A.I. to Economy to A.I.

 

A New Theory of Needs and Value

The paper A Natural Theory of Needs and Value, which details the unique perspective that underlies the OFMOS universe, has just been released. It provides deeper insights into the notion of needs (going beyond popular theories, like "jobs to be done" or Maslow's hierarchy of needs), serving as a foundation for a novel business and economic worldview. Furthermore, given the current state of our society, the theory also brings some new perspectives on topics such as artificial intelligence (A.I.) and economics.

Read the Paper


From A.I. ...

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The idea of a big, autonomous A.I. (one that can think for itself) has been a hot topic over the past year. Yet, how close we are to developing such a system remains unclear. As with most technologies, goal setting is a key dimension. And here, the new theory brings some new insights, while also uncovering some challenges. As explained in the paper, the human needs (goals) are rather elusive, and only at the market level they appear more stable. Also our own mortality has a deep impact on the big goals that we set for ourselves. Which begs the question, how will an A.I. set the goals for itself? If they are too specific and easy to accomplish, what will the A.I. do after? Will it go into hibernation? Or will it change its overarching goal? If so, how and to what?

... to Economy ...

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In spite of all the advances around us, our understanding of how economies evolve over long periods of time has remained fairly limited. Over the past two and a half centuries, we have experienced only three dominant economic worldviews (commonly associated with Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John M. Keynes, respectively). The new theory of needs enables the development of a new macroeconomic model that is descriptive and prescriptive, while free of ideologies -- a step toward a convergence point, tightly integrated with our general understanding of the natural world. By seeing the economy as a collection of virtual business spaces, and powered by big data, the model could provide a dynamic and granular picture of the economy (think about the motion of a flock of starlings) and, with it, the society's health. (The animation A New Economic Worldview shows a simplistic example of these dynamics.)

... to A.I.

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In principle, the very notion of model implies that a technological implementation is possible. With the models for both businesses and economies resembling large dynamic systems of particles, it is easy to see how technology could be useful, if not necessary. Besides aggregating the operational data to generate the actual representations of the virtual business spaces, a technological system will be much better than a team of humans at analyzing how the "particles" are distributed and interrelated, and then creating future scenarios. And with that, a few obvious questions emerge. How far can the technology go? What are the boundaries of the corporation? What is its core? Will we have CEO-less organizations?


And, with that in mind, check out a brief 'problem and solution' overview adapted from a recent presentation given at Stanford University.


Note: This essay was adapted from the newsletter sent to the OFMOS Community in October 2018.

Credits: Image 1 - Scene from the 1927 movie Metropolis (source: CineHouse), image 2 - flock of starlings(source: Wired), image 3 - scene from the 1936 movie Things to Come (source: MoMA), and video -flight of the starlings (source: National Geographic).

 
Cristian Mitreanu