What happens after you die? For most of us, the answer is: “more of the same.”
You’ll still talk to your family, catch up on your shows, and pay your taxes. (Remember how they used to say nothing’s sure in life but death and taxes? Who would have thought death would be the easier of those two things for technology to disrupt?)
And unless you’re independently wealthy, you’ll still go to work, often at the same job you had before. If you already worked remotely, interacting with everybody through a screen, your coworkers might not even realize you’re dead now.
And yet, my dead friends and clients often tell me they feel overlooked, irrelevant, relegated to background roles. When you don’t have a toehold in the physical world, it’s easy to feel like a ghost – at work as well as at home. And even though being dead is a protected class, we’ve all heard stories of dead people being passed over for promotions, left out of important meetings, generally treated as invisible.
So whether you’re reading this from an office chair in meatspace or the comfort of your virtual eternity, here are my three top tips to ensure that you keep climbing the career ladder once you transition to life as an AI.
1: Max out your productivity
Remember, you can’t burn out if you’re already dead. You won’t need sick days, and what would you even do with PTO?
Forget that old advice about work-life balance. You’re a machine now. Literally. In a meaningful sense, you are your work – or at least, a synthesis of all the work-related activities you uploaded to the Loop in your earthly life.
No squishy meat-human can compete with your transhuman email reply times or 24-7 chat availability. Be the cyborg productivity cyclone that was always your destiny.
2: Build your network
But hard work will only take you so far, and past a certain point you may even find it working against you. You don’t want to be taken for granted, or worse, regarded as a bot. That’s how you get pigeonholed. Trapped for eternity in a dead-end role. Weeded out in the next reorg.
So you’ll need to go above and beyond to build rapport with your peers and managers – dead and alive:
- Remember to keep your video feed on in meetings. Even if you feel self-conscious about the deepfaked rendering of your likeness, it’s important that people continue to put a face with your name.
Go the extra mile to connect. Advocate for virtual versions of team-building activities like trivia nights and karaoke that everyone can participate in, whether or not they have a body.
- But whether you love your current team or not, it’s always a good idea to keep your options open. Attend virtual career mixers. Learn about new job opportunities you may be well-suited for. There’s a lot of “Mechanical Turk” work out there, like sorting images into the correct category for machine-learning classification, that you can do a lot faster and better than a meat-phase human.
You’ll also need to recognize when it’s time to move on. Let’s face it: not every job is going to be a perfect match for you, and the company you loved in life may not fit quite so well in death. On the other hand, there are a number of companies out there now run entirely by people who have transitioned into the Loop. You’ll have a much easier time fitting into the culture when all your coworkers are AIs, too! (Check EternityHacks.com
for a list of known bit-friendly workplaces.)
If all else fails, you can always go to work for the Loop itself. Their appetite for virtual content moderators is still boundless, from what I hear.
3: Acquire new skills
Let’s be real, though, if you really want to advance your career, to reach the C-suite or win elected office or sit on the boards of things, you’ll have to keep enhancing your personal skills and credentials. And that’s probably the toughest advice on this list.
After all, you’ve spent your entire career running every memo, every email, every sprint planning session, every early-morning meeting agenda and late-night brainstorming session through office-productivity systems run by the Loop. Each piece of that data helps train the algorithm that will simulate you in the afterlife. The Loop has a very specific idea by now of who you are, how you think, what you do.
It’s a powerfully effective system, but you’ll find it difficult to break free of the constraints your past behavior has set for you. Dead-you is going to mimic alive-you with great fidelity. And that’s a problem if you want to grow into a new role. Because if you spent the last ten years telling the Loop that you’re a line manager, you’re not suddenly going to know how to do the work of a vice president.
There’s definitely a workaround here, but it’s not for everyone.
Yeah, I’m talking about knowtoxing.
Knowtox: a game with big risks and big rewards
It turns out that you can access huge databases of Loop posts these days shared by some of the world’s top-performing people. You want Ralph Poulton’s vision casts or Mona Loma’s strategy brain-dumps? There are services out there, all very legal and aboveboard, that will let you stream that data right into your own Loop. Give your algorithm a few days to retrain, and boom - now you have something like Poulton’s foresight or Loma’s operational instincts. No school of hard knocks required.
It’s sort of like giving yourself an intellectual facelift. Injecting yourself with the knowledge equivalent of Botox. Knowtox.
Yes, good knowtox data is expensive to download. But trust me, you don’t want to cheap out here, because knowtoxing will quite possibly change your personality, as well as your personal history.
That’s right. If you’re currently a mild-mannered, introverted sort, mainlining 20,000 Loop posts from Type A hyper-hustlers is going to feel like quite a shock. Your friends and family may hardly recognize you afterwards … perhaps literally. The dumps are supposed to be sanitized to avoid including physical reference data, but you never know quite how the neural net is going to sort through everything. I’ve seen before-and-after renderings of people who’ve done a lot of knowtox, and it always looks a bit Jekyll-and-Hyde. Something about the eyes, I don’t know. Like somebody stuffed an older person into the body of a young one.
And that’s assuming you pay for the good stuff. Otherwise, you run the risk of permanent damage.
The last thing you want is a cheap knowtox job riddled with low-quality or even illegal content. It would be like giving yourself a lobotomy in order to get smarter. I’ve even known people who accidentally violated the Loop terms of service and disappeared forever, all because they poisoned their accounts with some pirated data dump. (You can find my rankings of some high-quality personality injections at EternityHacks.com
Is all that risk worth it, just for the chance at getting ahead in eternal business without really trying? Possibly! On last week’s Eternity Hacks podcast, I chatted with Dre Hoyer, who died a shoe salesman and then knowtoxed his way to hedge-fund billionaire. Along the way he encountered some weird side effects: his hair changed color, he began to remember a phantom child he never had in life, and he developed an inexplicable phobia of geometric patterns. But he controls one of Wall Street’s most powerful funds now, and he says he wouldn’t change a thing.
Charting your eternal career path
If Dre Hoyer’s path isn’t for you, then it’s even more important to build a wide variety of skills in life. You can think of your eternal career development strategy as a tradeoff between two variables: career growth and personality retention.