Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Ingenuity Gap” as Want to Read:
The Ingenuity Gap
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Ingenuity Gap

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  236 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?” --
ebook, 0 pages
Published May 15th 2001 by Vintage (first published 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Ingenuity Gap, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Ingenuity Gap

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
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
May 09, 2015 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
Dec 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
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
Sep 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Chad Colgur
Oct 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 24, 2010 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.
Jun 23, 2007 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.
Jul 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dustan Woodhouse
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.
Apr 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 25, 2010 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?
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.
Rose Azmi
Jan 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Kristy O
May 01, 2016 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.
John Fell
Jul 08, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Fatuous and self-aggrandizing twaddle.
Sep 04, 2007 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.
May 09, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Date is approximate.
Jan 12, 2009 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This looks intriguing ...
this book had no thesis. he didn't really make a solid arguement.
Jan 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good introduction to complexity science.
made it to p. 173 so's just not engaging to me.
rated it really liked it
May 30, 2013
rated it it was amazing
Nov 01, 2012
rated it it was amazing
Sep 19, 2016
rated it liked it
Feb 21, 2016
Chris Neima
rated it liked it
Nov 17, 2009
rated it it was amazing
May 12, 2016
Brett Hilton
rated it really liked it
Aug 13, 2011
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Einstein's Unfinished Symphony: Listening to the Sounds of Space-Time
  • The Sciences of the Artificial
  • The Sexual Paradox: Extreme Men, Gifted Women and the Real Gender Gap
  • The Fly in the Ointment: 70 Fascinating Commentaries on the Science of Everyday Life
  • Why Things Break: Understanding the World By the Way It Comes Apart
  • Choice and Consequence
  • Concepts of Modern Mathematics
  • Norma Jean
  • Present at the Future: From Evolution to Nanotechnology, Candid and Controversial Conversations on Science and Nature
  • The Best American Science Writing 2000
  • The Calculus Gallery: Masterpieces from Newton to Lebesgue
  • The Unconscious Civilization
  • Symposium/The Death of Socrates
  • Why The Toast Always Lands Butter Side Down
  • Defining the Wind: The Beaufort Scale, and How a 19th-Century Admiral Turned Science Into Poetry
  • Evolution
  • Four Colors Suffice: How the Map Problem Was Solved
  • Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization

Share This Book