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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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Today's Big Idea: Deep Learning

The Big Idea for Thursday, January 03, 2013

Why do we spend so much time teaching a skill that is best left to computers even as we continue to get such dismal results? 

Conrad Wolfram raises this question in reference to the teaching of computation by hand. U.S. students are dramatically underachieving in this key STEM subject. But let's stop all of the hand-wringing and focus on teaching a deeper understanding of math, Wolfram says. This type of earning involves key skills such as posing the right questions and turning real world problems into math formulations. That's what the computers can't do. That's what we need students to excel at, Wolfram says, if we hope to get ahead in "the computational knowledge economy" of the future. 

In such an advanced economy, Wolfram argues, "high-level math is integral to what everyone does."


  1. 1 Reinventing Math for the Computational Knowledge Economy
    Daniel Honan Think Tank
  2. 2 Ray Kurzweil: Memorization is For Robots. People Learn By Doing.
    Jason Gots Think Tank
  3. 3 Pigeons are Good at Math, Alas
    Daniel Honan Think Tank
  4. 4 Blending Math With Beauty
    Benoit Mandelbrot

Today's Big Idea: Deep Lear...

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