The Worst Case Scenario For AI Is Already Here

Corporations are AI and they’ve been fucking up the world for centuries
4 min readMay 25


The first malevolent AI was the VoC in the 1600s. De gepersonifieerde VOC ontvangt geschenken, Jan Caspar Philips, 1730. The personified VOC receives ‘gifts’

If you expand your definition of AI to match the legal definition, it’s already here. Corporations have had legal personhood for centuries and used that to run riot over the world. Just because these artificial beings have human components we don’t call them AI, but we’re the ones getting squashed. Corporate AI is AI, and we ignore that established legal and political fact at our peril. Ignorant pride won’t protect us from what’s going on.

You can call corporations cyborgs if you want, ie a combination of man and machine. Whether you call the cyborgs or AI, they are artificial constructs that can act upon the world with agency and are already acting up. As I wrote earlier:

When Mitt Romney said “corporations are people, my friend” people laughed at him. But he was right. Corporations are legal persons. This is not an analogy or a metaphor but a legal fact. Corporate personhood has been accepted since ancient India, through Rome, to the present day.

Corporations can buy property, enter contracts, and are treated generally the same as ‘natural’ persons in the eyes of the law. They even have the right to free speech, including influencing elections. Corporations are artificial persons. Therefore (since we assume people are intelligent), they are artificially intelligent. Corporations are AI.

Corporations are already fully legal artificial beings who are already fucking shit up. This has been legally established for centuries and politically evident for decades at least (for white people) and ever since colonialism for the rest of us, which was corporations viciously preying on us.

Hence the worst case for AI is already here and has been for centuries for most of the world. But because they encountered a convincing chatbot, commentators are vainly writing think pieces about how to avoid the worst case. My brother in capitalism, we’re already fucked. As some dude writes in the New Yorker (I only read until the paywall kicked in):

In the worst-case scenario envisioned by these thinkers, uncontrollable A.I.s could infiltrate every aspect of our technological lives, disrupting or…



Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at, or just email me at