The Unaccountability Machine - Profile Books

Upcoming book of interest to all protocol nerds. Seems broadly in same genre as J. Q. Wilson or Graeber on bureaucracy with a cybernetics bias (cf Stafford Beer ref)

Part-biography, part-political thriller, The Unaccountability Machine is a rousing exposé of how management failures lead organisations to make catastrophic errors

‘Entertaining, insightful … compelling’ Financial Times

‘A corporation, or a government department isn’t a conscious being, but it is an artificial intelligence. It has the capability to take decisions which are completely distinct from the intentions of any of the people who compose it. And under stressful conditions, it can go stark raving mad.’

When we avoid taking a decision, what happens to it? In The Unaccountability Machine, Dan Davies examines why markets, institutions and even governments systematically generate outcomes that everyone involved claims not to want. He casts new light on the writing of Stafford Beer, a legendary economist who argued in the 1950s that we should regard organisations as artificial intelligences, capable of taking decisions that are distinct from the intentions of their members.

Management cybernetics was Beer’s science of applying self-regulation in organisational settings, but it was largely ignored - with the result being the political and economic crises that that we see today. With his signature blend of cynicism and journalistic rigour, Davies looks at what’s gone wrong, and what might have been, had the world listened to Stafford Beer when it had the chance.


I posted a question related to Dan’s book the other day:

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