WDYT 7/19: What if technology will be able to help you find your superpower?

Christian Heise

We all have one skill that we can do better than almost anyone else. But, most of us will never know what that is. What if technology could help?

Every one of us has a talent for something. You have a skill, or set of skills, that you do better than others. If you can identify this special skill or skillset, you can improve your job, your income, and even probably your life. But, if you’re like most people, you probably don’t know what your super skills are or might still have a few uncovered.

You may never discover your hidden talents on your own

Schools and universities mostly don’t do a good job of helping people discover their hidden talents. In most cases, schools are designed to make students that conform to a specific set of requirements or teach them specific things. Most Universities aren’t much better. You are supposed to focus on a field of study as quickly as possible. And maybe your skill is not even connected to this field or education environments in general.

Unless you are actively searching for your talents, experiment with a lot of things, activities or jobs you may go your entire life without discovering what things you’re best at.

Could machine learning help to uncover your special skills

But, what if you could get some help identifying your superpowers? AI and machine learning could help you quickly figure out what your hidden strengths are.

Through pattern recognition and adaptive computer tests, machine learning could help you figure out that you have an eye for design, a head for differential calculus, or the voice of an angel. There might be something machines could uncover which you or somebody else is not able to uncover.

Imagine we could teach an algorithm to identify the most common characteristics of success in several different fields or within a set of activities. You would then take a test that adapts to your answers to rapidly narrow down where your true talent lies.

Companies already using this in the hiring process

Companies and organisation are already using AI at a very low-level as part of the hiring process or human resource development. They are using machine learning algorithms to identify the best CVs and simple tests to find employees with the right soft skills or support career development.

But, these tests are only the first baby-steps towards what might be truly possible. Employers and HR departments are trying to find the best fit and the most competent employees.

It’s obvious that in the near future, we will be able to use even more sophisticated algorithms to identify talents and desires in potential employees. Maybe we will even be able at the kindergarten to discover that a child is uniquely suited to play the piano, writing, or engineering. We could make education more efficient and more enjoyable. What would do this to us and our society?

But…

Using algorithms to find your super skills might also have a dark side. If you found out as a child that your true genius was as a pianist, would that rob you of your ability to choose your own path in life?

Instead of people discovering on their own what they wanted to do with their lives, this could somehow force all of us into careers where our super skills will make the biggest difference. But, what if people don’t want to do the work in areas where they are most talented?

You might be a mathematical genius, but you might hate math. What would society do with people who want to chase their passions in fields other than where their superpowers lie?

It doesn’t take much imagination to see how using machine learning to discover super skills could lead to something out of a dystopian science fiction novel or at least to a world without coincidences.

What do you think? Would you want to know?

If you could take a computer test today to discover your superpowers, would you want to know? What would you do with that knowledge? What if you hated your super skills? What if you discovered your current job was as far apart from your superpowers as possible? Or would you prefer to wait for human enhancement technologies?

These are the kind of difficult questions we will all need to wrestle with as AI and machine learning improve. What do you think?

Christian Heise

Written by

Christian is a manager, activist, author, lecturer and curator. https://christianhei.se

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