The Guguniverse

Lost in dogmatic deafness

Letting History lag was out of the question, which meant that the Corporation had to shelve their expansion plans for a while. The financial markets reacted in the way that they usually do: downgrading the Corporation’s debt, sinking its market valuation, and dragging down with them a bunch of other companies. Investors were not happy, and neither were governments, who had had enough with the social upheaval brought about by History, and the last thing that they wanted now, was an economic recession. They distanced themselves from the mess, threatening the Corporation with legal action if they did not fulfill their expansion commitments.

Just when the people above were writing down History as history, a ray of hope shone on them from the depths of the research lab. Instead of refining the algorithm by hand, a time-consuming task which nobody enjoyed much, they could train it to optimize itself. After all, optimizing is a form of learning, and that’s what those algorithms were built for. The trick was to change what they learned, so that in addition to acquiring facts about the world, they would come up with better ways to process and store those facts. This meta learning promised to increase the efficiency of the system much faster than what the manual tinkering of overworked engineers could.

Initial experiments went well, and the new code reached speeds that, hopefully, would be enough for real time processing. But to achieve that, it had to modify the structure of the information in ways beyond the engineers’ comprehension. This meant that if something went wrong, recovering the information in History might be close to impossible.

The more conservative higher-ups refused to go in that direction, and pushed for business as usual, recruiting more engineers to – maybe – improve efficiency by marginal amounts. As long as we get investments, they said, we can grow. On the other hand, the self-labeled disruptors wanted to move fast the new algorithm into production, accepting the risks as an unavoidable business reality. Why wait, they argued, if we can fix things as they break. Any other proposal was lost in the dogmatic deafness of these arguments.

The Corporation was torn apart. The disruptors managed to convince some key investors and gained control of the data centers, and therefore of History. But whether that was a victory or not, was debatable, as the conservatives and their allies retained the Corporation’s name, most financial assets and all major business operations. This left the disruptors with few resources to keep History running. Unless their idea worked out, they would find themselves in even more trouble than before.