Several influential and wealthy leaders like Elon Musk believe in a collapse in the birth rate which risks harming the future of civilization. For the tier, they want the “good people” to breed a lot. This is the subject of Numerama’s newsletter, #Rule30, written each week by journalist Lucie Ronfaut.
Elon Musk loves children. More exactly, he likes the idea of having a lot of them. The new leader of Twitter has already been a father ten times (officially) with three different women. He is fascinated by the figure of Genghis Khan, bloodthirsty warrior and founder of the Mongol empire known for his many descendants, to the point of nurturing an unverifiable rumor about the presence of his genes in 8% of North Asian men. Elon Musk’s obsession with reproduction is no secret. For years, he has publicly denounced the supposed decline of civilization because of the declining birth rate (a theory that has been repeatedly denied by demographersand which generally goes together with the racist conspiracy of the ” great replacement »). These ideas are very popular with the extreme right (in France, Eric Zemmour or Michel Houellbecq often evoke the subject of the birth rate). They are also shared, more discreetly, by a small group of digital personalities.
That’s what we learn in this long investigation published last week by Business Insider, dedicated to the pro-natalist movement within Silicon Valley. For its followers, it is necessary to have a lot of children and above all to invest in new technologies to ” reinvent reproduction »: fertility assistance, conception of artificial wombs, genetic tests on embryos, etc. The movement is logically accused of eugenics with startup sauce. It’s not just about reproducing better “, but above all to promote the children’s projects of the ” good people “to save the world, that is to say the most intelligent (according to their definition) and sufficiently rich to afford all these technologies, access to structures such as private schools or even a strange project of ” start-up city reserved for entrepreneurs and their offspring.
Frankly creepy! And not really surprising. We have long lived with the cliché of the nerd ” apolitical who was only interested in his field of activity. We realized in the long run that it was wrong: already because the digital is politics, but also because these famous activities have upset many aspects of our daily lives and our laws. But in recent years, several Silicon Valley personalities have gone a step further. They are no longer only interested in their products and the legislative ecosystem that constrains them (or not). They want to modify, more generally, our society. ” These investors are tired of disrupting businesses, now their goal is to blast our social and governmental structures », summarized Del Johnsonhimself an investor and a regular critic of his peers on his Twitter account.
This movement is very visible in Elon Musk, who tweets all the time on the “ future of civilization » and the role he would have to play there with Twitter (I recommend you reading this article from World which sums up the ultra-conservative bubble in which he is currently evolving). It’s not just about fighting for a certain conception of freedom of expression. Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and prominent Silicon Valley investor, has a long history of funding American politicians who represent its ideas populists, nationalists and climate skeptics. David Sacks, another former Paypal employee and adviser to Elon Musk in the takeover of Twitter, believes in the collapse of democracy. Palmer Luckey, creator of the Oculus Rift and pioneer of virtual reality, now dreams of Western military supremacy and openly displays its anti-immigration ideas. Fallen crypto star Sam Bankman-Fried and other tech elites claim “ effective altruists “. According to this philosophy, the ultra-rich are essential cogs in improving the common good », explain to us Numerama, and the potential of the future matters more than the problems of the present, such as global warming and economic inequality.
The list is long, and also includes people who do not publicly express their opinions. It forces us to think about who we admired in the digital industry and why we still admire them, because you can’t separate the entrepreneur from the politics. It has long been believed that new technologies represent the future. Maybe we were right. But ultimately, what future are we talking about?
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The press review this week
We have already spoken here of the intersection of mourning with new technologies. This article from Vice focuses more particularly on the experience of loss through the prism of video games, and the release of many video game experiences dedicated to death in recent years. It can be read here.
The problem of pornographic deepfakes is now well known, but still embarrasses digital professionals and regulators in all countries. In Britain, they could soon be officially punished, thanks to an amendment to a bill, the Online Safety Bill, which must be examined by the English Parliament, at the beginning of December. The latter relates more generally to the regulation of online platforms and is criticized for certain aspects by associations for the defense of privacy. You can read a summary of it on the website of the Guardian.
Who is it ?
TikTok’s auto-reading voice does belong to a real person: it’s Canadian radio host Kat Callaghan, who was interviewed by The Verge on his experience. I would have liked the interview to go a little more in detail on certain subjects, but I am generally fascinated by the issues of voice used by new technologies, so I still found this testimony interesting! It can be read (in English) at The Verge.
I want it that way
How do we learn to code today, and yesterday? And are there experiences that matter more than others? Here are the questions that torment the author of this editorial, published by Slateabout his experience in developing an HTML site dedicated to Backstreet Boys at the end of the 90s. It is to be read (in English) here.
Something to read/watch/listen to/play
I am fascinated by amusement parks. However, I don’t frequent that many! I went to Disneyland Paris more as an adult than a child (we were a family Nigloland), and these places are therefore not particularly nostalgic for me. But they interest me for many other reasons. Because they are often at the cutting edge of technology, for their economic and media weight, because I take entertainment very seriously, and for what they say about us and our society.
I was therefore the ideal client for Defunctland, a series of short documentaries broadcast since 2016 on YouTube, dedicated to amusement parks and more generally to mainstream entertainment. Its author, documentary filmmaker Kevin Perjurer, is particularly interested in the errors of this ecosystem: why was Disneyland Paris a failure even before it opened? Is there always had so many queues in amusement parks ? This attraction is garfield really haunted ? The genius of Defunctland is to hold the attention thanks to a seemingly light subject, then to unfold the very serious stakes (cultural, socio-political, economic) which are hidden there. Who would have thought that I would be moved by an hour and a half documentary about the unknown author of the Disney Channel theme music ?
deceasedland, on YoutubeEnglish subtitles available
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Why do tech executives want to have so many kids?
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