3 Laws of Corporations

Does it not just adapt cleanly to simply adopt the three laws of robotics to corporations?

  1. A corporation may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A corporation must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A corporation must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

The entire I, Robot anthology is a study into how even the simplest rule system, like the three rules of robotics, still can have terrible outcomes and unintended consequences.


Agreed, yet I can’t help thinking lately that there are great parallels between Robots/AI and corporations. For instance, it seems to make sense that it would be prohibited from “constructs” like corporations from ever harming people, never mind seemingly having greater rights than people.


In many jurisdictions, it’s actually the case that a corporate charter can be revoked at will by the government. Meaning it would immediately lose tax status and legitimacy. They could of course sue the government for doing so, but I feel it’s a damn shame the government doesn’t just “kill” corporations when they start hurting people.

A corporation has no right to exist. It exists as a privilege at the pleasure of the government. Because it’s not an actual person.


I totally agree. I hope we some day enter an era of more rigorous control over Corporations, where consequences are taken not only by the construct, but by the individuals that knowingly directed it to cause harm.

For the first time it seemed like with Volkswagen things might move that way, but with the exit of reason from leadership I’m afraid we’re all cannon fodder for Corps once again.


At its core, isn’t a corporation just a machine designed to turn human life into profit?


Every large corporation has an actuarial function, deciding how much harm and death is tolerable. Constructing a building could be 100% safe, but the cost would not be tolerable. It would take such a huge chunk of GDP for construction that the economy would collapse. How much should the mine spend on environmental safety when it comes directly from profits? We must make these choices, but somehow when the corporation blows it, they rarely suffer losses more than the profit they made, creating the moral hazard.

I cheered when Arthur Anderson Inc was basically given corporate capital punishment for enabling Enron’s misdeeds. There needs to be that fear, and it’s not currently there. No banker in the US thinks he’d better be careful, since no banker was sent to jail for the rampant crimes that led to the housing collapse. I doubt the recent arrest of the VW exec would have taken place if he were of an American corp.


Obligatory link to ‘The Corporation’:



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