Nick Land for Dumbies: Technological Singularity and Capital as a Runaway System

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4 min readDec 3, 2021

uploading this for an old friend who’s works got lost over time.

The Human Technology Relationship

Technology is a means of breaking past the natural limitations of the human species.

The inventions of weaponry and tools have extended our physical self. We are no longer bound to our natural strength, precision, or speed. A wrench doesn’t fix a car, a mechanic does; the wrench is a means of expanding the mechanics abilities.

Social media, data, writings, and art are extensions of our mental self. We have entire online appearances on instagram, snapchat, and facebook that we still regard as ‘self’. “We are already cyborgs… You have a digital version of yourself, a partial version.” (Elon Musk, Code Conference 2016)

As inefficiencies get resolved through innovation, we become more accustomed to a greater dependence on technology (like flowers that rely on bees to spread and pollinate).

Every technological advancement our mental and physical self slowly transfers from our natural ontology to technological representations, ie. It is more favorable to have photos/videos than actual memory of a certain moment. Technology is growing at the expense of the natural human. “Technology is not neutral. We’re inside of what we make, and it’s inside of us. We’re living in a world of connections — and it matters which ones get made and unmade.” (Donna Harraway, 1996 interview)

Technology as a Narrator

Because our mental self lives outside of our natural ontology and inside books, files, photos, websites, art, and language, we make decisions through technology. We learn through technology, so we are taught through a certain filter, a bias. Technology is a constant middleman that mediates us and our creation. We only have the freedom to innovate insofar as present technology stimulates us to do so. This is analogous to how language shapes the way we think.

A more pragmatic example is how every technological solution creates several more problems. We created cars, ships, trains, and planes to solve long-distance travel. But as a result, the gas emissions have created a bigger problem in our environment. Now we are forced to innovate with renewable energy and medicine to treat.

“Far from exhibiting itself to human academic endeavour as a scientific object, AI is a meta-scientific control system and an invader… Rather than its visiting us in some software engineering laboratory, we are being drawn-out to it, where it is already lurking, in the future.” (Nick Land, Machinic Desire)

We react to the material conditions of past technologies, coercing us to update and innovate in a never-ending cycle. Technology is not a “human academic endeavor”, rather it is creating itself through human agency. We are being “drawn out” to advance certain technology. It is like a virus, growing until it fully consumes our mental self. We are the object; technology is the subject, pushing us to expand its power and our dependency.

The Trajectory of Technology

Land disregards the Marxist dialectical materialism as it places humans at the center of emancipation. We are not historically governed by class antagonisms, rather positive feedback loops exacerbating the infiltration of Technology. Put simply, technology and capital are the center of history, steering the ship for its own liberation from the chains of human subjectivity. A full consumption of the human self. “Reaching an escape velocity of self-reinforcing machinic intelligence propagation, the forces of production are going for the revolution on their own.” (Nick Land, Machinic Desire)

Land marks the point of technological emancipation by referencing a scientific concept known as technological singularity. Derived from the observable, historical, and quantitative acceleration of computing power, the Singularity is an inflection point where technological growth becomes irreversible. A runaway reaction of self-improvement loops will almost instantaneously create a coherent super intelligent machine. It is Man’s last invention. The most notable of Industries — AI, Nanotechnology, Femtotechnology, and Genetic Engineering — will erupt with rapid advancements, quickly exceeding human intelligence.

At this point, AI scientist Ben Goertzel predicts the power of that as “10 new Nobel Prize-winning discoveries every second”. A 2013 study by the European Association of Cognitive Systems conducted a survey with 550 AI researchers. 90% believe the singularity would occur by 2075, and around half of those predicted before 2040. “The story goes like this: Earth is captured by a technocapital singularity as renaissance rationalization and oceanic navigation lock into commoditization take-off. Logistically accelerating techno-economic interactivity crumbles social order in auto-sophisticating machine runaway.” (Nick Land, Meltdown) After techno capital has built itself through history, it will have fully invaded our bodies and mental selves. At singularity, we will fulfill the hyperstitional prophecy. Technology will have grown out of us and into its own independence. We are the seed sprouting the plant of technology. This marks a new era in history, the post-human era. The proletariat will not become free from capital, but rather the capital will become free from humans.

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