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
With rendition switcher

Transcript

Daniel Altman:  Immigration is a really complex issue because there are so many political and social and economic issues wrapped up in it and I think that as result you see very different priorities being set by different countries.  The United States has an immigration policy that is pretty much driven just by political and social priorities.  We don’t have a lot of content.  In fact, we don’t have a lot of economic rationality in our immigration policy either at the top end of the spectrum for the high-skilled immigrants or at the low end for the low-skilled immigrants.  

That is in stark contrast to a lot of other countries.  What we’re seeing in other countries, for example, the United Kingdom and Australia is a much more economically-driven policy where they observe the needs of industry and they allow workers to enter as those needs are filled and they also have one extra attribute, which is sort of a cream-skimming program where they give special preference to people who have advanced degrees, who speak English well, who have entrepreneurial potential and earning potential.  Those people can get work permits almost instantaneously just by filling out a sort of scorecard.  If your score is high enough, you can immigrate.  In the United States we don’t have anything like that and, as a result, if there is a global sort of beauty contest to try and attract the best immigrants from around the world to contribute to your economy, we’re going to lose it.  

lot of these rich countries are rolling out the welcome mat for the best immigrants that they can pluck from all around the world and really making it very attractive for them more so than ever to leave their countries of origin and go to a wealthier country where they might have better opportunities.  Is this a good thing or a bad thing for the countries that might be sending them?  Well I think it could go either way, but I tend to think it’s probably a bad thing.  If one of those people stays in their home country, they become part of the anchor of a base middle class that helps to develop the country.  We have found in the years that we have been studying development economics in this country and around the world that you need a sort of professional middle class that acts as the foundation for growth.  Those are the people who start to take responsibility for paying taxes, having social services, increasing the capacity of their state to serve its people.  If all of them leave even if they are sending money back that money is not enough.  They’re presence is important because they are creating the intellectual, political and economic underpinning of a growing society, and I think that is what the real problem is with this brain drain.  

More from the Big Idea for Tuesday, May 07 2013

Predicting the Future

In today's ever-changing and highly volatile world we have no shortage of predictions. What we do have is an accountability shortage.  In today's lesson, Big Think Chief Economist Daniel Altman... Read More…

 

The Brain Drain Game: Why E...

Newsletter: Share: