The potential opportunities that AI could enable will remain mostly untapped if we don’t hone our ability to connect the dots and “cultivate serendipity”. This article sheds light on how to develop a “serendipity mindset” that helps us maximise potential.


SwissCognitive Guest Blogger: Prof. Dr. Christian Busch, Director, CGA Global Economy Program and Jim Marshall, founder and CEO, Serendipity AI


People used to have a relatively limited space in which they could encounter opportunities, professionally and personally: their town, their office, their extended social circles. Enter the world wide web – a world worth of connections to form, a world almost too vast to cast a net; the volume of valuable information and connections is nearly unnavigable.

But when AI enters the picture, in the form of machine-learning algorithms, we suddenly have a cross-section of limitless potential and personal curation. In curated (content) communities, every single person and content piece brings potentiality.

The perception of AI has always been twofold: either a threat or a life-saver. But if we look through the lens of serendipity–unexpected good luck resulting from unplanned moments in which proactive decisions lead to positive outcomes–it’s often clearly the latter. The possibilities AI presents us with are huge: AI can be taught to increase the amount of possible “serendipity triggers”. But it requires the right mindset to make it work for individuals and companies alike – the ability to connect the dots is crucial.

A serendipity mindset at its core means mastering how one can turn uncertainty and the unexpected into fortuity. Once we realize that serendipity is not just about a coincidence that just happens to us, we start to see bridges where others see gaps.

Whether or not you are conscious of it, AI is presenting us with increased serendipitous opportunities at every turn, and today’s global, interconnected and ever-evolving digital world opens up even more scope and opportunity for serendipity. At its most basic, whether you’re sifting through Spotify’s “Discover” or “For You” playlists or getting jobs fed to you on LinkedIn or being recommended articles about breakthrough new technologies, AI is consistently introducing us to people, prospects and solutions we didn’t previously know existed. These learnings can result in something as simple as bringing us joy, or a monumental change like leading us down a new career pathway or solving the world’s biggest challenges.

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But this world of opportunities will remain untapped unless unlocked and harnessed. How can we develop a serendipity mindset that helps us to maximise our potential?

  1. Connect The Dots: Have you been doom scrolling LinkedIn only to find that you’re continuously served a job that seems misaligned to your trajectory? Maybe you’re a medical salesperson, but your computer has noticed your time spent on Architectural Digest and dabbling with interior design courses. Connect the dots between what you love and what this opportunity holds. Is there an opportunity that exists here? When you swap your A-to-B map for a simple compass, you can still follow your truth while turning something unexpected into a positive outcome.
  2. Plant Serendipity Bombs: Technology easily fosters serendipitous networking and endless opportunities to expand our networks. Gone are the days of dropping off resumes with the doorman. Harness social media’s power for good by writing honest, speculative messages to people that pop up on your feed and that you admire, via their DMs. Share how they have already shaped your trajectory, and open up a conversation about how they can be a part of your future journey.
  3. Set Hooks: Serendipity hooks help people get interested in you and help you learn what you’ll find intriguing about them. When asked (by technology or humans), “What do you do?” expand beyond, “I’m in marketing” to “I work at a magazine in brand marketing in the travel sector. I love traveling and writing, and so this felt like the perfect intersection of my passions.” Hooks allow technology to “categorize” you differently, and others to find and latch onto something that relates to their lives or what they’re looking for, making serendipity more likely.

By embracing a serendipity mindset, both creators and consumers of AI can maximize the momentum that this technology is bringing to both everyday life and the future.

Until recently, our ability to seed and react to serendipity was constrained by the limits of human ability. There are only so many hours in the day and however good we are at harnessing serendipity, there will always be better (and missed) opportunities missed by our linear powers. As the exponential, accelerating power of AI joins forces with us, the opportunities to profit from serendipity will become so much more targeted and precise. We can expect it to multiply the volume of serendipitous moments we are exposed to, sharpen our reaction times and help all of us reach our true potential faster.

Ostensibly, AI and machine learning are a part of society that turns the randomness of the universe a bit more to your favor…so long as you are ready for it.


About the Authors:

Dr. Christian Busch is the bestselling author of Connect the Dots: The Art & Science of Creating Good Luck, and a professor at New York University and the London School of Economics. Twitter: @ChrisSerendip.

Jim Marshall is founder and CEO of Serendipity AI, a London-based artificial intelligence company that helps its clients gain strategic advantage through advanced machine learning and visualisation technologies.