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Bernardo Monechi
Francesca Tria
Pietro Gravino PhD
Vito DP Servedio
Vittorio Loreto
Crossing the horizon: exploring the adjacent possible in a cultural system


It is common opinion that many innovations are triggered by serendipity whose notion is associated with fortuitous events leading to unintended consequences. One might argue that this interpretation is due to the poor understanding of the dynamics of innovations. Very little is known, in fact, about how innovations proceed and samples the space of potential novelties. This space is usually referred to as the adjacent possible, a concept originally introduced in the study of biological systems to indicate the set of possibilities that are one step away from what actually exists. In this paper we focus on the problem of defining the adjacent possible space, and analyzing its dynamics, for a particular system, namely the cultural system of the network of movies. We synthesized to this end the graph emerging from the Internet Movies Database (IMDb) and looked at the static and dynamical properties of this network. We deal, in particular, with the subtle mechanism of the adjacent possible by measuring the expansion and the coverage of this elusive space during the global evolution of the system. Finally, we introduce the concept of adjacent possibilities at the level of single node and try to elucidate its nature by looking at the correlations with topological and user annotation metrics.

Published/Presented: Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Computational Creativity, June 2016
Journal: submitted to "ICCC 2016 – The Seventh International Conference on Computational Creativity"