ISBN 978-1-944373-30-6 • Defragmenter Media, 2019 • 322 pages
The image of the “megacorp” – the ruthless, sinister, high-tech global conglomerate that’s grown so large and powerful that it has acquired the characteristics of a sovereign state – is one of the iconic elements of cyberpunk fiction. Such a megacorp maintains its own army, creates its own laws and currency, grants citizenship to employees and customers, and governs vast swaths of cyberspace and the physical world. If it allows traditional governments to survive in some vestigial form, it’s only so they can handle those mundane tasks that the megacorp doesn’t want to deal with itself. By these standards, contemporary companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, ExxonMobil, and Walmart aren’t (yet) “megacorps”; they’re the playthings that megacorps gobble up to use for spare parts.
This volume develops a comprehensive intellectual history of the megacorp. It locates forebears of the cyberpunk megacorp not only in earlier fictional works like Čapek’s R.U.R. (1921) and Von Harbou’s Metropolis (1925) but in a string of real-world organizations ranging from the 17th-Century British and Dutch East India Companies to the Pullman Palace Car Company, the Ford Motor Company, and late 20th-Century Japanese keiretsu and South Korean chaebol – as well as in the nearly indestructible oligopolistic “megacorp” described in the pioneering theory of American economist Alfred Eichner.
By investigating the nature of the cyberpunk megacorp as a political entity, commercial entity, producer and exploiter of futuristic technologies, and generator or manipulator of culture, differences are highlighted between the megacorps of “classical” cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk fiction. Classical cyberpunk megacorps – portrayed in novels like Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, films like RoboCop and Johnny Mnemonic, and games like Cyberpunk, Cyberspace, and Syndicate – are often ostentatiously malevolent and obsessed with short-term financial profits to the exclusion of all else; the over-the-top depictions of such companies serve a dramatic purpose and are not offered by their authors as serious futurological studies. On the other hand, the more nuanced and philosophically rich portrayals of megacorps in post-cyberpunk works like Shirow’s manga The Ghost in the Shell reveal companies that are less overtly evil, possess a broader and more plausible range of long-term strategic goals, and coexist alongside conventional governments in a state of (begrudging) mutual respect. Yet other works like the game Shadowrun depict companies that combine elements of both classical cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk megacorps.
Drawing on such analyses, the volume concludes by exploring how the idea of the post-cyberpunk megacorp anticipated a new type of real-world megacorp – the unfathomably large, fast, and complex “rhizocorp” – that’s now being made possible through ongoing revolutions in the exploitation of robotics, AI, and the Internet of Things – and which threatens to become the dominant economic, political, and sociocultural power of our technologically posthumanized future world.
the VIII Scientific Conference on Modern Concepts and Management Methods: Management 4.0 – Modern Trends in Public, Social and Business Sector • Military University of Technology in Warsaw • December 6, 2018
ABSTRACT: The widespread application of Industry 4.0 technologies relating to social robotics, embodied AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), ubiquitous computing, and advanced human computer interfaces is giving rise to a growing range of “cyber-physical” entities. By building on established definitions and analyses of the cyber-physical system, cyber-physical-social system, cyber-physical society, and cyber-physical-social-thinking space, this text formulates a conceptual framework for understanding the emerging “Workforce 4.0” as a specialized type of “cyber-physical-social-intentional system.” Attention is given to the heterogeneous agency, technological posthumanization, functional decentralization, and planned architectures or spontaneously self-organizing topologies manifested by Workforce 4.0. It is shown how such a workforce is situated within the context of cyber-physical space, a cyber-physical organization, cyber-physical ecosystems, a cyber-physical society, and the larger cyber-physical world.
Kwartalnik Nauk o Przedsiębiorstwie 48 (2018), pp. 31-39; MNiSW 2016 List B: 12 points
ABSTRACT: Increasingly, organizations are becoming “technologically posthumanized” through the integration of social robots, AI, virtual reality, and ubiquitous computing into the workplace. Here a phenomenological approach is used to anticipate architectural transformations of the workplace resulting from posthumanization’s challenge to traditional anthropocentric paradigms of the workplace as a space that exists at “human” scale, possesses a trifold boundary, and serves as a spatiotemporal filter.
In Information Systems Architecture and Technology: Proceedings of 39th International Conference on Information Systems Architecture and Technology – ISAT 2018, Part III, edited by Zofia Wilimowska, Leszek Borzemski, and Jerzy Świątek • Springer International Publishing, 2018
ABSTRACT: The discipline of enterprise architecture (EA) provides valuable tools for aligning an organization’s business strategy and processes, IT strategy and systems, personnel structures, and organizational culture, with the goal of enhancing organizational agility, adaptability, and efficiency. However, the centralized and exhaustively detailed approach of conventional EA is susceptible to failure when employed in organizations demonstrating exceedingly great size, speed of operation and change, and IT complexity – a combination of traits that characterizes, for example, some emerging types of “technologized” oligopolistic megacorps reflecting the Industry 4.0 paradigm. This text develops the conceptual basis for a variant form of enterprise architecture that can be used to enact improved target architectures for organizations whose characteristics would otherwise render them “unmanageable” from the perspective of conventional EA. The proposed approach of “enterprise meta-architecture” (or EMA) disengages human enterprise architects from the fine-grained details of architectural analysis, design, and implementation, which are handled by artificially intelligent systems functioning as active agents rather than passive tools. The role of the human enterprise architect becomes one of determining the types of performance improvements a target architecture should ideally generate, establishing the operating parameters for an EMA system, and monitoring and optimizing its functioning. Advances in Big Data and parametric design provide models for enterprise meta-architecture, which is distinct from other new approaches like agile and adaptive EA. Deployment of EMA systems should become feasible as ongoing advances in AI result in an increasing share of organizational agency and decision-making responsibility being shifted to artificial agents.
ISBN 978-1-944373-21-4 • Second edition • Defragmenter Media, 2018 • 238 pages
Key organizational decisions made by sapient AIs. The pressure to undergo neuroprosthetic augmentation in order to compete with genetically enhanced coworkers. A corporate headquarters that exists only in cyberspace as a persistent virtual world. A project team whose members interact socially as online avatars without knowing or caring whether fellow team members are human beings or robots. Futurologists’ visions of the dawning age of ‘posthumanized’ organizations range from the disquieting to the exhilarating. Which of these visions are compatible with our best current understanding of the capacities and the limits of human intelligence, physiology, and sociality? And what can posthumanist thought reveal about the forces of technologization that are transforming how we collaborate with one another – and with ever more sophisticated artificial agents and systems – to achieve shared goals?
This book develops new insights into the evolving nature of intelligent agency and collaboration by applying the post-anthropocentric and post-dualistic methodologies of posthumanism to the fields of organizational theory and management. Building on a comprehensive typology of posthumanism, an emerging ‘organizational posthumanism’ is described which makes sense of the dynamics of technological posthumanization that are reshaping the members, personnel structures, information systems, processes, physical and virtual spaces, and external environments available to organizations. Conceptual frameworks and analytical tools are formulated for use in diagnosing and guiding the ongoing convergence in the capacities of human and artificial actors that is being spurred by novel technologies relating to human augmentation, synthetic agency, and digital-physical ecosystems. As the first systematic investigation of these topics, this text will be of interest to scholars and students of posthumanism and management and to management practitioners who must grapple on a daily basis with the forces of technologization that are increasingly powerful drivers of organizational change.
International Journal of Contemporary Management 16, no. 3 (2017), pp. 139-55; MNiSW 2016 List B: 14 points
ABSTRACT: Strategic management instruments (SMIs) are tools used to analyze an organization’s strategic situation, formulate effective strategies, and successfully implement them. Despite SMIs’ importance, there has been little systematic research into them – and especially regarding the impact of emerging technologies on SMIs. Here we investigate whether the forces of technological posthumanization that are creating a new class of ‘cyber-physical organizations’ can be expected to affect innovation in the use of SMIs within such organizations. Through a review of strategic management literature, we identify nearly 100 SMIs and categorize them according to their use in (a) strategic analysis, (b) strategy formulation, or (c) strategy implementation. Meanwhile, an analysis of cyber-physical systems and technological posthumanization reveals three dynamics that are converging to create an emerging class of cyber-physical organizations: (a) roboticization of the workforce; (b) deepening human-computer integration; and (c) the ubiquitization of computation. A framework is developed for mapping the impacts of these dynamics onto the inputs, agents, processes, and outputs involved with the three types of SMIs. Application of the framework shows that technological posthumanization should be expected to both facilitate and require innovation in cyber-physical organizations’ use of all three types of SMIs.
