Business in name, social mission in practice

Democracy and Public Governance are crucial to our political reality today. However, neither can remain the same after the Fourth Industrial Revolution [4IR]. Artificial Intelligence [AI] - empowered by the ascendancy of new geoeconomic doctrines, near-total information, rapid resource allocation, and data-intensive strategy - is expected to render the independent capacities of most - if not all - individuals virtually redundant before the middle of the 21st century. This change is meant to gradually reshape not only daily business or cyber-warfare, but also the underlying political and economic patterns of all decision-making.

At such a juncture, no doubt, we will all pause to reflect and question ourselves. Are we content with the prospect of also surrendering public policy to learning machines? Can we hope to keep effective control over sentient AI in the long run? Can we truly allow technological development to intervene in our access to institutionalized power? Do we actually trust others to write the code which will directly or indirectly guide AI in the delivery of future decisions?

Now, if our responses are overwhelmingly negative, the conservation of our current state of affairs is a reasonable choice. After all, playing for time is a valid strategy and it is quite possible that new opportunities and ideas will arise before the fullness of time. On the other hand, one cannot expect to plan everything carefully. For better or worse, the political-economic environment we inhabit favours quick unilateral action over consensus building in most cases.

Correspondingly, businesses, nations, and even entire trade blocs find that they cannot afford to ignore or fully escape the coming transformation. The next industrial revolution won't simply blow over and it cannot be undone. Instead, the majority of thought leaders and the captains of the IT industry tend to agree that it is better to downright embrace the coming change. Accordingly, the expansion of AI into policy planning is not only an inevitable phenomenon, but a promising opportunity to solve almost any problem. We are also told that the AI is meant to merely assist, not replace us.

At the same time, the long term consequences and details of the 4IR transformation are largely unknown. For instance, when it comes to public policy and the sourcing of respective ideas, not much is clear about the coming paradigm. Instead, we are presented with ill-defined 'sci-fi choices'. Technological singularity, megacorp oligopoly, resurgent statism, and many visions of pluralist, anarchist, and socialist 'utopia' we may ultimately recognize from past works of fiction, but the actual outcome is only being drafted.

Indeed, never before could we fathom such an overlap and concentration in intellectual, productive, and creative capabilities. So it is also hard to tell what, exactly, each scenario might mean for our current understanding of productive capitalism, good democracy, and international trade. Not to mention the future of global collaboration.

Is it possible that our 'big picture' is missing something crucial? Is it fair to say that despite our access to virtually limitless communication over the World Wide Web and social media, we still haven't developed a reliable forum which is capable of efficiently weighing, categorizing, and managing ideas? Will Davos, the G20, or Global Governance in general solve all the major social challenges we face as part of 4IR and beyond? Can large corporations and major think tanks respond to urgent issues in good time? Do basic democratic processes provide better incentives? Or should all those choices originate in nation state dominated institutions such as the UN?

Re-emergent geopolitical tensions; paradigm-changing advancements of Medicine and Biology; rapid urbanization; as well as numerous other developments continue to transform and challenge our problem-solving approaches. In response, more and more governments seek to develop and combine new forms of responsive Collective Intelligence [CI] and fortify it with AI and vice versa. However, where CI+AI either fail to make their results public or tailor their agenda to the ambitions and needs of individuals, CI+AI are likely to result in an Orwellian dystopia of some kind. The group think phenomenon and the accompanying potential for the malicious exploitation of the human psyche exacerbate those problems even further. Therefore, at Pericles Technologies we strongly believe that CI+AI ought to be included under a new civil concept of Public Intelligence [PI] which is, in turn, guided by democratic and free speech principles.

The future is not fully determined. Nothing is  inevitable as long as policy ideas can be formed freely, independently, and with moral integrity. Our capacity to produce superior conceptual tools and solutions will lead to good objectives as long as efficient and well-structured public thinking remains a real option. In fact, there may be infinite good possibilities out there and we need unlock only some of them to succeed. Therefore, the knowledge, good will, and responsible choices of individuals, groups, communities, and peoples must continue to make a meaningful difference as well.

Pericles Technologies is a business in name and a social mission in practice. This means that our company is working with talented and capable leaders, political parties, governments, members of the civil society, as well as influential economic, cultural, religious, and educational stakeholders in order to better understand how real Democracy and good Public Governance can remain meaningful concepts in 10, 20, and even 50 years from now.