Daily Balajisms – Stochastic journalism
Speaking power to truth. Politicians siccing journalists on dissidents. Turning soft power into hard power.
The leader of the effective accelerationist movement, Beff Jesos, was doxed by Forbes in December 2023. On the Pirate Wires podcast he discussed the role of downstream media with Balaji and Mike Solana, and said that prior to his doxing, he had an interaction with Lina Khan at YC, and also that Gina Raimondo mentioned publicly that e/acc is a dangerous movement that needs to be suppressed by AI. Kind of making the point for e/acc herself, as the movement stands for the freedom of compute and a decentralized AI.
Balaji said that this is like the quote from Henry II: “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest” and joked that it’s “stochastic journalism”, alluding to “stochastic terrorism”, a trendy term from censorship industrial complex people, who claim that wrong words on social media or group chats can increase the chances of real world violence.
Like with Henry II, this is a similar case of a politician like Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce, siccing journos on a dissident who is soon after doxed by them.
Soft power is stochastic, while hard power is deterministic, says Balaji. With hard power “you are no longer asking” – you have the power to direct someone to do something deterministically. With soft power you need to persuade and thus increase the probability that your desired outcome will come true.
In China they have a state-controlled press, while in the West we have a press-controlled state. While in China bureaucrats can fire journalists, in the West journalists can fire a politician – but not deterministically. Dozens of negative articles about some bureaucrat can stochastically make him fired. One or two articles might not do the job though.
To complicate things, Balaji says at this point we need to analyze events using tribal lens – everything can be labeled in tribal terms as being characteristic of Blue America, or the Red tribe or the Grey/Tech tribe. Twitter or self-driving cars are grey, while drug addicts in SF are clients of the blue tribe. The city goes after the grey symbols, while feeding, not fighting, the drug addiction industrial complex – because it is blue.
In the same way, journalists will not go after bureaucrats and politicians who are from the same tribe, or they apply double standards and go on them very softly – but they will speak “power to truth” to a dissident from a red tribe or a grey tribe and will try to crush him or her.
It’s a community theory versus a conspiracy theory - an emergent behavior of very tribal people, that act in a decentralized fashion, like an ant colony.
So, the sins of omission by journalists (what they choose to not write about) often exacerbate many problems, like drug addiction and illegal immigration and related crime statistics – that go contra the narrative of the professional managerial class and woke elites.
The grey tribe can be seen as a center of smart power (versus hard power and soft power). Or what Balaji calls money power (versus military power and media power) – tech progressives who are very competitive in the short-term, can increase prosperity for all in the long-term through tech innovation. This is what Balaji calls win and help win.
To complicate things even further, we can have an analog hard power and a digital hard power. It’s like bombs versus the shadow-banning of the censorship industrial complex and freezing of accounts of Canadian truckers with a press of a button. It is not stochastic – because you direct big tech companies to take down dissidents or leaders from competing tribes domestically or abroad.
Now we are in the big battle for the control of digital hard power, digital soft power and digital smart power. For the control of AI, Social and Crypto. A battle between decels vs accelerationists, between centralists and decentralists. Between the statusquo-ists of Blue America with their woke decel allies, like effective altruists, and the brokenists – people who shout that the Emperor has no clothes and our current institutions are broken.
As Alana Newhouse says, our institutions are broken in a literal sense of a decrepit building, that is risky to enter. Think Hamas Harvard that is a dangerous place for Jewish kids now.