Robot Corporations

Why the Norfolk Southern train crash was not just an accident. It was the most likely outcome.

Robot Corporations

Ever since people were invented, we've been questioning their purpose. Like, why are they here, and why do they have a relentless hunger for sex and food? And why do they dominate the animals, but only sometimes? For example, Sharks. They'll make us their dinner in a heartbeat. And dogs – they'll make us make their dinner. Sometimes it's hard to know who's in charge.

Still, when it comes to language and weapons, humans are by far the dominant species. Even a primitive invention such as the javelin has led to the invention of both steakhouses and nuclear weapons. Two of the most powerful forms of dominance. The ability to destroy a city and eat a ribeye cooked your way on demand. I dare the dog to even try to do that.

Full disclosure, the writer of this article is a person who wonders about its purpose just as much as the next one. I say that because it's not a given. It's hard to say how much time I have before I'm replaced by Bing's new search engine. With AI creeping into every space we writers used to haunt exclusively, you never really know who or what you're reading. Or whether it's reading you back.

Ever since AI started stealing our jobs, we've been questioning all the more. Where did I come from? Why am I here? Why am I prone to failure? Did you check to see if I was plugged in, or maybe try restarting?

Some say a human is no more than a series of chemical reactions, interacting within itself and with its surroundings—consistently presenting predictable patterns, such as how poverty and power both end up yielding corruption. We say we have free will, and yet these patterns consistently present themselves. Whether you have it all or have nothing, it will inevitably bring out the worst in you.

We've been talking a lot about artificial intelligence over the last few weeks, and it feels like technology is at an inflection point. The lines of human distinction are being blurred by a computer that is almost like one (but without tan lines). But artificial intelligence is not a new creation. Artificial intelligence has been a part of our daily life for a long time. We like to call them corporations.

Corporations, at a large scale, are more similar to an operating system than a person. They make decisions, and they're always hungry, but everything fits into the confines of a system. Like a robot, it simply does what it is programmed to do. Like a locomotive, there is no way to stop it.

Let's take a look at Norfolk Southern. It has something like 20,156 employees and earned $12.74 billion in revenue in 2o22. Its purpose is transportation, which they do by managing trains, and tracks, managing supply chains, and ultimately making a profit by increasing revenue and minimizing expenses.

I'd like to explain why the train which derailed in Palestine, Ohio, spilling tons of hazardous waste, was not just a catastrophe, but it was in the budget. It was part of the operating system.