Tinkering with Technology is Not What Moves Human Knowledge Forward

Malcolm Gladwell: It drives me crazy when people in the technological sphere inflate the importance of the kind of tinkering they do with these sort of software gadgets that they come up with.  

You go to Hollywood now and you ask any head of any studio what their biggest issue is they’ll say there aren’t enough great screenwriters or there are only eight people in Hollywood who can write a funny movie or there are no great leading men.  There is no great heir to Marlon Brando or Robert De Niro. Are any of those problems solvable through technology?  No. 


You go to MIT and you ask them what they want the most.  They’ll say what we need more than anything else is some brilliant young mind to come along and re-imagine physics.  Can you do that with a piece of software?  No. 

This is not to say that improvements in software aren’t important, but that's so tangential to the issue of what does it take to move human knowledge forward. It drives me crazy when people in the technological sphere inflate the importance of the kind of tinkering they do with these sort of software gadgets that they come up with.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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