October 17, 2000
In The Ingenuity Gap, Thomas Homer-Dixon asks: Is our world becoming too complex and too fast-paced to manage? The challenges facing human societies – from international financial crises and global climate change to pandemics of tuberculosis and AIDS – converge, intertwine, and often remain largely beyond our understanding. Most of us suspect that the “experts” don’t really know what’s going on and that we’ve released forces that are neither managed nor manageable. This is the “ingenuity gap” – the term coined by Thomas Homer-Dixon, renowned political scientist and sometime advisor to the White House – the critical gap between our need for practical and innovative ideas to solve our complex problems and our actual supply of these ideas.
It shows us how, in our complex world, while poor countries are particularly vulnerable to ingenuity gaps, our own rich countries are no longer immune, we are all caught dangerously between a soaring requirement for ingenuity and an increasingly uncertain supply. As the gap widens, political disintegration and violent upheaval can result, reaching into our own economies and daily lives in subtle, unforeseen ways. In compelling and lucid prose, Thomas Homer-Dixon makes real the problems we face and suggests how we might overcome them – in our own lives, our thinking, our businesses and our societies.
Thomas Homer-Dixon is Director of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program and Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. He is the author of environment, scarcity and violence. He lives in Toronto (www.ingenuitygap.com).