ISBN 978-1-944373-11-5 • Synthypnion Business, 2017 • 298 pages
The challenge of developing sound organizational strategy is growing increasingly difficult as accelerating technological change transforms the world’s competitive ecosystems in ways that render many traditional approaches to strategy obsolete. What are the concrete tools and techniques that a contemporary strategic analyst can employ to understand the critical elements of an organization’s internal structure and dynamics and external competitive environment – and to predict the ways in which they may evolve in the future? This book provides a practical step-by-step guide to using dozens of the most important tools for generating organizational insight and foresight, along with an investigation of their underlying nature and purpose. It serves as an accessible introduction for those seeking to learn the essentials of strategic analysis, as well as a comprehensive reference for the experienced organizational strategist.
The book employs the concept of the Strategic Futures Hub as a means for understanding eight domains that are key to the development of strategic foresight for any organization. These are: (1) an organization’s financial resources and realities; (2) its internal architecture and capacities; (3) its current and potential products; (4) consumers’ needs and anticipated future behaviors; (5) competitors and their expected future behaviors; (6) the current and future dynamics of the organization’s competitive ecosystem; (7) causal chains and possible, probable, and desirable organizational futures; and (8) potential organizational strategies. For each of these domains, the reader is taught when and why to choose (or avoid) specific techniques in order to answer a range of the most frequently encountered strategic questions. The volume explains not only traditional analytical tools like market opportunity analysis, benchmarking, resource analysis, stakeholder analysis, SWOT and PESTEL analyses, and the Delphi method, but also emerging techniques like internal prediction markets for organizations, as well as longer-range diagnostic tools from the field of futures studies, such as emerging issues analysis, backcasting, morphological analysis, the futures wheel, and cross-impact analysis.
The nature of each analytical technique is clearly and succinctly described, along with recommended approaches to its use and investigation of practical considerations such as the time commitment and skills required. Discussion of the techniques is enriched by a wealth of diagrams and extensive bibliographic references to the best contemporary scholarship and practice. While a few of the analytical techniques are targeted specifically at commercial enterprises, most will also be of great value to nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and other non-commercial entities that are seeking to better understand their current realities and prospective futures from a strategic perspective.
His Master’s Voice 4th Annual Symposium: Utopias, Dystopias, and Ecotopias • Facta Ficta Research Centre, Kraków • March 25, 2017
ABSTRACT: Creators of cyberpunk science fiction envision a near future in which technological, political, and economic change yield a powerful new type of organization: the megacorporation or ‘megacorp,’ which is frequently depicted as contributing to (and exploiting) the dystopian nature of its society. By analyzing such fictional works, we formulate a definition of the ‘megacorp’ along with two conceptual frameworks: (1) a model of the megacorp as cyber-physical organism; and (2) a typology that reveals the ways in which different kinds of megacorps generate dystopian or (limited) utopian dynamics within their cyber-physical ecosystems. In developing the first framework, concepts from artificial life and management cybernetics are employed to argue that some megacorps are presented as incorporating artificial agency into their organizational architecture in such ways that they do not simply act ‘like’ living organisms but indeed constitute massive synthetic life-forms that inhabit the globalized digital-physical ecosystems of the near future. In developing the second framework, it is noted that contemporary corporations typically pursue a narrow range of strategies for achieving financial profitability so they can purchase resources needed to adapt and grow. However, we contend that – as depicted in cyberpunk science fiction – dystopian megacorps have available to them a broader range of non-financial strategies that they exploit to subdue competitors and obtain the resources needed to survive, evolve, and grow.
Such strategies may employ approaches that are legal and political (e.g., extraterritoriality; corporate courts; corporate citizenship; EULAs; ownership of individuals’ genetic code, cybernetic augmentations, and output); paramilitary (deployment of private military, police, and security forces; cyberwarfare); geospatial (construction of facilities isolated in fortified, orbital, or undersea arcologies; use of ubiquitous sensors and effectors to convert the entire Internet of Things into a corporate facility; virtualization and nonlocalization of organizational architecture; construction of new digital-physical ecosystems to dominate); biological (engineering of biomedical dependencies among employees and consumers; creation of ‘walled-garden’ commercial ecosystems requiring genetic modification for entry); psychological and sociocultural (direct neurocybernetic access to a population’s sensory, cognitive, and motor activity; cultural engineering; memetic warfare); or technological and informatic (monopolization of core global ICT infrastructure; ‘megascale’ data mining, computational simulation, and prediction; automated decision-making by AI; workforce roboticization and cyborgization). Three ‘views’ for analyzing competitive strategies of a megacorp are presented, each of which utilizes two dimensions to distinguish four types of megacorps according to their interactions with their ecosystem and resulting generation of dystopian or utopian dynamics.
The framework is then applied to numerous megacorps described in cyberpunk RPGs, including Arasaka and WorldSat (from Cyberpunk 2020); Evo, NeoNET, Proteus, Renraku, Saeder-Krupp, and Shiawase (from Shadowrun); Belltower Associates, the Picus Group, Tai Yong Medical, and VersaLife (from Deus Ex); Anubis, Augustus, and Imperial (from Ex Machina); and Golden Promise (from Interface Zero).
It is hoped that such frameworks can facilitate efforts to: (1) analyze the roles that creators of cyberpunk science fiction envision for megacorps in their worlds’ ecosystems; (2) explicate how megacorps’ competitive strategies contribute to the dystopian nature of their societies; (3) anticipate new competitive strategies that may emerge if our world’s actual business ecosystems evolve to resemble those presented in cyberpunk fiction; and (4) recognize any real-world corporations that begin to acquire characteristics of (dystopian) megacorps.
ISBN 978-1-944373-07-8 • Synthypnion Academic, 2017 • 312 pages
This volume serves a resource for the design and analysis of neuroprosthetic supersystems, which can be defined as organizations – either small or large, simple or complex – whose human members have been neuroprosthetically augmented. While numerous other texts focus on the biomedical engineering of neuroprostheses as technological devices or on the biocybernetic engineering of the host-device system comprising a neuroprosthesis and its human host, this volume presents a unique investigation of the intentional creation of higher-order supersystems that allow multiple neuroprosthetically augmented human beings to interact with one another and with external information systems in order to accomplish some shared task. In essence, this can be understood as the work of designing and managing neuroprosthetically enhanced organizations.
Individual chapters present an ontology of the neuroprosthesis as a computing device; a biocybernetic ontology of the host-device system; an ontology of the neuroprosthesis as an instrument of ‘cyborgization’; motivating and inhibiting factors for the organizational deployment of posthumanizing neuroprostheses by military organizations and other early adopters; an introduction to enterprise architecture in the context of technological posthumanization; an exploration of the implications of neuroprosthetic augmentation for enterprise architecture; and considerations for the development of effective network topologies for neuroprosthetically augmented organizations.
The conceptual frameworks formulated within this book offer a wide range of tools that can be of use to policymakers, ethicists, neuroprosthetic device manufacturers, organizational decision-makers, and others who must analyze or manage the complex legal, ethical, and managerial implications that result from the use of emerging neuroprosthetic technologies within an organizational context.
ISBN 978-1-944373-05-4 • Second edition • Defragmenter Media, 2016 • 442 pages
What are the best practices for leading a workforce in which human employees have merged cognitively and physically with electronic information systems and work alongside social robots, artificial life-forms, and self-aware networks that are ‘colleagues’ rather than simply ‘tools’? How does one manage organizational structures and activities that span both actual and virtual worlds? How are the forces of technological posthumanization transforming the theory and practice of management?
This volume explores the reality that an organization’s workers, managers, customers, and other stakeholders increasingly comprise a complex network of human agents, artificial agents, and hybrid human-synthetic entities. The first part of the book develops the theoretical foundations of an emerging ‘organizational posthumanism’ and presents conceptual frameworks for understanding and managing the evolving workplace relationship between human and synthetic beings. Subsequent chapters investigate concrete management topics such as the likelihood that social robots might utilize charismatic authority to inspire and lead human workers; potential roles of AIs as managers of cross-cultural virtual teams; the ethics and legality of entrusting organizational decision-making to spatially diffuse robots that have no discernible identity or physical form; quantitative approaches to comparing the managerial capabilities of human and artificial agents; the creation of artificial life-forms that function as autonomous enterprises which evolve by competing against human businesses; neural implants as gateways that allow their human users to participate in new forms of organizational life; and the implications of advanced neuroprosthetics for information security and business model design.
As the first comprehensive application of posthumanist methodologies to the field of management, this volume will be of use to scholars and students of contemporary management and to management practitioners who must increasingly understand and guide the forces of technologization that are rapidly reshaping organizations’ form, dynamics, and societal roles.
Creatio Fantastica no. 3(50) (2015)
ABSTRACT: While it is possible to understand utopias and dystopias as particular kinds of sociopolitical systems, in this text we argue that utopias and dystopias can also be understood as particular kinds of information systems in which data is received, stored, generated, processed, and transmitted by the minds of human beings that constitute the system’s ‘nodes’ and which are connected according to specific network topologies. We begin by formulating a model of cybernetic information-processing properties that characterize utopias and dystopias. It is then shown that the growing use of neuroprosthetic technologies for human enhancement is expected to radically reshape the ways in which human minds access, manipulate, and share information with one another; for example, such technologies may give rise to posthuman ‘neuropolities’ in which human minds can interact with their environment using new sensorimotor capacities, dwell within shared virtual cyberworlds, and link with one another to form new kinds of social organizations , including hive minds that utilize communal memory and decision-making. Drawing on our model, we argue that the dynamics of such neuropolities will allow (or perhaps even impel) the creation of new kinds of utopias and dystopias that were previously impossible to realize. Finally, we suggest that it is important that humanity begin thoughtfully exploring the ethical, social, and political implications of realizing such technologically enabled societies by studying neuropolities in a place where they have already been ‘pre-engineered’ and provisionally exist: in works of audiovisual science fiction such as films, television series, and role-playing games.
In Proceedings of the 10th European Conference on Management Leadership and Governance, edited by Visnja Grozdanić, pp. 428-35 • Reading: Academic Conferences and Publishing International Limited, 2014
ABSTRACT: The human beings who manage global virtual teams regularly face challenges caused by factors such as the lack of a shared language and culture among team members and coordination delay resulting from spatial and temporal divisions between members of the team. As part of the ongoing advances in artificial agent (AA) technology, artificial agents have been developed whose purpose is to assist the human managers of virtual teams. In this paper, we move a step further by suggesting that new capabilities being developed for artificial agents will eventually give them the ability to successfully manage virtual teams whose other members are human beings. In particular, artificial agents will be uniquely positioned to take on roles as managers of cross-cultural, multilingual, global virtual teams, by overcoming some of the fundamental cognitive limitations that create obstacles for human beings serving in these managerial roles.
In order to effectively interact with human team members, AAs must be able to decode and encode the full spectrum of verbal and nonverbal communication used by human beings. Because culture is so deeply embedded in all human forms of communication, AAs cannot communicate in a way that is “non-cultural”; an AA that is capable of communicating effectively with human team members will necessarily display a particular culture (or mix of cultures), just as human beings do. Already researchers have designed AAs that can display diverse cultural behaviors through their use of language, intonation, gaze, posture, emotion, and personality. The need for AA team leaders to display cultural behavior raises the key question of which culture or cultures the AA leader of a particular human virtual team should display. We argue that the answer to this question depends on both the cultural makeup of a team’s human members and the methods used to share information among team members.
To facilitate the analysis of how an AA team leader’s cultural behaviors can best be structured to fit the circumstances of a particular virtual team, we propose a two-dimensional model for designing suites of cultural behaviors for AAs that will manage human virtual teams. The first dimension describes whether an AA deploys the same cultural behaviors for its dealings with all team members (“objectivity”) or customizes its cultural display for each team member (“ personalization”). The second dimension describes whether the AA always displays the same culture to a given team member (“invariance”), or possesses a repertoire of cultural guises for a particular team member, from which it chooses one to fit the current situation (“situationality”). The two dimensions of objective-personalized and invariant-situational cultural behaviors yield four archetypes for AAs leading virtual human teams. We consider examples of each type of AA, identify potential strengths and weaknesses of each type, suggest particular kinds of virtual teams that are likely to benefit from being managed by AAs of the different types, and discuss empirical study that can test the validity and usefulness of this framework.
In Proceedings of the Fourteenth International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems, edited by Hiroki Sayama, John Rieffel, Sebastian Risi, René Doursat and Hod Lipson, pp. 417-18 • Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2014
ABSTRACT: In this work we demonstrate the theoretical possibility and explore the implications of developing artificial life that functions as an autonomous business within the real-world human economy. By drawing on the Viable Systems Approach (VSA), we introduce the new concept of an “organism-enterprise” that exists simultaneously as both a life-form and a business. We then reconceptualize the anthropocentric understanding of a “business” in a way that allows an artificial life-form to constitute a “synthetic” organism-enterprise (SOE) just as a human being functioning as a sole proprietor constitutes a “natural” organism-enterprise. Practical obstacles to the creation of SOEs are considered, along with possible means of surmounting them. SOEs would move a step beyond current examples of artificial life that produce goods or services within a simulated world or play a limited role within a human business: rather than competing against artificial organisms in a virtual world, SOEs could evolve through competition against human businesses in the real-world economy. We consider concrete examples of SOEs and conclude by highlighting legal, economic, and ethical issues that arise when a single economic ecosystem is shared by competing human and artificial life. The concept of an “organism-enterprise.” A business is defined as “the organized effort … to produce and sell, for a profit, the goods and services that satisfy society’s needs” (Pride, et al. 2014). Management theorists have drawn on biology to better understand the structure and function of such business organizations. Our research utilizes a systems theory grounded in neurophysiology, the Viable Systems Approach (VSA), that allows us to understand a business as an autopoietic organism or “system” that dwells within the ecosystem of a larger economy or “suprasystem” (Beer, 1981; Barile, et al. 2012). Within this ecosystem, a business must compete against other organisms for limited resources and adapt to environmental demands. In our human economy, individual businesses are born, grow, and die, and taken as a whole, this array of businesses forms an evolvable system.
We begin by considering one unique instance in which a business is not simply “analogous to” a living organism, but identical to it: namely, the case of a human being who functions as a sole proprietor. In this situation, a single system simultaneously satisfies all the requirements of being both a life-form and a business. Building on this case, we introduce the idea of a unitary “organism-enterprise,” a concept that is already instantiated in the form of at least 20 million “human organism-enterprises” within the United States alone. Reconceptualizing business to include synthetic organism-enterprises. Utilizing VSA and the concept of an organism-enterprise, we analyze the traditional anthropocentric understanding of business as an exclusively human activity to consider whether an artificial life-form could serve as a “synthetic organism-enterprise” (SOE) that is both a life-form and a business. We show that this is indeed possible, but requires us to transform our understanding of business. For example, human businesses are traditionally described as requiring four kinds of resources: 1) human; 2) material; 3) financial; and 4) information. To replace this anthropocentric understanding, we propose that a business be understood more generally as requiring: 1) agent resources; 2) material resources; 3) value-storing media; and 4) information. Similarly, a human business requires functional units filling roles in production, finance, marketing, human capital management, and information technology.
Drawing on VSA and the case of a human sole proprietor, we consider the ways in which these functions can be understood more generically, in such a way that they can also be performed by current and proposed forms of artificial life. We give particular attention to the role of “profit” in a human business and formulate an account of its correlate for an SOE: it is the difference between resources expended and received in exchanges in the suprasystem that provides an SOE with a potential for growth and insurance against environmental uncertainties. Figure 1 provides an overview of our reconceptualized “business process cycle,” which can be carried out equally well by either a human business or an artificial life-form that has been designed or evolved to fill a business role within a larger economic ecosystem.