Corporate machines rule. Humans are just their operating system.
I used to believe there was a ruling class, a group of super-rich bankers and industrialists who ran everything. They were selfish and greedy, but at least they were motivated by rational self-interest. They wouldn’t let the world fall completely apart, because that would hurt them, too.
I was wrong. Politicians, government officials, high-powered executives and billionaires don’t decide anything important. The corporations and government agencies in which they work have minds of their own. Those organizations have acted as large scale artificial intelligence (AI) before anyone ever heard of Chat GPT, commercially available AI anyone can use.
How can I call corporations and governments artificial? Isn’t AI a machine property, while our ruling institutions are made up of humans?
Yes and no. Corporations are machines, programmed by the people who set them up, with the sole goal of endlessly increasing profits. The humans, the executives and technicians who work in them are just the operating system. They are like apps in a larger platform, adding bits they learned or came up with to a machine that can roll on without them and cannot change its programmed direction.
If the human apps can’t go along with the corporate or government program well enough, they quit or are fired, and are replaced by those who can. Corporations, with their thousands of people, computers, factories, and sensors, are AI forms that actually run the human world.
Don’t believe me? Look around. Don’t some decisions made by governments or corporations seem totally insane? A few examples: courting war with two nuclear powers at the same time, weaponizing their currency while expecting the world to keep using it. Raising prices while cutting wages and expecting the economy to thrive. Dumping toxic chemicals into rivers and expecting good water to come out of taps.
And so on. Who makes decisions like those? It’s pretty obvious that the front men: the Bidens, Bushes, and Trumps aren’t strong enough to be calling those shots. Corporate CEOs come and go, but the policies never change, so you can’t blame them.
What about the “deep state” people who serve in every administration, Republican or Democrat? Economists like Larry Summers and Janet Yellin, war mongers like Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney, and thousands of nameless bureaucrats who oversee the government. Those people have a lot of influence, but they are parts of huge bureaucracies. They don’t make decisions by themselves.
Some blame super-rich oligarchs like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, or old school aristocrats like the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers. And those billionaires have a lot of power, but could they really have the ability to control and dominate in so many spheres of government, industry, science, agriculture, education, and more?
And if they do, why are they making such a mess of it?
The simple answer is that no human is making those decisions. Corporations and government bureaucracies are just doing what they’re programmed to do: make more money. The programs were written long ago and don’t change no matter how reality changes around them or which humans are pushing the buttons.
Just as Chat GPT writes essays by taking ideas and language from all over the Internet and putting them together in novel ways, corporations and government bureaucracies take ideas, resources, and creativity from all over the world and put them to work for one goal: increasing their profit and their power. Nothing else matters, because those financial numbers are all the programs have to work with. Profit and loss are quantifiable, so they’re real to the AI. Lives are not.
Corporate and government AI programs are fatally degrading nature and leading us to nuclear destruction, but they need their human operators to keep going. And notice these AI forms are just machines; they don’t have emotions; they don’t have consciousness. They don’t actually care what happens to any of us or to themselves; they’re just following their programming.
So we could stop their madness and begin living in a sane world, just by refusing to be part of their operating systems. We could unplug them.
A world without corporate AI dominance
As Australian journalist Caitlin Johnstone has shown many times, the world most people live in is constructed almost completely of narrative and propaganda, disseminated by government and corporate AI. Corporate media pours out an endless stream of illusions, to keep people entertained, confused, divided, and passive.
Most of us have lost touch with the natural world and increasingly with other people. We’re easily convinced of any bullshit story, because we have no reality with which to compare it. We’ve come to resemble the AI programs who rule us. They have no direct contact with the world, because they are not alive. All they have to go on is data. So, the world they create for us isn’t very alive either.
If we stopped cooperating with AI, we would spend a lot more time growing food and repairing the damage industrial civilization has done. We wouldn’t be driving 60 miles each way to get to jobs we hate. We would be focused on our communities and our families and the natural world, and not on the dramas and spectacles playing out on computer screens.
We could see the world as it really is: gigantic, beautiful, complex beyond words. Behaviors such as locking up people for using drugs, or raising rents on housing making millions homeless, or bombing people in “enemy” states would become unthinkable, because we would see and value the people they hurt. Employers would see their workplaces as communities, so wouldn’t drive wages as low as possible. We would have less stuff but more connection and happiness.
Separating from AI
AI may be a useful tool, but it should not be making decisions. Humans might consider factors other than profit, maybe how some cruel policy makes them feel about themselves, but AIs cannot feel. Humans need to reclaim our authority over the corporate and governmental machines we have created.
Separating ourselves from AI involves connecting with other people, including those we have been taught to fear and hate. It means connecting with animals and plants, including those we eat. It means reaching out to each other to heal our loneliness and alienation, conditions which are widespread under capitalism and which psychologist Matthias Desmet, PhD says lead to fascism and war.
20th Century community organizer Saul Alinsky found in his work that people separated by ideology, ethnicity, or religion; people who hated each other, became friends if he could get them working together on some project for the whole community. Organizing worked because Communists and Christians, businessmen and labor leaders are, in fact, all people and not that different inside.
Our job is to separate from the corporate and government robots: quit, lie down, start our own businesses, rebel, resist. Stop shopping, stop believing their propaganda. Stop orienting our lives around money and start building community.
Get off the screens and into the trees. Reach out to the human apps working in those offices, connect with them, get them into Nature, get their hands dirty. Eventually, the corporations may wither from lack of operators.
There may be a faster way. Governments have the legal power to discipline corporations and even to kill them. It’s called bankruptcy. The problem is that corporations long ago realized they could increase profits by co-opting government regulators, reprogramming government AI systems, and putting their own humans in charge of government.
We have to unplug the AIs in corporations and government both. The first step is to stop working for the robots. Then get others to follow us.
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