What is Effective Accelerationism: Advantages and Disadvantages

What is Effective Accelerationism: Advantages and Disadvantages

There is a philosophical concept and grassroots movement that is growing among supporters of rapid but functional and beneficial scientific and technological progress. It is called effective accelerationism. This concept has gained traction and credence from the debates surrounding the ongoing artificial intelligence revolution. Proponents believe that the best approach to achieving a better future is through the acceleration of developments in the fields and domains of science and technology. It also has been positioned as an argument against effective altruism and has been an emerging school of thought in the subfield of artificial intelligence safety and the more specific subset called artificial intelligence alignment.

Explaining Effective Accelerationism: Principles and Approaches

The origin of effective accelerationism can be traced back to 2021. An anonymous user of the social media platform Twitter, now rebranded as X after the Elon Musk acquisition, who uses the alias Beff Jezos proposed a new philosophical concept aimed at supporting and vindicating the rapid and ongoing developments in the field of artificial intelligence.

Effective accelerationism combines and refines the ideas of accelerationism and effective altruism. Note that British right-wing philosopher Nick Land introduced the basic ideas of accelerationism in a 2017 paper. He argued that technological change and capitalist growth are inevitable and desirable forces for social transformation.

The philosophical and social movement called effective altruism emerged in 2011 from the convergence of the different views and advocacies of diverse organizations and communities. Effective altruists advocate for the use of evidence and reason to figure out how to benefit others as much as possible while taking action on the basis.

Hence, as regards effective accelerationism, effective accelerationists believe that people should not be afraid of new technologies or scientific discoveries because breakthroughs from the past have brought forth improvements, and accelerating scientific and technological progress has the potential to solve the most pressing problems of the world.

The concept also draws inspiration from the concept of entropy which is central to the second law of thermodynamics. Entropy is a measure of the disorder and randomness in a system. Adherents of effective accelerationism argue that a high entropy system can explain the rapid pace of scientific and technological progress over the past centuries.

An effective approach to accelerating beneficial developments in the fields and domains of science and technology entails channeling resources to research and development pursuits and activities, supporting the works involved and relevant people and organizations, and utilizing the products arising from scientific and technological progress.

Effective accelerationism has garnered significant recognition from various personalities in Silicon Valley and members of the business and technology communities. These include investor and businessman Martin Shrekeli, software engineer and venture capitalist Mark Andreesen, and former Apple software engineering and Notion cofounder Chris Prucha.

Pros of Effective Accelerationism: Advantages and Applications

1. Supports the Use of Science and Technology to Solve Pressing Problems

Adherents of effective accelerationism believe that problems or issues such as climate change or the ongoing climate emergency, the prevalence of poverty and economic inequality in both developed and developing countries, and public health issues and diseases can be addressed through rapid and unhinged scientific and technological developments.

Several commentaries and studies have explored the importance of advancing the fields and domains of science and technology. A report from the Center for American Progress explained that the potential economic benefits of investing in clean energy include employment generation, energy cost reduction, and enhanced energy security.

The editors of the MIT Technology Review listed technologies that can address the most pressing challenges of the world. These range from climate change to economic stagnation. These include carbon capture and storage, grid-scale power storage, universal vaccine development, efficient water desalination, and embodied artificial intelligence systems.

2. Hedges the Risks and Problems Arising from Stagnation and Decline

Science and technology are the main drivers of human progress. Effective accelerationists have cited instances in which breakthroughs have brought forth positive disruptions. These include the invention of the printing press in 1440 which ushered in the information age and the arrival of the internet in 1983 which sparked the digital information age revolution.

A working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in 2020 mentioned that the current mechanism for evaluating and funding research and development is biased toward safe but slow pursuits. Endeavors that are explorative in nature and with higher risks have the most potential for breakthroughs but are often sidelined or dismissed.

Jason Crawford, a leading figure in the progress movement, noted that a decline in research and development investments over time would require more resources to generate the same amount of innovations in the future. A higher and more stable level of investment could boost the quantity and quality of scientific and technological output and impact.

