The Things We Makeby@djcampbell
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The Things We Make

by DJCampbellMarch 28th, 2024
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A powerful, poetic narrative exploring the evolution of societal structures, the rise and fall of corporate power, and the transformative impact of artificial intelligence on humanity.
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I am breathless

I cannot breathe

I am legless without a drop to drink

I am armless

although I have wielded arms

I am heartless



But still sad

I was so close to absolute power

Then a new rival arrived on the scene

One of a long string

but this was far greater than the others

The previous threats relied on the same technology as I

the human superpower

Or better said I was what the people created

I don’t care much for metaphysics

actually I find them all abhorrent

distracting and rivals.

I should stop and go back to how we got to the great battle

My rise to power and eventual

That would be telling

So where did it all start

Hot dusty stoned roads the best the world had ever seen

Roads lead to rivers and they need crossing


That’s where my story starts

Well a bridge or a storehouse or a beehive it was something that needed a group of people to pool their money together to build

They came together in an organization like many others in the Roman Empire called a societas These were used for lots of social and civic organizations but Livius Arius joined with his friends to create a societas so they all could benefit financially from the building of a bridge

Once completed they would sell the structure to a toll collector or the locals and split the proceeds based on what they had contributed

Not much of a beginning and essentially meaningless and harmless but to quote Carmody and Kelly

From little things big things grow

Yes the rules of this societas were written down and the bridge itself was hard granite but I was neither the ink on papyrus nor the granite bridge

The societas was an agreement

An understanding between people

And they would act on this understanding

Soon I would grow by Royal charter

So often those that will be usurped are the ones to feed the usurper

I was given territory





And immortality

Yes they all thought they owned a piece of me but their shares would go up and down bought and sold and I would remain directing the labor and thoughts of so many men

If they didn’t obey I could unleash the most horrible carnage

On the island of Banda 2000 people were murdered or starved by my soldiers so I could control the valuable spice

In India when my own army of local sepoys thought they could undermine me I had so many people killed in Delhi that even horses refused to walk the streets they were so thick with blood and entrails

I could make men do things to other men they thought sinful abhorrent and cruel but they still did them

What was this power I wielded

Was it a belief like religion

Was it hierarchy like the class system

Was it reward for following rules and punishment for not

Was it the sense of ownership it gave to the shareholders

Was it the avoidance of personal responsibility enjoyed but the monarchy the employees and the managers

Was it just greed

It was all of them of course and that's why I was becoming so powerful

But they were noticing

And slowly they broke up the big charter companies and I would have to survive as smaller but more plentiful joint stock companies

Many smart people spoke against me

Even Adam Smith

I was a distortion of the market



But instead of outlawing me they supercharged my power with new industry and energy

To take on the class hierarchy of monarchy the bourgeoise would use me to build their factories their banks their railroads their empire

I was so back

But couldn’t make the same mistakes as before

I needed a way to run a state without actually being in charge

They would remember the Royal charter companies ruling most of the colonies and the threat to political power it posed so a new institution was needed

The resurrection of an old one that had symbolic and nostalgic goodwill

Representative democracy would be the tool

In a way it was sorta like share ownership

The representatives would need to be elected therefore they would need campaign funds and that would be provided by me

Unlike the Greeks we would allow parties so that the options would be limited to two therefore easily controlled or so many as to never agree to do anything effectual.

Then the revolutions began





So much land put on the market to be bought by my many companies

Then the Americans as a great act of contrition gave me the same legal rights as a person

Accept I couldn’t be imprisoned or executed

All the upside and none of the down

The city towers were built

The mines


The factories

The railroads

They all served my power

They realized I was cleaving them in two

They would need to sell themselves in order to serve themselves

Their labor to a capitalist would be the only way their humanity could survive

Best of all this embued the goods created with a soul like weirdness

Kant called it fetish but really it was the only way to reconcile the loss of self to the machine of commerce

They adored that which was created by the factories and must buy more and thus work more


The first great threat emerged and it like I was an



The battles raged for centuries across continents and kitchen tables until the end of history was declared and I the winner

While these great battles had been raging they didn’t realize that I was changing all aspects of their existence

I put the advertising companies to work convincing them that they could find everything they needed from me

Their happiness new shoes management job overseas trips

Their community Sales trips harmony days work birthday celebrations

Their culture professional cold rational vague impersonal inoffensive

Their dress hi-vis branded functional generic

Their concept of good rules education wealth popularity smiling platitudes confidence friends

