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The TED Blog shares interesting news about TED, TED Talks video, the TED Prize and more.



Updated: 2017-04-29T23:25:23Z

 



WordPress.comThe future us: The talks of Session 11 of TED2017

2017-04-29T01:55:52Z

In the final session of TED2017, we look ahead to the future we’ll build together. Below, recaps of the talks from Session 11, in chronological order. A design renaissance for our apps. “There’s a hidden goal driving all of our technology, and that goal is the race for our attention.” says Tristan Harris. He would know; he […]Kelly Stoetzel and Chris Anderson invite all the TED2017 speakers back onstage to close out TED2017: The Future You, April 28, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED In the final session of TED2017, we look ahead to the future we’ll build together. Below, recaps of the talks from Session 11, in chronological order. A design renaissance for our apps. “There’s a hidden goal driving all of our technology, and that goal is the race for our attention.” says Tristan Harris. He would know; he used to work in Stanford’s Persuasive Technology Lab, studying firsthand how tech engineers are using psychology to steer our thoughts. From Facebook notifications to Snapchat streaks to YouTube autoplays, technology orchestrates our time and attention for its own profit. But what if our phones “empower[ed] us to live out the timeline we want?” Harris calls for a “design renaissance,” one in which our apps encourage us to spend our time in a way compatible with what we want out of life. Imagine if instead of just commenting on a controversial Facebook post, you had the option to click a “Host a dinner” button in which you could have the same conversation but in person and over a meal. Harris believes that fixing the way our technology guides our thoughts and behavior is “critical infrastructure for solving every other problem. There’s nothing in your life or in our collective problems that does not require our ability to be able to put our attention where we care about.” Jim Yong Kim speaks at TED2017, April 28, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED A global convergence of aspirations. Jim Yong Kim wrote a book he describes as “a 500-page diatribe against the World Bank.” Today, he’s the president of it. This isn’t as crazy as it sounds — he was nominated for the role because of his critiques, and he’s given it a central goal to end extreme poverty by 2030 and boost shared prosperity around the world. Why? Because everywhere he travels, he sees the same thing: kids gathered around a smartphone. Access to the internet has led to increases in reported satisfaction — but it also ups people’s reference income, or the income to which they compare themselves. Globally, this is leading to a convergence of aspirations. “Are we going to have a situation where aspirations are connected to opportunity?” he asks. “Or are aspirations going to meet frustration?” The World Bank is aiming for the former. “We’re trying to use tools … that rich people use every single day to make themselves richer, but that we haven’t used adequately on behalf of the poor.” They’re aiming to de-risk investment in developing countries, to boost private capital going to them. This has led to a company scaling solar energy in Zambia, so the price for a kilowatt hour dropped from 25 to 4 cents. And to another using drones to deliver blood anywhere in Rwanda in an hour — saving lives while making money. This kind of thinking could have a big effect, he says. Kim grew up in South Korea, one of the poorest countries in the world at the time, and the World Bank expressed low aspirations for it. He refuses to do the same to anyone’s country now. Making music together. “For all of us,” says Found Sound Nation (FSN) co-founder Christopher Marianetti, “music making is our birthright.” This week at TED2017, FSN gave conference participants the opportunity to step inside their geodesic dome, the Ouroborium, and create a piece of music with eight other people — no pri[...]



12 things I know for sure: Anne Lamott speaks at TED2017

2017-04-28T21:51:23Z

Author Anne Lamott recently turned 61. So she’s compiled the following list of “every single true thing I know.” A brief recap: All truth is a paradox. “Life is a precious unfathomably beautiful gift, and it is impossible here,” she says. Life is “filled with heartbreaking sweetness and beauty, floods and babies and acne and Mozart, […]Anne Lamott speaks at TED2017, April 28, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED Author Anne Lamott recently turned 61. So she’s compiled the following list of “every single true thing I know.” A brief recap: All truth is a paradox. “Life is a precious unfathomably beautiful gift, and it is impossible here,” she says. Life is “filled with heartbreaking sweetness and beauty, floods and babies and acne and Mozart, all swirled together.” . “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes.” That includes you. . Nothing outside of you will help you in any real, lasting way. Radical self-care is the only thing that will get you through. It’s hard to admit, but it’s true, and it works the other way around too. “If it is someone else’s problem, you probably don’t have the solution,” she says. . “Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy and scared. Everyone, even the people who seem to have it most together.” So don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides, she warns. . “Chocolate with 75% cacao is not actually a food. Its best use is as bait in snake traps or to balance the legs on wobbly chairs.” . Every writer puts down terrible first drafts. The trick is that they commit to sticking with it. They take it Bird by Bird, her father’s advice that became the heart of her bestselling book. “Every story you own is yours. If people wanted you to write more warmly about them, they should have behaved better,” she says. “You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves of your heart — your stories, visions, memories, visions and songs. Your truth, your version of things, your own voice. That is really all you have to offer us. And that’s also why you were born.” . Creative success are “something you have to recover from. They will hurt, damage and change you in ways you cannot imagine.” And that brings us back to #1, because creative success is also amazing. “It is a miracle to get your work published,” she says. “Just try to bust yourself gently of the fantasy that publication will heal you, will fill the Swiss cheesey holes inside you. It can’t. It won’t.” . Families are both astonishing and hard. Again reference #1. “Earth is forgiveness school,” she says. “It begins with forgiving yourself — then you might as well start at the dinner table.” . Speaking of food: try to do a little better. “I think you know what I mean.” . Grace is a powerful thing. “Grace is Spiritual WD-40 or water wings,” she says. “The mystery of grace is that God loves Henry Kissinger and Vladimir Putin and me exactly as much as He or She loves your new grandchild.” Grace doesn’t always come in the forms you expect. Lamott sees it most in laughter. “Laughter really is carbonated holiness,” she says. “It helps us breathe again and again, and gives us back to ourselves.” . God isn’t that scary. Rather than getting trapped in the mundanity of our own lives, she tells us to “go look up.” Now. “My pastor says you can trap bees on the floor of a Mason jar without a lid, because they don’t look up,” she says. “If they did, they could fly to freedom. Instead, they walk around bitterly, bumping into glass walls.” . Death is incredibly hard to bear, and you don’t get over losing people you love. “We Christians like to think death is a major change of address,” she says. “But the person will live again fully in your heart, at some point, if you don’t seal i[...]



What will the future look like? Elon Musk speaks at TED2017

2017-04-29T15:24:05Z

In conversation with TED’s Head Curator Chris Anderson, serial entrepreneur and future-builder Elon Musk discusses his new project digging tunnels under LA, Hyperloop, Tesla, SpaceX and his dreams for what the world could look like. Below, highlights from the conversation. Why are you boring? “We’re trying to dig a hole under LA, and this is to […]Elon Musk talks about his work shaping the future of transportation, energy and space exploration at TED2017, April 28, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED In conversation with TED’s Head Curator Chris Anderson, serial entrepreneur and future-builder Elon Musk discusses his new project digging tunnels under LA, Hyperloop, Tesla, SpaceX and his dreams for what the world could look like. Below, highlights from the conversation. Why are you boring? “We’re trying to dig a hole under LA, and this is to create the beginning of what will be a 3D network of tunnels to alleviate congestion,” Musk says, describing the work of his new project, The Boring Company. Musk shows a video of what this system could look like, with an electric car-skate attached to an elevator from street level that brings your car vertically underground into a tunnel. There’s no speed limit in the tunnel — and the car-skates are being designed to achieve speeds of 200 km/h, or about 130 mph. “You should be able to get from Westwood to LAX in 5-6 minutes,” Musk says. Why aren’t flying cars a better solution? “I do rockets, so I like things that fly,” Musk says. “There’s a challenge of flying cars in that they’ll be quite noisy. If something’s flying over your head, a whole bunch of flying cars going all over the place, that is not an anxiety-reducing situation … You’ll be thinking, ‘Did they service their hubcap, or is it going to come off and guillotine me?'” How will these tunnels tie in with Hyperloop? The Hyperloop test track is the second biggest vacuum chamber in the world, smaller only than the Large Hadron Collider, Musk says. The proposed transportation system would propel people and freight in pod-like vehicles in a vacuum, and tunnels end up being great for creating vacuum. “We’re cautiously optimistic that it’ll be faster than the world’s fastest bullet train, even over a .8-mile stretch,” Musk says of Hyperloop. What’s happening at Tesla? Tesla Model 3 is coming in July, Musk says, and it’ll have a special feature: autopilot. Using only passive optical cameras and GPS, no LIDAR, the Model 3 will be capable of autonomous driving. “Once you solve cameras for vision, autonomy is solved; if you don’t solve vision, it’s not solved … You can absolutely be superhuman with just cameras.” Musk says that Tesla is on track for completing a fully autonomous, cross-country LA to New York trip by the end of 2017. “November or December of this year, we should be able to go from a parking lot in California to a parking lot in New York, no controls touched at any point during the entire journey,” Musk says. More news from Tesla: a semi truck, which Musk reveals with a teaser photo. It’s a heavy-duty, long-range semi meant to alleviate heavy-duty trucking. “With the Tesla Semi, we want to show that an electric truck actually can out-torque any diesel semi. If you had a tug of war competition, the Tesla Semi will tug the diesel semi uphill,” Musk says. And it’s nimble — it can be driven around “like a sports car,” he says. What else is going electric? Showing a concept photo of a house with a Tesla in the driveway, Powerwalls on the side of the house and a solar glass roof, Musk talks about his vision for the home of the future. Most houses in the US, he says, have enough roof area for solar panels to power all the needs of the house. “Eventually almost all houses will have a solar roof[...]



