Ideas Matter

One of the best news shows on television is CNN’s GPS. Host Fareed Zakaria usually brings in a panel of sharp guests that offer a more intellectual dialogue than what’s typically found on other cable news networks.

I was taken by the recent work of billionaire Nicolas Berggruen who, instead of doing the usual hospital wing donation or research organization, set up a foundation dedicated to philosophy and ideas. The Berggruen Institute is about tackling the fundamental ethical choices we must make in a world where we carry smartphones that contain more human knowledge than what was available in previous generations and move closer to self-driving cars.

As someone who writes regularly about technology, I find that too often these issues don’t get discussed. Many companies and sites that cover this area focus on the technical details and specifications of products instead of how they impact human knowledge or behavior. The question of the role of technology in society isn’t always a scientific one. It’s also a philosophical issue.

Many of the articles that come from the institute are shared over social media with the hashtag #ideasmatter. We need this type of reasoned thinking more than ever. Not only in just analyzing whether products or innovations do more harm than good, but because it’s this big-picture thinking that drives innovation.