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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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Virginia Postrel: Well I am optimistic on balance. So if I had to pick, I would probably pick an optimistic scenario. Although I could convince myself of really, really bad scenarios as well. Everybody is dying from smallpox, from biological warfare, or there are loose nukes everywhere. Or everybody retreats into a new futilism because there is a big question. One of the big questions going forward is, how physically secure will people feel? Whether it’s from whatever. And if they don’t feel physically secure, where will the threats be coming from? So that’s a big question mark. But let’s take the optimistic Virginia. I think that if, especially if people are allowed to experiment, and we’re able to tap the kind of dispersed knowledge and dispersed creativity that exists in a world with 6 billion plus minds in it, there’s a lot of positive that can come out of that, including countering the creative people who want to do bad things to other people. I have a great faith in the ability of people to muddle through incrementalism, and problem solving that is improvisational and sort of done on the fly. It doesn’t always work, but people are very creative when confronted with new situations. And I think people have collectively an amazing adaptability far more than people sort of acknowledge to themselves. Recorded on: 7/4/07

 

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