Monday Miscellany 5/29/23

Monday Miscellany 5/29/23 May 29, 2023

The next big thing in diversity, Silicon Valley turns to “post-rationalism,” and half of all internet traffic is bots.

“The Next Big Thing in Diversity”

Corporations and businesses have been pressured to implement DEI plans, the acronym standing for “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”  These often include measures to recruit employees from minority groups and training seminars to teach existing employees how to be sensitive when it comes to race, sex, gender, sexual preference, and the like.  DEI plans are intended to keep companies on the right side of federal anti-discrimination laws and to signal their allegiance to the woke values of their peers.

Some corporations are starting to include religion in their mandated DEI plans.  After all, religion is one of those protected categories in Civil Rights laws, which forbid discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, national origin, or sex.”  According to a Wall Street Journal article entitled Corporate Diversity Programs Get Religion [behind a paywall], some companies are hiring chaplains, promoting affinity groups for people of the same religion, and bending over backwards to accommodate religious needs.

The article notes that two-thirds of Muslims, nearly half of Jews, and about a third of evangelicals report discrimination on the job because of their religion.  An organization, the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation is drawing attention to this problem and will release a rating of major companies according to how “faith-friendly” they are.  The criteria will include “whether religion is part of companies’ diversity training and whether they have clear procedures in place for reporting religious discrimination.”

“This is the next big thing in diversity,” said Brian Grim, president of the foundation, adding that religious affiliation overlaps with other categories of identity such as race or sexual orientation included in policies known as DEI—diversity, equity and inclusion—or more recently, DEIB, to include the value of belonging. “This isn’t a battleground issue, it becomes a thing that brings everybody together.”

Silicon Valley Turns to “Post-Rationalism”

Meanwhile, the next big thing among young techies is “Post-Rationalism.”  So reports religion writer Tara Isabella Burton in her article for The New Atlantis entitled Rational Magic, with the deck “Why a Silicon Valley culture that was once obsessed with reason is going woo.”

She describes how the rationalism once favored by techies, etc., morphed into post-rationalism:  the embrace of mostly pagan mysticism, the occult, and various forms of New Agery.  She writes,

They are a group of writers, thinkers, readers, and Internet trolls alike who were once rationalists, or members of adjacent communities like the effective altruism movement, but grew disillusioned. To them, rationality culture’s technocratic focus on ameliorating the human condition through hyper-utilitarian goals — increasing the number of malaria nets in the developing world, say, or minimizing the existential risk posed by the development of unfriendly artificial intelligence — had come at the expense of taking seriously the less quantifiable elements of a well-lived human life. . . .

You might call it the postrationalist turn: a cultural shift in both relatively “normie” and hyper-weird online spaces. Whether you call it spiritual hunger, reactionary atavism, or postliberal epistemology, more and more young, intellectually inclined, and politically heterodox thinkers (and would-be thinkers) are showing disillusionment with the contemporary faith in technocracy and personal autonomy. They see this combination as having contributed to the fundamentally alienating character of modern Western life. The chipper, distinctly liberal optimism of rationalist culture that defines so much of Silicon Valley ideology — that intelligent people, using the right epistemic tools, can think better, and save the world by doing so — is giving way, not to pessimism, exactly, but to a kind of techno-apocalypticism. We’ve run up against the limits — political, cultural, and social alike — of our civilizational progression; and something newer, weirder, maybe even a little more exciting, has to take its place. Some of what we’ve lost — a sense of wonder, say, or the transcendent — must be restored.

Some of these folks are finding Christian spirituality–particularly Latin-Mass Catholicism–though they are mostly looking to esoteric psychology and hermetic philosophy.  What is especially intriguing to me about this article is how Burton shows how rationalism itself is what led to post-rationalism, with former atheists developing a hunger for something beyond their materialistic reductionism.

I would just point out to the post-rationalists that Christianity offers the transcendent mystery-filled spirituality you are yearning for, without giving up on reason entirely, just putting it in its proper place.  You don’t have to be post-rational, in the sense of putting rationality behind you.  Rather, you can be rational and spiritual, recognizing that reality comprises both realms.

Nearly Half of Internet Traffic is Bots

Another development in the on-line world is that it’s being taken over by “bots”–that is, automated messages and software that masquerades as human beings in order to spread ads, spam, scams, and viruses.

According to research by the cybersecurity firm Imperva, 47.4% of all internet traffic comes from bots.  And 66.6% of these robotic trolls are “bad bots” designed to steal data or wreak other kinds of havoc.

Furthermore, the researchers say that with the new Artificial Intelligence technology, the problem is likely to get worse.



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