Technolibertarianism is a viewpoint that wishes technological progress to be freed from slowdown by regulators or political interference.
The technolibertarian view is a near direct opposite of the technoconservative one. Whereas the technoconservatives say “stop – this is going too fast”, technolibertarians say “go faster”.
It’s not that technolibertarians are blind to the threats which cause so much concern to the technoconservatives. On the whole, they’re well aware of these threats. However, they believe that technology, given a free hand, will solve these problems. Technoconservatives, in this analysis, are becoming unnecessarily anxious.
For example, excess greenhouse gases may well be sucked out of the atmosphere by clever carbon capture systems, perhaps involving specially engineered bio-organisms. In any case, green energy sources – potentially including solar, geothermal, biofuels, and nuclear – will soon become cheaper than (and therefore fully preferable to) carbon-based fuels. As for problems with weaponry falling into the wrong hands, suitable defence technology could be created. Declines in biodiversity could be countered by Jurassic Park style technology for species resurrection. Ample fresh water can be generated by desalination processes from sea water, with the energy to achieve this transformation being obtained from the sun. And so on.
The main request of technolibertarians to politicians is “hands off”. They want government to provide a free rein to smart scientists, hard-working technologists, and innovative entrepreneurs – a free rein to pursue their ideas for new products. It is these forces, they say, which will produce the solutions to society’s current problems.
Technolibertarians echo the sentiment of Ronald Reagan that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Governments suffer, in this view, from a number of deep-rooted problems:
- Politicians seek to build empires
- Politicians have little understanding of the latest technologies
- Politicians generally impose outdated regulations – which are concerned with yesterday’s problems rather than with tomorrow’s opportunities
- Regulators are liable to “capture” – an over-influence from vested interests
- Politicians have no ability to pick winners
- Political spending builds a momentum of its own, behind “white elephant” projects.
The technolibertarian recipe to solve social problems, therefore, is technology plus innovation plus free markets, minus intrusive regulations, and minus government interference. The role of government should be minimised – perhaps even privatised.
Public statements of technolibertarianism
The following is taken from the description of the Technolibertarians group on Facebook:
Technolibertarians is a group of individuals committed to the idea of fostering private governments (often referred to Anarcho-Capitalism,) or much smaller forms of the present forms of governments (often referred to as Classical Liberalism and/or Minarchism,) both of which support greatly increased amounts of individual freedom in the personal and economic spheres both in and out of the worlds of the Internet; support for increasing the speed of the development of life extending and human-improving technologies, known as Transhumanism (H+,) and the same as it regards creation of Strong Artificial Intelligence, (also known as Artificial General Intelligence,) until the point of reaching the Technological Singularity.
Specifically, we wish to ensure that as technologies in these fields enhance and increase the rate of human evolution without being instruments of oppression, but rather, instruments of freedom for the individual to pursue his or her dreams in whichever manner they best deem fit, and, that these common goals can best be achieved by keeping markets and individuals as unencumbered by governments as possible, for as long as possible, until the Technological Singularity is reached.
Critics of technolibertarianism observe the many distortions and problems that exist with unregulated markets. For example, in his 2009 book How markets fail: the logic of economic calamities, John Cassidy highlights four “illusions” of utopian economics:
- The illusion of harmony: that free markets always generate good outcomes;
- The illusion of stability: that free market economy is sturdy;
- The illusion of predictability: that distribution of returns can be foreseen;
- The illusion of Homo Economicus: that individuals are rational and act on perfect information.
Critics argue that
- The need for smart oversight and regulation will grow even more pressing, as technology progresses over the next few decades to the point of displacing ever larger numbers of people from the workforce
- Technology isn’t just restricted to improving the human body and mind – doing better than Darwinian natural selection; it’s also capable of improving human politics and human economics – doing better than the invisible hand of free markets (though, in both cases, modifications need to be approached with care).
For more details, see technoprogressivism.