Understanding the Cyber-Physical-Social-Intentional ‘Workforce 4.0’: Conceptual Foundations, Architecture, and Context

Workforce 4.0 as a Cyber-Physical-Social-Intentional System

the VIII Scientific Conference on Modern Concepts and Management Methods: Management 4.0 – Modern Trends in Public, Social and Business Sector • Military University of Technology in Warsaw • December 6, 2018

ABSTRACT: The widespread application of Industry 4.0 technologies relating to social robotics, embodied AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), ubiquitous computing, and advanced human computer interfaces is giving rise to a growing range of “cyber-physical” entities. By building on established definitions and analyses of the cyber-physical system, cyber-physical-social system, cyber-physical society, and cyber-physical-social-thinking space, this text formulates a conceptual framework for understanding the emerging “Workforce 4.0” as a specialized type of “cyber-physical-social-intentional system.” Attention is given to the heterogeneous agency, technological posthumanization, functional decentralization, and planned architectures or spontaneously self-organizing topologies manifested by Workforce 4.0. It is shown how such a workforce is situated within the context of cyber-physical space, a cyber-physical organization, cyber-physical ecosystems, a cyber-physical society, and the larger cyber-physical world.

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Dynamics of Technological Posthumanization: Distinguishing the Anticipated Paths of Developed and Emerging Economies

Differing Paths to Technological Posthumanization

The International Conference on ICT Management for Global Competitiveness and Economic Growth in Emerging Economies (ICTM 2018) • Wrocław • October 22, 2018

ABSTRACT: The processes of “posthumanization” can be understood as those dynamics by which a human organization or society comes to include members other than “natural” biological human beings who contribute to the structure, activities, or meaning of that organization or society. In the world of business, such posthumanization is commonly identified with the growing use of social robots, autonomous AI, and joint human-computer systems to perform work that in earlier eras would have been performed by human beings acting alone. Such “technological” posthumanization is often presented as a new phenomenon occurring largely in those developed economies that are pioneering Industry 4.0 paradigms (e.g., by expanding workplace automation) and that are uniquely positioned to harness such forces to drive economic growth. Here, however, we contend that such emphasis on the novelty of technological posthumanization overlooks forms of non-technological posthumanization that have been at work in human societies for millennia. Such dynamics of non-technological posthumanization have weakened significantly in many developed economies since the mid-20th century; however, they remain relatively strong in emerging economies. In this study, a conceptual framework is developed for identifying and comparing phenomena through which processes of technological or non-technological posthumanization manifest themselves in developed and emerging economies. It is argued that the ongoing and robust experience with non-technological posthumanization possessed by many of the world’s emerging economies may offer them unique and underappreciated psychological, social, and cultural mechanisms for integrating effectively into their enterprises, organizations, and institutions those novel forms of non-human agency that are at work in key Industry 4.0 technologies, like those relating to social robotics, autonomous AI, and advanced human-computer interfaces.

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Enterprise Meta-Architecture for Megacorps of Unmanageably Great Size, Speed, and Technological Complexity

Enterprise Meta Architecture for Megacorps

In Information Systems Architecture and Technology: Proceedings of 39th International Conference on Information Systems Architecture and Technology – ISAT 2018, Part III, edited by Zofia Wilimowska, Leszek Borzemski, and Jerzy Świątek • Springer International Publishing, 2018

ABSTRACT: The discipline of enterprise architecture (EA) provides valuable tools for aligning an organization’s business strategy and processes, IT strategy and systems, personnel structures, and organizational culture, with the goal of enhancing organizational agility, adaptability, and efficiency. However, the centralized and exhaustively detailed approach of conventional EA is susceptible to failure when employed in organizations demonstrating exceedingly great size, speed of operation and change, and IT complexity – a combination of traits that characterizes, for example, some emerging types of “technologized” oligopolistic megacorps reflecting the Industry 4.0 paradigm. This text develops the conceptual basis for a variant form of enterprise architecture that can be used to enact improved target architectures for organizations whose characteristics would otherwise render them “unmanageable” from the perspective of conventional EA. The proposed approach of “enterprise meta-architecture” (or EMA) disengages human enterprise architects from the fine-grained details of architectural analysis, design, and implementation, which are handled by artificially intelligent systems functioning as active agents rather than passive tools. The role of the human enterprise architect becomes one of determining the types of performance improvements a target architecture should ideally generate, establishing the operating parameters for an EMA system, and monitoring and optimizing its functioning. Advances in Big Data and parametric design provide models for enterprise meta-architecture, which is distinct from other new approaches like agile and adaptive EA. Deployment of EMA systems should become feasible as ongoing advances in AI result in an increasing share of organizational agency and decision-making responsibility being shifted to artificial agents.

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Światło ucieleśnione i zaciemniający parametryzm: Analiza fenomenologiczno-estetyczna praktyki architektonicznej w ‘świecie elektronicznym’

Ogólnopolska konferencja naukowa ‘Wszechświat Disneya’ • Instytut Filologii Polskiej Wydziału Filologicznego Uniwersytetu Pedagogicznego and the Facta Ficta Research Centre, Kraków • December 9, 2017

ABSTRACT: W niniejszej prezentacji przedstawione jest zastosowanie podejścia fenomenologicznego w celu przestudiowania dwóch zagadnień podnoszonych przez praktyki architektoniczne obrazowane w filmach Tron (1982) i Tron: Legacy (2010). Po pierwsze, rozważamy użycie światła ucieleśnionego jako składnika budowlanego w obrazowanym w tych filmach ‘świecie elektronicznym’ (lub ‘drugim wszeczświecie’). Ludzki programista i programy komputerowe przedstawieni jako główni architekci świata elektronicznego stosują światło ucieleśnione jako kluczowy element fizyczny budynków, mostów, dróg, pojazdów, ubrań i innych przedmiotów, albo stwarzając, albo nakreślając namacalne kształty wśród ciemności poza tym niezróżnicowanej. Światło wykorzystowane jest n.p. do stworzenia platform, na których mogą stać postacie, oraz pionowych murów, które stoją na przeszkodzie innym fizycznym przedmiotom ‘zderzającym się’ z nimi. Porównujemy ten fenomen z historycznym w świecie rzeczywistym użyciem światła jako elementu architektonicznego o roli ozdobnej, przedstawiającej, dydaktycznej i funkcjonalnej oraz, w szczególności, z użyciem oświetlenia, aby symulować istnienie dużych fizycznych konstrukcji architektonicznych, które w rzeczywistości nie istnieją. Architektoniczne zastosowanie światła ucieleśnionego inspiruje pytania estetyczne i ontologiczne, które można badać przy pomocy podejścia fenomenologicznego.

Po drugie, badamy sposób, w jaki architektura w świecie elektronicznym omawianych filmów przedstawiona jest jako coś współprojektowanego przez istoty ludzkie i sztucznie inteligentne programy komputerowe przeznaczone do tej roli. W omawianych filmach, ludzki programista wybrał ogólne jakości estetyczne, które mają się przejawiać w architekturze świata elektronicznego i powierzył programom AI rolę przełożenia tych celów na konkretne konstrukcje architektoniczne, automatyzując w ten sposób proces budowania świata spełniającego dane parametry estetyczne. Tron: Legacy prezentuje szczegółowe debaty między ludzkim a AI współarchitektem dotyczące zalet wyboru jakości estetycznych takich, jak swoboda, otwartość, piękno, porządek, doskonalność, skuteczność funkcjonalna, regularność, przewidywalność i chaotyczność, jako cele i parametry dla architektury systemu. Film argumentuje za tym, że dla wspieranego przez AI architektonicznego projektowania parametrycznego wybór jakości estetycznych, które same w sobie wydają się pożądane, może jednakże powodować powstanie struktur z nieprzewidzianymi i bardzo niepożądanymi właściwościami. Wspierany przez sztuczną inteligencję proces architektoniczny, do którego już robił aluzję Tron i który wyraźniej poznany został w Tron: Legacy, może być więc interpretowany (chociaż niezamierzenie) przepowiednia i krytyka współczesnych technik projektowania generatywnego i parametrycznego oraz szczególnego ruchu Parametryzmu.

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Technomancy and the Conjuring of Virtual Worlds: The Utilization of ‘Digital Magical Practice’ as Organizational Strategy

Technomancy and the Conjuring of Virtual Worlds

The 3rd DELab UW International Conference: Ongoing Digitalisation of Economies and Societies • Digital Economy Lab, Uniwersytet Warszawski, Warszawa • September 29, 2017

ABSTRACT: Efforts to formally define ‘magic’ and to identify the aspects that distinguish magical practice from other human pursuits have been made from both a theological perspective (e.g., St. Thomas Aquinas) and, more recently, an anthropological perspective (e.g., Frazer, Mauss, Durkheim, Malinowski, and Tambiah). Frequently cited elements of magic include its use of esoteric symbols, gestures, and speech that are only understood only by a small, elite group of initiated practitioners; its use of specially prepared ritual instruments; its attempt to harness the power of invisible, intelligent, nonhuman entities (such as demons or nature deities) to produce specific physical effects; and its attempt to manipulate hidden (or ‘occult’) forms of causality rather than obviously explicable physical causality.

