The production of a new book involves more moving parts than you might imagine. And in the midst of all the chaos, bugs happen—despite numerous sets of professional eyes reviewing the manuscripts, typos are missed and footnotes are inexplicably dropped from the text. But that’s what second printings are for!
In any case, it’s an interesting example of a point we make in the chapter on perception, with the Cambridge Reading Test. It’s a fascinating exercise that explains, in terms of how the brain works, why typos are so easily missed—and why one reviewer went so far as to say, “. . . the book has been perfectly edited and I found absolutely no errors.” Well there you go! The Cambridge Reading Test phenomenon at work. It wasn’t until NPR’s Scott Pollack, who narrated the audiobook version of Moonshots, reading it out loud was able to circumvent the brain’s perceptual mechanisms.
With that, the following is a list of what we’ve found. If you happen to find any others, let us know! And if you’re lucky enough to have a first printing copy of Moonshots, then you’ve got something truly special!
Page 15 Repeated words: “It is the key the key . . .”
Page 212 Footnote not superscripted: “But must we?1”
Page 242 The word “that” should be “than”: “. . . gamers make better drone operators that pilots.”
Page 249 The word “you” should be “your”: “It’s important to remember what you mom always told you:”
Page 276 The word “say” should be “says”: “It is the essence,” say Astro Teller . . .
Missing Footnotes/Bibliographic References
Your 100 billion neurons, each with about 10,000 connections, comprise this pattern called the “connectome”—the intricately interconnected network across which electrical signals conduct and flow to generate your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Prof. Sebastian Seung, of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute and Computer Science Department, is applying techniques from machine learning and social computing to extract brain structure from light and electron microscopic images. He is best known for work on the reconstruction of neural circuits using serial electron microscopy. His long-term goal is to accelerate image analysis until it becomes practical to reconstruct complete connectomes of mammalian brains. This technological goal complements exciting progress in the imaging of neural activity. Knowing the connectivity and activity of every cell in a neural circuit will radically accelerate the progress of neuroscience.
As such, imagination must have primacy—even over will.
Eric Liu and Scott Noppe-Brandon provide in their book, Imagination First, a set practices that may be used to inspire innovative thinking and develop competitive advantage.
If it is true that creativity is one part inspiration and 99 parts perspiration, then this is mostly very hard work. But we do have our techniques, one of the most powerful of which is “lateral thinking.”
Edward de Bono coined the term “lateral thinking” and introduced its concepts in his seminal 1967 book, The Use of Lateral Thinking.
I am admittedly painting a picture of experts here with a very broad brush. Not all experts are alike. That said, experts do tend to fall into one of two camps: those who approach problems conceptually and those who approach them experimentally.
Bruce Weinberg and David Galenson authored the paper, Creative Careers: The Life Cycles of Nobel Laureates in Economics, identifying two distinct life cycles of scholarly creativity. Experimental innovators work inductively, accumulating knowledge from experience, while conceptual innovators work deductively, applying abstract principles. Their research found that conceptual innovators do their most important work earlier in their careers than experimental laureates. Their findings imply that the probability that the most conceptual laureate publishes his single best work peaks at age 25 compared to the mid-50s for the most experimental laureate. Thus while experience benefits experimental innovators, newness to a field benefits conceptual innovators.
Incentive contests are particularly helpful when a truly innovative solution might call for a combination of different disciplines, approaches, or thought processes.
The paper, Using the Crowd as an Innovation Partner, by Karim Lakhani and Kevin Boudreau, lays out compelling arguments for why companies who have built upon internal innovation would do well to distribute innovation to the crowd, and that excluding crowdsourcing from the corporate innovation tool kit may mean missing opportunities. After a decade of study, the authors have identified when crowds tend to outperform internal organizations, as well as when they do not. The paper goes on to outline four ways to tap into crowd-powered problem solving—contests, collaborative communities, complementors, and labor markets—and offer a system for picking the best one in a given situation. Contests, for example, are suited to highly challenging technical, analytical, and scientific problems; design problems; and creative or aesthetic projects. They are akin to running a series of independent experiments that generate multiple solutions—and if those solutions cluster at some extreme, a company can gain insight into where a problem’s “technical frontier” lies. Conversely, internal R&D may generate far less information.
It turns out it’s a fascinating function of an inherent human quality called optimism bias—our tendency to overestimate the likelihood of positive outcomes while underestimating the negative ones.
Tali Sharot is the director of the Affective Brain Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience in the department of Experimental Psychology at University College London. She has done groundbreaking investigative work into the bias toward optimism that exists on a neural level in our brains and plays a major part in determining how we live our lives. While psychologists have long been aware that most people maintain an often irrationally positive outlook on life, Sharot’s experiments, research, and findings in cognitive science are increasing our understanding of why that is the case. Her book, The Optimism Bias, discusses how the brain generates hope and what happens when it fails; how the brains of optimists and pessimists differ; why we are terrible at predicting what will make us happy; how emotions strengthen our ability to recollect; how anticipation and dread affect us; and how our optimistic illusions affect our financial, professional, and emotional decisions.
Dreamers are seldom doers. Merely thinking and dreaming about the future actually makes people less likely to achieve their goals.
Gabriele Oettingen’s book, Rethinking Positive Thinking, draws on twenty years of research in the science of motivation, presenting a surprising idea: the obstacles that we think most impede us from realizing our deepest wishes can actually hasten their fulfillment.