I love it when the abstract for a scientific paper reads like the opening to a Charles Stross novel. Case in point is the paper that computer scientist Benjamin Kuipers posted the other day on arXiv:
An existing, ecologically-successful genus of collectively intelligent artificial creatures
People sometimes worry about the Singularity [Vinge, 1993; Kurzweil, 2005], or about the world being taken over by artificially intelligent robots. I believe the risks of these are very small. However, few people recognize that we already share our world with artificial creatures that participate as intelligent agents in our society: corporations. Our planet is inhabited by two distinct kinds of intelligent beings —- individual humans and corporate entities —- whose natures and interests are intimately linked. To co-exist well, we need to find ways to define the rights and responsibilities of both individual humans and corporate entities, and to find ways to ensure that corporate entities behave as responsible members of society.
Kuipers studies AI, so he knows one when he sees one. I'm glad his outlook is so positive on our future relationships with corporations, but I can't shake myself of the feeling that this is some kind of weird Singulatarian rejoinder to the Occupy movement.
(spotted on Samuel Arbesman's Twitter feed!)