Make your future self work: Pareto performance in pandemic times and beyond

How can you use new tools, techniques, and technologies to rethink your personal productivity and enhance your future self?

How do you know you're bringing value to your team when all your interactions take place online? How can you use new tools, techniques, and technologies to rethink your personal productivity and enhance your future self?


In this Big Think Live session, MIT research fellow Michael Schrage dives into how we can all make fast, simple, scalable changes to make ourselves more effective and influential in the post-COVID world. From self-awareness vs. situational awareness, to understanding the Pareto principle as a springboard for change, this live session is a valuable moment to check in with yourself and remap the future.

Ask your questions for Michael Schrage in the comments section on Big Think Edge (exclusive to subscribers), YouTube, or Facebook!

Michael Schrage is the author of several books. His new book will be released in September 2020.

Catacombs of Paris: The city of darkness finds its new raison d'être

Ancient corridors below the French capital have served as its ossuary, playground, brewery, and perhaps soon, air conditioning.

Credit: Inspection Générale des Carrières, 1857 / Public domain
Strange Maps
  • People have been digging up limestone and gypsum from below Paris since Roman times.
  • They left behind a vast network of corridors and galleries, since reused for many purposes — most famously, the Catacombs.
  • Soon, the ancient labyrinth may find a new lease of life, providing a sustainable form of air conditioning.
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Baby's first poop predicts risk of allergies

Meconium contains a wealth of information.

Surprising Science
  • A new study finds that the contents of an infants' first stool, known as meconium, can predict if they'll develop allergies with a high degree of accuracy.
  • A metabolically diverse meconium, which indicates the initial food source for the gut microbiota, is associated with fewer allergies.
  • The research hints at possible early interventions to prevent or treat allergies just after birth.
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Asteroid impact: NASA simulation shows we are sitting ducks

Even with six months' notice, we can't stop an incoming asteroid.

Credit: NASA/JPL
Surprising Science
  • At an international space conference, attendees took part in an exercise that imagined an asteroid crashing into Earth.
  • With the object first spotted six months before impact, attendees concluded that there was insufficient time for a meaningful response.
  • There are an estimated 25,000 near-Earth objects potentially threatening our planet.
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Big think: Will AI ever achieve true understanding?

If you ask your maps app to find "restaurants that aren't McDonald's," you won't like the result.

Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS via Getty Images
Mind & Brain
  • The Chinese Room thought experiment is designed to show how understanding something cannot be reduced to an "input-process-output" model.
  • Artificial intelligence today is becoming increasingly sophisticated thanks to learning algorithms but still fails to demonstrate true understanding.
  • All humans demonstrate computational habits when we first learn a new skill, until this somehow becomes understanding.
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