The power of ideas

I agree with Ray Kurzweil when he says

To this day I remain convinced of this basic philosophy: no matter what quandaries we face… there is an idea that can enable us to prevail.

He believed that ideas are not mere abstract things but can have effects on the physical world. A simple idea, a simple equation can change the world. But today, I would not like to add to the point that ideas are world-changing and worth a lot of money, I would like to say about two points that I have read over and over in many books about ideas.

In a dog eat dog world, there are not many free things, it’s either you lose, your opponent gain or you win, your opponent lose, we call this zero sum game. However, exchanges of ideas are positive sum game, if we exchange an idea, we both gain something.

Besides that, ideas are combinatorial. By combinatorial, I mean two or more ideas can be combined to create a new idea. For example, by combining electronics, programming, and car, we get self driving car. The number of possible combinations for n ideas is n!, n factorial. If we have 20 ideas, there are 20! possible combinations, which is 20 x 19 x … x 1 = 2.432902e+18, which is a staggeringly large number!

Recommendation: Put “explain” in front of the url of any xkcd comic page will bring you to the explanation page for the comic page. For example, putting “explain” in front of the url “http://xkcd.com/1453/” will get “http://explainxkcd.com/1453/“, which is an explanation of the comic. Sometimes the comic requires some background knowledge to understand, so an explanation will be helpful!

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