Marc Andreesen: “Techno-Optimist Manifesto”

Thursday 19th October, 2023 - Bruce Sterling

*We like a manifesto here on the Artmaker blog.


We are being lied to.

We are told that technology takes our jobs, reduces our wages, increases inequality, threatens our health, ruins the environment, degrades our society, corrupts our children, impairs our humanity, threatens our future, and is ever on the verge of ruining everything.

We are told to be angry, bitter, and resentful about technology.

We are told to be pessimistic.

The myth of Prometheus – in various updated forms like Frankenstein, Oppenheimer, and Terminator – haunts our nightmares.

We are told to denounce our birthright – our intelligence, our control over nature, our ability to build a better world.

We are told to be miserable about the future.


Our civilization was built on technology.

Our civilization is built on technology.

Technology is the glory of human ambition and achievement, the spearhead of progress, and the realization of our potential.

For hundreds of years, we properly glorified this – until recently.

I am here to bring the good news.

We can advance to a far superior way of living, and of being.

We have the tools, the systems, the ideas.

We have the will.

It is time, once again, to raise the technology flag.

It is time to be Techno-Optimists.


Techno-Optimists believe that societies, like sharks, grow or die.

We believe growth is progress – leading to vitality, expansion of life, increasing knowledge, higher well being.

We agree with Paul Collier when he says, “Economic growth is not a cure-all, but lack of growth is a kill-all.”

We believe everything good is downstream of growth.

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

There are only three sources of growth: population growth, natural resource utilization, and technology.

Developed societies are depopulating all over the world, across cultures – the total human population may already be shrinking.

Natural resource utilization has sharp limits, both real and political.

And so the only perpetual source of growth is technology.

In fact, technology – new knowledge, new tools, what the Greeks called techne – has always been the main source of growth, and perhaps the only cause of growth, as technology made both population growth and natural resource utilization possible.

We believe technology is a lever on the world – the way to make more with less.

Economists measure technological progress as productivity growth: How much more we can produce each year with fewer inputs, fewer raw materials. Productivity growth, powered by technology, is the main driver of economic growth, wage growth, and the creation of new industries and new jobs, as people and capital are continuously freed to do more important, valuable things than in the past. Productivity growth causes prices to fall, supply to rise, and demand to expand, improving the material well being of the entire population.

We believe this is the story of the material development of our civilization; this is why we are not still living in mud huts, eking out a meager survival and waiting for nature to kill us.

We believe this is why our descendents will live in the stars.

We believe that there is no material problem – whether created by nature or by technology – that cannot be solved with more technology.

We had a problem of starvation, so we invented the Green Revolution.

We had a problem of darkness, so we invented electric lighting.

We had a problem of cold, so we invented indoor heating.

We had a problem of heat, so we invented air conditioning.

We had a problem of isolation, so we invented the Internet.

We had a problem of pandemics, so we invented vaccines.

We have a problem of poverty, so we invent technology to create abundance.

Give us a real world problem, and we can invent technology that will solve it.


We believe free markets are the most effective way to organize a technological economy. Willing buyer meets willing seller, a price is struck, both sides benefit from the exchange or it doesn’t happen. Profits are the incentive for producing supply that fulfills demand. Prices encode information about supply and demand. Markets cause entrepreneurs to seek out high prices as a signal of opportunity to create new wealth by driving those prices down.

We believe the market economy is a discovery machine, a form of intelligence – an exploratory, evolutionary, adaptive system.

We believe Hayek’s Knowledge Problem overwhelms any centralized economic system. All actual information is on the edges, in the hands of the people closest to the buyer. The center, abstracted away from both the buyer and the seller, knows nothing. Centralized planning is doomed to fail, the system of production and consumption is too complex. Decentralization harnesses complexity for the benefit of everyone; centralization will starve you to death.

We believe in market discipline. The market naturally disciplines – the seller either learns and changes when the buyer fails to show, or exits the market. When market discipline is absent, there is no limit to how crazy things can get. The motto of every monopoly and cartel, every centralized institution not subject to market discipline: “We don’t care, because we don’t have to.” Markets prevent monopolies and cartels.

We believe markets lift people out of poverty – in fact, markets are by far the most effective way to lift vast numbers of people out of poverty, and always have been. Even in totalitarian regimes, an incremental lifting of the repressive boot off the throat of the people and their ability to produce and trade leads to rapidly rising incomes and standards of living. Lift the boot a little more, even better. Take the boot off entirely, who knows how rich everyone can get.

We believe markets are an inherently individualistic way to achieve superior collective outcomes.

We believe markets do not require people to be perfect, or even well intentioned – which is good, because, have you met people? Adam Smith: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities, but of their advantages.”

David Friedman points out that people only do things for other people for three reasons – love, money, or force. Love doesn’t scale, so the economy can only run on money or force. The force experiment has been run and found wanting. Let’s stick with money..(((etc etc etc)))