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

Web 4.0: When Machines Take Over

February 1, 2011, 3:44 PM

Part five of Big Think's Farsight 2011 event looked at how artificial intelligence and machine learning would affect the future of digital search — and how we understand and predict the future.

Luc Barthelet, the executive director of Wolfram/Alpha spoke about the technique behind his search engine, describing how the it accumulate and curate data is by using professional experts. He said that "the goal is to democratize knowledge and make that available for everyone. ...  We want to accelerate the knowledge economy by providing the algorithm. ... We want to turn your question into something we can solve."

Barthlet said that at some point in the future people will be able to have back-and-forth conversations with their computers, and that we will enhance our knowledge by interacting with the machine to find out how the computer made its decision. Eventually, he said, people should be able to say "you are so wrong" to their computer. Having synthesized enough information through machine knowledge, a human could then connect the dots.

Next, Recorded Future founder Chris Ahlberg, talked about how his company is trying to synthesize existing information online to predict events in the future. "We're surrounded by micro-notions of the future, and what if we tried to organize them?" he asked rhetorically. He said the company figured if it could organize the events into timepoints, we could unleash what mankind knows about the future."      

He described how the classic Web is organized on publishing time, and how he was hoping to translate information into human time, and yielding actionable results that could be used by traders. "The future is available now, and this can generate real profits in trading by humans or machines," he said.


Web 4.0: When Machines Take...

Newsletter: Share: