What exactly is technism?
It is a system defined by automation, particularly the pursuit of maximal automation. The more faculties of society that are automated, the more technist that society becomes.
A technist is a person who seeks a highly/fully automated society. The logical endpoint of this philosophy is a point where humanity is disenfranchised from all processes, instead living only to profit from the labor of machines.
In that regard, technism is the opposite of neo-Luddism and primitivism.
The economic philosophy behind technism is known as Vyrdism, which is the belief that humanity should actively exploit the labor of machines, with the common agreement being that we should pursue cooperative ownership. Vyrdists, in the short amount of time they’ve been around, have already sprouted a few branches.
Market Vyrdism describes a society that fuses free market ideals with technism and/or Vyrdism. It bears most resemblance to mutualism and syndicalism. Private property is protected. Humans may no longer be the dominant laborers of society, but they remain in near full control of political and economic matters.
Marxism-Vyrdism describes a society that fuses the ideals of Marxism (perhaps even Marxism-Leninism) with Vyrdism— all automation is collectively owned, with a state apparatus (usually consisting of artificial intelligence, a la Cybersyn) existing to centrally plan the economy. Private property is non-existent. Despite this, humans remain in near full control of political and economic matters.
Pure Technism describes a society that fuses the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat and replaces the proletariat with the technotariat— automata, both hardware and software, which displace the traditional productive roles of the proletariat. In this case, humanity is completely or almost completely disenfranchised from political and economic matters as automata develops full ownership of society.
Dictatorship of the Technotariat
This is a term I’ve already seen being passed around. This works off pure-technism and can be defined in a very simple and slightly ominous way— the means of production own themselves. This doesn’t mean that hammers become sadistic foremen whipping their abused human slaves— it refers to a state of affairs when synthetic intelligences possess ownership over society and direct social, political, and economic matters. In such a state, humanity would no longer have meaningful ownership over private property, even though private property itself may not have actually been abolished.
AI simply commanding and controlling an economy doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve arrived at this new dictatorship. AI has to own the means of production (essentially, itself).
Unlike Vyrdism, where society is set up similar to an Athenian slave state (with humans and sapient AI existing at the top and sub-sapient or even non-sentient technotarians acting as slave laborers beneath us), a pure-technist society sees humanity exist purely at the whims of synthetic intelligence. It is the logical endpoint of universal basic income, where we do not own anything but are given some capital to live as we please.
To recap: technism is the pursuit of automation, especially full automation. Capitalist and socialist societies ever since the Industrial Revolution could be described as, in some manner, technist. However, technists seek to fully replace the working class with automata known as “technotarians”, whereas most capitalists and socialists seek to use automata to supplement human labor. Vyrdism is a partial fusion of technism with capitalism and socialism (moreso one way or the other depending on if you’re a Market or a Marxist Vyrdist), that’s only possible when technology reaches a point where humans do not need to be directly involved in the economy itself. Pure technism is the full secession of the ownership of the means of production to the means of production themselves, which is only possible if the means are artificially intelligent to a particular point I’ve defined as being “artilectual.” The difference between an AI/AGI and an artilect is that a general AI is an ultra-versatile tool while an artilect is a synthetic person. Of course, when I say “an artilect”, that implies that one would be a physically defined person as we would recognize it— with a tiny primate-esque body and a limited brain, with very-much human aspirations and flaws. In fact, an artilect could be an entire collective of AI that exists across the planet, that has control over nearly all robots.
A pure-technist society is not the same as a Vyrdist society. Not even a “Marxist-Vyrdist” society. Vyrdism involves human ownership over the means of production when the means are capable of working without any human interaction or involvement. Pure-technism is when humans do not own the means of production, rendering us dependent upon the generosity of the machines.
Because of these qualifiers, it is not wrong to say that any automation-based economic system is technist. This includes Resource-Based Economies as well as the Venus Project. If you take Marxism-Vyrdism to its logical conclusion, you will arrive at Fully Automated Luxury Communism. All of which are considered “post-scarcity economics“. All of which are technist.
Joint Economy vs. Mixed Economy
So let me take a minute to discuss the difference between a “joint economy” and a “mixed economy.”
Back when I was doing the technostist wiki (“technostism” being a poor precursor to the current term “technism”), I pointed out the difference between market socialism and mutualism, and mixed economies that claimed to fuse “capitalism and socialism.” Mixed economies fuse state socialism and free-market capitalism. I’ve yet to see a mixed economy be used to describe a place that fuses market socialism and free-market capitalism. So I decided to take the initiative and create a new term myself: “joint economy.”
A joint economy is one that fuses capitalist and worker (and, eventually, automata) ownership of the means of production to some great degree. It has nothing to do with the government— the “socialist” aspects in this case are purely economic. When a nation has a joint economy, that means it has a healthy mixture of purely traditional/authoritarian enterprises and worker cooperatives and democratic businesses (owned and/or managed), perhaps even a cooperative federation or syndicate. You’d still have powerful corporations, but it wouldn’t be a given that all corporations are authoritarian in nature. Something like the Basque Country in Spain is a good example— Mondragon is an absolutely massive corporation, but it’s entirely worker-owned. This means the Basque Country has a “joint economy”. A joint mixed economy is one where you have market socialism and market capitalism alongside state regulations.
This is naturally important in a technist society because we’re fast approaching a time when there’s a third fundamental owner of the means of production, and defining their relationship to the means and to society at large is necessary.
Just as present-day joint economies are the freest possible, an economy where businesses are commonly owned by individuals, collectives, and machines rather than solely one of the three will see the greatest prosperity.
In a future post, I will detail why radical decentralization and ultra-strong encryption must be a goal for any budding technist, as well as how totalitarianism becomes perfected in a degenerated technist society.
In review: technism is the pursuit of capital imbued with intelligence. The logical endpoint is the point where intelligent capital owns society and all property, thus marking a state of absolute automation.