🌱 Seedling glossary

TESCREAL

posted on in: Tech.
~381 words, about a 2 min read.

  • Transhumanism
  • Extropianism
  • Singularitarianism
  • Cosmism
  • Rationalism
  • Effective altruism
  • Longtermism

From Wikipedia (July 5 2024, 4:21 PM -4):

TESCREAL is an acronym neologism, proposed and advocated by computer scientist Timnit Gebru and philosopher Émile P. Torres, standing for transhumanism, extropianism, singularitarianism, cosmism, rationalism, effective altruism, and longtermism. Gebru and Torres argue that these ideologies should be treated as an "interconnected and overlapping" group with shared origins. Gebru and Torres allege this movement allows its proponents to use the threat of human extinction to justify societally expensive or detrimental projects. They consider it pervasive in social and academic circles in Silicon Valley centered around artificial intelligence. As such, the acronym is sometimes used to criticize a perceived belief system associated with Big Tech.

Gebru and Torres coined the "TESCREAL" acronym in 2023, first using it in a draft of a paper titled "The TESCREAL bundle: Eugenics and the promise of utopia through artificial general intelligence". The paper was later published in First Monday in April 2024, though Torres and Gebru popularized the term elsewhere prior to the paper's publication. According to Gebru and Torres, transhumanism, extropianism, singularitarianism, (modern) cosmism, rationalism, effective altruism, and longtermism are a "bundle" of "interconnected and overlapping ideologies" that emerged from twentieth-century eugenics, with shared progenitors. They use the term "TESCREAList" to refer to people who ascribe to, or appear to endorse, most or all of the ideologies captured in the acronym.

According to critics of these philosophies, TESCREAL describes overlapping movements endorsed by prominent individuals in the tech industry to provide intellectual backing to pursue and prioritize projects including artificial general intelligence (AGI), life extension, and space colonization. Science fiction author Charles Stross, using the example of space colonization, argued that the ideologies allow billionaires to pursue massive personal projects driven by a right-wing interpretation of science fiction by arguing that not pursuing such projects presents an existential risk to society. Gebru and Torres write that, using the threat of extinction, TESCREALists can justify "attempts to build unscoped systems which are inherently unsafe". Media scholar Ethan Zuckerman argues that by only considering goals that are valuable to the TESCREAL movement, futuristic projects with more immediate negatives, such as racial inequity, algorithmic bias, and environmental degradation, can be justified.

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