I've been hearing murmurs about a recently formed philosophy called "Effective Accelerationism", described as:[1]

...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.

One example of said Substack manifestos, Notes on e/acc principles and tenets, outlines on an object level the thesis motivating e/acc. TL;DR:[2]

  • 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:[3]

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.

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.

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?

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You asked about whether e/acc motivation originating from thermodynamics makes any sense. From my day job, I know quite a bit about thermo. The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy (disorder) of a closed system increases over time until the system reaches its equilibrium state. Entropy is literally related to the number of possible configurations in which a system could exist. So if you start off with a billion gas molecules in the corner of a box, the entropy is low. From Brownian (random) motion, the gas molecules will spread out throughout the box, increasing entropy. Once the gas molecules are well mixed inside the box, the system reaches equilibrium and entropy stays constant.

How does this relate to a social mission to accelerate technology towards a non-scarcity future? I have no fucking clue. It doesn’t connect. At least not without invoking pseudoscience or hipster analogies.

I think the e/acc folks should explain their mission in terms of techno-optimism. Star Trek (big fan!) and TNG in particular does a great job of showing how technology development can create a post-scarcity future. It also shows how (even then) there will still be conflict and drama, but that humanity can successfully expand peacefully with greater prosperity.

Dude, we already have Star Trek pads and a universal translators. And talking computers. We are so getting there.

There is a tremendous urge among intelligent people to reduce things to 'first principles.'
And, of those first principles, to think of them as maths, or applied maths.

On this topic 'e/acc' I'll stick more to epistemology, ontology, and even taxonomy.

Personally, I enjoy that people are even getting excited about this concept socially, since, chaos or long-term planning aside, activating people to push things to be faster, simpler, etc. is a strong win while we work out everything else (please stop enabling anything that is related to physical paperwork).
So I'm going to look the other direction, for example at the table filled with Bank/Credit card machines at any point-of-purchase-brick-and-mortar-retail-store, and all the horror of waste (time, money, complexity) this represents, and continues to cause.

...and juxtapose that to curing cancer, et al.

I ended up here on LessWrong today and finally (after watching it from birth, signed up) because I was curious why people were adding 'e/acc' to their Twitter (=X=) profiles.

All said... Cool, finally a movement I can at least appreciate.  

So, and also, let's go backwards in time and ask 'What would you try to accelerate first if you were offered the chance?' #timetravel

My answer is always the same for this 'teach more faster to younger.'


"Teach more faster to younger": We have had such a time in our history before: it was called the Cold War, and especially the decades of the 1960s and 1970s. I studied physics during that era, and it was way too fast with too little reflection. Some of the spirit of that age is captured in Lee Smolin's The Trouble with Physics.

About the thermodynamic basis for e/acc more generally, it always interests me how people ascribe such authority to thermodynamics. The Laws of Thermodynamics are usually framed in an adiabatic regime, i.e., one where the time rate o... (read more)

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"Capture free energy"? What does that mean? Or did they mean to say reduce free energy?

This is a really good short summary of e/acc @RomanHauksson !

You are right, I think, e/acc does seem almost like a reaction to ea,especially when it comes to the caution ea places around AI and how e/acc appears to almost be dismissing those concerns.

Maybe Lindy will show how serious and persistent e/acc really is? For right now, as you maybe hinted at, it seems a bit too early to tell, especially due to its core being so hard to pin down...

Thank you for sharing this @RomanHauksson ! :)