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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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Human Computation

The Big Idea for Saturday, May 10, 2014

We can solve a lot of problems through crowdsourcing, and a number of companies and researchers are developing fascinating ways to harness the power of collective intelligence.

For instance, Amazon's Mechanical Turk is a form of artificial artificial intelligence. Mechanical Turk assigns human intelligence tasks to its users, priced at maybe a penny per task. These tasks require a simple skills to solve (like putting a meaningful label on a picture), and one day we hope computers will be able to perform these tasks instead of humans.

In today's lesson, Jonathan Zittrain, author of The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, describes both the optimistic and pessimistic view of what this type of problem-solving represents. While anyone can now write a check to Amazon and access the power of thousands of human micro-laborers, these "turkers," as they are called, are also disconnected from their work. Moreover, their work could be used by bad guys like the Iranian government. 


  1. 1 Is Your Mind for Sale? Inside the Allure of Digital Sweatshops
    Daniel Honan Collective Intelligence
  2. 2 Will We Disappear Into Our Machines?
    David Gelernter
  3. 3 A Computer Walked into a Bar: Take the Turing Test 2.0
    Daniel Honan Think Tank
  4. 4 Why is the future of the Internet so bleak?
    Jonathan Zittrain

Human Computation

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