Accelerationism was first properly defined in a post on Substack, titled ‘Effective Accelerationism — e/acc’ and was authored by @zestular, @creatine_cycle, @BasedBeffJezos and @bayeslord, all of whom appear regularly in many of the prominent ‘e/acc’ discussion threads and spaces on X. In the Substack post, they posited that the technocapital forces cannot be stopped and should continue without regulation.

One of many frequent arguments against the heavy regulation of AI used by those who believe in Effective Accelerationism is that those who support regulation have skewed, or fictitious, reference points. In a discussion on X’s discussion platform ‘Spaces’, backers of e/acc posited that some of those in favour of regulation, and fearful of AI and technological development, have reference points borne mostly out of Sci-fi films, video games, comic books and TV shows - instead of valid and evidence-based studies. The argument is, therefore, that people support harsh regulation because when they think of development they immediately think of the worst-possible scenario, such as the one seen in films such as Terminator and 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is instead of a reaction fuelled by science or reason, and so is not an accurate reflection of the ramifications of AI-innovation.

The ideology has garnered some influential and controversial supporters. One of its most notable advocates is Marc Andreessen, who currently has ‘e/acc’ displayed prominently on his X profile. Andreessen is the co-founder of Mosaic, co-founder of Netscape and co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz - the venture capital firm. He finds himself with a great deal of influence on X and his support of the e/acc cause will certainly have alerted many to its existence.

Another one of the most prominent e/acc backers is Martin Shkreli, the highly influential and controversial co-founder of Elea Capital, Retrophin and Turing Pharmaceuticals, and others. Shkreli was convicted of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud in 2017, and served five years in prison. Since his conviction he has used his charisma and vast knowledge of market activity, technological advancements and science to give tips and voice his opinion to his thousands of followers, growing a large fanbase in the process. He is one of the most vocal and prominent members of the e/acc movement, publicly denouncing people such as Sam Bankman-Fried and consistently advocating for the beliefs of Effective Accelerationism.

With the rapid advancement and expansion of AI, Effective Accelerationism and its beliefs are sure to remain at the forefront of the latter debate for decades to come. Whatever your views on its dedication to technocapital are, the ideology of thousands of X-users and those on Substack is due to become a lot stronger - and a lot more noticeable - propelling its bastions into the limelight like never before.


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