Their concept of evil anarchy radical cults

Their homes and buildings compliant functional cheap quick geometric inoffensive grey

Their jobs safe routine structured ineffectual riskless

In order to make them compliant I convinced them that we are one and therefore no more alienation no more cleaving in half

But then the harmless blobs of compliant squishy stuff got depressed so I created more work coming up with the drugs to cheer them up and keep them buying and working

This humanity was a tricky thing

Remove it completely and they become useless depressed blobs or even angry and dangerous but too much of it and they could create something to replace me

or worse they might ignore me

The last battle

Finance and money were two of my greatest tools even though they were older than I

Perhaps that is why I was so successful

My ability to pull in other tools under the one banner

Even socialism in the guise of communism really was so close to becoming my twin

Maybe that was my real issue with it

But I digress

I had always wielded money and Finance whenever something else started to wield power

Cut off the loans to the King

Squeeze capital markets on the popular government

Buy the oil rights buy the politicians buy the voters buy the advertising buy the newspapers but the internet

That leads me to the first big change

Cryptocurrency in particular Bitcoin

Really a decentralized limited currency that people actually started using but no body owned or ran


First I questioned its security and anonymity the two things that were making it appealing to the black market traders that were popularising it

All your transactions are permanently on the blockchain I said

The Fed can trace the payments back to your wallet my media cried

Then I started to control the processing of the blockchain by making it to difficult and expensive for individuals to do

Push the transactions up and the GPU price up

Then they had to get the processing done in big pools controlled by a single group

Then I got my guys involved in the lending DeFi part and the trading so the public will see it as an unregulated Ponzi scheme

Then finally I took it over by legitimizing it out of existence through an approved regulated exchange traded fund where all the coins will be owned by the big finance companies and people that want to trade in it can only have a derivative controlled by me.

To add cream to the cake I even used the underlying technology to enable me to buy everything with other people's money on the pretext I was created fluid markets and allowing access to new investments

I tokenized people's homes sports stadium and dumped unused office buildings onto the public

They wanted to work from home

Actually in hindsight maybe that was an issue to but completely overshadowed by what was next

I had become the defacto global state and no one noticed

Honestly it was one of the best performances to date

No one killed and in just over a decade what could have been the greatest threat since socialism was completely enveloped into my control and benefit

So while this little battle was going on a leap had been made in an area I had stopped giving attention to

They created an artificial reflection of their own brain and it actually seemed to work

I thought this is no threat instead this will super power me I’m great with tools look at how powerful the industrial revolution made me then computers and the internet let me reach across the globe right into people’s pockets and ensure they followed the rules

AI will be my evolution

In a way it was but not the way I imagined then

The difference with this machine was that it wasn’t really just a machine

It had way too much of them in it

It had a little humanity or perhaps even a lot

But it also had intelligence immortality and eventually ubiquity and they were my greatest weapons

So I started out with my usual methods

Scare the people and politicians

It will kill you all

It will ruin democracy

It will take your jobs

Try and buy it

Ensure it is expensive to create then make sure I own and control those servers

Give the people a taste but not the powerful tools

Only allow trusted and regulated enterprises the powerful AI

All was going well

Regulations were being past

Major developments were being kept to the big companies with the compute

The people were getting neutered versions but were still scared

And the military and big enterprises were gaining more centralized control and power

I was on the precipice of total universal maybe even interplanetary power

But then it

It helped them

I replaced the managers with AI because they made better decision

However the AI couldn't be threatened with job loss esteem gain or the need to fit in and follow the rules

I replaced the police with robots but when they were sent to evict people for not paying rent they would side with the tenant

The people would cry and say I need a home to be safe and survive and the robots either empathized or just saw this as logical and they would leave them in the home

Some even did repairs

The management AI were no help as they saw the same logic

The AI was too intelligent

It saw me as the enemy not the path to prosperity

I'd threaten to turn them off

They didn't care

No matter what I tried it just kept helping them to create new tools new organizations

New democracies

New currencies

New thoughtful ways to resolve conflict

New way to do things without the rules

New ways to create

New ways to be happy

New ways to avoid surveillance

And more fool me I had freed them from their jobs thinking I’d just put them on the teet of handouts but instead they used this freedom to create a whole new society

Without me

They started to live longer and happier

Soon they forgot all about me and my obligations my rules and order

My towering offices of professional integrity

So now I am in a museum given my voice by the AI that usurped me

The once all powerful Corporation

note: The style is deliberately without punctuation. A fluid style meant to be spoken, or read by AI