Technology and the “Adjacent Possible”

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Ideas that Changed the World

Technology and the “Adjacent Possible”

Innovation is advancing at a breakneck speed. Yet, no matter how fast it goes, it can never match the speed and scope of our imagination. This week, you will be doing a “reality check” that will attempt to calibrate our imagination with what is possible.

You will write an essay in which you will make a realistic assessment of what is (and isn’t) possible in the near future. Begin by assessing the current state of things. What is (and isn’t) possible now?

Now imagine the world 10 years from now. What kind of technological or ideological changes do you think will be prevalent? What ideas will still be beyond our reach? Why? Do not just make assertions. Your answers should be supported by evidence.

It is important to note that this assignment is NOT asking you to use your imagination to simply come up with future ideas. You are to be making a realistic appraisal of what is feasible in the future given the current state of things (what Johnson calls the “adjacent possible).

Divide your essay into three sections.

  • Section I should contain a survey of the current adjacent possible. Provide a few examples from credible articles to support your survey.
  • Section II should contain your assessment of the world 10 years from now.
  • Section III should contain your justification of section II, and should refer to section I.

For inspiration, here are some technologies and ideologies that you might consider analyzing:

  • Alternative or traditional energy
  • Medical technology
  • New forms of transportation (including space exploration technology)
  • Computer/telecommunications devices
  • Economic movements (e.g. capitalism and socialism)
  • Political movements (e.g. globalism and nationalism)
  • Social movements (e.g. the pro-life movement and the LGBT movement)

Your essay must be written following APA Guidelines. It should be 2-3 pages in length, not including your title page and references.

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