Futurists warning about the threats of AI are looking in the wrong place. Humanity is already facing an existential threat from an artificial intelligence we created hundreds of years ago. It’s called the Corporation.
Jeremy Lent has given us a very concise reminder of who the real “terror” threat on this planet is; It is The Corporation as we know it. It seems a normal part of life for most of us. We have accepted it as normal and even sometimes beneficial. However, it is only “normal” to the extent that we accept it as such. It is, in the time-frame of civilization, a very recent invention. It is neither natural nor “normal”. It is an artificial entity. It is not a thinking, feeling person. The Supreme Court decision to grant it the same Citizenship Rights as a person, in 1886, marked a drastic turn in our history. That decision, made during one of the most corrupt eras of American History, may yet prove to be the beginning of the end for the Republic.
The Lincoln quote in the article is profound in it’s prescience!
This is one of the most concise, deeply thought out and researched articles on the ongoing destruction of the human being as a viable reality in the coming techno future. Stopping the snowball seems like a Sisyphus assignment in an era where sleep-walking people are the norm when wide awake blow-back against this obscene “progress” would be at least a CHANCE at slowing its evolution and eventual destruction of a once robust economic system of the early and mid-20th century.
What you mean-um “may yet”, Kemo Sabé? We’ve officially been an Oligrachy – not a republic – for several years now. We need a new ‘Magna Carta’ to protect all us ordinary people from the predations of the “royal” korporations, but the chance of establishing a system that even approaches fairness grows smaller
by the hour.
A point about AI is that corporations among others are racing to develop AI and it might destroy these very corporations plus everything else associated with humans. While corporate power and corruption is important to discuss it should not distract us from considering the potential dangers of AI.
. . . Which might not be so bad for all of the other living creatures on the planet.
One of the most effective tricks of the network of ‘overlords’, some in finance, some in law, some in political office, some in tech labs, some holding the reins of academia… is the narrative relative to TIME and what you can effectively do with it. Ask yourself what the difference is between your perception and personal relationship to regulatory architecture that structures time, how it is addressed in law, in academia, in finance… see the profile?
The ‘scattering’ of imaginal/implementation capacity effected in personal lives is greatly enhanced by the extent to which individuals are subjected to claims made on how personal time is structured.
Ask yourself why one of the most valued ‘qualities’ of development is SPEED. time is money and the ‘conservation’ aspect of human life recognized by the 21st century colonizing power of the corporation gets a leg up from 500+ years of royal/religious declaration in 1493 that all non-christians are to be subjected, subdued and /or killed and their lands taken for the church. Look at the VP and read 15th century set of tools. Look at what is being done
Today’s most prominent AI technology, the so-called self-driving car, is a fraud, a ruse meant to distract unwary motorists from actual solutions. It’s NOT going to happen, no matter how often the assumption “It’s inevitable” is repeated by authoritarian news sources to Pavlovian consumers. We’re never going to convert automobiles to be self-driving, that is, no steering wheel, no brake nor accelerator pedals, just a supposedly programmable or voice actuated computer to drive us in perfect safety everywhere, never mind the maniacal infestation of automobiles inhabiting roads and highways, never mind its costs and impacts.
The most likely reason for its trendy popularity is to delay its rejection long enough for corporations like Amazon to bankrupt brick & mortar local businesses and corner the retail market, and then rely on standard vehicles, not EVs, to deliver goods from Costco-like warehouse distribution centers to households, never mind the much greater amount of fuel/energy to do so. In other words, a corporate takeover is underway disguised as advanced technology that the ruling elite know isn’t technically possible, nor desirable.
Insightful post, Wellan. Thank you.
I guess that is one way to look at it. However, from the perspective of humans it is not so good. There are three stages of AI that could occur. The first stage is what we have now, just AI. The second stage would be artificial human intelligence in which AI is created that reaches our intelligence. This what is race is on now to reach. And the third stage would be artificial super intelligence. This what many people are afraid of. This would be an intelligence far beyond human intelligence. It could occur very quickly because these computers could program themselves to obtain super intelligence.
The author raises important points, but the overall thesis is false, because of this internal contradiction: He states that moves to treat corporations as people belie the fact that corporations are not and cannot be people, but then he credits corporations with human qualities of greed for money and ambition for power.
Let us make no mistake: evil is a human characteristic and only humans can be evil. The author’s suggestions about cooperatively-owned businesses is wrong. The fact that cooperatives exist does not mean that all corporations can be turned to good; it means that the economy is large enough for a few less destructive businesses to exist alongside the more destructive ones.
