What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

Ideas Are Our Greatest Natural Resource

January 19, 2014, 12:00 AM
Shutterstock_118491940

A human population of nine billion, going on ten billion, is seen by many as one of the greatest threats facing our planet over the next century. Where will the resources come from to support such a massive population? Others wonder what we might do to limit seemingly runaway population growth. 

After all, there are examples from history of what happens when civilizations grow to large. The Mayans, for instance, were forced to convert forest into farmland in order to feed themselves. These emergency measures led to soil erosion, worsened drought, and eventually the collapse of Mayan civilization. 

To avoid the same fate, the argument goes, we must all get used to consuming less. 

The computer scientist Ramez Naam has a different take. Naam argues that forecasters who create models of populations and available resources tend to underestimate the power of new ideas to expand resources. "Human brains are the sources of ideas and ideas multiply all other resources and make your life better," Naam tells Big Think. 

And so, in Naam's view, the more, the merrier. "Ask yourself this," Naam says in the video below.  "Would you be better off if fewer people had lived before you or if more people had lived before you?  If fewer, maybe they would have used up fewer finite resources. But then fewer people would have come up with all these great ideas that enhance your life whether it’s antibiotics or the electric light or the Internet or television or radio or the automobile."  

Watch the video here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

 

Ideas Are Our Greatest Natu...

Newsletter: Share: