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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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Transcript

Question: What is your question?

Dan Gilbert: People ask me what I’ve learned from studying how people think about the future. And one of the things I learned is that the best way to know whether you’ll want to do something in the future is to ask yourself whether you want to do it today. But the same is true for paying costs. Right now we are a society that is experiencing many benefits and pushing the costs for those benefits off into the future. We should ask ourselves every time we experience a benefit if we would be willing to pay the cost if we had to pay it today. And I think the answer – in human terms, and in environmental terms – is often “no”. We feel free to do things today because we don’t have to think about their consequences until tomorrow. The question we should always be asking ourselves is, “Would I do this if I had to pay for it now?”

Recorded on: 6/12/2007

 

 

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