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drnickbone comments on The Virtue of Narrowness - Less Wrong

56 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 07 August 2007 05:57PM

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Comment author: drnickbone 13 February 2012 08:08:33PM 20 points [-]

Well I don't know about "super intelligent", but modern corporations do seem remarkably like "unfriendly AI" (as defined in the Sequences). They have a very simplified utility function (shareholder value) and tend to maximize it at the expense of all rival human values. They are also very powerful and potential immortal.

The only open question is how intelligent they actually are. The naive answer is that any corporation is at least as intelligent as its most intelligent employee; but anyone who has actually worked for a modern corporation will know just how far from the truth this is. As stupid as their stupidest manager is maybe closer to the truth. So there's some hope there.

I'm sure I'm not the first on LW to draw this parallel...

Comment author: Chrysophylax 29 January 2013 07:21:43PM -1 points [-]

Large corporations are not really very like AIs at all. An Artificial Intelligence is an intelligence with a single utility function, whereas a company is a group of intelligences with many complex utility functions. I remain unconvinced that aggregating intelligences and applying the same terms is valid - it is, roughly speaking, like trying to apply chromodynamics to atoms and molecules. Maximising shareholder value is also not a simple problem to solve (if it were, the stock market would be a lot simpler!), especially since "shareholder value" is a very vague concept. In reality, large corporations almost never seek to maximise shareholder value (that is, in theory one might, but I can't actually imagine such a firm). The relevant terms to look up are "satisficing" and "principal-agent problem".

This rather spoils the idea of firms being intelligent - the term does not appear applicable (which is, I think, Eliezer's point).

Comment author: HBDfan 28 April 2013 03:58:01PM 1 point [-]

Corporations do not have utility function, or they do not have a single utility function. They have many utility functions. You might "money pump" the corporation.

Comment author: Wind 11 June 2016 10:01:26AM 1 point [-]

How said anything about AI?

Super Intelligence = A General intelligence, that is much smarter than any human.

I consider my self to be an intelligence, event though my mind is made of many sub-processes, and I don't have a stable coherent utility function (I am still working on that).

The relevant questions are: It is sometimes useful to model corporations as single agents? - I don't know. Are corporations much smarter than any human? - No, they are not.

I say "sometimes useful", because, some other time you would want to study the corporations internal structure, and then it is defiantly not useful to see it as one entity. But since there are no fundamental indivisible substance of intelligence, any intelligence will have internal parts. Therefore having internal parts can not be exclusive to being an intelligent agent.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 12 June 2016 11:54:30AM *  1 point [-]

The only sense in which all AIs have utility functions is a sense in which they are describable as having UFs, in a 'map' sense.

Comment author: AshwinV 11 February 2014 12:11:30PM 0 points [-]

What about this version:

The modern corporation is as intelligent as its leader, but has a learning/doing disability in areas such as __ {fill in areas looked after by least intelligent employees who have a free hand in decision making in those areas}.

I know this isnt a perfect version, but I feel that some thought needs to go into judging the performance ability of different corporations.

I dont think they resemble anything like an AI, or anyhting at all in the sense in which the phrase AI was originally coined, but it is sometimes useful to think of corporations as people.

Legally speaking companies are treated as juristic people. This is true of my jurisdiction and my guess that it is so for most.