Most individuals require a sense of urgency for them to act upon something, but Neil deGrasse Tyson wants that type of rationality to change, which he discusses in this instinctive action speech.
The reaction time of people in certain situations varies greatly from person to person. Tyson discusses that America is faltering in terms of innovation and that they've lost their competitive edge, because of the absence of 'Sputnik moments.' The shock factor in order for people to be motivated is an unnecessary component for motivation; it could be that human nature has honed people into reacting this way, which is a facet that's a hindrance in people. Tyson believes that Sputnik moments do provide solace, but he also desires that society will no longer require these moments to create innovations.