Although inconceivable just a few years ago, mediation software that promises to monopolize the interpersonal conflict resolution market is now imminent. Tomorrow, the Artificial IntuitionTM Corporation (commonly known as AInc.) will debut its new product, AICompanion2050 (AICom), just one day after the last existing Civil Court closes its doors.
Ethical principles and values guided all stages in the development of the new software that uses techniques perfected in the last century's successful work in artificial intelligence. In this wholly new endeavor, a software program has been created that models the processes of human intuition. AICom is based on Artificial Intuition TM, a revolutionary technology now made accessible and affordable to everyone. There is great anticipation that this product may fill the gap left by the demise of the much-reviled Civil Court system.
"Court is Adjourned!"
While for years, critics decried the decline of the Civil Courts (with jurisdiction over the enforcement, redress, or protection of private rights and remedies sought by civil action, as contrasted with criminal proceedings), it was only at the turn of the Millennium that businesses, governments, and individuals came together to seriously question the viability of the Courts as the institution for resolving civil disputes. The death blow finally came with the famous antitrust case against AInc. Although the litigation began in the final years of the 1990s, the Supreme Court issued its final ruling only two years ago, a mere half-century after the case was filed.
Some speculate that the High Court's delay was due to their prophetic realization that it could put the Civil Judiciary out of business. Their judgment, in any case, proved to be the worst possible decision.
The Supreme Court's ruling caused chaos on world stock exchanges, millions lost their savings and their jobs, and the global network of small businesses went into shock. Those lawyers holding the few remaining appointments in the Civil Judiciary resigned as an act of apology to all of the individuals and communities affected, a gesture that earned them appreciation.
A New "Frontier [for] Justice"
An interdisciplinary team guided by accepted professional standards of moral conduct, approved the network of programs, procedures and algorithms three years ago in a controversial milieu of exclusive opinions and conflicting emotions.
AICom2050 is the creation of a distinguished interdisciplinary team of business people, software architects, lawyers, anthropologists, medical doctors, psychologists, ethologists, veterinarians, linguists, philosophers, and common sense consultants of all ages, genders and ethnicities.
The aging Chip Doors served as Chair of the group, but he delegated the operational development work to his long-time companion, Mr. Peter Chance, who has worked for 30 years as gardener and dog trainer on the Doors' estate. The aging corporate chairperson and philanthropist explained that Mr. Chance had always been there for him during AInc's long struggle over the antitrust litigation. In recent years, he has taken on the unofficial role of motivational speaker and storyteller. Doors added, "Chance always knows what to say and it doesn't matter if he is talking to corporate executives, government officials, therapists or circus professionals. He's the greatest communicator I've ever known."
Although AICom was designed as a substitute for Civil Courts, many analysts foresee additional applications that may very well eliminate traditional professions in other legal fields and areas of mental health and training such as psychotherapists, clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers.
The new computer program achieves an almost complete intuitive communication between parties to a dispute. It fulfills Socrates' ideal of the teacher's role: to guide and help students to come to a realization of the truth through their own efforts. "AInc aspires to humanize the administration of justice," declared company spokeswoman, Softy Rules.
Optimists and the Rest
AICom is a multidimensional, synchronous/asynchronous tool that has the ability to interact with all participants at the same or different times, depending on the will of its users. It allows both direct and indirect negotiations. Its central mission is to serve as an ideal communicator.
Mary Optimist, a Nobel Peace Laureate, foresees a tremendous leap forward in personal communication thanks to the revolutionary software. "Imagine a friend with whom you can share your most private emotions and who literally may die, at your will, taking with her all of the secrets she knows about you. And then, if you so desire, you can bring her back to life, with or without the knowledge you have shared. She can be perfect friend who can know your thoughts and feelings before you even express them in language. A faithful friend is the medicine of life, a masterpiece of nature."
Without Civil Courts and with few rules, the decision making process for the settlement of private disputes becomes rather simple. Perhaps the most valuable feature of AICom is that it legally interprets personal thoughts and emotions of parties without the prejudices and personal preferences inherent in all humans, including judges. With AICom, disputing parties will know that the mediator is free from human biases and yet possesses an awareness of the parties' internal states of mind.
AICom does not have personal history, thoughts or emotions. AICom is a network of algorithms and contents to help conflicting parties reach a solution. Intellectuals and Chambers of Commerce worldwide have forecast huge benefits and profits from increased global economic transactions. In addition, AICom will facilitate intercultural business deals and personal relationships at all levels.
