If you’re going to be awake in the middle of the night anyway…

Draft of 2005.11.29 ☛ 2015.06.30

…then you may as well have a few disturbing thoughts to while away the time.

So here I am. I am planning on creating advanced real-time decision support systems, aimed at institutions. These are, on the face of it, supposed to enable these institutions (corporations, schools, governmental bodies, &c) to make decisions faster—to speed up, as it were. To become more agile, responsive, reactive. Adept, while still being distributed.

Recently I’ve been in the habit of pointing out that the one big advantage individual people have over institutions is their relative speed. Collectives are slow. Corporations don’t think like people, don’t make decisions like people do—indeed, it can be a difficult stance to ascribe them beliefs, desires or intentions of their own. (Their leaders certainly have those traits; whether they sync with the collective’s actions is another matter, of some interest). But then again, we live in a time when corporations are treated by the law as rich but rather slow individuals. And at the same time we begin to think of mobs as smart, and crowds wise.

Science fiction tropes (and, by the obvious extension, science tropes) all seem to imagine that the first man-made human-competitive intellects will be software-based. What if they run purely in wetware?

What might it mean to uplift a corporation?

I can imagine blundering Uplifted Committees wandering the earth, making arbitrary editorial decisions and catering to innumerable special interests—_in realtime_. I can see an era when the actual corporate defendant can appear in court when sued. What would the world be like with Microsoft Embodied? (A lot more like Power Rangers, I spect).

Who ever thought an artificial intelligence—or rather non- or quasi-human intelligence—had to be smart, polite, or useful?