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The Ingenuity Gap: Facing the Economic, Environmental, and Other…

by Thomas Homer-Dixon

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300269,052 (3.53)None
"The most persuasive forecast of the 21st century I have seen." --E.O. Wilson, author of Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge and twice winner of a Pulitzer prize.In The Ingenuity Gap, Thomas Homer-Dixon, "global guru" (the Toronto Star), "genuine academic celebrity" (Saturday Night) and "one of Canada's most talked about and controversial scholars" (Maclean's) asks: is our world becoming too complex, too fast-paced to manage?  The challenges facing us - ranging from international financial crises and global climate change to pandemics of tuberculosis and AIDS- converge, intertwine, and remain largely beyond our ken.  Most of suspect the "experts don't really know what's going on; that as a species we've released forces that are neither managed nor manageable.  We are fast approaching a time when we may no longer be able to control a world that increasingly exceeds our grasp.  This is "the ingenuity gap" - the term coined by Thomas Homer-Dixon, political scientist and advisor to the White House - the critical gap between our need for practical, innovative ideas to solve complex problems and our actual supply of those ideas. Through gripping narrative stories and incidents that exemplify his arguments, he takes us on a world tour that begins with a heartstopping description of the tragic crash of United Airlines Flight 232 from Denver to Chicago and includes Las Vegas inits desert, a wilderness beach in British Columbia, and his solitary search for a little girl in Patna, India.  He shows how, in our complex world, while poor countries are particularly vulnerable to ingenuity gaps, our own rich countries are not immune, and we are caught dangerously between a soaring requirement for ingenuity and an increasingly uncertain supply.  When the gap widens, political disintegration and violent upheaval can result, reaching into our own economies and daily lives in subtle ways.  In compelling, lucid, prose, he makes real the problems we face and suggests how we might overcome them - in our own lives, our thing, our business and our societies.… (more)
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Great book with a stellar thesis and with a detailed (and credible) navigation of multiple fields. As you read this book you have nonstop ideas thrown at you and the majority are framed differently and connected more fluidly than usual. I found that he brought a refreshingly complex (rather than the simplitistic rich-Americans-heading-back-to-the-homestead) view to both environmental problems (especially the implication for the third world) and potential "solutions". I had one stylistic gripe - the author is successful academic and much of the book has an academic feel - in that context I was a little annoyed by the sections in the book where he felt it necessary to reduce the issue to a single person for the sake of having a story. Another Canadian book that should be more broadly available the US (great gift Mom!) ( )
  piefuchs | Oct 31, 2006 |
I really enjoyed The Ingenuity Gap by Thomas Homer-Dixon. It's a book I wish I could have written. It surveys a diverse landscape of topics related to the complex systems of the modern world, covering economics, politics, the environment, the human brain, and many other threads and linkages, all to develop the central idea of the increasing need for ingenuity in our increasingly complex world. Very interesting reading. ( )
  rakerman | Jul 20, 2006 |
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"The most persuasive forecast of the 21st century I have seen." --E.O. Wilson, author of Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge and twice winner of a Pulitzer prize.In The Ingenuity Gap, Thomas Homer-Dixon, "global guru" (the Toronto Star), "genuine academic celebrity" (Saturday Night) and "one of Canada's most talked about and controversial scholars" (Maclean's) asks: is our world becoming too complex, too fast-paced to manage?  The challenges facing us - ranging from international financial crises and global climate change to pandemics of tuberculosis and AIDS- converge, intertwine, and remain largely beyond our ken.  Most of suspect the "experts don't really know what's going on; that as a species we've released forces that are neither managed nor manageable.  We are fast approaching a time when we may no longer be able to control a world that increasingly exceeds our grasp.  This is "the ingenuity gap" - the term coined by Thomas Homer-Dixon, political scientist and advisor to the White House - the critical gap between our need for practical, innovative ideas to solve complex problems and our actual supply of those ideas. Through gripping narrative stories and incidents that exemplify his arguments, he takes us on a world tour that begins with a heartstopping description of the tragic crash of United Airlines Flight 232 from Denver to Chicago and includes Las Vegas inits desert, a wilderness beach in British Columbia, and his solitary search for a little girl in Patna, India.  He shows how, in our complex world, while poor countries are particularly vulnerable to ingenuity gaps, our own rich countries are not immune, and we are caught dangerously between a soaring requirement for ingenuity and an increasingly uncertain supply.  When the gap widens, political disintegration and violent upheaval can result, reaching into our own economies and daily lives in subtle ways.  In compelling, lucid, prose, he makes real the problems we face and suggests how we might overcome them - in our own lives, our thing, our business and our societies.

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