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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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Today's Big Idea: Disruptive Innovation

The Big Idea for Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"I define an expert as someone who can tell you exactly how something can’t be done," says X Prize founder and Chairman Peter Diamandis. After all, if Diamandis had sought out the opinions of the industry dinosaurs in the space industry, would there ever have been a successful manned commercial space flight?

In order to make radical breakthroughs, you need to ask the right questions of the right experts.

This is also one of the lessons laid out in the technology historian George Dyson's new book Turing's Cathedral, which tells the origin story of the digital universe, which Dyson locates in "the physical realization of Alan Turing's Universal Machine, a theoretical construct invented in 1936."

A small team at Princeton built the first electronic digital computer in less than five years for under one million dollars. While no one may be able to accurately predict what will happen in the farthest reaches of our digital universe of the future, the key to innovation can be found in this humble origin story. 

According to Dyson, a small group of engineers was left to its own creative devices, and they changed the world. Today, more than ever, small groups of people can create breakthrough innovations that were once only thought to be made possible by governments and large corporations. Or maybe, as Dyson's book suggests, the small group environment was always the ideal breeding ground for innovation. 



  1. 1 George Dyson: How Turing's Cathedral Was Built
    Daniel Honan Re-Envision
  2. 2 2012: The Alan Turing Year
    Daniel Honan Think Tank
  3. 3 Could Science Make the 21st Century Worse Than the 20th?
    Freeman Dyson
  4. 4 Innovate, Or Get Out of the Way!
    Daniel Honan Think Tank

Today's Big Idea: Disruptiv...

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