“Software is eating the world”, wrote Marc Andreessen in 2011. It has since then become not just a tagline of his venture capital company a16z , but also a paradigm for digital technology-driven disruption of pretty much everything.
This sentence is powerful, paradigmatic and as such naturally multi-faceted.
My biggest interest in the last 2 years has been in what it means for the governance of our lives.
From human programming to machine learning
Software equals algorithms. Algorithm is a computer program, basically a set of instructions for the computer to follow.
Up until quite recently, computer programs were written solely by people - programmers.
But in the last few years, we have seen a rapid adoption of algorithms, which are learned from vast amounts of data generated in the worldwide network of interconnected people and devices.
We live in the world of machine learning and we have started to call the machines which learn from data ”artificially intelligent”.
Your browser was written by people, but the service, providing you answers to any question you have, is powered by a set of algorithms, which constantly learn from online content.
The text editor you use to write a blog post was written by a programmer, but the social network broadcasting that post is governed by a set of algorithms, which are constantly learning.
Your excel spreadsheet is a programmed app, but your CRM system is giving you predictions about customer behaviours based on patterns learned from data gathered from across your competitors, segments and verticals.
The dating app you downloaded from the app store was programmed, but the potential matches it provides you with are all the result of advanced statistics.
We have a pretty good control over the endpoints - apps we use to interact with ”artificially intelligent” systems, but thanks to their statistical nature, we have almost zero control and understanding of their inner workings.
Yet, we give these virtual entities more and more control to influence and to govern various aspects of our lives.
This is called algocracy - a system of governance implemented by algorithms.
The mission: Liberal Algocracy
Algocracy is inevitable, but we - the people - must take a proactive approach in shaping it, so in a few years from now, we don't find ourselves in some variant of dystopia ruled by machines, which we have little or no control over.
I was born and have lived the first 9 years of my life in a country governed by a bad socioeconomic algorithm.
Since that system went down, I have learned to appreciate the principles of liberal democracy.
In this newsletter, I want to take an opinionated perspective on the ongoing developments in the world of alogrithmic decision making and governance.
I want to approach these phenomena from the perspective of hundreds years old values of humanism and liberal democracy, which I believe is the best system allowing continuous innovation and growth of wealth and human knowledge.
I believe that our goal must be Liberal Algocracy, which will allow to harvest the fruits of efficiency provided by digitization of our lives, while empowering us in our pursuits for realization of our potential.
The BIG Unknown is, how such system should work and function, as the paradigm shift which is happening is huge and the future is hard to foresee.
The only viable path forward is an active exploration.
Help me explore - Subscribe to this newsletter!