What is Big Think?  

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.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

Transcript

Kenneth Cukier:  Big data is not an unmitigated good.  Like many things in society, in fact probably all things, it comes with risks as well and it comes with a dark side.  And one dark side of course is privacy.  That exists today, it’ll exist tomorrow, maybe it gets bigger with big data as well.  But there is something else to play for, something else that’s a little more troubling still. And that is, if you will, propensity.  It is big data algorithms making a prediction of what you are likely to do before you’ve actually done it.

Now the criminal justice system has never really dealt with this sort of problem before. Typically you have to commit a crime before you are penalized for that crime.  But what if it is simply a prediction that you have a likelihood of committing a crime?  Would society be remiss not to intervene? If I could tell with a 98 percent statistical accuracy that you are likely to shoplift in the next 12 months, public safety requires that I interact.  And maybe I don’t put you into jail, it’s not Minority Report it's not pre-crime, I have a social worker knock on your door and say, “We’d like to help you.  We’d like to get you an after school job if your teenager.  We’d like to sort of support you.”

Well that sounds like it’s a benefit but in reality if you think about it, this person is gonna be stigmatized in the eye of his peers, school teachers, parents.  In fact he’ll probably feel stigmatized in his own eyes and feel badly and we might even encourage towards this sort of behavior that we want to prevent.  The point is that he will have been a victim of a prediction about him.  And he can rightly say, “I will be the two percent that will not shoplift that I’ll exercise my moral choice.”  So the solution seems to be in a big data world we want to somehow sanctify the notion of the human volition of human free will and to preserve that as a central attribute.

Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton

 

 

Fighting (the Propensity fo...

Newsletter: Share: