At first glance, superpower and beautiful business are not a congenial couple. Superpower seems too hard, too hegemonial, not really in touch with the small-is-beautiful mindset that might be more conducive to business at human scale.
But as this issue of the Letter shows, power can be beautiful, too—even a superpower. In fact, the new superpowers may be immeasurable and within us—whether a unique talent, a new set of skills, an unshakable belief, a strong mission, or our very human consciousness. What’s yours?
Management guru Tom Peters, a pioneer of human-centered business, now calls for “extreme humanization” in light of AI and automation. For him, a business’s superpower is simple and hasn’t really changed over the decades, despite all technological advances: it’s people, people, people. Jacob Hsu and his startup Catalyte agree only partly. They’ve developed an algorithm for discovering an individual’s superpower, and a business model that connects humans’ ability to learn and re-learn with AI’s capacity to find needles in massive amounts of hay.
Waltz Binaire’s take on AI is distinctively more eerie: the design studio has created an AI-installation—aptly named Narciss—that not only contemplates itself but provides a mirror for us humans to look at ourselves and who we’re becoming.
We hope this issue serves as a mirror, too. You’ll read about superfoods and superfads, superheroes, and superhumans. But don’t let all the superlatives get to you. As Sarah Souli writes, “Perhaps there’s a reason that superpowers are limited to a few humans: it may be our flaws, and our lack of abilities, that make our lives easier to live.”
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