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

How Big Data Can Help Us Understand Our Own DNA

June 15, 2013, 11:00 AM
Shutterstock_111268217

A lot of people don't want to know, but I'd like to know if I have a 10 percent or a 90 percent chance of developing Alzheimer's some day.  If I know I’m likely to develop it, I’m certainly going to start looking around right now to find if there is something that I can do to offset it.  So Yasmine Delawari Johnson, who is the young woman featured in the book, is actually two months pregnant in this photograph [See below].  She’s about to have her first daughter, who was actually born recently.

Her dad is from Afghanistan; her mother’s from Italy, and she’s always been very interested in her family heritage and she thought it would be very valuable to know what genes and traits she’s passing on to her daughter.  She was very happy to share those with the world, which I was grateful to her for.

The second story that deals with genes and genetic sequencing and understanding our own DNA is related to this site 23andMe.  It’s Mohammed Ali, who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.  What he’s done is team up with 23andMe, and they’ve invited 10,000 people around the world to basically donate their DNA.  They’ll do this genetic sequencing test on their DNA because there's apparently a gene they've discovered that indicates you will probably develop Parkinson’s. But some people have the gene and never develop Parkinson’s. They're trying to figure out if there is some kind of switch that turns that gene on and off.

I think the whole idea is to not be afraid of looking into your own genetic make-up. Maybe you’ll find diseases that right now we don’t have a cure for. Other people just want to stick their heads in the ground and don't want to know about it.  I would prefer to know and then again try to learn as much I can about what appears to ameliorate that or keep it at bay as long as possible. 


 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image 

© Douglas Kirkland 2012 / from The Human Face of Big Data
Model Released

 

How Big Data Can Help Us Un...

Newsletter: Share: