Eskimos Need Ice Cubes, Too

I think it’s worth following up on this.

Over time, a poor grasp of macro trends will doom any business strategy, of course. But in the short term, success is more closely linked to incumbent competitive advantages.

What really intrigues me is that part of the economy so resistant to automation: social interaction.

It’s probably not an unfair simplification to say that economic growth is all about uncovering ways to routinize tasks. So it’s important that a routine task is not necessarily a simple task, at least to a human mind.

As legions of kids struggling through math class have realized, humans are not logic machines, we’re social machines. Computer brains were built to process logic while human brains were built (and trained!) to process social signals.

That we can do any logic at all is pretty cool. But mostly our processing routines are veiled, messy, parallel and unbelievably complex.

But wait, you say: computers have been around for, what, 50 years? And they’re already deriving the laws of physics! Took us millennia!

Perhaps, but the complexity of the the calculations involved in social interaction will baffle the most powerful computers for a long time still; like it or not, the highest form of intelligence is social intelligence. And it cannot be routinized.

Some professionals, like salesmen, are entirely concerned with social interaction. In these cases, the social intellect is king, of course.

I work in a sales business and we think nothing of the most skilled and experienced minds in my company gathering round to debate the implications of a few sentences in a client’s email. Like, literally for an hour or more. Business context, personality, politics, mood, the fucking weather that day. All have an effect.

Now THAT’s complex.

That’s why producers get paid more than actuaries in my biz. They may not have the fancy math, but they’re still smarter.

In any context in which you need to convince other humans of your quality, social intelligence is how you do it.

And that’s every context.