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The Ingenuity Gap: Can We Solve the Problems of the Future?

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  225 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
"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

“Human beings have been smart enough to turn nature to their ends, generate vast wealth for themselves, and double their average life span. But are they smart enough to solve the problems of the 21st century?” --
Paperback, 496 pages
Published August 28th 2001 by Vintage Canada (first published 2000)
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Sep 17, 2014 Nick rated it really liked it
A long, deep look at how mankind may not be quite intelligent enough to deal with the world's problems, The Ingenuity Gap puts forward strong arguments for us not being able to overcome hyper-complexity, unknown unknowns, environmental disaster and other difficulties, particularly considering most of the world does not have the technological sophistication and political stability of 'the West.' Dixon makes strong arguments against economic optimists who assume that man will conquer all, and alth ...more
Sep 26, 2015 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Homer-Dixon is one of the smartest people I've ever heard or read, grasping key concerns from every discipline and arraying them together in a systematic whole. Here, he presents this work in a stunning array, bringing together complex systems theory with every global problem and potential promise in a stunning array.

However, in all of these fireworks of cleverness, there seems to be a kind of basic neglect of some more basic knowledge about current issues. The clear challenge of potenti
Sep 25, 2014 Geoeng51 rated it really liked it
Very interesting book that attempts to deal with a very complex set of issues. Homer-Dixon treats it as a voyage of discovery, which I am sure it was for him and which it can be for us, as we read his book. He develops his ideas of ingenuity and an "ingenuity gap" in regards to world scale problems, whole societies, etc., but the concepts are just as applicable at the smaller scale of our own lives or of the work that we do.
Dustan Woodhouse
Dec 20, 2015 Dustan Woodhouse rated it it was amazing
This book has stood out in mind ever since I read it. I started it while on a plane readying for take off for a long flight. Those who have read the opening chapter will understand the irony. I have been meaning to come back and read this book over again. But every time I buy a copy I wind up giving it away. I came away from the book optimistic myself.
Jun 05, 2014 Shadallark added it
Shelves: non-fiction
It has been a few years now since I read this book. That said it is one that I think of often, and one of the few non-fiction books that I have read more than once. The information is this book was fabulous, the presentation was engaging, and the content was thought provoking.
Dec 10, 2011 adllto rated it really liked it
Shelves: ologies, sophies
A very interesting book I read after the recommendation of my wife's prof. Far reaching in it's implications I found myself looking at the implications of his ideas in my own fields of interest.

Homer Dixon's central premise is that we have reached a time in history where the gap between the complexity of the problems we have and our ability to produce the possible solutions is now at its widest. Human's ingenuity is our ability to solve the problems but we have reached a period where we cannot s
i dont't know what to say about this book. it spelled out too many things. too much for my head to hold, even in its simplified form. it tried to be hopeful, without misleading. it did not succeed.

think about that. we alll thought people would pay attention to this book becuase he was a reocgnised scholar. it was not the case.

in the beginning, i might have wondered why so many cities were planning on their own, without and support from on higher up. bit i dont any longer.

but right then in 2001,
Jul 18, 2013 Alioune rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading Homer-Dixon's other manuscripts, not much this one. The title itself is insulting and Homer-Dixon has not convinced me of humanity's lack of ingenuity in getting out of his "current" complex problems. The world has always been complex to humanity at all time and all "space" (not new) and has dealt with it with "ingenuity". We will get out of the "global warming" problems, not doubt. Does the author knows what "Complex Adaptive System" means...? Ask the tiny ant and its colony.. ...more
Chad Colgur
Oct 17, 2012 Chad Colgur rated it really liked it
The concepts introduced in this book equipped me to think critically about the most pressing problems facing our society. We like to think that competitive pressure somehow spurs ingenuity. History does not provide evidence for that kind of causal relationship. Ingenuity is something essentially human. It is not possible to force someone to "be ingenious". The seeds of that process are much more subtle than we want to admit.
Jul 12, 2008 Mark rated it really liked it
A very important book about the complexity of human socio-environmental-technological systems and the possibility of system collapse where we have a shortage of ingenuity to manage the increasingly complex systems we've created and impacted. This book strongly impacted my way of thinking about the world and the direction of my life since reading it.
Apr 18, 2009 Dave rated it really liked it
Similar to Malcolm Gladwell books, in challenging common assumptions about how things do work, compared to how people think they work. A clear statement of why we are doing more multi-disciplinary work, why it is difficult, but also why it is important.

Difficult in areas where the tone gets a bit too dry, in between the exciting anecdotes and stories.
Jun 23, 2007 marissa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Homer-Dixon's book places both the blame and the responsibility for resource scarcity on the developing world, basing his ideas on a faulty premise of "natural human ingenuity" as a solution for the strain on the environment that he characterizes as exacerbated by poor countries. His tone is condescending, his thinking narrow, and his conclusion insulting.
Dec 24, 2010 Ilya rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: energy
The author roams the world and asserts that it has become too complex for anybody to understand, environmentally, technologically, economically and politically. He has no substantial evidence for this assertion; the world is obviously complex now, but was it less complex 100 years ago? Look at the official title of Franz Joseph I.
Kristy O
Jun 08, 2016 Kristy O rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Some really interesting ideas here, but the thesis gets lost (repeatedly) inside a meandering travelogue. (I understand that he's attempting to use the cities as metaphors for his arguments, but he's not a good enough writer to pull it off.) This was kind of a chore to get through.
Dec 25, 2010 Gordon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The Ingenuity Gap is the metaphorical distance between the number of societal problems we face and the number of solutions humanity develops to deal with said problems. Which will grow faster, the number of problems or the number of solutions?
Rose Azmi
Jan 26, 2008 Rose Azmi rated it really liked it
How can we solve the problems of the future?????
Is our Wold becoming to complex, and too fast-paced????
This book basically answerers the above questions in details.
If your into Global-Warming and want to make a change.
this book had no thesis. he didn't really make a solid arguement.
Mar 28, 2012 Marc rated it it was ok
made it to p. 173 so's just not engaging to me.
Jan 03, 2009 Tom rated it really liked it
A good introduction to complexity science.
John Fell
Jul 08, 2012 John Fell rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Fatuous and self-aggrandizing twaddle.
May 09, 2011 Hippo rated it liked it
Date is approximate.
Jan 12, 2009 Laura marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This looks intriguing ...
Sep 04, 2007 Jordan added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
An excellent introduction to Chaos theory applied in an interdisciplinary study of the effect of man on the environment and himself.
Jack Mcclure
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