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
    Mar 10 2013: Your Question:"Why Can't We Solve Big Problems?".

    Could it be that political party's have hijacked your system of governing for there own personal gain ? Could it be that "political party's" are standing in the way of a true democratic process? Maybe it is time to hold a discussion on why do we need "party" involvement .

    Why not have representation by only independent candidates, and that they sign a contract with the constituency they were elected by ? Maybe a little more governing from the bottom up , instead of from the top down would work to the peoples advantage. And how about cutting of lobbyest .
    • Mar 10 2013: Hello Wayne,
      yes to your first two questions. For example, Slovak and Czech politicians and the mighty ones behind them rob our countries and do not solve problems (they also replace experts with political dummies).
      From the problems named by Jason, now Slovakia has problematic traffic, education, and health care. These are not broken yet and they can be improved in a better organized country.

      I cannot address global problems as climate change and water shortage very well.
      But, for example, I have understood that China's occupation of Tibet also means control of Asia's water springs.
      Imagine Netherlands flooded (due to melting icebergs) and people moving freely in less occupied areas, for example in Finland, Russia or Canada (if the melting cannot be stopped by any technology).
      Actually, I am saying yes to your questions again = there could be a political solution.
      Hm, I am surprised now.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.