Sunday, September 02, 2007

Food For Your Mind

An important aspect of creativity and using intelligence effectively is the ability to look at things in different ways. Marvin Minsky, an artificial Intelligence pioneer, said once that one of the wonderful things about the intelligence of physicist Richard Feynman was that he could always think of a new way to look at a problem. This notion is a part of my own research theme-- that changing the way you look at things can get you past impasses in your thinking.

It's likely that some of your ability to do this comes from your inborn fluid intelligence, but much of it comes from exposure to new ways of looking at things from your experience. As a scientist, I try to expose myself to all kinds of ideas.

For the last few weeks I've been trying to watch a TED talk every morning. TED is an organization that hosts talks by people with great ideas. Just this morning I watched a talk so incredible it almost made me cry. Neil Gershenfeld talked about the future of fabrication, and how it was getting more personalized. Anyone interested in poverty, computers, or the future should watch this talk. An embedded link follows.




He talks about how MIT students are getting great design ideas from third-world children. It makes me sad how people starve their minds from interesting ideas. I see people in the checkout line reading those horrible gossip magazines and I want to just shake them-- don't they know there's a world of wonderful ideas out there? And I don't feel it just for their own personal well-being. There are serious problems with this world; it inspires me to think of what we could come up with if more minds were nurtured properly. What splendid ideas would grow out of such a fertile landscape?

I highly recommend to every reader to catch a few TED talks, to do something, at least once a week, to expose your mind to something totally new. You just might be capable of more than you think.

1 comment:

Dustin said...

oh my god.