Because evil is a human characteristic, curing the evil means treating the evil people, not coming up with legal documents and corporate arrangements that try to convince the evil people to play nice.
If punishment is the appropriate way to deal with the evils of murder and theft, then it is the appropriate way the evils associated with corporations. Unfortunately, these evils are so ubiquitous that this might not be possible.
In a corporatocracy, such as the U.S., corporations are people only when it benefits the corporation. When it doesn’t, corporations are effectively allowed to revert to a non-person legal status, allowing criminals within the corporation to hide behind that not a person status and escape prosecution. If individuals who break the law are prosecuted, than the officers and shareholders of a corporation should also be prosecuted just as zealously when a corporation breaks the law. Should work both ways, but, of course, it doesn’t. Our courts and federal government now exist to serve and protect corporations, not actual real people.
I am not sure self-driving cars are not going to happen. Actually I would first expect self-driving trucks because these trucks could save trucking companies a lot of money since they wouldn’t have to pay truck drivers. And actually, the most advanced from of AI in operation at present is probably Wall Street trading. About half of all trades are now done by computers. The amount of computer power that Wall Street uses is amazing and trades are done in a tiny fraction of a second. I don’t know if anyone really understands what is taking place with all this computing power on Wall Street. Another well type of AI that is well known is AI weapons. There weapons are being developed to fire without humans making the decision. An effort is underway to ban such weapons. We better hope these efforts are successful.
IMHO, korporations, being “people”, should also be contributing FICA taxes to Social Security and Medicare — but they don’t . . .
In the meantime, Google is ever more Evil:
And we’re supposed to worry about the Rooskies?
One of my favorite TV shows of the past decade was “Person of Interest”, where a ‘good’ AI gave numbers of people with threats to be solved by our heroes of the show. Then another AI, the ‘bad’ AI threatened humanity and an ongoing battle ensued. (For those interested Netflix has it.) Substitute corporations and we have what’s playing out in today’s world. They have now totally taken over our government. They aren’t even trying to hide it anymore, the current administration proves that. Everything done in recent times helps business. There’s been nothing good for the American people since Medicare was signed into law in the 60’s, nothing! They only take and proof is the newest tax scam lowering corporate rates by 15% again! From a high of around 50% in the 50’s, post WW II. Reagan cut it 15% in the 80’s. We are now wards of the corporate state. We have no say. Democracy, the word, is used in place of capitalism. For instance the tax scam passed when the public sent oodles of petitions to Congress. Ajit Pai, head of the FCC will kill net neutrality Dec. 18th. I only saw one network news show even mention it today.(I don’t have cable.) Millions of petitions and Comcast, Time-Warner have such an influence nothing else matters. (I don’t use either one of those ISP’s and I don’t know what I’d do if I lost mine.) We’ve lost the wars of personal sovereignty. The corporate, financial, military industrial state has won and the government is now used by them to control the world and especially ‘we the people’ or the “tail wagging the dog, fox in the henhouse system” and we’re the damn hens. And the foxes are indeed feasting.
Actually UncleFester, I have a fine book on Magna Carta, and I was mildly surprised to learn it was not about helping or protecting ordinary, common people at all. Rather, its purpose was to codify the rules of the aristocracy vis a vis the monarch, which was done, giving them swat more equal to the monarch. It was, in effect, the first trickle down project, with the common person getting whatever scraps were left over.
We have never had a real democracy, nor a system designed and operated for the benefit of all, save perhaps for the small tribal systems and perhaps, to a lesser extent, the pastoral civilizations of the steppe cultures such as the Scythians, Sarmatians, and the Mongols under Genghis Khan [wolf-like great leader], whose name was Temudgin.
I highly recommend the movie I am watching for free on youtube now, and then the book which I believe enabled it, "Genghis Khan and the making of the Modern World, by Weatherford (2004).
I recommend these two for perspective.
Rights for the Environment is another way to check the power of the modern patholical corporation, but I am not holding my breath. Quite the opposite, in fact - I am learning more about the world, both modern science and history and pre-history, because it can be done, now, whereas soon it may not be possible. We will be too busy just surviving.
Copious thanks to Mr. Lent.
He is precisely correct. Flesh-and-blood humans created the corporation out of thin air. It is NOT an immutable law of nature, nor a person (despite the Supreme Court’s smash-and-grab declaration that it is).
As long as the corporation per se literally exists, our country (and others) will not survive its legally protected depradations against us.