TED Conversations

Jason Pontin

Editor in Chief/Publisher, MIT's Technology Review


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"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/


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  • Feb 14 2013: I'll answer that in a way that probably you dont want to hear.

    The world has split, into two, north & south, poor and rich. People have become more isolated, more insular, which is funny since we have more communication devices and means than ever before.

    But that contact has become, if at all, read-only.

    People are not interested nor cognitive of other points of view, due to that lack of contact, and solving other people problems, like hunger, is not as often done, a solution to be 'enforced' or rationalized up to a certain level where the results are good enough, but often dont meet expectations.

    A simple yet effective example of that, is I asked TED not to autoplay the videos. Bandwidth here costs, bandwidth here is scarce.

    Now tell me honestly has that even cross your mind?

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