Political economy has a huge problem, that of rationality: How to design an intelligent system which can achieve both justice and efficiency? The basic solutions on the table are:
- Institutional intelligence (planned economy)
- Swarm intelligence (market economy)
Both of these have great and well-known flaws. Planned economy is too slow and clumsy, market economy is too unrestrained (i.e. evil) and also vulgar. On top of that, both systems have their peculiar ways of corrupting the power and infantilizing the people.
A third solution is to make a compromise, where market forces are intelligently restrained, that is, where a government institution strategically adjusts taxes and other regulations. This might be a good idea, but it can’t shake off this final leg iron: the demand for computation inflates the bureaucracy.
This, of course, is where computers come in. Today, I can make a user friendly database with functionality only dreamt of ten years ago. And ten years from now, my guess is that Google will provide a universal database, which one can feed complicated queries in an intuitive query-language (that is, not code), and 0.06 seconds later, recieve intelligent reports from. If there is geographical information in the report, one can immediately switch to GIS-view. If the information has a history, one can view it as a graph. If one has opted for a high-security Google account (or family of accounts), one can safely put in one’s own classified information, and so use it as a personalized database. This will be divine grace to all bureaucracies (the threat of hackers notwithstanding).
Ten years after that, then, AI will have reached a broadly functional level, and therefore it will quickly be omnipresent — a lot quicker than the Internet managed this. The details of how this massive change will manifest is impossible to foresee. But I suspect it will be a powerful advantage for all things bureaucratical. I dare say this augurs a rapid regeneration of institutional intelligence. Maybe this time the dream of a truly conscious society will be (technically) realizable.
Political platonists of all sorts should rejoice.