What is the Adjacent Possible?

Supracritical soup. A rich minestrone.

The adjacent possible is a kind of shadow future, hovering on the edges of the present state of things, a map of all the ways in which the present can reinvent itself…[the adjacent possible] captures both the limits and the creative potential of change and innovation.— Steven Johnson (Smith, 2010)

A Kind of Shadow Future

The Beads in the Jaguar
The shadow of the past looms larger, it seems, at every strike of the clock; for every moment we move forward, we strip from history perhaps 9, perhaps 900 more moments that otherwise could have been.
Can we even ask what the future may hold?

Concepts mentioned or alluded to here, and related books and articles:

  1. Adjacent possible: The adjacent possible is a kind of shadow future, hovering on the edges of the present state of things, a map of all the ways in which the present can reinvent itself. As Steven notes, the adjacent possible “captures both the limits and the creative potential of change and innovation.”
  2. Smith, Eddie. (2010). The adjacent possible. Practically Efficient blog: https://www.edge.org/conversation/stuart_a_kauffman-the-adjacent-possible
  3. Kauffman, Stuart. (1996). At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity. Available at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/At-Home-Universe-Self-Organization-Complexity/dp/0195111303
  4. Gell-Mann, Murray. (1995). The Quark and the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple and the Complex. Available at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Quark-Jaguar-Adventures-Simple-Complex/dp/0805072535
  5. Veil of ignorance: Rawls suggests that you imagine yourself in an original position behind a veil of ignorance. Behind this veil, you know nothing of yourself and your natural abilities, or your position in society. You know nothing of your sex, race, nationality, or individual tastes. Given this state of affairs, how would you distribute the Earth’s resources among its people if granted the opportunity? Probably, in such a way so as to maximize your own chance of getting a good deal. Since you could not know, in advance, to whom and where you will be born, you would share them as randomly as possible.
  6. Anthropomorphism: The attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object.

Founder of @SeloOlive. Croatia’s most authentic extra virgin olive @SeloSlav

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Martin Erlic

Martin Erlic

Founder of @SeloOlive. Croatia’s most authentic extra virgin olive @SeloSlav

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