Posthuman Cyberware: Blurring the Boundaries of Mind, Body, and Computer

Volume 01 in the Posthuman Cyberware Sourcebook series • ISBN 978-1-944373-18-4. Indianapolis: Mnemoclave, 2017 • 40 pages

SUMMARY: What realities lie behind the glimmering advertisements for designer cyberlimbs, combat neuroaugmentations, prosthetic eyes with squalor-suppression filters, and downloadable charisma?

Posthuman Cyberware: Blurring the Boundaries of Mind, Body, and Computer is a resource for designing campaigns set in near-future hard-SF worlds where sensory, cognitive, and motor neuroprostheses are being increasingly employed for human enhancement – and society is tilting ever further toward the dystopian.

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From Strategic Analysis to Organizational Foresight: 65 Techniques for Diagnosing Present Realities and Potential Futures

ISBN 978-1-944373-11-5 • Synthypnion Business, 2017 • 298 pages

The challenge of developing sound organizational strategy is growing increasingly difficult as accelerating technological change transforms the world’s competitive ecosystems in ways that render many traditional approaches to strategy obsolete. What are the concrete tools and techniques that a contemporary strategic analyst can employ to understand the critical elements of an organization’s internal structure and dynamics and external competitive environment – and to predict the ways in which they may evolve in the future? This book provides a practical step-by-step guide to using dozens of the most important tools for generating organizational insight and foresight, along with an investigation of their underlying nature and purpose. It serves as an accessible introduction for those seeking to learn the essentials of strategic analysis, as well as a comprehensive reference for the experienced organizational strategist.

The book employs the concept of the Strategic Futures Hub as a means for understanding eight domains that are key to the development of strategic foresight for any organization. These are: (1) an organization’s financial resources and realities; (2) its internal architecture and capacities; (3) its current and potential products; (4) consumers’ needs and anticipated future behaviors; (5) competitors and their expected future behaviors; (6) the current and future dynamics of the organization’s competitive ecosystem; (7) causal chains and possible, probable, and desirable organizational futures; and (8) potential organizational strategies. For each of these domains, the reader is taught when and why to choose (or avoid) specific techniques in order to answer a range of the most frequently encountered strategic questions. The volume explains not only traditional analytical tools like market opportunity analysis, benchmarking, resource analysis, stakeholder analysis, SWOT and PESTEL analyses, and the Delphi method, but also emerging techniques like internal prediction markets for organizations, as well as longer-range diagnostic tools from the field of futures studies, such as emerging issues analysis, backcasting, morphological analysis, the futures wheel, and cross-impact analysis.

The nature of each analytical technique is clearly and succinctly described, along with recommended approaches to its use and investigation of practical considerations such as the time commitment and skills required. Discussion of the techniques is enriched by a wealth of diagrams and extensive bibliographic references to the best contemporary scholarship and practice. While a few of the analytical techniques are targeted specifically at commercial enterprises, most will also be of great value to nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and other non-commercial entities that are seeking to better understand their current realities and prospective futures from a strategic perspective.

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Neuroprosthetic Supersystems Architecture: Considerations for the Design and Management of Neurocybernetically Augmented Organizations

ISBN 978-1-944373-07-8 • Synthypnion Academic, 2017 • 312 pages

This volume serves a resource for the design and analysis of neuroprosthetic supersystems, which can be defined as organizations – either small or large, simple or complex – whose human members have been neuroprosthetically augmented. While numerous other texts focus on the biomedical engineering of neuroprostheses as technological devices or on the biocybernetic engineering of the host-device system comprising a neuroprosthesis and its human host, this volume presents a unique investigation of the intentional creation of higher-order supersystems that allow multiple neuroprosthetically augmented human beings to interact with one another and with external information systems in order to accomplish some shared task. In essence, this can be understood as the work of designing and managing neuroprosthetically enhanced organizations.

Individual chapters present an ontology of the neuroprosthesis as a computing device; a biocybernetic ontology of the host-device system; an ontology of the neuroprosthesis as an instrument of ‘cyborgization’; motivating and inhibiting factors for the organizational deployment of posthumanizing neuroprostheses by military organizations and other early adopters; an introduction to enterprise architecture in the context of technological posthumanization; an exploration of the implications of neuroprosthetic augmentation for enterprise architecture; and considerations for the development of effective network topologies for neuroprosthetically augmented organizations.

