This algorithm now sits on a venture capital firm’s board of directors

But does it want a corner office?


Miles Klee


Published May 16, 2014   Updated May 31, 2021, 7:24 am CDT

Algorithms are valuable tools when it comes to strategic thinking—but what if you let one do the thinking for you? Because the venture capital firm Deep Knowledge Ventures just gave VITAL, a piece of analytic software, a seat on its board of directors.

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VITAL has so far “approved two investment decisions,” according to the BBC, though most tech writers and experts consider the algorithm’s promotion something of a publicity stunt. This would certainly square with Deep Knowledge’s involvement in science-fictiony startups working on life extension and similar cutting-edge biotech research.

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“With financial markets, algorithms are delegated with decisions,” computer scientist Noel Sharkey of the University of Sheffield told the BBC. “The idea of the algorithm voting is a gimmick. It is not different from the algorithm making a suggestion and the board voting on it.”  

Motherboard, meanwhile, was annoyed to find they couldn’t interview VITAL. Deep Knowledge spokeswoman Ashley Highland told them that it is “able to communicate, but its language is a bit far from human natural speech yet,” though Alex Zhavoronkov, CEO of InSilico, one of VITAL’s investments, remarked that its company considers it human.

We’ve always worried about the machines taking over by warlike means, but now it seems more likely they’ll just become the 1 percent.

H/T BBC | Photo by reynermedia/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: May 16, 2014, 2:31 pm CDT