Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

On the importance of disintermediating real, 2-way communications in business organizations 15

Posted in social networking and business, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on May 9, 2019

This is my 15th installment to a brief series on coordinating information sharing and communications needs, and information access filtering and gate keeping requirements (see Social Networking and Business 2, postings 275 and loosely following for Parts 1-14.)

I began working my way through a briefly stated to-address topics list in Part 12 that I repeat here for smoother continuity of narrative, as I continue addressing its issues:

1. Reconsider the basic issues of communications and information sharing and their disintermediation in light of the trends and possibilities that I have been writing of in this series, and certainly since its Part 6 where I first started to more explicitly explore insider versus outside employee issues here. (See in particular, Part 12 and Part 13 for an initial orienting discussion of this set of issues.)
2. Begin that with a focus on the human to human communications and information sharing context (and address that complex of issues itself as a separate, emergent topic with the following Point 3 in mind as framing its context.)
3. And then build from that to at least attempt to anticipate a complex of issues that I see as inevitable challenges that we will all come to face as artificial agents develop into the gray area of capability that I made note of earlier in this series (n.b. in Part 11). More specifically, how can and should these agents be addressed and considered in an information communications and security context? In anticipation of that line of discussion to come, I will at least raise the possibility here, that businesses will find themselves compelled to confront the issues of personhood and of personal responsibility and liability for gray area artificial agents, and early in that societal debate. And the issues that I raise and discuss in this series will among other factors, serve as compelling bases for their having to address that complex of issues.

I began addressing Points 2 and 3 of this list, and Point 2 in particular of it in Part 14, with a primary focus on human-to-human communications barriers and restrictions. More specifically, I noted there how these challenges can and do arise in the midst of what in principle could be a freer exchanges of ideas and the basic factual information that would support them. And I wrote there of how this type of friction can skew the intent and the possibilities implicit in Point 2 as here stated, when that topic point can be taken as representing an achievable goal through systems and processes improvements. (Note: in a more strictly business context, I collectively refer to communications limitations and information development and sharing challenges and their consequences as business systems friction, offering that as a more micro-scale counterpart to the macro-scale phenomenon of economic friction.)

• Implicit in my Part 14 narrative was the possibility that if humans can behave in ways towards other humans that are limiting and controlling over their having a voice, and even when that would be essential if they are to represent their own causes and needs,
• And if they can seek to dominate those others and control them in this way,
• It has to be assumed that occurrence of this basic approach will be at least as likely when artificial general intelligence agents enter this narrative too. What recognized autonomy and what voice, and what basic rights will they have, unless specifically and explicitly discussed, defined and championed for?

Then I ended Part 14 by stating that I would continue its line of discussion here by considering a more functional approach for at least thinking about this set of challenges, that might serve as a basis for addressing it in action. And to put a specific case in point focus to that, I proposed fleshing it out by way of example by pursuing a more strictly business systems and business communications context for the issues I have raised here. And I will do so, considering how communications and information sharing can be improved and for all. I added that I would more fully explore this set of issues in its Point 2 human-to-human context, noting in anticipation of a fuller Point 3 discussion to come too, that:

• It is never going to be possible to achieve a freer or more open and enabling reality when dealing with and accommodating the needs of true artificial general intelligence agents, than we can achieve and maintain when dealing with other human people. (Here think of gray area agents as discussed in Part 11 and as noted again above, as being akin to special needs people for both their capabilities and their limitations. And I posit this point of perspective, in this manner to orient all that will follow here as being predicated on an assumption of intrinsic personhood for any genuinely intelligent beings – or any arguably gray area, general intelligences: human or artificial. No, this perspective is not offered to challenge humans for their personhood if they are cognitively challenged; it is offered here strictly to more widely include, and with a presumption of personhood taken as a safe default if there is any gray area doubt.)
• And I added as a point of warning that any limiting (stultifying) restrictions that we impose in this in a humans acting upon other humans context, will most likely come back to haunt us with time, and certainly when and as artificial general intelligence agents arise and begin to work out how best for them to deal with human intelligences and our needs.

So I will continue and complete my discussion of the Point 2, human-to-human context side to this complex of issues. Then I will address Point 3, as noted above. And I will focus for the most part on a more business-specific context for both the Point 2 and the Point 3 side of this as a source of clarifying and discussion-expanding examples.

I begin discussing this loosely organized to-address list of issues and topics by noting that while I cited psychopharmaceuticals and other overtly interventive mechanisms and their use/misuse in Part 14, “softer” forms of manipulation that might seek to control the dialog by controlling access to information and opportunity to share it, can be more acutely challenging here. Psychopharmaceutical and other overtly interventive mechanisms can be and are used to manage overt mental illness and they can also be and are used for political and other more manipulative purposes too, and certainly on a more individual basis. The now former Soviet Union employed this approach as a means of controlling dissidents, and on a regular basis, to cite one possible example of that. But overall control of the availability and quality of publically visible information can effectively control entire societies. And it can do this in a way that is difficult to even see, because information of the What and Where and How of this type of society level manipulation can be among the most tightly controlled information of all in such a system. (I find myself thinking of the People’s Republic of China’s Great Firewall – their Golden Shield Project as I write this. And I find myself thinking of how so many small town communities in the United States have single sources of news, with just one news network: Fox, the only one available, and with just one equally ideologically skewed newspaper, if any available too. Unfortunately, the world of today is replete with possible matching examples of this, and for both of the basic forms I have touched upon here too: individually directed and more-societally controlling.)

It may be seemingly impossible to address this overall challenge on a larger societal scale, but I take it as an axiomatic truth (or perhaps as a matter of faith if you will), that smaller organizations that are bound together by at least some measure of shared purpose can do better. And that leads me to what might be one of the key questions for this series as a whole and for large parts of this blog as a whole too, that I could raise now:

• How can we make human-to-human communications and information sharing as open and inclusive as possible while still allowing for information security when that is genuinely required, in order to limit risk and harm to those that that information might concern?
• More particularly, and certainly in this context of this narrative, how can these communications and information sharing processes be opened up to become as fully inclusive as possible when such information sensitivity and the risk that particular information might carry with it, is not an issue?

I offer a perspective here in response to that Point 2-oriented question that will in fact form a significant part of the foundation for how I would address Point 3 and its artificial general intelligence issues too:

• The inclusively democratic principle of presumed value and significance of all people, and with an openness to accepting different from the realization of that, that humans and human societies can and too often do find difficult to achieve. And in a business context, this is where an affirming and supportive corporate culture enters this narrative.

I am going to continue this discussion from that opening point in a next installment, and will proceed from that and the Point 2 issues that I have been reframing and expanding upon here, to consider Point 3 extensions of them. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 5, and also at Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4 of that directory. And also see Social Networking and Business 2 and that directory’s Page 1 for related material.

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