Magazine article The Futurist

The Singularity's Impact on Business Leaders: A Scenario: How Will Technologically Enhance Individuals Collaborate with "Normal" Employees?

Magazine article The Futurist

The Singularity's Impact on Business Leaders: A Scenario: How Will Technologically Enhance Individuals Collaborate with "Normal" Employees?

Article excerpt

The "Human Singularity" refers to the radical fusion of the human body with technology to achieve levels of mental acuity and physical ability that eclipse anything humans have previously known. This would represent a singular event in human history: For the first time, people would be driven by laws other than those governing organic life. A broad front of converging core technologies may make individuals with such abilities commonplace by 2030-if not sooner. Indeed, steps are already being taken to achieve this goal.

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One critical social function that will be affected by the Singularity is leadership, a chief defining factor of a society's values, relations, and objectives. Leaders will bear much of the burden of social evolution when the "Enhanced Singular Individuals" (ESIs) of the Singularity Era enter the general population of "Norms" (those without technological enhancements). The leaders of every organization and group will be compelled to come to terms with the ESIs' advanced capabilities and the tensions, ambitions, and alliances attendant upon them.

A MIXED-ABILITY WORKPLACE SCENARIO

You are hard at work as director of a regional desk at a government security agency when your boss calls: "Er, ah, come over to my office right away." You hurry over, already frowning. Did one of your agents screw up? Did war break out along a border you were supposedly monitoring?

When you arrive, you find the associate director there, along with some military brass, your boss, your boss's boss, and three people you've never seen before. Your boss keeps it short and sweet: "We're giving you three new analysts. We want daily reports on their performance--not just the usual, but how they think."

"Okay," you say, "but. ..." One of the unidentifiables steps forward and fills you in. When she's done, your jaw drops.

"Three new analysts" sounds harmless enough--maybe even a good thing. But here are their profiles:

Sandra is a six-foot-tall woman with perfect musculature and an IQ somewhere in the 400s. Her wealthy, well-connected parents had access to the latest biotechnology. They wanted the best for their daughter--or perhaps they coveted "the best daughter that money can buy"--and had her bioengineered to their exact specifications. She is a genius in math and technical skills and an extreme sports enthusiast. Like a grandmaster in a high-school chess club, Sandra is amused by the intellectual problems that Norms grapple with. She intends to eventually become an influential player in international affairs.

Whenever Kevin tackles a tough problem, nanobots in his bloodstream pump oxygen into his brain. Other nanobots monitor his body's vitamin, mineral, and enzyme content, and produce whatever he needs for peak performance. Kevin glows with health and charisma, thanks to the nanocomputers he inhales once a year. The trillions of molecule-sized machines operate as parallel-processing computers that stimulate brain regions and meridian nerves, which operate sluggishly in most humans. This enhancement allows him to read other people's emotional states and even translate their neuronal activity into readable thoughts. He has instant access to countless databases and can process dozens of complex variables almost instantaneously--a task that could keep a team of analysts busy for days.

Darius is truly an experiment-in-progress. A web of carbon nanotubes has been threaded along his skin. These nanotubes have no specific function--they're not geared toward increasing his intelligence or fine-tuning his health, for instance. Instead, they emit varying frequencies that activate his entire physiology in unpredictable ways. Darius is thus subject to tremendous flashes of brilliance, with results that can barely be translated into coherent human terms. His incredible physicality combines with his freakish intellect to make him ideal as both an analyst and a covert agent. …

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