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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.

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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Question: What is your outlook?

Anthony Fauci: I’m a born, cautious optimist. So the answer to your question is, I am optimistic.

I’m optimistic about how we’re going to be able to handle the diseases that we have now, namely HIV and the global health issues of the developing world. And I’m optimistic that we’re going to be able to be prepared enough for new challenges that come along. Because there is a perpetual challenge, these possibilities of emerging and re-emerging new infections. And I’m also optimistic that we will see our way to getting the people – of this country [USA], at least – to be covered so that they don’t have to worry about health, and getting sick, and not having the wherewithal to be taken care of.

Well the most pressing ethical question is to make sure that everything you do from a scientific standpoint is done for the ultimate good and positive issue for the people that you’re caring about.

The idea of a discovery for some self-aggrandizing reason that could have a potential negative impact by its very nature needs to be struck down.

So we need to be guided by firm ethical principles in what we do in every area of life, not just in medicine and in health. But in health, and medicine, and science, it’s even more imperative because you unleash the forces of science. And if you don’t have an ethical handle on what you’re doing, the potential damage can be enormous.


Recorded On: July 6, 2007


What is your outlook?

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