By Frank Conner
The recent demonstrations against corporate greed here and in Europe give us an opportunity to study one aspect of the changes coming with the new age; Duality versus Unity. The old model of duality is apparent as the demonstrators protest against wrongs. What might the demonstrations look like if Unity, working together, became the guiding principle? Science fiction can give us some insight when we look at some stories that deal with the theme of artificial life (corporations) vs. humanity.
Some science fiction writers have known all along that if we create an artificial life, it may well decide that humanity is its enemy or that the future of humanity is not its concern. There have been popular television and movie series that were based on this idea.
“Battlestar Galactica” was a long running television series based on the idea that the artificial servants that humans created evolved to the point that the mechanical robots decided to stop being servants. They became aggressors, attacking and destroying humanity to win their freedom.
The movie trilogies “The Matrix” and “Terminator” are popular movies based on the idea that man created an artificial life form which eventually turned against humanity. Mankind’s greatest achievement of creating artificial intelligence became its downfall. These stories are consistent with duality thinking; friend or enemy, either/or, us or them.
Another perspective comes from Isaac Asimov, a science fiction author, who wrote several stories about man developing robots. In his stories, the human developers were wise enough to realize that if you build an autonomous robot that is stronger, faster and smarter (computer-wise) than humans, you need to build in some safeguards to protect humans. Asimov developed the three laws of robotics.
His three laws state that robots may not injure a human being or through inaction allow a human to come to harm, that robots must obey orders given to them by human beings except where such orders would violate the first law, and a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not violate the first or second law. In his stories, these laws were placed into the very core of the artificial brain of every robot to insure human safety.
Life seems to be imitating art. We have artificial life forms, corporations, which have legal standing as a person. Unfortunately, corporations were formed by people more like those from the worlds of the Matrix and Terminator than by people with the foresight of those in Asimov’s stories.
Our corporations follow their own principles of making money and growing more powerful. Since the corporations do not have anything like Asimov’s three laws, they can operate without any concern for humanity. According to the documentary “Corporations” courts have declared that a corporation does not need to consider benefit or danger to humanity as long as it follows its basic purpose of making money for its shareholders.
Every corporation begins by filing incorporation papers with state governments to achieve its legitimate status. Could we show the foresight of the people in Isaac Asimov’s stories and build some safeguards into the basic documents which legalize corporations?
What if there was a clause in every incorporation document that stated a corporation must operate for the good of humanity and cannot fail to act if the result is detrimental to present or future generations? Or insert some phrasing that states corporations may follow its own self interest of making profits and growing more powerful only if these do not endanger present or future humanity?
The conflict between corporations and humanity is beginning with the “Wall Street” protests. These protests right now seem to be following the duality model and creating a win/lose, us/them, situation. If we adopt a more Unity-minded approach, we might come up with ways to change corporations. We could then utilize the awesome economic power that corporations have demonstrated to serve the good of humanity; a win/win outcome much more in line with the new age.
Since finishing this piece I read an article in Natural Awakening magazine’s November issue titled “Fairer Trade.” This article talks about B-corporations. B stands for benefit for humanity. These corporations must operate for the good of society, not just their shareholders. B-Corporations have already been adopted in Maryland, New Jersey, Vermont and Virginia.