By Louis Rossetto

I was at a dinner in Cambridge, Massachusetts, recently with a dozen Harvard/MIT/Princeton faculty/researchers/directors. Very bright, very switched on people involved in important, even groundbreaking, work.

About dessert time, the discussion coalesced to the big question that inevitably haunts big thinkers: How do we solve the really big problems? Everyone was depressed that life on the planet was obviously getting worse. And they were frustrated, even angry, that the legacy players were failing. Why wasn’t Obama able to solve our problems? The UN? The World Bank? The Gates Foundation?

I wish Steven Overman had been at my side at that dinner, as he was during the early days at Wired in the ’90s. At Wired, we created ...

Get Conscience Economy now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.