This thinking is excellent. It maps very closely to work I am now developing.

This thinking is excellent. It maps very closely to work I am now developing.

Reading Time: 1 minute

This thinking is excellent. It maps very closely to work I am now developing.

Ted Chiang also writes great fiction.

I used to find it odd that these hypothetical AIs were supposed to be smart enough to solve problems that no human could, yet they were incapable of doing something most every adult has done: taking a step back and asking whether their current course of action is really a good idea. Then I realized that we are already surrounded by machines that demonstrate a complete lack of insight, we just call them corporations. Corporations don’t operate autonomously, of course, and the humans in charge of them are presumably capable of insight, but capitalism doesn’t reward them for using it. On the contrary, capitalism actively erodes this capacity in people by demanding that they replace their own judgment of what “good” means with “whatever the market decides.”


  1. How do we change it?

  2. Yep. “Then I realized that we are already surrounded by machines that demonstrate a complete lack of insight, we just call them corporations.”

    Ted is right on it!

  3. Thanks for posting this! Reshared!

  4. I disagree, it isn’t capitalism that dulls the senses with regard to human insight. Corporations in and of them selves are not a bad thing. But it is the leadership and the culture of greed that they themselves have created, this is the problem. There must be a paradigm shift in the philosophy of business sooner or later. Instead of profit and only profit as a philosophy, it should be a profit tempered with a healthy measure of social responsibility.

  5. Wendell Ferandos MBA No it is the very nature of corporations themselves and the laws that govern them. That is what must change.

  6. So buy from small businesses who exchange with the earth, who are decentralized, who care. Walk away from the corporations. Buying at Farmer’s Markets is a great way to start. Exchange and share costs with your neighbors. #Bethechange

  7. Pan Darius Kairos – Fire. Or regulation, but probably fire.

  8. IronSmith I agree with some of your thinking here. There are problems, however. As you note, there are plenty of markets that are far, far from competitive and for many reasons. So that consumer power holds far less power in those situations, which are quite common.

    Second, corporations are complex, large and multifaceted. One might simultaneously help fight climate change while eroding privacy. What do you do in that situation? Sure, you can tweet to target the object of your dissatisfaction, but that without real economic punch is likely to have limited effect.

    Policies are a very effective means through which society can get very granular about what we do and do not want to condone in the behavior of our corporations. Corporations are extremely effective at operating within whatever economic ecology they find themselves in. They are, for the most part, quite effective at adaptation. Those that aren’t tend to die out. Policy is this a very effective means through which to set the ground rules for operating in the society that is the ecological niche occupied by that corporation.

    The question is how those rules are set. The problem today is that money has infiltrated that process of setting our governing policies, and done so in ways that distort the policies so that they are used to make markets less competitive. That money also then works to make the political process less competitive as well (see gerrymandering, voter suppression, captured government agencies, etc.).

  9. Kenny Chaffin

    I’m going to have to disagree with you again Ken. I think it’s difficult to say whether the “nature” of a corporation is good or bad. A corporation is an artificial entity, a legal fiction, it is a machine. It does whatever you tell it to do. If fraud is a key part of a business model, if disgusting, greedy old man culture is pervasive in company then you will have a culture of greed and fraud. If was flying a plane and I crashed it, it wouldn’t be because the nature of the plane is to crashing into ground, it would be because I’m a shitty pilot. Corporations serve two very important purposes. First, they insulate The personal assets of the owner or owners from lawsuits, litigations, whatever. Second, and I think this is a very important one, it allows people to buy shares of the company. It is in this way anyone can participate in the rise and fall of a company. Anyone can avail themselves the wealth of a company or a Country with a lot of successful companies, like the United States. I think there are two problems in our country. First, is the god awful tax code. The capital gains tax is the weapon of choice for the super wealthy. It helps them evade taxes and it shifts the tax burden on to everyone who isn’t a billionaire. I see no reason why my mother, who was a Physician, should have to pay 38% of her earnings to the government, meanwhile someone like Warren Buffett or the “Waltons of Walmart” get to pay 10 to 14 %. The second problem is the private donations to political campaigns. It really doesn’t get any simpler. A donor gives the politician money and a politician does what he’s or she is told. That’s it. Just follow the money. So I think businesses and corporations can be a positive force under the right leadership and under the right governance. Government is comprised of its people, if you vote for good people you’ll have a good government.

  10. Wendell Ferandos MBA Disagree all you want, you the one that has the MBA after your name, I wouldn’t expect anything different, but I’m done with you. One last thing, Corporations are NOT machines, they are legal entities that have been given personhood. It is wrong. It and the other corporate laws are the problem. The people follow the law. They have no control over the actual problem. Anyway Carry on. I’m done. Bye-Bye!

  11. One Ted Chiang purchase at anywhere I can find him coming up

  12. InterAct Party “Stories of Your Life”


  13. Kenny Chaffin that’s a great one.

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