Matt Ridley argues that human beings' ability to connect, collaborate and co-operate gives our species an often underestimated capacity for change and social progress.

His latest book, The Rational Optimist, was longlisted for the FT's Business Book of the Year. Matt takes on contemporary pessimism to argue that, in spite of disasters and reverses, the world has been getting better and better for humanity over the last two centuries, and that our quality of life and material wealth will continue to increase in the 21st century. In our lifetime, per capita income has trebled, lifespan has increased by one third and child mortality has fallen by two thirds.

At TEDGlobal, Matt showed how, throughout history, the engine of human progress has been the meeting and mating of ideas to make new ideas. It's not important how clever individuals are, he argues; what really matters is how smart the collective brain is. Innovation comes from people and human exchange, not from government policy or elite diktats.

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