I'm looking for any work that looks at a computer in some future or alien civilization which is designed to govern its civilization or sectors of it at the administrative level.

All references appreciated and especially those that have potential in actual science ! Surely some or other futurist has predicted such machines... ,)

In particular, what are the possible benefits of turning administration over to a computer, and what are the drawbacks. As well, how advanced would the system have to be? Could you run a society with a general purpose computer system such as we have today, or would the society need a more advanced sort of system, such as a strong AI, neural network, quantum computer or something else?


closed as too broad by ArtOfCode, Ghanima, bowlturner, Magic-Mouse, a CVn May 28 '15 at 11:34

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this as off-topic. I'm not entirely sure it's the right close reason as there is some basis of worldbuilding here, but I'm sure someone can correct me if I'm wrong... $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode May 27 '15 at 21:35
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    $\begingroup$ That's the element of worldbuilding in this question. I appreciate that there is worldbuilding here, but I think this question needs to be rewritten before it's a good format for this site. Closing is the tool to do that: a closed question can still be edited, and closing is primarily to ensure that answerers don't get confused about question details and blame you for it :) When the question is in a good format, it can (and many do) get reopened. $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode May 27 '15 at 21:39
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, but it's not really fair, though. I mean... You've asked an open-ended question that doesn't really have a "best" answer, or even a "single" answer. You've chosen as "correct" someone who gave you a mere two references. Are they the BEST references ever? Certainly not. Will I get any points for linking you to that? Doubtful. Do I feel robbed? Definitely. $\endgroup$ – Ayelis May 28 '15 at 0:26
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    $\begingroup$ @JustinChapman I'm ignoring the question because it shouldn't be here: as I have said, this type of question doesn't fit the StackExchange format thus I will not answer it. This is about to be closed (only needs one more vote) - if you can change it to fit format please do. $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode May 28 '15 at 11:32
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    $\begingroup$ I added the last close vote here. For the record, the previous four were for "not about worldbuilding" (the on-hold/closed annotation unfortunately does not make that particularly clear). I agree with the previous comments, this question has two main problems: (1) it asks for an unbounded set of answers, which the SE Q&A format handles very poorly, and (2) it asks for merely references, rather than how to solve a given problem. Please review worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic as well as worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/help/asking. To discuss the issue, post on Worldbuilding Meta. $\endgroup$ – a CVn May 28 '15 at 11:38

This may not be exactly what you're looking for but is very closely related.

The movie WarGames involves a Cold War-era US military computer designed to make all strategical decisions by predicting all possible outcomes. The computer essentially runs their military command and inevitably, its decisions become important ethical decisions when it begins planning to wage nuclear war with Russia.

Another example (sort of) is the book A Wrinkle In Time. Can't provide a ton of detail on this one so I'll leave this here: Wikipedia article

  • $\begingroup$ I'll definitely look into the Wiki page! The WarGames is great, too! Thank you!! :) $\endgroup$ – Private Name May 27 '15 at 21:58

I see another answer is already accepted but I feel like throwing in my two cents anyway.

For references, I know the final story in Asimov's I, Robot collection dealt with computers making important economic decisions, and gently "shaking the boat" by fudging some numbers so that people who disagreed with them would be removed from power. (It sounds ominous when I put it that way. It wasn't like that in the book.) He didn't go into the specifics of technology, but they were implied to be a half-dozen or so supercomputers scattered around the world, and ran on the same magic positronic brains as the rest of Asimov's robots.

Another Asimov story, The Last Question, had an AI running the entire universe after all the humans populating every galaxy were put into a Matrix-like cryostasis so that they would never die. (Geez, were all of his stories so dark and I never noticed?) This one was even more handwavy-magic than the positronic brains. He even says that it cannot be comprehended by mere humans.

On a lighter note, the excellent webcomic Schlock Mercenary has had many AI characters in government positions. They are basically depicted as really smart people, and perform all the functions of the government. They run on magic quantum ternary matrices, but as far as I know neither quantum nor ternary have any advantages for AI. (My personal opinion is that the randomness of quantum mechanics could mirror the chaotic nature of neurochemicals, but I have no idea what I'm talking about so ignore me.)

To answer your actual question, the benefits and drawbacks depend heavily on what kind of computer, how advanced, etc. If it's basically a mind like ours in a metal shell, but faster, it could probably run all the government's functions and handle the bureaucracy more efficiently than any group of people ever could. The biggest danger would be it getting bored and going off to do something else. Such minds are obviously way beyond our current technology, and it's anybody's guess what technology would be required.

On the other hand, if it's just making economic decisions (production, distribution, etc.) a modern computer could probably handle it. We already have supercomputers trading stocks thousands of times per second. With the right algorithms, it could run the military as well: consider that computer games have enemy AI, and these days it's sometimes even smart. Evolutionary algorithms and machine learning could overhaul our tactics, without the need for any technology beyond what we have today. But such "decision" machines are not something I would trust to handle lawmaking, policing, judging, or any other government functions that require some understanding of impacts on human lives.

  • $\begingroup$ Knave, thank you very much for your answer. The reason I accepted the other answer was to show the people with a bad attitude that stubbornness wouldn't win here. I did genuinely appreciate the asnwer and am looking into Amazon deals on both, as I will also look into your references. So obviously I liked the answer as well. In short, thank you for taking your time to share your knowledge, versus ignoring my question because "it's a "wrong" question..." :) Much appreciated!! $\endgroup$ – Private Name May 28 '15 at 16:22
  • $\begingroup$ As long as we're talking Asimov, don't forget about Multivac and Franchise. $\endgroup$ – Peregrine Rook Apr 26 '16 at 6:09

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress contains elements of the main robot (HOLMES IV or Mike) forming the government of the moon during a revolt. I'm not sure the specifics or such like that, it's been a while since I read the novel. It is written by Robert Heinlein.

  • $\begingroup$ Heinlein is one example, but your answer could be improved if you were to add more detail. Even if you haven't read the book in a while, there are lots of Internet sites to brush up on the details. Since the question is very vague, an answer with detail might help the author of the question focus their thinking more. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides May 28 '15 at 0:40

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