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

David Eagleman: When I was a child growing up, I expected that we would have robots by this point, C-3P0, and we still don't. In fact, the smartest thing that we have is the Roomba vacuum cleaner, so that means that something went terribly wrong with AI. And it forces us to ask what went wrong because, essentially, we’ve been throwing the smartest people on the planet at that problem since the ‘60s and it’s been a failed problem. The answer, I think, clearly, is that we have to listen to what Mother Nature is doing. So since the ‘60s, people have thought, okay, look, there's all this wet biological gushy stuff, let’s put that aside and just figure out what would intelligence take, how could we just do this from scratch, and that hasn't gotten us anywhere. The game now is shifting to saying, "All right, how is Mother Nature accomplishing it?"

The reason AI got stuck is because programmers have been saying, "Look, how can we solve this part of the problem and then solve this little part of the problem and then this part of the problem?" So if you have a robot and you want it to pick up wooden blocks and stack them, programmers have traditionally tried, okay, let’s solve the, find the block problem, and then let’s, once we’ve done that, solve the pick up the block problem and then the stack the block problem and so on. And this sort of division of labor seems like a pretty good idea, but it’s never really gotten us anywhere. The difference with what Mother Nature does is she doesn't come up with solutions to problems and then check the box. The brain is an end product of a chronic process of reinvention that Mother Nature always does, so there's no single solution to anything. Instead, the brain is this collection of subpopulations that all solve problems in overlapping ways. There's no single solution. So, for example, the detection of motion by the visual system, there's not just one way that the brain does that. There are multiple ways that were invented at different points in evolutionary history and they all weigh in on the same problem using different mechanisms. The same with memory, we don't have a single memory system. There are lots of ways that memories get written in the brain.

 
If we want to solve the AI we have to do it the same that Mother Nature did, which is build a machine that runs on conflict, that runs on reinventing solutions and having overlapping solutions of the problem space. And that, I think, is our best hope for un-logjamming the field of artificial intelligence.

 
Directed/Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

 

What Went Wrong With AI?

Newsletter: Share: