Ideas are zero-sum. There hasn't been anything new for a long time

I’m aware that I’ve misused ‘zero-sum’ in the title, but it gets the point across much better than saying, ‘Ideas are limited’. A major recurring theme in Hong-Sang Soo’s movies is creative redundancy. ‘There hasn’t been anything new in a long time’ comes from a translated dialogue from one of his movies. Are ideas and concepts really limited aside from the rare circumstances where something new (original) is created? Where do you draw the line between something being ‘new’ and something that is already derived, inspired, deduced from old concepts? At the most basic level, is discovery and creation the same or completely different?

I’ve heard these questions so many times before.

A new concept!

Variations on a theme are good enough for me, at least for fiction and entertainment.

How many stories and games start you out as the insigificant weakling while you slowly gather the sort of power to face off against this sort of galaxy encircling planet/star hurling being from the heavens and still win the day?

It’s not new, but It’s still a treat to see. Maybe my capacity for things getting stale is just lower than yours, and therein lies the secret for happiness… that or less desire to jump to new things and stagnation.

Yes indeed! I like to read Napoleonic-era Naval fiction, like the Horatio Hornblower series. There are a goodly many of them out there! I’m immersed in four of them right now…and I hope there will be more to come!

The complaint is true, of course: with all the different TV channels, and made-for-TV movies, and new series, and so on, nobody can possibly keep up with it all. It’s like being in a really big candy store: you can’t eat everything. Make you sick.

I was at a science fiction convention once, which was very richly programmed. LOTS to see and hear and do. And someone actually complained to the programmer, “It isn’t fair of you to put two good things on at the same time.” Yeah? No! That kind of competition is how it works, kiddo. It may be a bummer, but think how much better is is than living in a world where there aren’t enough good things!

Everything is derivative, we stand on the shoulders of giants, yadda yadda
the discovery of a thing allows for further reaching creations, ideas and concepts are limited only by how many you have that can be sensically arranged. Like a Rubik’s cube, even if there are millions of possible combinations of colors of the base 27 mini-cubes you can make, only a few make sense (solved cube, solid stripe lines of various color,etc).

will you allow a gross analogy of concept=conception?
Are you (or any new formed fetus) a “new” “concept” even though you are completely “derived, inspired, deduced from old concepts” (your parent’s DNA)? How about the progeny produced when a virus hijacks a cell and has it make thousands of exact replicas of itself? Is the viral concept only new when it lives through mutations that allowed it to resist antiviral treatments? I say that “newness” is not opposite or in conflict with a thing’s relative derivation, past inspiration, or deduction from old concepts. Instead they go hand in hand to connect like a spider web into a greater whole than the sum of its parts. I feel that there is only greater or lesser utility for a concept/invention/thing to have relative to how those ideas can be connected to past present and future.
Originality is mainly a matter of degree for me, the first humans did nothing original in skinning an animal and wearing its pelt, that was just sheer jealousy of the animal’s ability to be warm and soft while we were cold and bald. Now the first person to dye their cloths plaid, that was something new not seen in nature, but at the same time it was much less useful than camouflage colors.
[* ] [* ], { [ ] [ * *] }, {*****}
Congratulations, you have just discovered an objective Truth about the universe. Any being capable of comprehending their outside world, be it Neanderthal or bird or alien, will reach the same rules/truths as we do regarding this new discovery of “addition.” Even though these Inevitable Facts have been around since Creation, our discovery of them allows us to “create” (logically suss out further, more complicated, mathematical Truths and map them to useful real life applications) personal/human-centric order out of chaos and fight against the capriciousness of the Earth. But what about subtraction? Is it relegated to not being a “new concept” in the sense that it is derived from past knowledge, inspired by, and deduced from the old concepts/rules of addition? Did subtraction re-form as a “new concept” only with the invention computers and their need to do subtraction only through addition?
I say nay. I “draw the line between something being ‘new’ and something that is already derived, inspired, deduced from old concepts” by its ability to fuel/re-invigorate different avenues of thought, technology, growth, etc… For example, even though all Edward Witten did was unify all the different string theories into one whole, it gave a clarity and oneness to string theory similar in impact to finding the equations that explained how electricity and magnetism are in fact the same thing. I consider that New, despite his work being derived, inspired, deduced from all the old string theories.

Maybe I don’t understand the point, but it seems trivially wrong to me. Like the (apocryphal?) patent clerk who quit his job at the beginning of the 20th century because “everything has been invented”.

Ideas are recombinant, and they exist in a cultural context. Nothing is ever 100% new. Everything is a Remix.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t new ideas.

Nothing new? Really? Well I just had the idea that we should make airplanes out of avocados to colonize Xenu.

Oh snap.

It seems possible that the Universe is a finite-state machine. If that is true, then there’s only a finite amount of information in it. Discoveries of some of that information might newly happen from time to time, though.

You’re tacitly assuming that in the past the percent of truly new ideas to rehashed sameold was higher. I doubt it.

Individual people don’t think much. The species thinks, but its thought processes are long slow wave processes involving several generations. So yeah of course most of the ideas we turn over in our individual heads are rehashings. There’s a tiny percent that is genuinely new and different, there always is.

Ideas may be limited yet still exceed the number where an individual could possibly be exposed to or affected by more than a fraction of them in a lifetime.

Exactly. Yesterday an idea was hatched that will change the course of all future generations though it will take a few industrious attempts by multiple people to implement a gradual change that may not even be noticeable for a hundred years.

The study of history is just the highlights of all human ideas in fast forward.


iiandyiiii: 0 points

Most people have few new ideas because they’re just waiting for it to happen, rather than actively making it happen. But there are methods that can be employed to provoke creative thought and forcibly generate new ideas.