by James Jaeger

For some time, I have been interested in developing an AI program which I call WHO OWNS WHO. I have started putting it together in my mind and on paper but eventually will need to hire AI programmers to finish it.

Basically the way it works is the program gathers corporate financials, such as 10-Ks and annual reports, and begins entering data of a) what the subject entity directly owns and b) who directly owns the subject entity. The list of a) would include subsidiaries, research venture L.P.s, investments, etc., and the list of b) would include stockholders inside and outside the corporation. Key officers and directors who are beneficial owners (as well as their minor children) would also be assembled.

The program would then start assembling a visual/audio "chart" showing how these various entities were related using a system of inner-connected icons showing lines of ownership and lines of voting control. It would most likely end up being a 3D "chart" and in virtual reality. I would think you would have to literally model the physical reality in virtual reality so you could "walk" through the corporate ownership universe and see as well as hear the salient financial ownership, relationships, interlocking directorates and beneficial control. Audio tones might be used to portray certain data, perhaps the temporal axis or data reliability in connection with certain entities with certain conclusions.

I would then opt to put this entire virtual reality map of the corporate ownership/control world on the Internet, similar to what has been done at Active Worlds at http://www.activeworlds.com only it would be a financial landscape.

We could then make a game out of inviting potentially hundreds of millions of people connected to the Net to provide a continuous stream of input and in exchange for the information, they would get to view the emerging picture of WHO owned EVERYTHING. Since the program was AI, it could probably weed out repetitive, erroneous, irrelevant, obsolete and inconsistent data using powerful inference engines. Thus the inputs from millions of people might be viable AND prolific. Eventually, as data was entered, we might be able to see exactly what entity, or person, actually owned or "controlled the world," or at least owned or controlled its means of production and/or resources. I think this would be fascinating public knowledge!

In order to write such an AI inference engine, it would probably cost a reasonable sum, but once we started closing in on who "owned the planet" there are several ways we might be able to recoup and even go into profits. The most obvious way might be simply selling the information to each person who contributed data. For say $20 they would be able to view the WHO OWNS WHO progress and if they contributed (valid) data they would get to view the progress at a discount, for say $10. You get millions of people paying these small fees and contributing the data and it adds up.

Another way we might get paid is from "hush money" from the entity or entities (or the people connected with same), who we were closing in on. Sort of like that scene in NO WAY OUT where the CIA computer is slowly resolving the Polaroid negative and closing in on Gene Hackman's character. Fortunately or unfortunately, I'm reasonably sure someone has already done all or part of this, at least covertly. Even so, that should be no deterrent to doing it again or doing it better or even publicly. I would think it could be done any number of times by any number of different groups because, if it HAS been done previously, yet we have not heard about it (in the media, books or studies -- have we?), then we may be able to conclude that hush money was already paid to someone. Thus if one were to do it again, the entities and people involved might continue paying hush money . . . this is, give they even care if they are "resolved."

Calculus, the study of limits, tells us that there actually IS one (1) entity AND one (1) person that owns and/or controls (two different things) the world at each and any given moment. Ironically, that entity and person, more than likely, is NOT even aware of their status because a) only artificial intelligence would have the capability of data-mining the vast amounts of data that could ascertain such and b) such status would probably change very quickly, probably every banking day (in other words, in the average time it took all of the banks in the world to clear their transactions each fiscal day). Nevertheless, we would probably find that their was at least a revolving, finite set of entities, maybe 10, and that, within this set, there would be a revolving, finite set of actual people (some percentage of which would remain in control of a majority of the revolving entity sets over the long-term, as defined). Again, these people and entities probably have no idea of who they are -- unless, of course, again, someone has already constructed a WHO OWNS WHO program.

Further discussion on WHO OWNS WHO is at the MIND-X at http://www.kurzweilai.net

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