Lateral thinking: The reason you’ve heard of Nintendo and Marvel

Here's why generalists triumph over specialists in the new era of innovation.

  • Since the explosion of the knowledge economy in the 1990s, generalist inventors have been making larger and more important contributions than specialists.
  • One theory is that the rise of rapid communication technologies allowed the information created by specialists to be rapidly disseminated, meaning generalists can combine information across disciplines to invent something new.
  • Here, David Epstein explains how Nintendo's Game Boy was a case of "lateral thinking with withered technology." He also relays the findings of a fascinating study that found the common factor of success among comic book authors.
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Elon Musk reveals Tesla has designs for a submarine car

The Tesla Motors CEO has plans for a James Bond-like car that drives on and under water.

United Artists
  • Elon Musk said at a shareholder meeting that Tesla has designed a car that drives under water.
  • The design was inspired by a James Bond movie.
  • There are no immediate plans for the car's production.

You knew that sooner or later, Elon Musk, the closest person we have to a James Bond villain or Tony Stark, would attempt to build some new, next-level gadgetry straight from the movies. Not one to disappoint when it comes to making outlandish ideas become reality, Musk revealed that Tesla Motors has designs for a submarine car.

Yes, this car will be able to drive on roads, but also on and under the water. At least that's what Tesla CEO Musk said at an annual shareholders meeting in California. When asked by a shareholder whether Tesla thought about building a submarine car, Musk answered in the affirmative. Not only that, his company actually has designs for just such a vehicle (electric, of course).

Musk was inspired by the 1977 James Bond film "The Spy Who Love Me," saying that he thought the car in that movie (inspired by Lotus Esprit) "was like the coolest thing." In fact, he loved it so much that he bought it for £616,000 (close to $800K).

When can you get such a fantastic vehicle? Not so fast, said Musk. He thinks it's technically feasible but the market for such a car isn't quite robust enough yet.

"I think the market for this would be small—small, but enthusiastic," Musk explained.

Who knows maybe the expression of our collective enthusiasm upon reading such articles will make this car a reality.

Check out the submarine car sequence from the “Spy Who Loved Me” here:

Technology & Innovation

By 2040, 60% of ‘meat’ won’t come from dead animals

Experts say two emerging meat alternatives will challenge the conventional meat industry.


ROBYN BECK/Contributor
  • "Novel vegan meat alternatives" and cultured meat will likely become competitors to traditional meat products, the report says.
  • The report was conducted by the consulting firm A.T. Kearney and was based on expert interviews.
  • Cultured meat isn't yet on the market, but could be by 2021.
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Technology & Innovation

What’s wrong with the internet? We’d rather “display” than communicate.

Jonathan Rauch explains why the internet is so hostile to the truth, and what we can do to change that.

  • Disruptive technologies tend to regress humanity back to our default mode: deeply ingrained tribalism.
  • Rather than using the internet to communicate, many people use it to display their colors or group affinity, like tribespeople wearing face paint. Fake news spreads faster than truth in these tribal environments.
  • How can we solve this problem without censorship? Platforms like Facebook and Google are tilting the playing field to be more pro-truth by asking people to stop, think, and take responsibility.
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Sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies

​Amazon becomes world’s most valuable brand, beating Google and Apple

The report comes amid calls for antitrust investigations into big tech.


Bloomberg / Contributor
  • Amazon's brand is valued at $315.5 billion, according to BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brand ranking 2019.
  • Apple comes second at $309.5 billion, and Google is third at $309 billion.
  • "There is something going on in terms of monopoly," President Donald Trump said on Monday, referring to big tech companies.
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Technology & Innovation