I’ll expand on this post later, but just wanted to share this TED talk by Matt Ridley – author of The Rational Optimist.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 3 years researching what many would call the “doomer” or “pessimist” perspective.  As such, I thought it would be a good idea to spend some time in the optimists camp – just to be philosophically balanced.  Admittedly, I’m still skeptical of the optimists – but I’m open to being convinced otherwise.

Just as I’ve tried to focus on the strongest arguments put forth by skeptical/pessimist thinkers, I’m hoping to do the same thing, but on the other end of the spectrum.  Namely, by finding the most well argued position for optimism.

Matt Ridley seems like a decent place to start.

I’ll add more detail & commentary when I’ve had a chance to re-watch this TED talk, but for now, here’s a quick excerpt from Ridley’s blog post “Intergalactic Idea Sex” which helps give the gist of what the video above is all about:

In The Rational Optimist, I argue that the human technological and economic take-off derives from the invention of exchange and specialisation some time before 100,000 years ago. When people began to trade things, ideas could meet and mate, with the result that a sort of collective brain could form, far more powerful than individual brains. Cumulative technology could begin to embody this collective intelligence.


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