[Links] Serendipity and discovery, and a tool for making progress on hard questions/problems

by arikr 1 min read14th Aug 20192 comments



One survey of patent holders (the PatVal study of European inventors, published in 2005) found that an incredible 50 percent of patents resulted from what could be described as a serendipitous process. Thousands of survey respondents reported that their idea evolved when they were working on an unrelated project — and often when they weren’t even trying to invent anything.


Kenneth Stanley: Why Greatness Cannot Be Planned: The Myth of the Objective

I believe these links could be useful to people in EA who are focused on hard questions where the answers (and the process to get to the answers) aren't yet obvious. I think the NY Times article provides the "why" and the YouTube video provides the "how."

My sense is that this is a highly undervalued tool/method for tackling hard ambiguous questions where the process to get an answer/solution isn't yet obvious, and it seems that EA is full of questions and challenges like that!

So, I hope this is a useful model to add to your problem solving toolkit as you work on doing good!