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

Why Capitalism Won't Evolve in the United States

October 15, 2013, 1:58 PM

Capitalism is a system that’s constantly evolving, that’s what’s good about it.  And there was capitalism before the Industrial Revolution.  But, when the technology of the Industrial Revolution got invented in the UK, there was already a dominant economic structure, the agricultural economy.  So that technology came to the emerging economy of its day, the United States.  And it was in the United States that we really developed a society built around an industrial economy.  

Today the same thing’s happening again.  The United States was largely responsible for the core development of information technology.  Information technology has different economics and requires different business principles, different economic principles.  It’s not going to happen in the United States because we have a very well-entrenched, powerful set of interests that like it the way it is.  So, it’s going to be in the emerging economies that they discover the rules of the next form of capitalism.  That’s the biggest idea.  

Let me offer you a second perspective on that, and maybe it’s a little wonky.  Based on work of Complexity Theorists and research at Santa Fe Institute, you can look at a system like capitalism as an adaptive system or a complex adaptive system.  And that means that, like a biological species, it evolves.  It’s made of rules the way a species is made, in a sense, of genes. 

So, if you take a species and you put it in a new environment, its characteristics change.  And that’s what we’re doing with capitalists.  Capitalists are finding the place that they most need to go is no longer Boston, but Bangladesh.  And so the emerging economies are an environment for capitalists, they will change their behavior, and that’s what will change the rules of capitalism. 

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

Image courtesy of Shutterstock


Why Capitalism Won't Evolve...

Newsletter: Share: