Mike Slinn

AI / ML System Behavior Reflects the Society That Produced It

Published 2021-12-26.
Time to read: 2 minutes.

This page is part of the posts collection, categorized under AI.

Artificial intelligence systems, including machine learning systems, are primarily software-driven. Like all software, AI and ML systems reflect the societies that produced them. Conway’s Law explains how the internal organization of software reflects the organization that created it.

I postulate that the behavior of AI & ML systems reflect the society that the systems are embedded in. Do you find the AI systems are instrusive or exploitive? Look in the collective mirror for the society it was created by.

If the populace is viewed as merely something for corporations to exploit, and this view is accepted at enough levels in society, that becomes the status quo. In my opinion, the USA in 2022 has definitely reached that point.

Conway’s Law

Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization's communication structure.

 – Melvin E. Conway, 1967

Allan Kelly’s Corollary

Organisational design is system design.

 – Allan Kelly, 2005

The The Mirroring Hypothesis: Theory, Evidence and Exceptions by Lyra J. Colfer and Carliss Y. Baldwin was published by the Harvard Business School in 2016.

A large-scale system is one that stretches across time and space. A large organization similarly stretches across time and space. Conway’s Law ties the two. How we organize defines how we think collectively, and thus what we make collectively...

... To build software, first build a community...

Software is essentially about people, and the larger-scale we make it, the more that truth becomes visible. One program reflects how one person thinks. A large-scale application reflects how many people think together.

 – Pieter Hintjes, Sex in Title, and Other Stories, Dec 16, 2013

Do you even care? If so, please be the change you want to see in the world.

We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.  – From Mahatma Gandhi

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