Traditionally, “the prepared mind” (as Pasteur famously phrased it) has been credited with much of the success serendipity has brought in terms of scientific discoveries and innovation, for example. Recent work in serendipity science, however, suggests that recognizing the potential value in serendipitous events may be more about how we respond to our environment than about how we prepare for what we might encounter. In this talk I reflect on how these two sides can be seen as two sides of a coin, by exploring the role of epistemic emotions and individual experience on how and when potential value will be recognized, as well as by whom. That is, serendipity is not only available to geniuses or those fortunate enough to be the right person in the right place at the right time, it can be generated by unique interactions and the courage to contribute, by almost anyone, at any time.
Dr. Samantha Copeland is an assistant professor of philosophy in the Ethics and Philosophy of Technology Section at Delft University of Technology. As co-founder of the Serendipity Society she and her co-chairs have brought together a network of more than 150 people from around the world who are interested in the study of serendipity, both in theory and in practice, including artists, scientists, business developers and managers, innovators, archivists, academics, and more. She has co-edited two anthologies on recent work in serendipity, The Art of Serendipity (2022), and Serendipity Science (forthcoming 2023). Currently, she is working on the relationship between serendipity and ethics, both as a method for creating ethical insights but also in terms of the ethics of how we reward chance discovery and how it is or is not encouraged within research in different contexts.