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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.

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

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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.

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Man Versus Machine: When It Comes to Scale, It's Advantage Computers

December 15, 2013, 12:00 AM
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If a human and a computer both read a single page of comedy, the human would be at an enormous advantage. The computer wouldn't have a chance. 

But if we asked both a human and a computer to read 200 million pages, the tables are turned. The human wouldn't no where to begin and the computer would go on to win Jeopardy!

In the video below, the futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil explains how computational power lies in its scalability. Consider medicine, for instance. IBM's Watson can read all of the medical literature - every medical journal article, every medical book, major medical blogs - and will be "an expert diagnostician and medical consultant that has read everything," Kurzweil says. "No human can do that." 

This doesn't necessarily mean that a computer will become a great doctor. What it does mean is that a computer can serve as an excellent medical assistant. "It will be an assistant that helps you through the day," Kurzweil tells Big Think. "It will answer your questions before you ask them or even before you realize you have a question."

Watch the video here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

 

Man Versus Machine: When It...

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