TED Conversations

Jason Pontin

Editor in Chief/Publisher, MIT's Technology Review


This conversation is closed.

"Why Can't We Solve Big Problems?"

I'll be giving a TED U Talk in Longbeach at the end of the month. I'll be asking "Why Can't We Solve Big Problems?" I think that blithe optimism about technology’s powers has evaporated as big problems that people had imagined technology would solve, such as hunger, poverty, malaria, climate change, cancer, and the diseases of old age, have come to seem intractably hard.

I'd love to know what the TED Community thinks our difficulties are - or, even if the idea is true at all.

Here's a URL to the story I wrote in MIT Technology Review on the subject: http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/429690/why-we-cant-solve-big-problems/


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Feb 14 2013: The problems you are talking about have in common that they are not regarded as an important thing, at least theres one more important thing in the world which is economic growth and a shitton of profitmargins. I dont really want to sound like my point of view is unreflected and was grabbed by me on one of the non mainstream youtube channels or from one of those bazilliion of conspiracy theorists, so let me explain.

    The point is that we like measuring things in numbers we see growth in numbers if this numbers represent money then all the better because money can be used to build an army, to save millions of people, to buy things that just bring us joy. So in the end money seems to be the ultimate symbol of power. We all strife to be powerfull in some way or atleast to make a diffrence rather to be diffrent from the crowd. Through its universal function which extends into all scales of life everyone can relate to money, the single person can take care of his children, corporations can use it to increase our productivity, the state can use it to protect its people to help the poor, grant education.

    So as money is the factor we all can relate to in one way or the other it becomes our scale of measurement for success. Helping others, being generous ect. also are something both state and the single person can relate to however our economys cant, what interest does a corporation have when it comes to health of third world countrys? They are out for money thats what we/the system created them for and they have a huge influence on both politics (through sheer economic power) and the indivual through the load of advertisements and the way of live which the economy seems to indoctrinate us with.

    *To be continured in second post*

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.