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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  • Mar 3 2013: The majority of humans misperceive themselves as their ego. They also misperceive themselves as separate from all the other beings. Why? Because the are societally programmed to believe this. Where in ANY biological system is this the case......of separateness? THIS is the Original Sin.
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      Mar 3 2013: OK, but if we are so all interconnected, why the differing finger prints?
      Yes, each of us is an unique individual, with individual "egos?". The reasons we went from families in caves to to today's megalopolises is for "mutual" support and security, not to subjugate ourselves for the"greater" good of the society.... just saying.
      If I am owned by a man, I am a slave; if I am owned by a society, I am a ????
      • Mar 8 2013: Start with the question: Who am I? Sometimes, it helps to begin by asking who you are NOT?
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          Mar 8 2013: Fair enough.
          I am not an individual who would want to live in Germany in the 1930s, in Roman ca. 70,
          in Uganda in the 1980s. I guess you might say, that I have a sense of working with you and not for you.

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