Thomas Homer-Dixon

13 results found for: Ingenuity Gap


November 15th, 2014 —

Today’s Butterfly Effect Is Tomorrow’s Trouble

Around the world, national institutions and political systems are designed to deal with single-cause problems and incremental and reversible change. But the world ain’t like that any more. Take a problem like climate change. Its causes are many and tangled; the climate system has flipped from one state to another in the past, and could do so again under human pressure; and once it flips, we won’t be able to get the old climate back.

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October 6th, 2011 —

Tipping Toward Sustainability: Emerging Pathways of Transformation

This article explores the links between agency, institutions, and innovation in navigating shifts and largescale transformations toward global sustainability. Our central question is whether social and technical innovations can reverse the trends that are challenging critical thresholds and creating tipping points in the earth system, and if not, what conditions are necessary to escape the current lock-in. Large-scale transformations in information technology, nano- and biotechnology, and new energy systems have the potential to significantly improve our lives; but if, in framing them, our globalized society fails to consider the capacity of the biosphere, there is a risk that unsustainable development pathways may be reinforced. Current institutional arrangements, including the lack of incentives for the private sector to innovate for sustainability, and the lags inherent in the path dependent nature of innovation, contribute to lock-in, as does our incapacity to easily grasp the interactions implicit in complex problems, referred to here as the ingenuity gap. Nonetheless, promising social and technical innovations with potential to change unsustainable trajectories need to be nurtured and connected to broad institutional resources and responses. In parallel, institutional entrepreneurs can work to reduce the resilience of dominant institutional systems and position viable shadow alternatives and niche regimes.

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October 2nd, 2003 —

Ingenuity Theory: Can Humankind Create a Sustainable Civilization?

My research is inspired by several key questions: Are we creating a world that’s too complex to manage? Do the “experts” really know what’s going on? Are we really as smart as we think we are? And, most importantly, Can we solve the problems of the future?

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August 25th, 2003 —

Conversation with the Rt. Honourable Paul Martin

Transcript: Paul Martin & Thomas Homer-Dixon ‘We probably should create a new ethic in terms of how MPs are going to communicate with Canadians’ – Paul Martin in conversation with Thomas Homer-Dixon

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June 16th, 2003 —

Bringing Ingenuity to Energy

Energy is our life-blood. Without an adequate supply at the right times and places, our economy and society would grind to a halt. Canadians are profligate users of energy: in fact, we have one of the highest per capita rates of consumption in the world. But if we were smarter about things, we would consume much less energy to support our current standard of living, and we would produce this energy with much less damage to our natural environment.

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November 30th, 2001 —

Interview Conducted by Ted Rutland of the Webzine “Uncommon Good”

I think the principal factors boosting the requirement for ingenuity are rapid population growth, increasing consumption of resources per capita, and the increasing power of technologies – better technologies – to move materials, energy, and especially information. What we’ve managed to do with those three trends is to create networks that have more nodes in them, create a denser set of connections among those nodes than ever before, and push more materials, energy, and especially information at faster rates along those connections than every before.

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November 14th, 2001 —

Remarks at the Governor General’s Literary Awards Ceremony

I do know one thing, however: if we’re going to address the challenges before us in the 21st century, we need to see ourselves and the world around us in new ways. Our current ways of thinking and speaking – our prevailing languages of economics and politics – are, in many ways, making things worse. The Ingenuity Gap is a first, very preliminary step towards a new language and new concepts that can help us work together – collectively – to cope with our problems.

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July 26th, 2001 —

We Ignore Scientific Literacy at Our Peril

We’re still in the dark ages when it comes to understanding how the human brain works. We know it’s an assemblage of hundreds of billions of intricately entangled neurons, and we have some general understanding of its structure and anatomy. But we’re just beginning to understand how to classify these neurons, how they are linked across different sections of the brain, and how they communicate with each other through a wide array of neurochemicals. We know even less about how this assemblage of neurons actually processes the information and makes the decisions that are commonplace in our everyday lives. And when it comes to how the brain has feelings, an artistic sensibility, a concept of spirituality, and, above all, a capacity for consciousness – these matters are still best left to philosophers, because brain science has almost nothing to say about them.

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June 11th, 2001 —

The Ingenuity Gap in a Fragmented World

This morning I’m going to talk about “The Ingenuity Gap in a Fragmented World.” I’ll ask whether humanity can meet the ever more complex and fast-paced challenges it’s creating for itself. At the global level, these challenges range from climate change and chronic instability of the international economy to continent-wide pandemics of TB and AIDS; and at the national level, they include widespread homelessness in our great cities, chronic health care crises, and widening gaps between the super-rich and everyone else.

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January 2nd, 2001 —

A World That Turns Too Fast

When things happen faster, in greater numbers, and with greater interactive complexity, we need more ingenuity to make the right decisions at the right time – that is, we need a greater flow of practical ideas to solve our technical and social problems. But sometimes we can’t supply enough ingenuity to meet this soaring need. There is, if you like, an ingenuity gap.

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