If Necessity is the Mother, Serendipity is the Father

Trial and error, iteration, and serendipity are all part of our vernacular when it comes to innovation, much like mutations, adaptation, and variation are key ingredients to evolution.

Whether it is a prehistoric adolescent who mistakenly weights the end of his spear to create an atlatl; the geopolitical and religious pressure to spread the word of the Bible more efficiently; or just the drive to get somewhere faster than a horse can travel, humans innovate and invent, often without real awareness of implication at the time.

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To me, what makes this particular juncture in human history so unprecedented is a new, but also vaguely familiar friend: data. We’ve heard comparisons between data and genetics before, and I think this meditation is an important one.  We’ve also heard that more data has been created in the last five years than in all of human history hitherto. (I’d amend- more data has been recorded, not created.) Today data flow across ecosystems, between individuals, between consumers and businesses, between technologies, institutions, governments, and the list goes on—and the data itself (not to mention sources, inputs and outputs) only continue to grow.

That we are collecting “intelligence”; that we can “see” and “listen” to things in “real-time” adds a distinct flavor to how we innovate, how we iterate and adapt and create.

To gain momentum around what I’m talking about, I’ll illustrate some examples of areas where data is being used to drive/ mold/ inspire adaptations, changes, or altogether new behaviors in us, dearest humans.

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