Solving Big Problems: Innovation is Not Creativity

What happened to the future?

What Happened to the Future? is the title of the manifesto of the Founders Fund. The subtitle is “We Wanted Flying Cars, Instead We Got 140 Characters.” Jason Pontin in the MIT Technology Review wrote an article entitled “Why We Can’t Solve Big Problems:”
[B]ig problems that people had imagined technology would solve, such as hunger, poverty, malaria, climate change, cancer, and the diseases of old age, have come to seem intractably hard….
Max Levchin, [a] cofounder of PayPal, says, “I feel like we should be aiming higher. The founders of a number of startups I encounter have no real intent of getting anywhere huge … There’s an awful lot of effort being expended that is just never going to result in meaningful, disruptive innovation.”


The idea that “there’s an awful lot of effort being expended that is just never going to result in meaningful, disruptive innovation” is brought to life in a Guardian article by Ben Tarnoff, “America has become so anti-innovation – it’s economic suicide:”
Juicero made the perfect punchline: a celebrated startup that had received a fawning profile from the New York Times and $120m in funding from blue-chip VCs such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Google Ventures was selling an expensive way to automate something you could do faster for free. It was, in any meaningful sense of the word, a scam.
Juicero is hilarious. But it also reflects a deeply unfunny truth about Silicon Valley, and our economy more broadly. Juicero is not, as its apologists at Voxclaim, an anomaly in an otherwise innovative investment climate. On the contrary: it’s yet another example of how profoundly anti-innovation America has become.

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The Secret to Creativity and Success

It is easier to enhance creativity by changing conditions in the environment than by trying to make people think more creatively. And a genuinely creative accomplishment is almost never the result of a sudden insight, a lightbulb flashing on in the dark, but comes after years of hard work…. If you do anything well, it becomes enjoyable…. To keep enjoying something, you need to increase it’s complexity. ~ Creativity by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

will smith alchemists

And as we learn in a video featuring Will Smith, Anthony Robbins, and Sir Ken Robinson, just decide who you are going to be and how you are going to do it. There is a redemptive quality to making a choice. You are not a victim of your past. A lack of resources is never the defining factor of success or failure. You were born extremely creative, the trick is to remain creative as you grow up. So make a decision and choose to do something, but be prepare to be wrong. As Sir Ken Robinson tell us “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”
Sir Isaac Newton is considered one of the greatest scientists of all time, but he was foremost an alchemist. He wrote over a million words on alchemy and his laws of light and theory of gravity came from his alchemical work. After purchasing and studying Newton’s alchemical works in 1942, economist John Maynard Keyes opined that “Newton was not the first of the age of reason, he was the last of the magicians.”
Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton surrounded by symbols of some of his greatest findings.

There are two primary ways of knowing reality:
1. The rational, deductive, argumentative, intellectual thinking that is accepted by the science and our patriarchal Western culture. The alchemists called this Solar Consciousness and assigned it many code words, such as the Sun, Sulfur, the King, the Father, Spirit, and ultimately, the One Mind of the universe. This involves so-called left-brain activity like linear thought, schematics, formulae, arguments and logic.
2. The intuitive way of thinking, also called intelligence of the heart, a non-linear, image-driven way of thinking that is an accepted tool of the arts and religion. The alchemists called the other way of knowing Lunar Consciousness. Among its many symbols are the Moon, Mercury, the Queen, the Holy Ghost, Soul, and ultimately, the One Thing of the universe. This involves so-called right-brain activity dealing with drawings, paintings, mandalas, symbols, music, and meditation.
The alchemists believed that perfection could only be achieved by working with both Solar and Lunar ways of knowing and ultimately uniting them in a third state of Stellar Consciousness.  Stellar Consciousness is a state of incorruptible wisdom symbolized by the heroic Child that resulted from the marriage of the King and Queen, as well as by Salt, Gold, the Philosopher’s Stone, the Astral Body, and of course, the Stars themselves.
Lapis Philosphicus by Isaac Newton

“Lapis Philosphicus” from a manuscript 416 by Sir Isaac Newton.

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Everyone Can Create

Kevin Ashton - How to Fly a Horse

The encouraging part is that everyone can create, and we can show that fairly conclusively. The challenging part is that there is no magic moment of creation. Creators spend almost all their time creating, persevering despite doubt, failure, ridicule, and rejection until they succeed in making something new and useful. There are no tricks, shortcuts, or get-creative-quick schemes. The process is ordinary, even if the outcome is not.
Creating is not magic but work….
The best artists, scientists, engineers, inventors, entrepreneurs, and other creators are the ones who keep taking steps by finding new problems, new solutions, and then new problems again. The root is innovation is exactly the same as it was when our species was born: looking at something and thinking, “I can make this better….”
The creativity myth confuses having ideas with the actual work of creating….
The best way to create is to work alone and evaluate solutions as they occur. The worst way to create is to work in large groups and defer criticism. Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs’s cofounder at Apple and the inventor of its first computer, offers the same advice: “Work alone. You’re going to be best able to design revolutionary products and features if you’re working on your own. Not on a committee. Not on a team….
The vast majority—98 percent—of teachers say creating is so important that it should be taught daily, but when tested, they nearly always favor less creative children over more creative children.
[This] effect is not restricted to schools, and it persists into adulthood. Decision makers and authority figures in business, science, and government all say they value creation, but when tested, they do not value creators.
Why? Because people who are more creative also tend to be more playful, unconventional, and unpredictable, and all of this makes them harder to control. No matter how much we say we value creation, deep down, most of us value control more. And so we fear and favor familiarity. Rejecting is a reflex.
How a Fly a Horse
By Kevin Ashton

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Documentary Addressing Inequity in America

StartUpTown Weekend - NYC

September 2014 Harlem NYC

Make America Again!
Then Your Light Will Rise

And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday. ~ Isaiah 58:10

Hope Community Services

HOPE Volunteer Coordinator Sue Gedney, 2013 New York State High School Chess Champion Joshua Cola, 94 years old volunteer Iris Freed and Terrance Jackson. HOPE Community Services is the largest food pantry/soup kitchen in Westchester County. Photo:

Following in the footsteps of people such as Jack London, George Orwell, and Steve Jobs, Terrance Jackson spent over two years homeless in New Rochelle, NY and discovered the power of empathy to fuel innovation and creativity:

I believe that empathy – the imaginative act of stepping into another person’s shoes and viewing the world from their perspective – is a radical tool for social change and should be a guiding light for the art of living. Over the past decade, I have become convinced that it has the power not only to transform individual lives, but to help tackle some of the great problems of our age, from wealth inequality to violent conflicts and climate change.

It is important to understand what empathy is and is not. If you see a homeless person living under a bridge you may feel sorry for him and give him some money as you pass by. That is pity or sympathy, not empathy. If, on the other hand, you make an effort to look at the world through his eyes, to consider what life is really like for him, and perhaps have a conversation that transforms him from a faceless stranger into a unique individual, then you are empathising. ~ Roman Krznaric

Roman Krznaric - Empathy

RSA Animate – The Power of Outrospection –

During this time as a homeless person, Terrance developed a event something like a Harlem version of SXSW called StartUpTown Weekend. This will include the Health is a Human Right Concert at the Apollo.