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 16 2013: It depends on whether you are looking at it from the human hubs then out to outlier hubs which generally are one step or two back from the main hubs technological level. we only ever need heavy energy need in our hemisphere's winter months unless you talking about our industrial complexes needs.

    Superconductive materials as well as under road dynamos that burst the grid. My dream is AG flight, it's the only true horizon left that needs a modern day Wrights brothers to crack otherwise it will get bogged down in years of red tape and availability issues.
    • thumb
      Feb 16 2013: What is AG flight?
      • thumb
        Feb 20 2013: Don't laugh but it's what the magnetic trains run on in japan except it's at a controllable height, I call it AG, anti-grav as that is what it will be called in a 100 years. look up a few superconductor talks, right now they are at the development stage of trying to find a created material that will operate at room temp instead of having to use liquid nitrogen to get the material to become superconductive and float on a magnet. It's sci-fi but it's the last frontier and it's up for grabs. A few have found or created materials that are bringing the cooling threshold down.

        A hundred more years of rubber wheeled transport? A vehicle that can take just about any weight and that is not reliant on a shock and tire system or terrain and only relies on a small EM field to float on must be far more efficient than a electric motor. We could get rid of roads and just have towers everywhere, Heck, dress them up as trees for a natural look.

        Like i said it's sci-fi but the universities are seriously looking into it, I don't see any other way for us but to attempt it, eventually oil is going to run out. If every private vehicle on the planet goes electirc we still would have to keep commercial transport and freight on combustion as no E-motor can take up the pull of a heavy engine.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.