Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet.—-Agent Smith, The Matrix
One morning I woke up suddenly at 4am. A dream brought me An Idea, and I could not shake it away. As the hours went by, I became convinced it would make a crazy yet quite interesting plan for scientific research.
Here it comes:
With support from international free trade agreements, strong homogeneizing cultural influences, but especially the software revolution and the Internet, we have seen recently the rise of giant international organizations like IBM, SAP, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Samsung and Apple with a totally unprecedented impact on human society. Even during the middle ages, the most successful church or lord would never have dreamt to control the wealth production commitment of a few hundred thousands peons at a time, a mere trifle for today’s mega-corporations.
Only idealists are left to pretend these entities are still under control of people, and that their impact on society can be regulated only using laws made by people for people. The growing consensus is that once an organization gets large enough it gets “a life of its own,” starts to escape regulation and displaces the responsibility for its continued existence from the conscious hands of its owners towards a nebulous corporate identity.
We need to better understand these organizations, both to predict their future evolutions and to design regulatory systems to keep them in check. For this purpose, I propose the following novel theory: that large public-facing IT organizations, when modeled as a symbiosis between a) evolving complex systems of human thought and knowledge, ie. memeplexes and b) evolving complex systems of software code and IT infrastructure, ie. techplexes, are subject to diseases with causes and outcomes predictable using biological models. In particular, I propose to recognize separately congenial affects due to “genetic” mishaps, and viral and parasitic affects due to “external” influences.
The idea to view memplexes, ie. complex organizations of human thoughts, as evolving para-biological systems is not new, but is limited: memeplexes are not bounded to a particular organization. The innovation in my idea is to recognize that techplexes are the stuff that create a social identity to the memeplexes of IT megacorps, although techplexes cannot themselves exist without their managing humans and their knowledge/thoughts. That’s why I am quite convinced they interact in symbiosis, ie. they form a symbiont.
From this we could do scientific research as follows.
- we could formalize the theory by establishing which traits of mega-corporations should be part of the para-biological model, and clearly defining the terms and concepts particular to memeplex-techplex symbionts.
- we could test this theory retrospectively, by studying systemic problems encountered in the past large corporations.
- we could apply this theory by considering, of course “only as an intellectual exercise,” whether diseases specific to these para-organisms could be engineered and used to regulate them in lieu of traditional legal frameworks.
That’s right: create “diseases” that stunt the development of large megacorps and prevent them from hurting society.
As I am writing this here I realize there are interesting parallels with Asimov’s Foundation. If you haven’t read it yet, check it out!
So what do you think? Did I miss something? Is any part unclear? Leave your comments below.