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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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  • Mar 8 2013: Answer: Since we are greedy.
    (
    The story on the MIT page ends with: ... we examine these problems (electricity, clean water, the climate change, inefficient manufacturing, traffic, education, dementia or cancer) and introduce you to the indefatigable technologists who refuse to give up trying to solve them.
    I guess that even with the best technologies, which are getting better and better anyway, there would be millions of people living poorly in the world, where the rich get richer.
    Now, you could think of Karl Marx or the Bible:
    For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath
    Do we need technologists or philosophers or humanity?
    What are the roots of our big problems? Are they us?
    )

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