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Decision Engines: Digitized Leaders Uphold the Status Quo

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In fifteen minutes, I will be interviewing the woman who many argue is responsible for a considerable part of the way the world is today: Dr. Autumn Carolus, inventor of the program now known as the “Decision Digitizer,” or “D-D” or “Double D” for short among those elite who are interested and can afford to license it. In the twenty years since Dr. Carolus’s algorithms and associated software moved out of the testing phase, the D-D has been responsible for a most profound behind-the-scenes transformation of our society. Her patent, filed in August of 2010 and headed by the statement “A set of algorithms and supporting procedures and methods that produces a mathematical reproduction of an individual person’s thought process based on all previous known inputs to a given problem with given variables” is now famous for its implications, many of which have come to fruition. The minds of entrepreneurial wunderkinds and crisis-besting leaders have been approximated and kept as decision engines by governments and corporations alike in order to retain passed souls as advisors. No layperson knows for sure, but advocates from the higher echelons of world political and corporate leadership swear that more than a few economic opportunities have been seized and disasters averted by picking the reproduced brains (if you will) of former tried-and-true leaders. The idea is captivating by itself. Imagine a political crisis in which the advice of Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill could be taken, or even where the thought process of a generally accepted poor leader could be thrown in for good measure to reckon what not to do (a senior administration official says that a D-D of Sarah Palin has been used in some international diplomacy meetings). Even though these reproductions are not at the helm like their organic counterparts once were, they are a highly respected voice at any decision-making round table discussion, or as trusted advisors to individual leaders. George Washington used to regularly listen to the words of Thomas Jefferson and those of Alexander Hamilton as a point and counterpoint. The President can now listen to Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama anytime she wishes – and doesn’t risk losing respect or political capital with either of them if she doesn’t take sides. How it works is conceptually simple, although in practice the details are what make the difference. In an ideal case, an individual who makes decisions on a regular basis has the questions, their many variables – everything from time of day and weather forecast to the movement of troops, stock market trends, and voter opinion polls – and the decision made on the question all recorded quantitatively; that is, turned from qualitative concepts to numbers and equations. If the same question has to be answered many times, perhaps daily (should we buy or sell our stock?), the variable set becomes common and only the values and decisions themselves change. Even for questions only answered a few times in a 35-year career, many of the variables are common, so they relate to many of the other decisions the individual has made. Dr. Carolus’s Decision Digitizer takes all of that raw data, puts it thorough the paces of many different algorithms and approximations, and spits out a suite of equations that are meant to approximate, as best as is possible from the given data, the way that individual made decisions.  The previous examples of Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill do exist as D-D decision engines, but their mathematical representations have a far lower “resolution” than individuals whose every decision has been recorded with the goal of eventually running the output through a D-D. Most every commentator and news analyst has unquestioningly applauded the invention and application of the D-D as giving humanity a powerful tool in the great game of reason against our environment.  It is true that the decisions our leaders have made with the power of many unemotional minds behind them have been less errant in general than those made by leaders in the 5,000 years of recorded history before our time.  When I sit opposite Dr. Carolus, however, I do not intend to sing on-key with my colleagues in the industry. I see another word for “inerrant:” stagnation.  Since the beginning of time a defining factor of how our civilization evolves has been the regular entry and exit of generations, shaped by experiences and the study of the works of their forebears.  That is the most significant reason why women got the vote.  That is why gay marriage is no longer illegal.  The work of our current and past leaders, and that of individual citizens working towards some larger goal, is naturally a driving force to cause these societal changes, but they would never happen so quickly, if at all, if it were not for the simple fact that people die and are gone.  Old attitudes, old realities, old men and women – they go as their young successors take their rightful place in society.  That is how change happens.  That is how we adapt as a species.  That is how evolution works. Now, I fear that the giants of our past will always cast a shadow over the present and the future, a shadow that would normally fade and disappear as the Sun sets behind their legacy.  That shadow will now simply become one of many shadows whose effect is not to shrink and fade, but rather to be counted as one of an increasing number of demigods that will chain us to the Earth and never let us fly. I’m being called in.  Time to see if the world still cares about the future.
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Written by Preston

July 27th, 2009 at 7:59 pm

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