Countering Your Decels

The constant battle between making money for the sake of it or the pursuit of betterment with purpose as chief focus can unsurprisingly be seen in the field of AI.

I remain baffled by these two positions' jostling.

As for me, I discovered early that when you do something primarily for the expected cash reward, where that financial prize becomes your sole driver, and fall into thinking that it is the remunerated riches that define you, failure, taint and emptiness follow.

The relentless torrent of get-rich-quick bumper ads that must be skipped before viewing what you clicked on feels testament to how dangerously the appeal of the supposedly simple secrets of no-effort avarice is judged.

I learned recently that I may be autotelic. Meaning that the work put in is the source of my intrinsic reward, ahead of the result it brings.

I sense this from a number of developmental examples. The most common I think across our profession being the disappointment when winning a deal that quickly consumes the joy of the signature that comes from realising you've suddenly got one less prospect to navigate through your forecast.

You could also argue that the classic yet staggeringly under-appreciated view also represents from where true success hails. Namely systems over goals.

When in this pursuit of constant process refinement I am kept so fully engaged. And it rubs off beautifully on those around me who are winners. The huge pay-off being, that the positive outcome flowing ends up being greater and more rewarding in all ways than otherwise would have been the case, of thinking the other way 'round.

So Silicon Valley Big Tech, those that speculate on their future dominance, and their next gen wannabes latch onto AI with a chilling manifestation of what I'd term the misguided direction. As seen with this recent The Times' subhead;

The new buzz phrase in the hi-tech hub is ‘effective accelerationism’, a movement that wants to take us to a techno utopia unhindered by regulators and doomsayers.

If you don't by into their method of taking over the world, you are apparently, a 'decel'. A pejorative derived from decelerationist. Here's further explanation from the reliably readable journalist and podcaster, Danny Fortson;

"...[effective accelerationism] is a belief system that has emerged, mostly online, over the past 18 months to proselytise for unbridled, urgent technological advance, while railing against anything that gets in its way.
Those who would seek to impose regulations or otherwise slow progress are called names.
They are “decels”, for “decelerationist”, while believers are “e/accs” (pronounced ee-acks), many of whom have added the label to their social media handle so that others will recognise them as members of the tribe.

I initially felt sympathy for this view. One touted 'enemy' (of several) being ESG. Which in my numerous encounters with its various guises in the corporate world this past decade left me each time with the damaging experience that it misses its mark and is a scam. Or in the words I note from recent criticism of but one leading investor, 'gravy train evangelism [means ESG] has become a giant Petri dish for groupthink'.

Yet an alternate angle gnaws away. Summed up by the withering dismissal, 'growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell'.

A view compounded when learning of the unerring belief in the 'techno-capital machine' and its munificence. Even its ability to save individual lives and humanity itself. As VC kingpin and disciple Marc Andreessen is quoted;

“We believe not growing is stagnation, which leads to zero-sum thinking, internal fighting, degradation, collapse and ultimately death.”

That's quite the stance.

I wholeheartedly support its opening clause. Solution selling has long sought to help those for whom it's already dawned, or who'll soon benefit from being in said camp, that to maintain a status quo is in reality to be going backwards.

Whether you'd quite put the consequences in the same terms as what then follows here, I'm not so sure.

Yet what all this does give us, is a fascinating fresh way in which to join forces with those prospect-side that share in our vision.

For decels are not prey restricted to those hunting in the industrial techno-swamp.

Deceleration in the everyday sense means slowing down. Applying the brakes. Reversing engine thrust.

I have seen this in most debilitating terms. Typically as procrastination. As wait-and-see management. As let's get more data.

In its place, I applaud the festina lente. But this decel urge isn't that.

So often, a large majority of times in fact, I see the supposedly 'considered' approach of reduced velocity hold sway. Sounds so reasonable, doesn't it? Yet their intent to impede, stall or delay (not just technological) progress tends to end up sucking energy out of any potential personal and collective improvement.

There is a balance. You needn't be as extreme as the current wave of e/accs. But to gauge where everyone is on the speed scale could well be a winning insight into how strong your proposal stands.

Making me wonder if the VC crowd have already turned this into a 4-box, 2x2 matrix [-eration pace preferred on one axis, energy on the other] for assessing buying personas ... maybe like this rough, first pass draft of mine;

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