Possibility. This is an interesting word, which dominates our environment in predicting what will happen in the future, next minute, day, months and years. Every person try to have a prediction of what might happen and tune themselves in a way to cope with it. The governments would want to be prepared in provision of services to its people. If something is possibly going to happen, which might hurt its people, say for example drought, or diseases spreading, or population growth and the need for enough services, the government looks at this possibility and adjust itself to meet it. When we are applying for jobs or internships here, we also think of possibility of getting a job or internship in where we are applying. Almost all our lives are preparing for the possible occurences.
The lecture by Professor Vittorio Loreto from Sapienza University of Rome on possibilities and innovations, which he termed as “adjacent possible”, was an interesting topic to look at. He first engaged us in a game where he gave the first letter of a word and let use guess the next letter. He moved on from letter to words in a sentence. He let us guess the words after giving the first word. I thought this was getting easier but actually it became more complex in that it could take many more possibilities than being given letters. After this, he came back to guessing words given the first letter. He showed us through these three words and letter guessing on how languages can take different directions on a different context. And this what he meant by “adjacent possibility”
He drew our attention to the directions that innovations can take through mutation and fixation in Biology, trial and error in the labs, serendipity way, and in many other fields. Through all these fields, innovation is guided mostly by what we have already and minor improvements from it could lead to another big innovation, which is what he called adjacent possible. Most of the time, we predict our future by looking at the past. He gave an example of the weather predictions, where meteorological locations use the past weather conditions and predictions made before it to predict the future weather. Inasmuch as we can’t completely predict our future with it, trajectory cannot be a lot off from the past trend.
Professor Loreto’s main argument was that innovation in the world is increasingly decreasing. He blames things like patent to be an inhibitor of innovations. He thinks giving patent to companies in any kind of filed prevent other people from exploring that field better and lowers the rate of innovations. He gave us example of Twitter, Wikipedia, which is decreasing and he thinks innovation might be tougher as we go forward. This worries because of many needs and challenges that we face on earth nowadays which are increasingly increasing.
However, I think the opposite on innovations. I think these platforms like Facebook and Twitter, are used by many people and has taken the attention and usage of many but I think there are many other innovations made but have not gained popularity due to monopoly of the former. I think as our needs increases and pressured by fewer resources and faced by calamities like the HIV, Ebola, human being will always find ways of meeting our needs by innovating better ways of dealing with the problems that faces us.