Human Black Swans
After a short break at the beginning of this year, my Discontinuities column in Current Intelligence is back up and running. The latest installment looks into the emergence of what I am calling the superactor—the superempowered indvidual who delivers a systempunkt—a sudden shock to a complex system—through their calculated actions. Because the interconnectedness of our politics, economies, technologies and culture, these superactors are able to behave like outsized figures, shaping global dynamics through their actions. But, while we are increasingly affected by them, we know little about what drives them.
What makes a superactor? We don’t really know. Up to now, superactors have been human anomalies, and little has been done to understand how they differ from other business, military or humanitarian leaders. We live in an era when the tools of power can quickly become concentrated in one place in the hands of a single individual. We need to know more about superactors if we are to full appreciate how the next few decades might unfold. In my profession as a forecaster and analyst, we spend much of our time trying to understand external drivers – the possible impacts of events, disruptions caused by innovations, and how society will react and adapt to them. We spend far less time understanding how such elements are embodied in people, and how individuals can themselves become shaping forces.
Also, if you are interested in discussing such research, and how it could be structured, feel free to get in contact.