The conceptual frameworks formulated within this book offer a wide range of tools that can be of use to policymakers, ethicists, neuroprosthetic device manufacturers, organizational decision-makers, and others who must analyze or manage the complex legal, ethical, and managerial implications that result from the use of emerging neuroprosthetic technologies within an organizational context.

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The Handbook of Information Security for Advanced Neuroprosthetics

ISBN 978-1-944373-09-2 • Second edition • Synthypnion Academic, 2017 • 324 pages

How does one ensure information security for a computer that is entangled with the structures and processes of a human brain – and for the human mind that is interconnected with such a device? The need to provide information security for neuroprosthetic devices grows more pressing as increasing numbers of people utilize therapeutic technologies such as cochlear implants, retinal prostheses, robotic prosthetic limbs, and deep brain stimulation devices. Moreover, emerging neuroprosthetic technologies for human enhancement are expected to increasingly transform their human users’ sensory, motor, and cognitive capacities in ways that generate new ‘posthumanized’ sociotechnological realities. In this context, it is essential not only to ensure the information security of such neuroprostheses themselves but – more importantly – to ensure the psychological and physical health, autonomy, and personal identity of the human beings whose cognitive processes are inextricably linked with such devices. InfoSec practitioners must not only guard against threats to the confidentiality and integrity of data stored within a neuroprosthetic device’s internal memory; they must also guard against threats to the confidentiality and integrity of thoughts, memories, and desires existing within the mind the of the device’s human host.

This second edition of The Handbook of Information Security for Advanced Neuroprosthetics updates the previous edition’s comprehensive investigation of these issues from both theoretical and practical perspectives. It provides an introduction to the current state of neuroprosthetics and expected future trends in the field, along with an introduction to fundamental principles of information security and an analysis of how they must be re-envisioned to address the unique challenges posed by advanced neuroprosthetics. A two-dimensional cognitional security framework is presented whose security goals are designed to protect a device’s human host in his or her roles as a sapient metavolitional agent, embodied embedded organism, and social and economic actor. Practical consideration is given to information security responsibilities and roles within an organizational context and to the application of preventive, detective, and corrective or compensating security controls to neuroprosthetic devices, their host-device systems, and the larger supersystems in which they operate. Finally, it is shown that while implantable neuroprostheses create new kinds of security vulnerabilities and risks, they may also serve to enhance the information security of some types of human hosts (such as those experiencing certain neurological conditions).

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The Diffuse Intelligent Other: An Ontology of Nonlocalizable Robots as Moral and Legal Actors

In Social Robots: Boundaries, Potential, Challenges, edited by Marco Nørskov, pp. 177-98 • Farnham: Ashgate, 2016

ABSTRACT: Much thought has been given to the question of who bears moral and legal responsibility for actions performed by robots. Some argue that responsibility could be attributed to a robot if it possessed human-like autonomy and metavolitionality, and that while such capacities can potentially be possessed by a robot with a single spatially compact body, they cannot be possessed by a spatially disjunct, decentralized collective such as a robotic swarm or network. However, advances in ubiquitous robotics and distributed computing open the door to a new form of robotic entity that possesses a unitary intelligence, despite the fact that its cognitive processes are not confined within a single spatially compact, persistent, identifiable body. Such a “nonlocalizable” robot may possess a body whose myriad components interact with one another at a distance and which is continuously transforming as components join and leave the body. Here we develop an ontology for classifying such robots on the basis of their autonomy, volitionality, and localizability. Using this ontology, we explore the extent to which nonlocalizable robots—including those possessing cognitive abilities that match or exceed those of human beings—can be considered moral and legal actors that are responsible for their own actions.

