An accelerationist response to generative AI

I found this piece by Rob Horning incredibly thought-provoking about how we conceive of the relationship between generative AI and capitalism. In contrast to the weary passivity involved in socio-cultural diagnoses of late capitalism (an argument by Rachel Connolly in this brilliant essay) Horning reminds us that this innovation is better understand in terms of the concentration of capital:

AI’s apparent reference to a technology is really more of a reference to scale; generative models are not based on new innovations for “displacing human beings” so much as massively capitalized firms now having access to enough data and computing power to execute them.

He suggests that the cultural doom loop which many feel generative AI will lock us into could “potentially expose … circulatory vulnerabilities and require that they be addressed” i.e. “It will heighten the contradictions in our current media environment, reveal the incompatibilities between for-profit media companies and the ideals of free speech and open dialogue and so forth”. The rapid disintegration of web 2.0 as a cultural and civic promise means this is playing out an extremely interesting time.

I share Horning’s concern that claims about cultural disintegration are overstated but I don’t think this means we should dismiss them entirely. I’d suggest these processes constitutes the coordinates within which the circulatory politics he points to are likely to play themselves out; in the same way that the hyperactive hybridity of post-Q reactionary politics is increasingly shifting the plate tectonics of extra-parliamentary politics.

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