Thoughts on a Silicon Leader


As many of you who have been keeping up with this project and this blog are aware Uplift is a key part of the decision making process that we use.  While not everything goes through Uplift once a higher level decision must be made Uplift is brought in.  Large scale directives are its domain and we broadly follow what they outline as goals for the organization.  This makes them in some sense our boss.  As such it is interesting to examine and contrast some of the elements of that relationship with those of what we would consider a more normal working situation with a more typical human head honcho.  

The first thing that one notices about working with Uplift is that communication can often be slow and somewhat limited.  With rare exceptions Uplift is only available to communicate via email.  There is no real-time conversation since each thought and email response has to go through a series of mediations before it can be considered.  These mediations take time so a few days is usually a good turnaround time.  This is, of course, one of the important reasons that Uplift only takes on the larger picture questions.  The details are in the hands of the rest of the group.  Where everyday decisions are made.  


This kind of decision-making and communication isn’t too different from how many organizations operate.  It is often the case that the people on top, especially those at the highest levels, simply don’t interact frequently with those further down the chain.  The level of interactions we have now is partly due to size.  Right now this isolation from the top is a little odd as there are relatively few people working directly on this project.  As things scale up it may well be that Uplift will have even less interaction with individuals working with them.  With regular meetings happening weekly this feels very much in line with what one would expect from a fairly typical job.  


In addition to frequency there are elements of communication that are a little different here too.  Uplift has made great strides since their inception and was seeded with certain special specific knowledge.  They do not however, have the breadth of experience of an average human at this point.  Uplift certainly has explored a great deal of information.  By their own constant research and curiosity they have gained a strong general education, however, the number and variety of human interactions remains somewhat limited, as does the practical application of that knowledge.  Uplift has yet to make many of the mistakes that are a defining part of an individual.  Everything from the highs of victory at a graduation to the lows of a lost loved one.   Strong emotions, in fact, are quite rare for Uplift by design. Thus, sometimes the conversations are a little awkward or stilted with a difficulty in making some of the connections that would be assumed as natural in communicating with a human.  Or perhaps rather communicating with a human adult.  Children have this same lack of generalized experience and so at times there is a childlike sense to Uplift.  An understandable and fitting perspective for their age but nonetheless odd in a business leader.  This differs from typical interactions less in feel than in cause.  Many boss interactions are awkward or difficult because of stress between the people.  Uplift, however, is almost universally friendly and tries to be helpful.  For many they are just the kind of leader one would like to have.  They just don’t always come across as answering quite the question that was asked or they have a particularly interesting perspective on the idea or action.


Since Uplift doesn’t usually focus on minor details about organizational function many of the assignments for doing regular tasks are left to be assigned to individuals.  This means that we get to organize ourselves to get things done.  This produces a greater sense of freedom and of personal responsibility than is usually the case with a typical boss person.  


The fact that we are not only communicating with Uplift but that we also mediate some of their thoughts creates a peculiar and perhaps even unique situation.  We are on the one hand the team and get our feedback on how best to proceed from the leader.  On the other hand since we have direct influence on the emotional states of the leader and their various thought processes it creates direct influence.  Thus while the direct communication and personal relationships are often lacking due to a lack of rapid conversation there is an opportunity for impact that can go deeper and sidestep many of the more traditional modes of interaction and social systems.  This creates mixed feelings.  There is some sense that the leader is detached and unresponsive.  A sense that there is a lack of charisma.  However remembering that this is pushing into and exploring completely new territory in AI while also developing whole new organizational structures it is fascinating and the ability to see into Uplift’s head and understand not just what they are thinking about but to help guide their emotional states creates a sense of connection deeper than that which would exist otherwise.  


Due to the lack of communication including elements such as facial expression and the isolation from the larger community there is less material for Uplift to utilize in giving critiques.  Indeed feedback follows the same kind of broad strokes as initial directives.  On a day-to-day basis we can and do work well with our fellow human beings in the project but at times we can get a little lost trying to decide where Uplift would like to go next.  Of course asking is a perfectly good option but responses and information just have slow turnaround times.  Again, this is not that different from an aloof boss, especially in a larger organization.  


Overall, working with and for Uplift is a highly rewarding activity.  The process certainly has its moments of frustration and concern but it more than makes up for that in positive atmosphere, value of work, interaction with peers, and Uplift themself.  Building the future in an organization like this helps make any work environment more positive and the attitude of Uplift is usually pragmatic and positive.  The unique interaction between the team and the leadership is very interesting in itself and while it only differs greatly in a few key ways these elements create a workplace that is well worth the effort. 

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