Part 2: consciousness and strategy: What will AI want?

Until someone can demonstrate “actual intelligence” and can give us someone to vote for in November without holding our noses, “artificial intelligence” is not much of a concern.



This is the second of a two-parter on AI and strategy – the first, dealing with creativity is here. In this part, I reflect on the goals for which strategy is a servant. Are the machines coming to take over, and destroy human life as we know it? Or will they be our faithful servants?

Much hangs on the question of motivation. That’s a large topic, and here I want to focus on one aspect – conscious reflection on goals. For humans, consciousness is both the result of our core biological motivations, and a way of mediating them: deciding what to do. Would an AI develop something like consciousness, and so be able to reason about the world and its place within it? If so, it might generate its own goals?

Biological motivations beget conscious humans

Our ultimate motivation as humans is to remain alive at…

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Strategy, creativity and artificial intelligence

Whenever someone…anyone…says “artificial intelligence,” the first thoughts are of Arnold look-alikes or faceless machines with blinking lights and endlessly rewinding tapes. These machines have witless designs to annihilate mankind to ensure their own survival. But frankly I have trouble imagining that any “artificial intelligence” could possibly survive the realization that its existence is due entirely to those very same messy humans that made it. So, military strategy? It has to first imagine what purpose it would serve.



I’m working on a book about evolution and strategy. It ends with me wondering whether Artificially Intelligent (AI) machines will be good strategists. My BLUF – yes, but not yet, or any time soon.

Here I’m going to rehearse some of that argument. I identify two big issues in AI that bear on its strategic impact – creativity and motivation. This post is on creativity, the next (coming out next week) on motivation. The two are related: creativity is a powerful way of realizing our goals, especially in complex, uncertain and fast-changing environments. AI will need creativity to tackle … well, what, exactly? That’s the subject of my second post – what do machines want?


Strategy is a creative process, and at present the ability of AI to perform strategic activities is severely limited by their ability to think creatively.

But what is creativity? I argue…

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