As early as the 1970s, scholars noted that the practice of computer programming reflects several such aspects of magic as it is traditionally defined. For example, conventional computer programming requires mastery of an esoteric body of knowledge passed down between generations of programmers; it employs arcane symbols arranged in elaborate sequential scripts structurally similar to magical incantations; and it allows computers to perform highly complex, seemingly ‘intelligent’ behaviors by means of causal processes that may be comprehensible to programmers but which to ordinary computer users appear quite mystifying.

In this presentation, we argue that it can be expected that the ‘magical’ aspects of computing technology will be transformed and enhanced over the coming years through the development of increasingly sophisticated technologies for virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), and ubiquitous computing (UC) that converge to create ‘magically responsive’ digital-physical ecosystems and ‘enchanted’ cyber-physical societies.

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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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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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From Stand Alone Complexes to Memetic Warfare: Cultural Cybernetics and the Engineering of Posthuman Popular Culture

50 Shades of Popular Culture International Conference • Facta Ficta Research Centre, Kraków • February 19, 2016

ABSTRACT: Here we argue that five emerging social and technological trends are creating new possibilities for the instrumentalization (or even “weaponization”) of popular culture for commercial, ideological, political, or military ends and for the development of a posthuman popular culture that is no longer solely produced by or for “humanity” as presently understood. These five trends are the: 1) decentralization of the sources of popular culture, as reflected in the ability of ordinary users to create and upload content that “goes viral” within popular culture, as well as the use of “astroturfing” and paid “troll armies” by corporate or state actors to create the appearance of broad-based grassroots support for particular products, services, actions, or ideologies; 2) centralization of the mechanisms for accessing popular culture, as seen in the role of instruments like Google’s search engine, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Wikipedia in concentrating the distribution channels for cultural products, as well as efforts by state actors to censor social media content perceived as threatening or disruptive; 3) personalization of popular culture, as manifested in the growth of cultural products like computer games that dynamically reconfigure themselves in response to a player’s behavior, thereby creating a different product for each individual that is adapted to a user’s unique experiences, desires, and psychological characteristics; 4) automatization of the creation of products of popular culture, as seen in the automated high-speed generation of webpages, artwork, music, memes, and computer game content by AI systems that could potentially allow venues of popular culture (such as the Internet) to be flooded with content designed to influence a social group in particular ways; and 5) virtualization of the technological systems and mechanisms for creating, transmitting, and experiencing the products of popular culture, as witnessed in the development of all-purpose nodes (such as smartphones) that are capable of handling a full range of cultural products in the form of still images, video, audio, text, and interactive experiences, and the growing digitalization of cultural products that allows them to be more easily manipulated and injected into the popular culture of other states or social groups, bypassing physical and political barriers.

While these trends are expected to yield a broad range of positive and negative impacts, we focus on a particular subset of these impacts. Namely, we argue that the convergence of these five trends opens the door for the creation of popular culture that: 1) does not exist in any permanent, tangible physical artifacts but only as a collection of continuously transforming digital data that that is stored on the servers of a few powerful corporate or state actors and is subject to manipulation or degradation as a result of computer viruses, hacking, power outages, or other factors; 2) can be purposefully and effectively engineered using techniques commonly employed within IT management, electronics engineering, marketing, and other disciplines; 3) can become a new kind of weapon and battleground in struggles for military, political, ideological, and commercial superiority on the part of corporate, state, and other actors.

In order to stimulate thinking about ways in which these trends might develop, we conclude by considering two fictional near-future worlds – those depicted in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Transhuman Space: Toxic Memes – in which the further evolution of these five trends is shown as leading to the neurocybernetically facilitated manipulation of popular culture, “memetic warfare,” and related phenomena. We suggest that these fictional works represent examples of self-reflexive futurology: i.e., elements of contemporary popular culture that attempt to anticipate and explore the ways in which future popular culture could be purposefully engineered, instrumentalized, and even weaponized in the service of a diverse array of ends.

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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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Tachikomatic Domains: Utopian Cyberspace as a ‘Contingent Heaven’ for Humans, Robots, and Hybrid Intelligences

Tachikomatic Domains

His Master’s Voice: Utopias and Dystopias in Audiovisual Culture • Facta Ficta Research Centre, Kraków • March 24, 2015

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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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