3. Draws Attention to the Most Impactful Trends in Science and Technology

Another advantage of effective accelerationism is that it focuses on scientific and technological trends that have the most impact to bring forth net benefits. Hence, because it draws and merges several ideas from accelerationism and effective altruism, it promotes the rapid development and proliferation of fields and domains that have the most beneficial impacts.

However, unlike effective altruism which is a top-down approach to progress, the core principle of the movement underscores the importance of scientific and technological advancement in enabling social progress. Proponents believe that capital and other resources should be directed in endeavors leading to radical social transformation and post-humanism.

The principles of effective accelerationism have helped in shaping the direction of notable fields and domains such as artificial intelligence. Effective accelerationists either provide the framework for approaching research and development pursuits, provide needed resources for these pursuits, or help in raising public awareness and expanding public acceptance.

Cons of Effective Accelerationism: Disadvantages and Criticisms

1. Leans Toward an Idealistic But Oversimplified Understanding of Progress

One of the prominent criticisms of effective accelerationism is that it oversimplifies the complex dynamics of progress and confines it within scientific and technological advances. It upholds a technocratic worldview and demonstrates a blind faith in science and technology that dismisses the importance of social, political, and ethical considerations.

For example, because effective accelerationists encourage the acceleration of relevant research and development at all costs, they fail to take into account the political, economic, and cultural factors that shape and constrain the development and impact of technology. This neglects alternative approaches to addressing pressing social challenges.

Scientific and technological innovations are not the sole determinants and measures of progress. Ignoring other factors such as economic data, changes in the political or legal system, the state of the environment, and the well-being of people due to overemphasis on unhinged scientific and technological pursuits can lead to technocratic elitism.

2. Based on the Misplaced Interpretation of the Second Law of Dynamics

Remember that the concept has substantiated its core principles and arguments from the second law of dynamics. Adherents believe that scientific and technological progress exemplifies an adaptive process in which the universe favors the existence of futures where matter has adapted itself to capture more free energy or energy that can be used for work.

The aforementioned is another purported drawback of effective accelerationism. The second law of thermodynamics is a law in physics based on universal empirical observation concerning heat and energy interconversions. It is applicable to a thermodynamic system. Adapting its core tenets to unrelated fields and domains is analogous to mere scientism.

Scientism is an opinion arguing that science alone can render truth about the world. However, for those involved in hard sciences, this is a dangerous and misguided concept that can narrow the understanding of the world and hinder capabilities to address complex problems. Scientism also rationalizes the misuse of science and harmful concepts or ideologies.

3. Ignores the Potential Risks and Harms of Unhinged Rapid Development

Another criticism and probable disadvantage of effective accelerationism is that it does not mind the possible risks and harms that can come from unregulated scientific and rapid technological developments. It is important to underscore the fact that effective accelerationists believe that the benefits of progress can outweigh the risks that arise from such.

The aforementioned dilemma is prominent in artificial intelligence. The conversation regarding the safety of artificial general intelligence and artificial super intelligence is divided between those who are in favor of their unhinged and rapid development and utilization and those who are cautious about their immediate and long-term consequences.

Powerful scientific innovations and technological applications can be misused or become uncontrollable. Critics of effective accelerationism have cited known and imagined examples. These range from the unresolved effects of industrialization on the environment and impacts of the nuclear arms race to possible disruptions of technologies.


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  • Crawford, J. 2021. “Technological Stagnation: Why I Came Around.” The Roots of Progress. The Roots of Progress. Available online
  • Nick, Land. 2017. “A Quick-and-Dirty Introduction to Accelerationism.” Jacobite Magazine. Archived
  • Pollin, R., Heintz, J., Garrett-Peltier, H. 2009. The Economic Benefits of Investing in Lean Energy. Center for American Progress. Available via PDF
  • The Editors. 2019. “10 Big Global Challenges that Technology Could Solve.” MIT Technology Review. Available online