On Techno-Fascism

I’m really enjoying Humans Need Not Apply by Jerry Kaplan. Much more so than I expected to in fact. He offers a thoughtful and incisive insider’s critique, in the style of a less verbose Jaron Lanier, concerning the likely trajectory of contemporary digital capitalism. On pg 105 he writes about the “new regime” creeping up on us:

The new regime will creep in silently and unnoticed, as if on cat paws, while you marvel at how the modern world grows ever more convenient, customized to you, and efficient. But behind the scenes, enormous synthetic intellects will be shaving you the thinnest slice of the benefits that you are willing to accept, while reserving the lion’s share for … exactly whom?

The idea of techno-fascism I’ve been playing with all year fits nicely into this account. Techno-fascism is a speculative account of what might result when this nascent digital elite, so thoroughly invested in the ‘new regime’ described by Kaplan, find their power and prestige challenged: specifically, if a significant mass use this architecture of modelling and control for explicitly political, as opposed to commercial, purposes. This is a prospect made more feasible by the regulatory vacuum into which this new regime is ‘creeping in silently and unnoticed’, as well as a broader process in which democratic governance has been hollowed out over recent decades.