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Neo-Luddite & Primitivist Watch Thread

Luddite primitivist Neo-Luddite technology artificial intelligence self-driving cars robots privacy 4th amendment anti-modernism

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Yuli Ban

Yuli Ban

    Born Again Singularitarian

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I created this thread in response to a curious bit of news coming out of Arizona.

Wielding Rocks and Knives, Arizonans Attack Self-Driving Cars

The assailant slipped out of a park around noon one day in October, zeroing in on his target, which was idling at a nearby intersection — a self-driving van operated by Waymo, the driverless-car company spun out of Google.

He carried out his attack with an unidentified sharp object, swiftly slashing one of the tires. The suspect, identified as a white man in his 20s, then melted into the neighborhood on foot.
The slashing was one of nearly two dozen attacks on driverless vehicles over the past two years in Chandler, a city near Phoenix where Waymo started testing its vans in 2017. In ways large and small, the city has had an early look at public misgivings over the rise of artificial intelligence, with city officials hearing complaints about everything from safety to possible job losses.
Some people have pelted Waymo vans with rocks, according to police reports. Others have repeatedly tried to run the vehicles off the road. One woman screamed at one of the vans, telling it to get out of her suburban neighborhood. A man pulled up alongside a Waymo vehicle and threatened the employee riding inside with a piece of PVC pipe.

In one of the more harrowing episodes, a man waved a .22-caliber revolver at a Waymo vehicle and the emergency backup driver at the wheel. He told the police that he “despises” driverless cars, referring to the killing of a female pedestrian in March in nearby Tempe by a self-driving Uber car.

What I love the most about this story is that you can't actually really be against the people doing this. Some Luddites don't attack technology from a place of fear of progress; they attack for different reasons and get misconstrued. In this case, they never asked for this to be tested in their neighborhoods when we know the tech isn't quite up to snuff yet. It's still an overreaction— going at an AV with a knife or gun in hand when there are still people inside is only causing the danger you're looking to avoid. But I can understand where they're coming from. 


Same deal with that news about China shutting down the genetic engineering of babies thing. At first, I was against that because I thought they were actually trying to stop progress in lieu of Western ideals of bio-egalitarianism (which I claimed they wouldn't have, so it made me look like a fool). Now I know that the researcher in question genuinely did break ethical laws— the babies who were edited were brought to him for one procedure (that's still related to genetic engineering; just not CRISPR), and he used them for another, much more dangerous and untested purpose. It's like going to the doctor for a check-up on your bronchitis and he decides to give you an experimental vial for AIDS that might give you scrotal cancer. Highly uncalled for, and should have been done with more care.




true Luddite, however, is one that would attack autonomous vehicles out of fear and for reasons like:

  • It takes away jobs
  • It takes away freedom from driving
  • You can't trust computers
  • It makes people too lazy


Either way, this thread is for posting and discussing those who are opposed to technological progression for any reason, whether justified by concerns of safety and a lack of testing or out of fear of anything modern and everything in between.


This doesn't include climate change denial, evolution denial, efforts to stop mitigating climate change, etc. unless it involves someone opposed to a technological or modern solution

It does include being opposed to the effects of technological progression, though. Things like opposition to transgender surgery, preference of certain activities (like playing video games) over others (like playing outside), and technosexuality. 

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And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.




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What I love the most about this story is that you can't actually really be against the people doing this.


I can, I think they're idiots. I've started to make peace with the fact that my (literally) brain damaged ass is going to need to be given rides everywhere like an invalid because of people like these, especially when the governments themselves are already inclined to pussyfoot around.


Good thread, though. One thing that makes me prefer the '10s to the '90s is the fact that society has already become less Luddite since my childhood, especially when it comes to the internet. In an early episode of Buffy from 1996 or 1997, Giles goes on a preachy, self-righteous monologue about how books will always be superior to the internet because you can hold them and smell them and blah blah. (Not that those are completely invalid points, but I'd have preferred it to be expressed in a quieter way and more evenhanded way which acknowledges that both have their advantages and both are genuinely good things, instead of as a "FUCK THE INTERNET" soapbox. Also, Giles is my favorite character and this was the only time he ever rubbed me the wrong way whatsoever) During the late 90s and early 2000s, any episode of a TV series that featured people meeting up for a date through the internet would almost always turn out to have one of the parties be an evil psychotic rapist, because obviously there's nothing in the entire universe more dangerous than people on the internet. The first time my freshman class visited the high school library in 2002, the librarians told us all the reasons that the Card Catalog and library books were the best and we shouldn't use the internet to find information, because bah gawd those things are what I grew up on and if it's good enough for my grandpappy it's good enough for me.


The 2010s were the first full decade where being a nerd and a tech addict became a socially accepted norm (though you could say this describes the late 2000s also), and as someone who grew up in the '90s Deep South where nobody cared about anything except parties and sports and going to as many social events as you could possibly fit into your schedule, I think that's great. 




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A true Luddite, however, is one that would attack autonomous vehicles out of fear and for reasons like:

  • It takes away jobs


Yes, that was the prime fear and frustration of the Luddites.


  • It takes away freedom from driving


Ummm...there were no cars in the days of the original Luddites.


  • You can't trust computers


Computers were extremely primitive if they can even be said to exist in the time of the original Luddites.


  • It makes people too lazy

I'm guessing that was not the sort of thing the original Luddites complained about.


Edit: Ok, so I just noticed that the title refers to neo-Luddite.  Since I have discussed "neo-mercantilism" I suppose it is also legitimate to discuss "neo-Luddite" as long there is some similarity to the original Luddites.  

The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls



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Luddite has become a general term for "people who resist/dislike/fear technology" at least in the UK (although maybe mostly among older/better educated people who know a bit of history) 


I've heard luddite used when discussing people who don't like mobile phones, people who prefer paper books and argue against ebooks/kindles etc. (usually the label is a joking one, as there is no current movement associated with it)

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Luddite, primitivist, Neo-Luddite, technology, artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, robots, privacy, 4th amendment, anti-modernism

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