Aral Balkan @aral

It’s not AI vs people
It’s not Big Data vs people
It’s not robots vs people

It’s corporations vs people.

· Amaroq · 196 · 220
@aral If you keep asking "why is that?" it always boils down to some variant of "because capitalism".


AI's not bad when it organizes your photo collection offline.

Robots aren't bad when they clean your floors. They are when corporations replace people with it (though since productivity isn't increasing, this doesn't appear to being done effectively).

Though big data I have relative trouble defending, it's mostly for those who don't understand statistics.

@aral Big Data, but in the same sense as Big Oil

@aral THIS!! Everything you just said!! Any other debate is a straw man argument that takes away from the real dangers out there posed by giant corporations and capitalist empires.

Thank you so much.

@aral And do you understand that corporation is just group of people with some common interest. You can call it community and it'll mean the same thing.

@Mac_CZ “Corporation” and “community” are not interchangeable unless we redefine community to mean a group of people devoid of individual liability who are given a singular goal of quarter-on-quarter profit growth – in other words, a corporation.

@aral @Mac_CZ I think there are different types of corporation whose goal isn't necessarily like that, but most are.

@bob @Mac_CZ @aral @ZeniorXV
There was a talk at #34c3 (I think thsi one? ) that stated that corpos and AIs behave in the same way - they have a set goal, and they try to achieve it no matter the consequences.

Corpos are not allowed to do anything that doesn't maximize the shareholders' profits. If that involves destroying the Earth - who cares. And if they don't destroy the Earth, but this gives less profit - the CEO will get sued.

@ZeniorXV @aral @Mac_CZ @bob
and by destroing Earth I mean, like, turning whole Earth into paperclips or sth.

@Wolf480pl @aral @Mac_CZ

It depends on the type of corporation. My knowledge on this is not very extensive, but I think there are rarely used categories of corporation which are not about shareholder profit maximization.

The analogy between AI and corporations is old. I first read people who were making that analogy in the early 2000s, but I bet it dates back to the extropians of the 1990s or earlier.

Corporations are not exactly like AIs, or rather they're like naff AIs. Since they're comprised of people rules aren't necessarily followed exactly and even if they are "work to rule" often produces results which are self-defeating - hence its use as a Labor tactic.

The argument from the Singularitarians was that as corporations become more automated and the unreliable human element is removed they eventually turn into pure AIs. This might be true, but only for limited cases in which the corporation is acting within a purely machinic realm.

@aral You're exchanging goal, for measuring if you're doing it right. Goal for corporation is for example producing great cars. Profits are telling them, that they're doing good job and their cars are usefull for customers and it doesn't cost more to produce the car than the sales price. Profit is just the measuring tool. It's like saying that goal of the driver is checking road and fuel, it's not the goal, goal is to get somewhere and checking road and fuel is just step to get there.

@aral Did you see the Ted Chiang essay about this from December? I thought he elucidated this point beautifully:

"It’s no surprise that Silicon Valley capitalists don’t want to think about capitalism ending. What’s unexpected is that the way they envision the world ending is through a form of unchecked capitalism, disguised as a superintelligent AI. They have unconsciously created a devil in their own image, a boogeyman whose excesses are precisely their own."

@eloquence Hadn’t. Will check it out; thanks :)

@aral it's not corporations vs people. It's the political class vs the productive class.
@dtluna @aral not everything is class warfare. The entire notion of class warfare is just divide & conquer garbage.
@dtluna the political class are only tools used by corps, the put the human face to inhuman beings  @aral
@ghostdancer @aral could corporations legitimately exploit you without the state? If your answer is "yes". You're either a lunatic or you don't know what a state is.

@aral Nous glissons d'ailleurs de plus en plus de la relation client-roi vers celles de client-captif, client-soumis, client-ennemis.


In the context of #power , #corporations are mere #tools .

Useful #insight lies in who's behind it / defining its purpose(s!), and which are their goal(s).

#transparency seems to be the only remedy, and the huge #dilemma in that respect is the following:

- to save the dream of either (functional) #democracy - or just the control of the natural resources (and the "reaping" their benefits / control of distribution of wealth) - it seems that #privacy will (have to?) suffer.

@aral let's make it people, cats and robots vs. corporations ^^

@aral its really really important people remember this, capitalists will try anything to start conflict.


I agree but would take it further and say people vs the whole system, Capitalism, that is inherently exploitative.

I'll start believing corporations are people the day one gets put to death for its crimes.

Corporations are innately structured in a way that almost guarantees psychopathy; regardless of the well meaning lovely people who work for them. Without checks and oversight, a psychopath is capable of anything.

@calligraffiti And even that still wouldn’t make them people. People feel pain. People suffer. (And agree with your points – corporations are definitely sociopathic constructs.)

@aral Indeed, according to the reference in, you're indeed right! :D

It's now a matter of helping each other stand up in order to resist this kind of manipulation.

Also, what kind of corporations? Limited liability, publicly traded, other?

@aral This reminds me that I often criticized savage capitalism on reddit, and often got accused of being a communist.

And I was like, "Dude, WTF? I'm CYBERPUNK. Communism isn't the only ideology that criticizes megacorps."

But it's like trying to explain chemistry to a Neanderthal.

Yay, the cyberpunk dystopia I always wanted… oh

Agreed, with one caveat. Big data the way it is presently done is fundamentally assymetric, unforgetting, and opaque.
These are qualities of capitalism and it's interactions with big data, making the info corporation especially pernicious.

@aral All those things would be bad in the hands of the government as well.

@moonman Indeed, once the corporations have them, it's trivial for governments to access. The two are not separate.

@aral You'd think nobody ever read cyberpunk.

@aral well, they are a bunch of people doing stuff together, so yes they are


See also: Government, religion, sports ... any aspect of culture we might have some beef with.



I wonder if this includes the newly created category of public benefit corporations which, for the first time, legally allow a corporation to put doing public good as an equally valid priority as maximizing shareholder value.

To me, this is a legal seachange of a size comparable to the first creation of the idea of a corporation, and yet most people seem to be unaware that it even exists.