TED Conversations

Jason Pontin

Editor in Chief/Publisher, MIT's Technology Review

TEDCRED 100+

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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 15 2013: Great topic ! I would love to hear the dialog from this but I will be in Palm Springs. I personally believe one the problems is that we don't have a way to get the people involved to understand the problem, with the same assumptions. Einstein said, "If I had one hour to save the world, I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution."

    For these big issues the conversation starts with the solutions, not a common understanding of the problem. The people arguing over the issues have not even agreed upon the same question first. Good luck !

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