Starting a conversation

The notion of companies as potentially ‘dangerous machines’ allows us to articulate and explore the idea of the advanced corporation logically calculating its next move as a threat to life in all its forms. The Dangerous Machines project is designed to kick-start a conversation on this subject in 2017.

It argues that human societies can no longer risk tolerating the existence of giant corporations which do not in their constitutions have a specific requirement not to undermine human rights or upset ecosystems.

It suggests that there is a need to go into the very heart of corporate purpose and change its DNA. ‘Upgrading the corporate software’ or ‘reprogramming corporate DNA’ may not only help rid societies of the dangerous machines in their midst, but it may also help combat the urgent problem of how markets can exist with social and environmental sustainability.

Some of this will involve growing the not-for-profit sector to eventually replace the dominant for-profit form. It is suggested that a combination of purchaser preferences for social enterprises and government regulation could persuade sufficient existing companies to convert to not-for-profit corporate forms to make an effective phase out of for-profit corporations possible within a time-frame of around thirty years.

Co-ordinated government and civil society action will be key. Most of all though it is important to start the conversation about how and why this all needs to begin.

  • Coming soon on this site will be a opening article setting out the main arguments. [Now here]
  • It will be followed by a series of follow up pieces examining specific issues in the debate.
  • Dangerous machines welcomes comments and criticism, and is interested to hear from anyone also working in this area. Please email admin[at]


One thought on “Starting a conversation

  1. Hi Rob,

    Quite an endeavour and has a multitude of ramifications not least that market and exchange values exist so that profit can be raised, re-setting the corporate DNA to take account of their full impact, socially and environmentally also hits the hierarchies we allow ourselves to be filtered into.

    Several years back this book on Green Economics (by Molly Scott Cato) was really helpful and had this relevant quote: ‘The social economy is a sphere of socioeconomic activities, organizational principles and motivations that is attuned to the principles of sustainable development… Ecological modernization and the broader discourse of environmental economics recognize that profit-maximizing corporations are not inclined to internalize social and environmental considerations and that their activities need to be directed through detailed regulatory and fiscal policy if sustainable development is to be achieved. Our argument is that the organizations within the social economy – cooperatives, and mutual and associations – have an advantage over other institutional forms in that their ethos and structure already reflect principles implicit within sustainable development.” (page 94)

    That being said community interest companies are currently regulated lightly in the UK. All the best.

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