If you imagine an agent as a blackbox, you can first focus on the inputs it can receive and the outputs it can produce. In a second step, you then peek under the hood to understand what happens inside that box, how the inputs are connected to the outputs. Let us begin with the agent’s relations to the outside: What goes in? What comes out?
The agent’s purpose
While agency is necessarily agnostic of any purpose, the agent itself cannot exist without a motivation, a mission, an objective, a goal, in order to orient its actions in a meaningful direction. The very essence of 'meaning' solely depends on the presence of a purpose from which the agent can derive the most appropriate next step.
How change begets more change
Back in 2002, Carlota Perez published an original, daring and bold concept that describes our long-term social development. For her, technology, economy, and society each play a vital role, each of them by itself drives change, as much as it is driven by the changes of the others. Here’s a very initial introduction to her thinking.
Changing values – Towards a new economy?
Our ideas of value, what it is and how it is generated in the economy, have changed over time. Today's dominant school of thought, neoclassical economics, lost sight of these decisive questions, as Mariana Mazzucato argues in her 2018 'The Value of Everything'. But there are some very recent promising signs that we are starting to have a renewed debate about value and how we want the economy to work for all of us.
Exploring the adjacent possible – Next steps
Steven Johnson investigated the types of environment that nourish fledgeling innovations, and presented his analysis in "Where Good Ideas Come From". In his conclusions he explores the available data on about 200 of the most important good ideas of the past 600 years and derives some insightful advice for fostering innovation in the 21st century.