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 13 2013: I do not think we can get rid of all world's problems. The best we can do is to substitute old problems with new problems. What happens in the macro scale only reflects the micro - it is impossible to be 100% healthy. Cure one ailment and you will only open the way for another. And who knows what is better? sometimes the old familiar problem is better because one knows what to expect from it. I do not want to say we should ignore malaria, cancer and other serious problems but we should not expect that once they are battled, there will not be any more problems comming.
    • thumb
      Feb 19 2013: -Namaste
      I feel a problem to you, might be a lesson to another. All problems in math have solutions, some might just be far more infinite than finite right? I hope I can use that mathematical analogy to apply to this general discussion of problems. Math is considered a universal language after all correct?

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.