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1.5 Enterprises in Civilization

What roles do companies take as civilization elements? Above all, companies were supposed to be established as a social system for production. When a stock corporation system is introduced, companies become a measure not only for production but also for the accumulation of wealth. If the track to wealth via production is lost, it can't be denied that the system will go out of control. Governance of shareholders was already discussed, as to at the end of the nineteenth century, whether or not in German business administration, voting rights should be given to shareholders with limited liability.

In 2014, Ferguson (2013) depicted the situation of the crisis among US financial institutions as a typical example of the pursuit of wealth without production. Thanks to easing of financial regulations, the US financial system produced a variety of financial products. This led to the financial meltdown, and financial institutions were bailed out by injections of government funds. He pointed out that executive officers of financial institutes were not penalized at all for their million-dollar salaries although the bailout was accomplished through the use of tax dollars.

For holding shares, the system is intended to participate in businesses. This bears the characteristics of investment, for which risk aversion becomes necessary, and stock exchange markets are formed as a system to trade shares. Stock values are supposed to be determined by earnings estimates that reflect the results of corporations, while the value cannot be logically explained due to various speculation. Such values are traded. Buying stocks is mere investment, and the awareness of participating in a business is lost.

As for production, we are at a time when production is desirable without reservation. Georges Bataille (1967) said, “Consumption is the moment of humanity.” If production controlled by consumption is construed as being healthy, this would be an important indication. Production is expected to take place for consumption, while it is obvious that production goes out of control, making production itself its own objective. It is also obvious that enterprises today rarely take into consideration the framework of control by consumption.

Besides, the status of current environmental issues adds a new facet to production controlled by consumption. It is unforgivable to manufacture products that are not consumed; in that, whatever the production activities are, they impact the environment in multiple ways, including the consumption of energy for production, which emits greenhouse gases, and the use of metals and biological resources in the products themselves. However, it is difficult for today's enterprises to continue activities only with production under planned consumption. They are not in a situation wherein production is controlled by consumption.

At the same time, companies must plan what they will produce. As for the products actually made by companies, it is rarely examined if they are authentically needed by society. Products truly indispensable to our lives have become few and far between because a wide variety of alternative products are available. It is possible to stop producing products that are harmful to consumers, while there are many items or tastes on which we could overdose, including tobacco and alcohol, in the process harming our health. It is also difficult to stop using all of those products.

Durable consumer goods that make our home lives more convenient seem to provide benefits. However, there is a cost for such convenience in terms of the human ability to perform chores and the resultant dependency on machines. For example, laundry machines spread because they took over the most difficult of house chores. On the other hand, we have lost the tools and skills necessary to wash clothes manually in a blackout due to a disaster or other event. Many ready-made meals have been developed, and thus the number of meals cooked at home is shrinking. Households have become more dependent on products provided by companies.

Corporations might be responsible for the loss of homemaking skills in the USA. Even if they are responsible for such a loss of skills, it is very difficult to do such an assessment and determine who is responsible. Yet, corporations cannot leave this type of problem unsolved. If the worst happens, corporations cannot stay innocent.

Most equipment is now comprised of both hardware and software. Software is needed to control the hardware, while it is predicted that software may go out of control. For example, 3D printers have great potential, and social evaluations are fixed as useful equipment. If such 3D printers are used to produce antisocial products including guns, it is difficult to determine when and how to stop it. Controlling such antisocial production is hardly restricted on the software level and cannot be allowed to go unchecked.

For example, the expansion of software for mobile phones was not predicted at the beginning of development. Mobile phones were designed only for voice communication, but there is a high likelihood that current usage of mobile phones will transform the entire community. Corporations did not intend to create such potential, but in point of fact mobile phones were used to encourage people to participate in the Jasmine Revolution. The possibilities for mobile phone technology will be increased through development of software. So far, there are no regulations to dampen this.

Considering the future, new mechanisms for civilization elements visible in the use of mobile phone technology will spread as merchandise, which will become mainstream. If this is the case, companies have to keep it in mind that they are developing new civilization elements. At present, when the direction of research and development is finalized and the objective of development is defined, companies tend to continue the same development. It is not rare for a corporation to engage in development for more than two decades and finally launch products. In most of cases, research and development are not subject to control. Movements to establish some restraints over the progress of technologies are found only in the field of reproductive technology. It is merely an agreement intended to prevent the creation of human clones, but there is no clear policy.

 
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