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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.

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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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Linear Change

The Big Idea for Thursday, January 24, 2013

The best way to predict the future, X Prize founder Peter Diamandis is fond of saying, is to invent it yourself. The second best way to predict the future is to become an expert at recognizing patterns. People like Warren Buffett are really good at that. 

But there are two types of patterns that can be used to predict the future. One is cyclical. You know that spring will follow winter, for instance. Another kind of change is linear. This refers to the type of change that is certain, given clearly visible evidence. 

We know, for instance, how computing power will increase because we have been tracking it for decades. Therefore, that enables us to see how this type of change will impact multiple different industries. Above all, finding certainty in an uncertain world has enormous value because when we consider the alternative -- uncertainty, which is fraught with risk -- one tends to be inactive, if not fully paralyzed, rather than opportunistic. 


  1. 1 To Predict the Future with Certainty, Unplug Yourself From the Present
    Jonathan Fowler and Elizabeth Rodd Big Think TV
  2. 2 Using The Power of Certainty to Drive Growth in an Uncertain World
    Daniel Burrus Flash Foresights from Daniel Burrus
  3. 3 Today’s Technology is Getting Smarter Producing Amazing New Opportunities
    Daniel Burrus Flash Foresights from Daniel Burrus
  4. 4 Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen Predict the Future
    Eric Schmidt

Linear Change

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