Ideas on Artificial intelligences and Political Organization as Inspired by the Science Fiction of Iain Banks

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* Article: Artificial intelligences and political organization: An exploration based on the science fiction work of Iain M. Banks. By Yannick Rumpala. Technology in Society 02/2012; 34(1):23–32. DOI: 10.1016/j.techsoc.2011.12.005



"This paper, using science fiction as a heuristic support for exploring technical potentialities, is based on part of the works of Iain M. Banks, the novels of the “Culture series”, in order to examine the role of artificial intelligences and the effects they could have on the life of a community from a political point of view. This series of science fiction novels portrays a galactic civilization based on anarchistic principles in which intelligent machines are largely responsible for managing the tasks linked to the handling of community affairs, thus freeing up the population to pursue more spiritual or fun activities. The first part of this paper shows that beyond the elements included in the stories, the Culture novels can be a way to address political questions that are raised by the widespread presence of highly evolved machines in the organization of a society. The second part, which takes into consideration the supposed founding principles of this civilization, examines the anarchist thought in order not only to display the correspondences between this thought and the vision of Iain M. Banks, but also to show that the various anarchistic currents are in a way outdistanced by the emerging challenges posed by these novels. The third part, written again from a political standpoint, attempts to establish more concrete connections, based on discernable evolutions in computerization or automation of technological systems, which seem to be working their way into a growing number of social processes and their regulation."