Ken Stanley

In a podcast interview on the Santa Fe Radio Café, SFI Sabbatical Visitor Ken Stanley discusses the role of serendipity in making great discoveries and the dangers of constraint by objective.

Listen to the interview on KSFR's Santa Fe Radio Cafe (49 minutes, March 24, 2015)

A self-described “hard core computer scientist by trade," Stanley discusses how he and his colleague Joel Lehman serendipitously discovered the Objective Paradox through their online experiment in artificial intelligence (, a collaborative art application in which users breed images as an evolutionary process). Specifically, they observed users "discovering" new images…but not when that image was not the objective of the discoverer.

In their subsequent book “Why Greatness Cannot Be Planned: The Myth of the Objective," they expound on how “trying to achieve something can actually hinder you,” and how this idea “goes against our current culture of metrics-based assessments” that is currently at the foundation of, for example, the grant funding process for scientific research and our increasingly standardized-testing-based education system.

 Watch the video interview on PBS New Mexico's "Report from Santa Fe" (27 minutes, March 28, 2015)

More about the book

Ken Stanley will appear at a book-signing event on June 16, 6:00 pm, at Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse in Santa Fe.