AInc. has emphasized that the AICom software will assist users to find a solution to their conflict if that is what the parties really want. If a solution is not desired, AICom will be able to determine that and the software will not suggest alternatives. The program can also be used to assist third parties to facilitate resolution between the disputants if they so decide.
Bill Rock, representing the World Mediation Federation (WMF) welcomed the AInc. announcement. He said, "Litigation to solve a dispute is nothing more than high-stakes gambling and can never guarantee a good outcome for anybody. Mediation always allows the parties to control the outcome and get at least part of what they want. If this new technology can make that happen more often, then business will get results and get back to work. We feel that a lean peace is better than a fat victory."
In the research stage and in beta testing, the software developers found that the disputants followed the solution or solutions suggested by the software between 97% and 99.99% of the time. This high level of certainty in the outcome of disputes has never before been possible.
However, those in several crucial sectors have expressed their strong opposition to AICom. Trial lawyers around the world have united in protest. Patricia Practitioner, Secretary General of the World Council of Bar Associations, predicted that the software could precipitate unprecedented unemployment in the legal profession. "This product is completely untested and unregulated. How do we know it's not a wolf in sheep's clothing that could destroy one of the noblest occupations in civilized societies? Better the devil you know than the devil you don't know."
And in the arena of global politics, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) immediately began to form coalitions with some world government bodies to manifest their fear that these developments will widen the giant chasm between rich and poor. "The Civil Court system has always worked to protect those without power," proclaimed Solidaria da Souza, a spokesperson for a loose coalition of non-hierarchical, non-sectarian, anti-globalization groups. She warned that peaceful protest and puppet theater would welcome the software release announcement tomorrow in Washington, but, "the real happening will be virtually attended by millions logged on to the Global Anti-Globalization Network (GAG-Net)." It is expected that thousands of electronic commerce portals will bolt their virtual doors tomorrow in anticipation of protest break-ins.
Wisdom of the Elders
Most evolutionary scientists and anthropologists concur that never before has a human invention had the real potential to replace a centuries-old bureaucratic organization and, at the same time, to incorporate "the wisdom of the elders" and put it to practical use in the mediation of business and personal conflicts. Against this background, the current generation is poised to embark upon a revolutionary new age in conflict resolution techniques.
AInc. initiated this project five years ago and now, for the first time in world history, a behavioral program has been developed that is firmly grounded in an integrated social and scientific understanding of humans. The centuries-old Hippocratic perception-that each person represents her/his own world-now forms the epistemological basis of Artificial Intuition TM Companion for conflict solution.
One of the consequences of AInc.'s influence is the unexpected revolution in how we think about the resolution of private conflicts. Most people endorse these new ideas that revolve around the uniqueness and total subjectivity of each and every human being. Recent discoveries in neurological cognitive science suggest that theological, philosophical and psycho-sociological rationalizations of human behavior are actually meaningful and multipurpose beliefs. But, as beliefs, they are an incomplete foundation for conflict solution between different individuals with the same legal and moral rights and obligations, but who might believe very differently.
Law Professor Juris Holmes asserted "it is beyond question that the law grants the same universe of rights and duties to every person, but from that legal truth it does not follow that we are all the same." In a similar vein, the well-known pacifist, Aristotle Smith, declared, "These new ideas exist in sharp contrast with the deceptive and illusory perception of humans as equal and impartial: a belief that has served for centuries as the ideological foundation of the Courts."
Ludwig Complex, German-born philosopher and sports columnist, explains the philosophical basis of the judiciary this way. "Plato and Aristotle developed an idea inherited from the pre-Socratic thinkers that nature created some men to command and others to obey. Their treatises reflect an obsession with establishing criteria that would properly designate those who were born to decide conflicts. After a few thousand years, we can see that the basis of their theory is implicit in political organization although with a different rationale. Now it is supposed that those who decide legal conflicts are neutral, unbiased and impartial. This assumption, however, is only an epistemological legalistic construction, that exists to give coherence to the judiciary as an impartial body to solve disputes. But, it is has nothing to do with the actual way any human thinks, feels and behaves. All human viewpoints are biased and subjective."
Complex goes on and wonders, "If there are no impartial humans, what can be done to design a system for legal conflict solution that is free from personal bias? ...Paraphrasing Einstein, we can try to reformulate the old problem... Instead of looking for unreal humans without individual feelings and thoughts, the legal system should promote personal communication or mediation between the parties. A mediator facilitates a negotiation between the disputing parties to reach an acceptable solution to their conflict. Or, we can use a computer program like this new artificial intuition companion that has the potential to function as a real impartial mediator, since it's not a person at all. What a great idea!"
Brave New Argument?
The new ideas on conflict solution still have a long way to go to be accepted by the general public. Recent polls show that 47% of business people still believe that an alternative conflict solution method that is not backed by an enforcement power is doomed to fail. For critics, the major weakness of mediation is that the fulfillment of agreements is at the will of the parties. Without the backing of state authorities, such agreements may be vulnerable to systematic violation.
Albert Mind, neurologist and author of the best-seller Limits of Imagination, is quoted as stating "... human conduct and the nervous system are rather complex. How can software substitute for the first hand observations of a doctor and lab analysis to suggest a course of action? In the best of cases, it may only identify symptoms. This supposedly revolutionary software just guesses about the neurological, electrical and chemical processes in the brain based on tiny bits of evidence. This cannot be called intuition-artificial or otherwise. It could be dangerous to believe that such things are possible."
There are also passionate critics of the increasing role of computer programs in all areas of private life. Plato Engineer, CEO of Hardware Industries, accuses AInc. of putting the fox in charge of guarding the henhouse. "How can anyone seriously think that a software product could replace the judgment of a decent and wise person in personal matters between people… It's nonsense… It might provoke major confusion in the industry and I think it's just bad for business. All that glitters is not gold."
X.Z. Skinner, a guru in evolutionary psychology, alleges that the supposed ability of AICom to intuit the world of thoughts and emotions of a person in a conflict is just a misrepresentation of reality. Skinner does not question the philosophical premises of the project, but he doubts that the ingenuity and technological skill exist today to put together a mass-market program with the incredible powers that AICom claims to have. He said: "It's supposed to read the very hearts and minds of the parties and then tell them what they should do to solve their problem. Sorry, I just don't believe it...easier said than done."
How does Artificial IntuitionTM work?
The new software follows a six-step process:
- Identification of the people involved in the conflict;
- Identification of the business or personal context of the conflict;
- Identification of the legal context of the conflict;
- Analysis of the establishment and development of relationships between the people involved in the conflict;
- Generation/creation of possible conflict solutions;
- Formulation of rituals for the implementation of the agreement.
The AICom user may decide to communicate through spoken or written language and may choose female or male voices for the artificial mediator/companion. The user may ask AICom to record her/his presentation or dialogue. In the dialogue, the user maintains control over the information captured by the software and can choose to erase input at any time. The AI 'companion' cannot control the user; it only "intuits," presents options, and obeys.
The more information the software receives from the user, the more knowledge the software will have from which to generate new and better options. This same logic applies to the conflict itself, the legal context, relationships, creativity and rituals. The user may instruct the software to convey to the other party a proposal that was generated by the user or suggested by the software. The recipient may or may not see or hear such proposals. Everyone has complete control to propose, to change, to accept, to reject, without limits of time or location.
AICom exploits the asynchronous nature of the Internet in order to allow parties a safe space and contemplative time before responding. It allows participants to record the presentation of the case. All parties have access to such records and are able not only to listen to words but also to read body language and intonation.
The World Council on Software, based in Boston, delivered a written statement saying: "The new software organizes old knowledge in a new manner." The philosophy at work at all levels of the program is that communication about perceived problems is better than open conflict or litigation (which is really just ritualized and symbolic combat). It integrates an immense array of legal context and rules with algorithms that model human processes of change, learning and unlearning.
From a pedagogic point of view, AICom incorporates the principle that in order to learn what is correct, the student must first learn what is incorrect. In this vein, the software architects follow the ancient Athenian philosopher, Antisthenes, who founded the Cynic school.
AICom also integrates an innovative and effective methodology that has been proven to encourage and foster understanding of human behavior and the conflict process: showing movie masterpieces. The software includes thousands of film clips that illustrate and promote the myriad styles and possibilities for change that can positively influence the parties to a conflict. Personalities from the film industry have expressed curiosity in learning about this new use for their art.
AInc. negotiated hundreds of intellectual property agreements with the holders of the rights to the films incorporated into the software. This policy was necessary because AInc.'s teaching philosophy presupposes that learning with art is more pleasant and effective than through other methods. It rejects the opinion that what one sees is less important than what one thinks and recognizes the power of film and other media artifacts to evoke emotions. AICom also has the capability of capturing and integrating new film, music, and graphic artifacts from the Internet to generate a personal media archive that will facilitate the intuitive and emotional development of each individual user of the software.
AInc. alleges that this new software product is based on technologies that accept reality-such as Ericksonian hypnosis-in contrast to those that automatically reject reality perceptions. In contrast to litigation and arbitration, the software completely ignores the use of threats and force, and intimidating words or symbols. It encourages the parties to seek solutions through kind words and good manners.
For Blue Precision, the best-selling poet and linguist, "... the truly outstanding achievement of AICom is its perfect use of language. A very precise and simple use of words permits the user to frame problems, to understand the other, and to generate solutions." Interestingly, a large percentage of the verbal material in the program consists of metaphors, anecdotes and stories from cultures all over the world that have been shown to stimulate intuitive understanding.
In the words of the experienced international mediator Ruben Nations, "AICom appears to be an idyllic mediator." Its consumer description argues that "... it is equipped to interpret the daily practice of managing conflict: fear and intimidation, confusion, love and attachment, separation and loss. Its most fundamental technological feature is that it facilitates personal contact, wherever the parties may reside." AICom finally fulfills the long-awaited promise of negotiation and mediation without geographic and temporal barriers.
The Artificial Intuition TM capabilities of AICom allow the program to distinguish those who want to solve their legal problems from those that do not; it can also identify people who want to assist others to solve problems. This is achieved through the analysis of physiological responses such as gestures, breathing, eye and hand movement, smell, pulse and intonation that are captured, organized and interpreted. Any mental health professional or neurologist, including Freud, would have envied such intuitive diagnostic talent.
Not only doctors, but lawyers, politicians and police investigators would be tempted to sacrifice their professional credentials in order to achieve the high level of performance expected from AICom. Its goal is always to solve conflicts. It articulates thoughts, intuitions, emotions, principles and rules of law and justice. It manages to discover hidden motives in the parties to a conflict. With images and episodes of life, it introduces a basic understanding of the law. It employs popular sayings to help users clarify and distinguish the differences between the law as a set of rules, from the humans who create and apply those rules. It contains a vast catalog of legal provisions that may be relevant to many conflict situations.
AICom includes the legal disclaimer that: Artificial Intuition, Inc. is not responsible for the terms of any agreement facilitated by Artificial IntuitionTM Companion. The computer program is only a facilitator, a mediator in the traditional sense, whose role is limited to facilitate negotiation between parties, allowing them to achieve their own solution.
The product allows parties to decide whether or not they have access to the other parties' presentation of the conflict and options for solution. Optional questions and answers facilitate users' self-awareness as well as their understanding of the other. The structure of the program assures confidentiality.
Softy Rules highlighted that AICom is enjoyable and easy to use. Users can choose from several levels of complexity and can advance as they learn the program. It requires reasonably modern hardware and its price will be equivalent to three weeks of work at the lowest wage.
Remembering the Future?
Futurists believe that AICom will usher in dramatic changes in global conflict management. Certain government officials who asked not to be quoted, unanimously agreed that AICom would be a revolutionary educational tool that will make us wonder how we ever thought that the Civil Courts were the best institution most societies could devise for resolving legal conflicts.
An enthusiastic advocate of AICom, Raul Legal, international authority in software architecture and popular columnist, commented in a workshop last week in Berlin "...before, conflicts were decided by people disassociated from the parties and based on interpretations of documents. AICom's success comes directly from personal communication between the parties."
The fundamental premise that each human being is unique-but not very original-underlies the construction of the Artificial Intuition TM Companion. Every person shares instinctual, intuitive and rational knowledge acquired during the evolution of the human species. Each individual is born with a share of the knowledge held in common by all of our human companions. This model inspired the simplicity and efficiency of the AICom program. It also allows us to disentangle apparent contradictions within the very same individual and to capture cultural and idiosyncratic peculiarities of any person in a conflict.
It remains to be seen whether AICom can deliver on its promises. Despite its "Believe it or Not" claims, the new software may make the impossible happen: the common and everyday resolution of conflicts with no courts and no judges, and without regard to time or space. We should remind ourselves of Alice's conversation with the Queen in Through the Looking Glass. Alice doesn't think it possible to believe impossible things. The Queen replies, "I daresay you haven't had much practice... When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
Consumers will have the last word.