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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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The Scale of Computation

The Big Idea for Sunday, December 15, 2013

Here's an unpleasant idea: persistent unemployment in the United States is not simply the product of an economic downturn, but is a structural issue with the economy. Certain classes of jobs are simply being outmoded by machines. 

On the other hand, one can take the much more optimistic view that while automation will destroy some jobs, in the long run it will help us create more jobs and enable us to be much more creative.

In today's lesson, Ray Kurzweil explains the advantage computers have when it comes to standardizes tasks, which computers excel at when these tasks are brought to scale. For instance, no human can read 200 million pages. But the good news is that we don't need to. A robot can do that work for us and be the world's greatest medical assistant. That doesn't mean we will no longer have doctors. It probably means we will have better doctors. 




  1. 1 Man Versus Machine: When It Comes to Scale, It's Advantage Computers
    Big Think Editors Big Think TV
  2. 2 Can We Win the Race Against the Machines?
    Daniel Honan Think Tank
  3. 3 Why Do We Still Have to Work?
    Robert de Neufville Politeia
  4. 4 Do Androids Dream of Stealing Your Job?
    Megan Erickson Think Tank

The Scale of Computation

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