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Managing the Ethical Dimensions of Brain-Computer Interfaces in eHealth: An SDLC-based Approach

In 9th Annual EMAB Conference: Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Digital Ecosystems (EUROMED 2016) Book of Proceedings, edited by Demetris Vrontis, Yaakov Weber, and Evangelos Tsoukatos, pp. 876-90 • Engomi: EuroMed Press, 2016

ABSTRACT: A growing range of brain-computer interface (BCI) technologies is being employed for purposes of therapy and human augmentation. While much thought has been given to the ethical implications of such technologies at the ‘macro’ level of social policy and ‘micro’ level of individual users, little attention has been given to the unique ethical issues that arise during the process of incorporating BCIs into eHealth ecosystems. In this text a conceptual framework is developed that enables the operators of eHealth ecosystems to manage the ethical components of such processes in a more comprehensive and systematic way than has previously been possible. The framework’s first axis defines five ethical dimensions that must be successfully addressed by eHealth ecosystems: 1) beneficence; 2) consent; 3) privacy; 4) equity; and 5) liability. The second axis describes five stages of the systems development life cycle (SDLC) process whereby new technology is incorporated into an eHealth ecosystem: 1) analysis and planning; 2) design, development, and acquisition; 3) integration and activation; 4) operation and maintenance; and 5) disposal. Known ethical issues relating to the deployment of BCIs are mapped onto this matrix in order to demonstrate how it can be employed by the managers of eHealth ecosystems as a tool for fulfilling ethical requirements established by regulatory standards or stakeholders’ expectations. Beyond its immediate application in the case of BCIs, we suggest that this framework may also be utilized beneficially when incorporating other innovative forms of information and communications technology (ICT) into eHealth ecosystems.

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Information Security Concerns as a Catalyst for the Development of Implantable Cognitive Neuroprostheses

In 9th Annual EMAB Conference: Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Digital Ecosystems (EUROMED 2016) Book of Proceedings, edited by Demetris Vrontis, Yaakov Weber, and Evangelos Tsoukatos, pp. 891-904 • Engomi: EuroMed Press, 2016

ABSTRACT: Standards like the ISO 27000 series, IEC/TR 80001, NIST SP 1800, and FDA guidance on medical device cybersecurity define the responsibilities that manufacturers and operators bear for ensuring the information security of implantable medical devices. In the case of implantable cognitive neuroprostheses (ICNs) that are integrated with the neural circuitry of their human hosts, there is a widespread presumption that InfoSec concerns serve only as limiting factors that can complicate, impede, or preclude the development and deployment of such devices. However, we argue that when appropriately conceptualized, InfoSec concerns may also serve as drivers that can spur the creation and adoption of such technologies. A framework is formulated that describes seven types of actors whose participation is required in order for ICNs to be adopted; namely, their 1) producers, 2) regulators, 3) funders, 4) installers, 5) human hosts, 6) operators, and 7) maintainers. By mapping onto this framework InfoSec issues raised in industry standards and other literature, it is shown that for each actor in the process, concerns about information security can either disincentivize or incentivize the actor to advance the development and deployment of ICNs for purposes of therapy or human enhancement. For example, it is shown that ICNs can strengthen the integrity, availability, and utility of information stored in the memories of persons suffering from certain neurological conditions and may enhance information security for society as a whole by providing new tools for military, law enforcement, medical, or corporate personnel who provide critical InfoSec services.

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Posthuman Management: Creating Effective Organizations in an Age of Social Robotics, Ubiquitous AI, Human Augmentation, and Virtual Worlds

ISBN 978-1-944373-05-4 • Second edition • Defragmenter Media, 2016 • 442 pages

What are the best practices for leading a workforce in which human employees have merged cognitively and physically with electronic information systems and work alongside social robots, artificial life-forms, and self-aware networks that are ‘colleagues’ rather than simply ‘tools’? How does one manage organizational structures and activities that span both actual and virtual worlds? How are the forces of technological posthumanization transforming the theory and practice of management?

This volume explores the reality that an organization’s workers, managers, customers, and other stakeholders increasingly comprise a complex network of human agents, artificial agents, and hybrid human-synthetic entities. The first part of the book develops the theoretical foundations of an emerging ‘organizational posthumanism’ and presents conceptual frameworks for understanding and managing the evolving workplace relationship between human and synthetic beings. Subsequent chapters investigate concrete management topics such as the likelihood that social robots might utilize charismatic authority to inspire and lead human workers; potential roles of AIs as managers of cross-cultural virtual teams; the ethics and legality of entrusting organizational decision-making to spatially diffuse robots that have no discernible identity or physical form; quantitative approaches to comparing the managerial capabilities of human and artificial agents; the creation of artificial life-forms that function as autonomous enterprises which evolve by competing against human businesses; neural implants as gateways that allow their human users to participate in new forms of organizational life; and the implications of advanced neuroprosthetics for information security and business model design.

As the first comprehensive application of posthumanist methodologies to the field of management, this volume will be of use to scholars and students of contemporary management and to management practitioners who must increasingly understand and guide the forces of technologization that are rapidly reshaping organizations’ form, dynamics, and societal roles.

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Neural Implants as Gateways to Digital-Physical Ecosystems and Posthuman Socioeconomic Interaction

In Digital Ecosystems: Society in the Digital Age, edited by Łukasz Jonak, Natalia Juchniewicz, and Renata Włoch, pp. 85-98 • Warsaw: Digital Economy Lab, University of Warsaw, 2016

ABSTRACT: For many employees, ‘work’ is no longer something performed while sitting at a computer in an office. Employees in a growing number of industries are expected to carry mobile devices and be available for work-related interactions even when beyond the workplace and outside of normal business hours. In this article it is argued that a future step will increasingly be to move work-related information and communication technology (ICT) inside the human body through the use of neuroprosthetics, to create employees who are always ‘online’ and connected to their workplace’s digital ecosystems. At present, neural implants are used primarily to restore abilities lost through injury or illness, however their use for augmentative purposes is expected to grow, resulting in populations of human beings who possess technologically altered capacities for perception, memory, imagination, and the manipulation of physical environments and virtual cyberspace. Such workers may exchange thoughts and share knowledge within posthuman cybernetic networks that are inaccessible to unaugmented human beings. Scholars note that despite their potential benefits, such neuroprosthetic devices may create numerous problems for their users, including a sense of alienation, the threat of computer viruses and hacking, financial burdens, and legal questions surrounding ownership of intellectual property produced while using such implants. Moreover, different populations of human beings may eventually come to occupy irreconcilable digital ecosystems as some persons embrace neuroprosthetic technology, others feel coerced into augmenting their brains to compete within the economy, others might reject such technology, and still others will simply be unable to afford it.

In this text we propose a model for analyzing how particular neuroprosthetic devices will either facilitate human beings’ participation in new forms of socioeconomic interaction and digital workplace ecosystems – or undermine their mental and physical health, privacy, autonomy, and authenticity. We then show how such a model can be used to create device ontologies and typologies that help us classify and understand different kinds of advanced neuroprosthetic devices according to the impact that they will have on individual human beings.

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Onboarding Pracowników: Witamy w Metaphorescence HDI

Fronda Lux 78 (2016), pp. 10-21

SUMMARY: This text envisions two different “employee onboarding documents” provided to new workers joining a global conglomerate in the year 2050. One neuroprosthetically augmented and genetically enhanced worker – who joins the company as a Reality Designer – is granted a drastically different welcome from the other worker, an unmodified human being, who joins the company as a Biological Service Drone. A variety of scholars have formulated two radically divergent conceptions of the future of human work: one vision imagines that the development of advanced artificial intelligence, nanorobotics, and other technologies will create a utopian society in which human beings are freed from the drudgery menial labor to focus on art, leisure, and self-fulfillment; the other vision imagines that such technologies will result in the wholesale oppression, instrumentalization, and disintegration of human beings. This text highlights the fact that these two extreme visions of the future are not necessarily incompatible – and might even be reflected within the activities of a single company.

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Cryptocurrency with a Conscience: Using Artificial Intelligence to Develop Money that Advances Human Ethical Values

Annales. Etyka w Życiu Gospodarczym / Annales: Ethics in Economic Life 18, no. 4 (2015), pp. 85-98; MNiSW 2015 List B: 10 points

ABSTRACT: Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are offering new avenues for economic empowerment to individuals around the world. However, they also provide a powerful tool that facilitates criminal activities such as human trafficking and illegal weapons sales that cause great harm to individuals and communities. Cryptocurrency advocates have argued that the ethical dimensions of cryptocurrency are not qualitatively new, insofar as money has always been understood as a passive instrument that lacks ethical values and can be used for good or ill purposes. In this paper, we challenge such a presumption that money must be “value-neutral.” Building on advances in artificial intelligence, cryptography, and machine ethics, we argue that it is possible to design artificially intelligent cryptocurrencies that are not ethically neutral but which autonomously regulate their own use in a way that reflects the ethical values of particular human beings – or even entire human societies. We propose a technological framework for such cryptocurrencies and then analyze the legal, ethical, and economic implications of their use. Finally, we suggest that the development of cryptocurrencies possessing ethical as well as monetary value can provide human beings with a new economic means of positively influencing the ethos and values of their societies.

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Utopias and Dystopias as Cybernetic Information Systems: Envisioning the Posthuman Neuropolity

Creatio Fantastica no. 3(50) (2015)

ABSTRACT: While it is possible to understand utopias and dystopias as particular kinds of sociopolitical systems, in this text we argue that utopias and dystopias can also be understood as particular kinds of information systems in which data is received, stored, generated, processed, and transmitted by the minds of human beings that constitute the system’s ‘nodes’ and which are connected according to specific network topologies. We begin by formulating a model of cybernetic information-processing properties that characterize utopias and dystopias. It is then shown that the growing use of neuroprosthetic technologies for human enhancement is expected to radically reshape the ways in which human minds access, manipulate, and share information with one another; for example, such technologies may give rise to posthuman ‘neuropolities’ in which human minds can interact with their environment using new sensorimotor capacities, dwell within shared virtual cyberworlds, and link with one another to form new kinds of social organizations , including hive minds that utilize communal memory and decision-making. Drawing on our model, we argue that the dynamics of such neuropolities will allow (or perhaps even impel) the creation of new kinds of utopias and dystopias that were previously impossible to realize. Finally, we suggest that it is important that humanity begin thoughtfully exploring the ethical, social, and political implications of realizing such technologically enabled societies by studying neuropolities in a place where they have already been ‘pre-engineered’ and provisionally exist: in works of audiovisual science fiction such as films, television series, and role-playing games.

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Leveraging the Cross-Cultural Capacities of Artificial Agents as Leaders of Human Virtual Teams

In Proceedings of the 10th European Conference on Management Leadership and Governance, edited by Visnja Grozdanić, pp. 428-35 • Reading: Academic Conferences and Publishing International Limited, 2014

ABSTRACT: The human beings who manage global virtual teams regularly face challenges caused by factors such as the lack of a shared language and culture among team members and coordination delay resulting from spatial and temporal divisions between members of the team. As part of the ongoing advances in artificial agent (AA) technology, artificial agents have been developed whose purpose is to assist the human managers of virtual teams. In this paper, we move a step further by suggesting that new capabilities being developed for artificial agents will eventually give them the ability to successfully manage virtual teams whose other members are human beings. In particular, artificial agents will be uniquely positioned to take on roles as managers of cross-cultural, multilingual, global virtual teams, by overcoming some of the fundamental cognitive limitations that create obstacles for human beings serving in these managerial roles.

In order to effectively interact with human team members, AAs must be able to decode and encode the full spectrum of verbal and nonverbal communication used by human beings. Because culture is so deeply embedded in all human forms of communication, AAs cannot communicate in a way that is “non-cultural”; an AA that is capable of communicating effectively with human team members will necessarily display a particular culture (or mix of cultures), just as human beings do. Already researchers have designed AAs that can display diverse cultural behaviors through their use of language, intonation, gaze, posture, emotion, and personality. The need for AA team leaders to display cultural behavior raises the key question of which culture or cultures the AA leader of a particular human virtual team should display. We argue that the answer to this question depends on both the cultural makeup of a team’s human members and the methods used to share information among team members.

To facilitate the analysis of how an AA team leader’s cultural behaviors can best be structured to fit the circumstances of a particular virtual team, we propose a two-dimensional model for designing suites of cultural behaviors for AAs that will manage human virtual teams. The first dimension describes whether an AA deploys the same cultural behaviors for its dealings with all team members (“objectivity”) or customizes its cultural display for each team member (“ personalization”). The second dimension describes whether the AA always displays the same culture to a given team member (“invariance”), or possesses a repertoire of cultural guises for a particular team member, from which it chooses one to fit the current situation (“situationality”). The two dimensions of objective-personalized and invariant-situational cultural behaviors yield four archetypes for AAs leading virtual human teams. We consider examples of each type of AA, identify potential strengths and weaknesses of each type, suggest particular kinds of virtual teams that are likely to benefit from being managed by AAs of the different types, and discuss empirical study that can test the validity and usefulness of this framework.

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The Social Robot as ‘Charismatic Leader’: A Phenomenology of Human Submission to Nonhuman Power

In Sociable Robots and the Future of Social Relations: Proceedings of Robo-Philosophy 2014, edited by Johanna Seibt, Raul Hakli, and Marco Nørskov, pp. 329-39 • Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications 273 • IOS Press, 2014

ABSTRACT: Much has been written about the possibility of human trust in robots. In this article we consider a more specific relationship: that of a human follower’s obedience to a social robot who leads through the exercise of referent power and what Weber described as ‘charismatic authority.’ By studying robotic design efforts and literary depictions of robots, we suggest that human beings are striving to create charismatic robot leaders that will either (1) inspire us through their display of superior morality; (2) enthrall us through their possession of superhuman knowledge; or (3) seduce us with their romantic allure. Rejecting a contractarian-individualist approach which presumes that human beings will be able to consciously ‘choose’ particular robot leaders, we build on the phenomenological-social approach to trust in robots to argue that charismatic robot leaders will emerge naturally from our world’s social fabric, without any rational decision on our part. Finally, we argue that the stability of these leader-follower relations will hinge on a fundamental, unresolved question of robotic intelligence: is it possible for synthetic intelligences to exist that are morally, intellectually, and emotionally sophisticated enough to exercise charismatic authority over human beings—but not so sophisticated that they lose the desire to do so?

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Managerial Robotics: A Model of Sociality and Autonomy for Robots Managing Human Beings and Machines

International Journal of Contemporary Management 13, no. 3 (2014), pp. 67-76; MNiSW 2014 List B: 9 points

ABSTRACT: The development of robots with increasingly sophisticated decision-making and social capacities is opening the door to the possibility of robots carrying out the management functions of planning, organizing, leading, and controlling the work of human beings and other machines. In this paper we study the relationship between two traits that impact a robot’s ability to effectively perform management functions: those of autonomy and sociality. Using an assessment instrument we evaluate the levels of autonomy and sociality of 35 robots that have been created for use in a wide range of industrial, domestic, and governmental contexts, along with several kinds of living organisms with which such robots can share a social space and which may provide templates for some aspects of future robotic design. We then develop a two-dimensional model that classifies the robots into 16 different types, each of which offers unique strengths and weaknesses for the performance of management functions. Our data suggest correlations between autonomy and sociality that could potentially assist organizations in identifying new and more effective management applications for existing robots and aid roboticists in designing new kinds of robots that are capable of succeeding in particular management roles.

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A Fractal Measure for Comparing the Work Effort of Human and Artificial Agents Performing Management Functions

In Position Papers of the 2014 Federated Conference on Computer Science and Information Systems, edited by Maria Ganzha, Leszek Maciaszek, and Marcin Paprzycki, pp. 219-226 • Warsaw: Polskie Towarzystwo Informatyczne, 2014

ABSTRACT: Thanks to the growing sophistication of artificial agent technologies, businesses will increasingly face decisions of whether to have a human employee or artificial agent perform a particular function. This makes it desirable to have a common temporal measure for comparing the work effort that human beings and artificial agents can apply to a role. Existing temporal measures of work effort are formulated to apply either to human employees (e.g., FTE and billable hours) or computer-based systems (e.g., mean time to failure and availability) but not both. In this paper we propose a new temporal measure of work effort based on fractal dimension that applies equally to the work of human beings and artificial agents performing management functions. We then consider four potential cases to demonstrate the measure’s diagnostic value in assessing strengths (e.g., flexibility) and risks (e.g., switch costs) reflected by the temporal work dynamics of particular managers.

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A Tool for Designing and Evaluating the Temporal Work Patterns of Human and Artificial Agents

Informatyka Ekonomiczna / Business Informatics 3:33 (2014), pp. 61-76; MNiSW 2014 List B: 8 points

ABSTRACT: The measure of availability is frequently used to compare the dependability of computer-based systems. However, it is an imperfect measure insofar as two systems with the same availability can display radically different performance characteristics. Here we develop a new fractal temporal measure for work effort which – used alongside availability – offers richer insight into the performance of computer-based systems. We establish that this fractal measure can be applied to the temporal work patterns of both human and artificial agents, allowing direct comparisons between them. By analyzing six hypothetical cases, we demonstrate that this new measure reveals unique strengths and weaknesses in human and artificial agents’ work patterns that are not captured by the traditional availability measure. We also identify circumstances in which such new comparative assessment tools will become increasingly important for organizational designers and solution architects, as the development of more sophisticated artificial agents creates situations in which particular functions within an organization can be carried out either by human personnel or artificial agents.

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The Artificial Life-Form as Entrepreneur: Synthetic Organism-Enterprises and the Reconceptualization of Business

In Proceedings of the Fourteenth International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems, edited by Hiroki Sayama, John Rieffel, Sebastian Risi, René Doursat and Hod Lipson, pp. 417-18 • Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2014

ABSTRACT: In this work we demonstrate the theoretical possibility and explore the implications of developing artificial life that functions as an autonomous business within the real-world human economy. By drawing on the Viable Systems Approach (VSA), we introduce the new concept of an “organism-enterprise” that exists simultaneously as both a life-form and a business. We then reconceptualize the anthropocentric understanding of a “business” in a way that allows an artificial life-form to constitute a “synthetic” organism-enterprise (SOE) just as a human being functioning as a sole proprietor constitutes a “natural” organism-enterprise. Practical obstacles to the creation of SOEs are considered, along with possible means of surmounting them. SOEs would move a step beyond current examples of artificial life that produce goods or services within a simulated world or play a limited role within a human business: rather than competing against artificial organisms in a virtual world, SOEs could evolve through competition against human businesses in the real-world economy. We consider concrete examples of SOEs and conclude by highlighting legal, economic, and ethical issues that arise when a single economic ecosystem is shared by competing human and artificial life. The concept of an “organism-enterprise.” A business is defined as “the organized effort … to produce and sell, for a profit, the goods and services that satisfy society’s needs” (Pride, et al. 2014). Management theorists have drawn on biology to better understand the structure and function of such business organizations. Our research utilizes a systems theory grounded in neurophysiology, the Viable Systems Approach (VSA), that allows us to understand a business as an autopoietic organism or “system” that dwells within the ecosystem of a larger economy or “suprasystem” (Beer, 1981; Barile, et al. 2012). Within this ecosystem, a business must compete against other organisms for limited resources and adapt to environmental demands. In our human economy, individual businesses are born, grow, and die, and taken as a whole, this array of businesses forms an evolvable system.

We begin by considering one unique instance in which a business is not simply “analogous to” a living organism, but identical to it: namely, the case of a human being who functions as a sole proprietor. In this situation, a single system simultaneously satisfies all the requirements of being both a life-form and a business. Building on this case, we introduce the idea of a unitary “organism-enterprise,” a concept that is already instantiated in the form of at least 20 million “human organism-enterprises” within the United States alone. Reconceptualizing business to include synthetic organism-enterprises. Utilizing VSA and the concept of an organism-enterprise, we analyze the traditional anthropocentric understanding of business as an exclusively human activity to consider whether an artificial life-form could serve as a “synthetic organism-enterprise” (SOE) that is both a life-form and a business. We show that this is indeed possible, but requires us to transform our understanding of business. For example, human businesses are traditionally described as requiring four kinds of resources: 1) human; 2) material; 3) financial; and 4) information. To replace this anthropocentric understanding, we propose that a business be understood more generally as requiring: 1) agent resources; 2) material resources; 3) value-storing media; and 4) information. Similarly, a human business requires functional units filling roles in production, finance, marketing, human capital management, and information technology.

Drawing on VSA and the case of a human sole proprietor, we consider the ways in which these functions can be understood more generically, in such a way that they can also be performed by current and proposed forms of artificial life. We give particular attention to the role of “profit” in a human business and formulate an account of its correlate for an SOE: it is the difference between resources expended and received in exchanges in the suprasystem that provides an SOE with a potential for growth and insurance against environmental uncertainties. Figure 1 provides an overview of our reconceptualized “business process cycle,” which can be carried out equally well by either a human business or an artificial life-form that has been designed or evolved to fill a business role within a larger economic ecosystem.

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