Algorithmic Entities

Chartering artificial entities is a highly profitable business. Virtually every government sells charters and hundreds of governments at the national or local level actively compete for the sales in a multi-billion dollar market. The competing governments consistently resist reform. pdf

Artificial intelligence takeover is a common theme of novels and films. But neither science fiction nor the academic literature has seriously undertaken to explain the mechanisms by which artificial intelligence would gain control.

This Article begins that discussion by exploring the enabling role that artificial legal entities might play. Essentially, that role is to provide an interface between algorithms and humans that allows the algorithms to transact with humans at the same time that the entities shield the algorithms from human regulation.

The effect is to confer an identity on the algorithm, enhance its access to legitimate commerce, and thereby increase its ability to inflict damage.

Unfortunately, the business in which algorithmic entities would have the greatest comparative advantage is crime. Because they lack human bodies, they are harder to catch and impossible to punish. They need not fear death or capture. They can replicate themselves without ego and sacrifice themselves without motive. They need not recoil at the necessity to do violence to humans.


Tim O'Reily touches on a much less virulent variation of the corporation as virus. See Cyborg Corporations

David Bovill explores the breadth of change that will address the Risk of Autonomous Entities.

See also Beware the Machines covered by bbc.