The Singularity Mindset

If you don’t grasp the idea of the technological singularity, or are not informed as to its driving laws, then you are not prepared to make good strategic business decisions.

There are a lot of approaches and methodologies that organically flow from a singularity mindset. But it’s possible to adopt many of these philosophies without understanding the big picture of why they exist. This often manifests in wooden dedication to methods without understanding the spirit and purpose behind their inception. This happens all the time. Companies adopt agile in a way that makes them less agile or they incorporate a particular device because it’s the new thing without taking into account that there will be a new new thing in another week. Here are four essential characteristics of the singularity mindset:

\1. Accelerated and unpredictable change

There are people who actually believe that the future is going to be pretty much like the past, that we’re all going to be using smartphones and driving cars just like we do now, 20 years from now. If you fall into this camp, you should NOT be making strategic business decisions for anyone. The new will not be like the old. We don’t know what the future holds, hence the need for a short feedback loop and rapid iteration. This is why agile and post-agile development strategies exist.

\2. Unlimited form factors

It always makes me shake my head when I talk to another technologist and mention either HUD’s or smart watches and they say something like, ‘I’m not so sure that will catch on.’ You’re not seeing the big picture here bud. If we can put a computer in something, we will. The end game is having all matter in the universe become “smart.” All dust will be smart dust, and all resources will be utilized to their optimum computing potential. See: A computer in every particle

This is why responsive web design exists. It’s not just about making web pages work on phones. It’s about providing a functional pipeline over any channel imaginable. Without this mindset, you will design products that don’t utilize their full expressive potential.

\3. Algorithmic domination

Be very skeptical of any position that relies upon the premise that a task can’t be done or improved upon by a machine. I was speaking excitedly to a finance graduate some years ago in a coffee shop, when he scoffingly told me that an algorithm could never invest as well as Warren Buffet. Bad call. If your idea of scaling a business means adding more bodies and paper shuffling, you’re in deep trouble. We are the bottleneck. Bet on the algorithm.

\4. Inevitability

There is no stopping the machine uprising. Don’t ask stupid questions like, “How do we stop it?” You can’t stop it. No one can. See: You can’t regulate the singularity. Legislation has never been able to trump pure technological innovation. You don’t like it? That’s fine. But there’s one certainty in this whole thing, and that’s that you ain’t seen nothing yet. Prepare for futureshock.