Carnegie's Pick

Picked by PJ Simmons, Associate, Managing Global Issues Project , and Ann Florini, Senior Associate, Transparency and Civil Society Project

Official Website of The Ingenuity Gap


The Ingenuity Gap
poses the question, "Is our world becoming too complex and fast-paced to manage?" Citing examples from global environmental, financial, information and health fields, Homer-Dixon describes a widening chasm between the demand for and the supply of ingenuity-that is, ideas for technologies, better institutions and social arrangements. "Looking back from the year 2100, we'll see a period when our creations--technological, social, ecological--outstripped our understanding and lost control of our destiny. And we will think: if only--if only we'd had the ingenuity and will to prevent some of that."

Homer-Dixon is convinced that "there is still time to muster that ingenuity--but the hour is late." Among the impediments to progress are a serious information glut, a problematic reliance on and faith in markets, a "techno-hubris" caused by overconfidence in our ability to find technological and scientific solutions to every problem, and inflexible social and political institutions.

In the tradition of recent mind-bending books like Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel and Robert Wright's Non Zero, The Ingenuity Gap offers powerful insights into how and why we (that is, human beings) got to where we are-and why we find it so difficult to deal effectively with the myriad challenges we face. And peppered with fascinating stories from plane crashes to financial crashes, it's a compelling read.