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Instrumentalism

Last updated Dec 25, 2021 Edit Source

Source: Value Beyond Instrumentalization by Jasmine Wang

Reminiscent of the move fast and break things Silicon Valley ethic.

“This tendency to instrumentalize, or to treat something as a means or resource for achieving some end goal, shows up in the personal lives of many technologists. Many types of “fun” are made telic.”

“All that was good becomes data. All that was beautiful is now efficient.” (Jacques Ellul, in The Technological Society)

An inherent quantization and optimization of everything. Prevalent in recommendation systems where poor proxies are often the target of optimization that ignores the humans under them (e.g. engagement metrics rather than satisfaction and wellbeing). Goodhart’s Law

“Creation of spaces of local abundance (as opposed to, say, a space like YCombinator, where the space is meant to help you reach a specific external outcome under time-bounded pressure) where technologists can play with ideas and think freely, similar to parks and urban forests in a bustling city”

Decide carefully what to pay attention to out of an infinity of possible ends to apply your time and resources, and what worlds you wish to bring about. This is a call to build a beautiful and deeply good future.


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