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 21 2013: Such large problems have so many facets that there doesn't appear to be one simple answer. All of these problems are so intertwined; it's difficult to untangle them all and solve every little piece of the issue. Maybe there are ways to solve issues such as world hunger and climate change, but it will be a long and arduous struggle to find the solutions. We do live in a world that relies heavily on the use of technology and I believe it can aid us in the search for answers. However, what we must really depend on is human ingenuity and innovation.

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