Sebastopol, California 2020-06-03

Paco Xander Nathan
5 min readJun 3, 2020


Derwen, Inc., announces a new AI service for a novel form of risk analysis, addressing business needs during a time of heightened uncertainty to augment due diligence practices, while emphasizing resilience and ethical practices.

First and foremost, our hearts go out to those who have been victims of illegal and unjust police aggressions, to their family, friends, and neighbors. And also to those who have lost loved ones during the pandemic. We support those who are actively protesting, calling out the systematic racial violence which is so deeply ingrained in the US.

Response to Urgent Business Needs

In response to urgent business needs brought on by the pandemic, global economic crisis, and protests throughout the US demanding justice, our firm has looked toward identifying what we can do proactively. Where are the immediate problems in our community? What can we do as a business to help address these problems?

Within the technology sector, and especially in Silicon Valley, elements of far-right white supremacist groups have been busy. Many seek to subvert the rule of law for the sake of furthering their accelerationist ideologies. While the related gender bias and toxicity in tech firms has been widely reported over the past few years, reports about the profusion of racism and nationalism in technology are rarely covered in the news cycle. This rot exists within big tech companies, technology start-ups, as well as related investment firms. How can those of us in business who choose civility and seek to conduct business properly avoid affiliations with covert extremists?

In stark contrast, the White House recently threatened to designate “Antifa” as a terrorist organization. It’s inconceivable that the White House has a legal basis to do so, especially since it’s ludicrous to assume any actual organization for “Antifa” exists. Even so, the name “Antifa” signifies anti-fascism.

Anti-fascism: there’s an ideology we can support without question. From that starting point, corporate governance can be focused as a force for good by establishing policies that are more effective. For example, as a corporation we have encouraged our employees and contractors to declare their support of anti-fascism. Among our standard benefits, when employees get arrested during civil rights protests the firm will provide their bail and cover their legal costs. We have also established a formal requirement that all members of our Board of Directors identify in public as anti-fascist supporters immediately.

Another persistent and closely related problem in Silicon Valley has been a blind worship of scale as the measure of success. Technology start-ups get evaluated based on growth, which serves the mechanisms of financialization. In contrast, start-ups are generally not rewarded by investors for pursuing resilience. The latter has become utterly vital. As the global pandemic and economic collapse illustrate all too dramatically, structures which are large but not resilient become the engines for generating more crises. For instance, supply chains that span the globe but depend on burning enormous amounts of petroleum fuels came grinding to a halt after just one wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The crash of oil markets followed rapidly. Achieving scale without resilience can be a serious contraindication for success.

Similar problems plague the US government, as it becomes increasingly unlikely to establish network consensus and clear political will among a polity which is a patchwork of far-flung regional cultures and disparate local concerns. While we acknowledge the tireless work of our colleagues within the US federal government, parts of the federal system now struggle in their claims for legitimacy. That will remain a troubling cause for concern at least until substantive changes have been put into immediate effect. On the other hand, we recognize the leadership of the government of the State of California. We also recognize and value the leadership of the regional pacts — in our case the Western States Pact. Within that context, how can we reward prioritizing resilience, ethical practices, civility among business affiliations, and so on?

In business one must manage risks. Insights into unnecessary business risks help entrepreneurs navigate the uncertainty of the times. While business affiliations which are not transparent may create unnecessary risks, these can be called out and examined through due diligence practices.

New AI Service for a Novel Form of Risk Analysis: Addressing Business Needs with Emphasis on Ethics and Resilience

Moving beyond the policy initiatives, our firm is introducing a new AI-based service to address these challenges directly. The new service leverages machine learning to produce a novel form of risk analysis, and then suggests policies for mitigation. Portions of the technology are being released as open source, along with tutorials for hands-on coding in business use cases. The technology makes use of reinforcement learning and knowledge graph approaches to integrate data from competitive intelligence and OSINT sources. Model explainability is a key consideration and we make every attempt to provide transparency concerning our risk estimation process and policy development.

As a result of the pandemic, the global economic collapse, plus the protests and police/military confrontations throughout the US, businesses must evaluate risks carefully among their potential clients, vendors, partners, or funders for risks which may include:

  • affiliations with far-right groups among key personnel
  • exposure to regional factors, such as headquarters in areas subject to climate change, lack of effective healthcare, political disruption, weak regional accords, etc.
  • known issues in practices for security, privacy, ethics, and code of conduct
  • histories of non-payment or late payment to smaller vendors
  • emphasis of scale as a measure of success over factors contributing to business resilience
  • analysis of rhetoric employed in public
  • funding or customer ties to extremist groups
  • other contraindications for long-term resilience

The service is being evaluated in a limited, early beta. It is our hope as a company that such responses to crises can help leverage AI technologies to build more resilient infrastructure pervasively across a wide range of business activities, enhancing due diligence practices which become increasingly important now.

Meanwhile we call on other businesses to pledge their support for anti-fascism as well, to update their many and varied ethics statements with public declarations that convey substance in these dire and uncertain times. Together we can burn the false flags at the center of our virtual commons.

Derwen, Inc.



Paco Xander Nathan

evil mad sci, ; lives on an apple orchard in the coastal redwoods; board member;