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.
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What's the Latest Development?
Scientists from the University of Portsmouth and Yerkes Primate Nature Center allowed 16 chimpanzees to see them interacting with a robot -- one that looked like a human doll but could make sounds and gestures like a human or a chimpanzee -- before giving the robot to them. Almost all of them communicated actively with the robot in some way, with some giving it toys and others banging on the side of the cage to get its attention. Team member and University of Portsmouth lecturer Marina Davila-Ross says the chimps "recognised and showed increased interest when the robot imitated their body movements...[but] were less interested when the robot imitated the bodily movements of a human." One chimp even laughed at the robot, which showed evidence of full social interaction.
What's the Big Idea?
Davila-Ross says, "[Humans] know that a robot cannot feel or even fully respond to us, but the temptation to try is irresistible. We even respond positively when they smile." The same seems to be true for chimps, which opens up the possibility for future observations of more complex social behaviors involving an interactive "someone." A paper describing the experiment was published in Animal Cognition.
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