From the Editor; December 2011; Scientific American Magazine; by Mariette DiChristina; 1 Page(s)
Where do great ideas come from—and how do we recognize their significance when they appear?
Danny Hillis, Applied Minds co-founder and a Scientific American adviser, and I were discussing these questions recently as we prepared for a talk in late October at the Compass Summit (compass-summit.com). “Ideas are a product of society,” an emergent phenomenon, Hillis told me, “which are almost inevitable.” That’s why, he said, our admiration for individuals who have come up with such ideas is “almost giving too much credit.” The idea itself is not enough. A lot of people in a society will have a given notion, he explained. Maybe only 1,000 will try to sketch it out. “Then 100 will try to make something, and 10 of those might actually make something practical. One or two of those might be on the level of an Edison or Tesla.”