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


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

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


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

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


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

A Robot Becomes a Fellow at a Think-Tank

March 7, 2011, 8:38 PM

The Hybrid Reality Institute announced on Monday that Data, a robot actor and celebrity, has joined the Institute as a Fellow. Data is the first non-human entity to join a think tank with the full rank of Fellow.

Best known for his stand-up comedy exploits on behalf of Marilyn Monrobot at the TED conference series, Data was named after the Star Trek character. Based on the Nao platform, Data caters his jokes, animation level, and interactivity to individual audiences using online learning techniques.

Created by roboticist and Hybrid Reality Institute fellow Heather Knight, Data’s first public appearance was a series called ‘Postcards from New York,’ which took place (with strangers) in Washington Square Park. There, he performed short sketches about his adventures and experiences in specific neighborhoods of NYC when visitors showed him an oversized postcard. He also helped kick-off a Syynlabs Rube Goldberg Machine that opened the 2010 Pop!Tech conference. Data is currently working on an extensive repertoire of robot pickup lines and enjoys engaging in banter on Twitter (@robotinthewild) and long walks on the beach.

Data was invited in line with the Institute’s belief that humans will live amongst machines and form relationships with them that will be helpful, enlightening, confusing and detrimental – much like humans living with each other. We are looking forward to interacting with Data over the coming months as he continues to evolve his repertoire and provides us with a glimpse of human-machine relationships of the future.

Based in New York City, the Hybrid Reality Institute conducts original research on the social, economic and political implications of human-technology co-evolution. The Institute is specifically focused on the Hybrid Age – the post-Information era we are entering today where humans live in a world of proliferating, disruptive and increasingly intelligent technologies. Institute fellows examine how individuals and society at large can make informed decisions about how to lead “the good life” in the Hybrid Age.

Ayesha and Parag Khanna explore human-technology co-evolution and its implications for society, business and politics at The Hybrid Reality Institute.


A Robot Becomes a Fellow at...

Newsletter: Share: