Why Super-Intelligent Robots Must Become “Man’s Best Friend”

Our future depends on it.

Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD
5 min readFeb 17


Photo courtesy of author

I had just started my academic career and received an invitation to speak at an international conference about business governance and values.

In a country that can’t be named. The government was looking to level up their investment environment. At least, that is what they told me at the time.

The theme of the event made a lot of sense back then. The world had just witnessed the bursting of the Internet bubble, and several corporate accounting scandals meant the topic was hot.

It was the early 2000s.

I gave my presentation, took part in the discussions, and networked with the great and the good. I genuinely believed that I had participated in something meaningful. I had contributed to the country’s sincere efforts to become more entrepreneurial and support sustainable businesses.

Twenty years later, and I noticed, the same country announced that it is starting a new project on … business governance and values.

Hold on. That sounds familiar. It was like déjà vu all over again.

So, what had happened between the first conference and today?

Nothing. And I mean nothing. Absolutely zilch.

The Eternal Recurrence of the Same

A couple of weeks later and here I am. Sat in the same conference room. At least, I think it is the same conference room.

Someone says this building is new. But I am sure, I was here before.

I look around and see many familiar faces.

“Long time, no see.”

“How are you doing?”

“It’s great to see you again.”

Insincere small talk that smooths the wheels at events of this kind.

Many of the people that attended approximately twenty years ago are here. The few I don’t see in the room must be retired by now. Or, in some cases, possibly dead.

And the new faces? They look earnest and keen to add their perspective to the discussion. It is like looking at a version of myself twenty years ago.



Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD

Prof (Law) | Sci-fi | Sociological storytelling