Saturday, November 13, 2021

g-f(2)651 THE BIG PICTURE OF THE DIGITAL AGE (11/13/2021), Big Think, The “Eureka myth”: Why big ideas don’t form in a single moment

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"g-f" fishing of golden knowledge (GK) of the fabulous treasure of the digital ageDigital Transformation, The “Eureka myth” (11/13/2021)  g-f(2)426 


The “Eureka myth”: Why big ideas don’t form in a single moment 

      • There is something undeniably romantic about the notion of ideas as heroically catalytic moments. It’s also misleading. It suggests that breakthroughs conform to the Eureka myth; that our most significant instances of thought or endeavor are not rooted in material conditions, or constrained by their histories.
      • Like the original Eureka moment, breakthroughs aren’t ex nihilo miracles. Like all ideas they are composed of pre-existing ideas recombined. It is not then that break-throughs are radically new ideas born whole; rather they are especially significant combinations, formed by slow processes of accretion at the bottom of an S-curve as much as bolts from the blue.
      • In his new book, "Human Frontiers: The Future of Big Ideas in an Age of Small Thinking," publisher and author Michael Bhaskar explores how big ideas have changed society, and why they seem relatively scarce in recent decades.
      • Bhaskar argues that transformative ideas aren't generated in a "Eureka" moment, but rather through a three-stage process. 

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      Michael Bhaskar is the cofounder of Canelo, one of the world’s fastest growing publishing companies, and former consultant Writer in Residence at DeepMind, the world’s leading AI lab. He has written a prize-winning monograph, "The Content Machine, Curation: The Power of Selection in a World of Excess," and is co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Publishing. He was the lead author on the Literature in the 21st Century report, and his latest book is "Human Frontiers: The Future of Big Ideas in an Age of Small Thinking." His books have been translated into nine languages.

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      Lessons learned, Big Think 

      • Big ideas can be found in all areas of human endeavor. You find the above pattern with linguistic philosophy; the Internet; human rights; the concept of zero; the steam engine; the iPhone; utilitarianism; calculus; the periodic table; helicopters; entropy; double-entry bookkeeping; written constitutions; writing itself; deep machine learning techniques; Jacobean tragedy; Spacewar! and Grand Theft Auto; information theory, quantum theory and game theory; Cartesian grids, rationality and ego. This is an ecumenical approach to ideas, but only by taking such an approach can we see the overarching picture of change, or its absence.
      • Although we might associate big ideas with outsized impact, that doesn’t imply a speedy or completionist account of their production. When we think of natural selection and evolution, we think of 1859, On the Origin of Species and Charles Darwin. In some ways it is the archetypal big idea – a huge, world-changing scientific notion associated with a single author, year and book. But of course, Darwin didn’t ‘invent’ evolution. He built on theories from the likes of Anaximander and Lucretius, Erasmus Darwin (his grandfather) and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. 

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      Lessons learned, Big Think 

      • Natural selection is a classic big idea. But its long, complex gestation, its prolific mixture of existing theories and ideas – these are typical as well. Big ideas don’t spring into being fully formed, even though it can look like that. Rather, ideas themselves form and grow in an evolutionary manner. Discrete leaps are, under the hood, often the results of gradual cumulative processes and unlikely admixtures. Big ideas ‘broker’ other ideas in interesting ways  – whether that’s Elvis Presley brokering gospel and the blues or Gutenberg’s printing press coupling the wine press with the idea of casting a seal. Johannes Kepler united the previously disparate fields of physics and astronomy, using new data uncovered by Tycho Brahe to prove the elliptical orbits of the planets. Marx’s theory of capitalism combined Hegel’s philosophy with classical political economy and an emergent socialist tradition.
      • Likewise Freud didn’t ‘invent’ the unconscious, an idea that had pedigree everywhere from the Upanishads to Thomas Aquinas, Montaigne and Romantic artists. Picasso exploded Western traditions of art by bringing in new, supposedly ‘primitive’ forms from Africa and elsewhere. The Wright brothers combined the aerodynamics of bird flight with bicycle technology. And on and on.

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      • Category 2: The Big Picture of the Digital Age
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      PhD with awarded honors in computer science in France

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