Technolibertarianism is a viewpoint that wishes technological progress to be freed from slowdown by regulators or political interference. It is based on two core principles: The Self-Ownership of the Sapient Mind and Non-Aggression to signal mutual respect of other sapients natural rights as the best, most rational long term strategy for peaceful coexistence and voluntary association.
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. As opposed to the Precautionary Principle of Technoconservative Luddites, technolibertarians promote the Proactionary Principle first formulated by Extropian Max More which ensures a balanced appreciation of risks and opportunity costs of inaction.
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, seeking to agglomerate power in centralized hierarchical organizations, despite the tendency of such organisations to ossify and to exhibit fragility and immobility in the face of rapid change.
- Politicians have little understanding of the latest technologies, and prefer to legislate/regulate against them in order to protect established interests.
- 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; they are more prone to capture when more power is concentrated in larger bureaucracies.
- Politicians have no inherent 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.
Technolibertarians see the free market as a powerful computer which is more capable than any governmental system to determine the best allocation of resources and the fitness of new technologies. They argue that the free market is a massively multi parallel neural network supercomputer AI that spans all of human civilization, which as a result is always capable of determining the most efficient allocations of resources to achieve the best solutions to problems. Any smaller group of persons that attempts to make decisions by centralized processes is not only less powerful than the free market AI, but will just be a subset of the free market AI's processing capacity, and therefore can never outperform the free market in making better decisions.
Centralized groups, like governments, can be privatized through blockchains to function better as more decentralized, transparent systems that can prevent a lot of the corruption inherent in centralized systems. This is why blockchain technology was invented by technolibertarian Extropians such as Hal Finney in the past decade.
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.
In response to these criticisms, technolibertarians reply that many of these criticisms tend to be a sort of bait and switch, blaming the market for the failures of the state. For instance, if the state EPA requires that all toxic waste be stored in 40 gallon barrels in designated toxic waste storage facilities, period, then when start up ventures are prevented from being allowed to use new technologies to turn toxic wastes back into useful chemicals and other nontoxic materials, the critics blame the market when the fault is with the state's regulations that do not allow for free market solutions other than what is prescribed by regulation.
Likewise, the 2008 subprime banking crisis is commonly blamed on an "out of control free market" and "unbridled speculation", when in fact it is rather well documented that the toxic mortgages that poisoned the well of collateralized debt obligations (i.e. mortgage backed securities) and credit default swaps, were introduced into the market by banks that were ordered by the federal government to ignore standards of creditworthiness under the National Homeownership Strategy and the earlier Community Reinvestment Act, to lend to people without demonstrated ability to pay commensurate with the amount borrowed, or documented employment or other proof of income. Many point to AIG's Financial Products Division's default modelling software did fail to use default data going back more than six years (it should have optimally used data going back to the last mortgage bubble in the late 1980's) which contributed to the crisis, but the credit rating agencies that rated the CDO's based on AIG default risk predictions were ordered, again, by the federal government to give these securities AAA ratings despite this poor default history that AIG based their risk predictions on.
Another area that critics fail in their criticisms is they too often conflate society with the state. The libertarian philosophy is based on the Non-Aggression principle as the best most rational strategy for others to respect the individual sapient persons self ownership and related natural rights. Individuals engaged in voluntary association with each other is the definition of society, whereas the state involves unconsented aggression, domination of the minority by the majority, and imposition of a fictitious contract of adhesion called "the social contract" that often includes vague and vacuous terms fabricated by bureaucrats, politicians and other statism supporters to validate their will to aggress upon others under "the common good", far beyond anything specified in any foundational Constitution. Statists equate society with the state despite them essentially being the antithesis of each other, and claim without support that what is good for the state is good for society as well.
As for the criticism of predictability: because the Free Market AI is the most powerful supercomputer on the planet, there is no lesser system that is able to better solve market calculation problems, and any lesser machine is automatically a subset of the Free Markets decision making power. So any criticism based on predictability also applies, to a stronger degree, to any centralized government.
- Silicon Valley
- Libertarian transhumanism
- TechnoLibertarian Wiki - small wiki discussing such principles