Since Emilie Wapnik gave her TED talk 3 years ago on the subject, multi-potentialites have come into light and been since much hyped. As a summary of the talk, multi-potentialites have the ability to jump from one field of expertise to another, thanks to certain brain functions, which some seem to have, and other not. One can also call them polymath, which refers directly to the ideal of the Renaissance that one should develop universal knowledge for a proper understanding of the world (but I myself would rather call a multi-potentialite polymath if and only if he is really skilled, mentally as well as manually).

The industrial development made the emphasis on hyper-specialisation and has been asking for more and more specialists in the last decades. Which is definitely logic : the more a system gets complex, the more relevant informations are needed to deal with it. Being an expert on one key competence or field makes you very valuable on the market, so it is a good strategy for bringing success in your career. However, by narrowing our competences on one single field, some issues exist :

  • Your field of expertise could soon vanish in the haze, due to rapid technological advances.
  • Blind spots exist in the mind of the specialist, as to how to rule out some problems.
  • N specialists in N different fields speak N different langages and have it hard understand each other, especially when solving problems at the systemic level.

The first point is rather about the development of IA