In Case You Missed It: The themes that echoed through TED2017

2017-04-29T01:35:03Z

Over the past five days, the TED2017 conference has explored the theme “The Future You.” This has spanned an incredible number of ideas on a huge array of topics. Below, a tour through some of the key themes that emerged — through the week and in the double-stuffed session of day 5. All eyes on […]On Day 5 of TED2017, one two-hour session included a in-depth conversation with Elon Musk and a powerful talk from writer Anne Lamott. The themes they shared echoed throughout the conference. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED Over the past five days, the TED2017 conference has explored the theme “The Future You.” This has spanned an incredible number of ideas on a huge array of topics. Below, a tour through some of the key themes that emerged — through the week and in the double-stuffed session of day 5. All eyes on AI. How will artificial intelligence reshape our world? TED2017 brought many answers. The conference kicked off with a dance between a robot and human, followed by chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov’s call to add human purpose and passion to intelligent machines’ ability to calculate and parse. Then, in a session called “Our Robotic Overlords,” Noriko Arai showed the secrets of an AI that can pass a college entrance exam, Joseph Redmon revealed an algorithm (called YOLO) that lets AI identify objects accurately, Stuart Russell outlined a plan for aligning AI values with our own, and Radhika Nagpal imagined AI based on the collective intelligence of schools of fish. Later on, Martin Ford warned that, with AI mastering the ability to learn, humans are headed toward a future without work — which will require radical adjustments in society. And Robin Hanson brought us to a trippy possible future where “ems,” emulations or uploaded human minds, run the world. The need to erase the boundary between ‘me’ and ‘us.’ Some cultures worship many gods, others one. Us? We worship the self, said Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks — we think in terms of self-realization and partake in “that newest religious ritual: the selfie.” Sacks challenged us to replace the word ‘self’ with the word ‘other’ and see what happens. “The only people that will save us from ourselves is we.” That thought boomeranged through the week. His Holiness Pope Francis delivered a beautiful message of solidarity: “If there is an ‘us,’ there is a revolution.” Anna Rosling Rönnlund took us to “Dollar Street,” where the world’s poorest people live on the left and the richest on the right. “The person staring back at us from the other side of the world actually looks like you,” she said. Luma Mufleh shared her experience coaching a soccer team for refugee students in Georgia, and how she wished everyone people could stop seeing these young people as others to keep out and embrace them as they rebuild their lives with determination, resilience and joy. In a scathing look at ageism, Ashton Applewhite pointed out, “All prejudice relies on ‘othering.’” Finally, Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, summed it up this way: “The Future You will depend on how much The Future Us brings opportunity to every child on Earth.” The future is now. Want a robotic dog that can deliver packages and fetch you a soda? Marc Raibert showed it to us. Waiting for your personal flying machine? Todd Reichert demoed the Kitty Hawk Flyer, a 254-pound personal electric aircraft, and Richard Browning showed us an IronMan-like suit designed for hovering. Meanwhile, Elon Musk said that the future of Earthly transportation isn’t above our heads, but below our feet, and talked about building a high-speed tunnel network under Los Angeles. Tom Gruber, co-creator of Siri, wondered if a superintelligent AI could augment our memory by helping us remember everything we’ve ever read and every person we’ve ever met. Ray Dalio shared how, at Bridgewater Associates, every meeting and interaction is recorded for other employees t[...]



A beer exchange that spanned the globe

2017-04-28T19:23:59Z

During the International Beer Exchange held on Day 2 of TEDFest, a screening event for TEDx’ers in New York City, bottles were lined up side by side like passengers on the subway during morning rush hour. A pale ale from Vail stood tall next to a stout from Kentucky that had been aged in oak […]A highlight of TEDFest — a beer exchange between members of the TEDx community. Photo: David Rosenberg / TED During the International Beer Exchange held on Day 2 of TEDFest, a screening event for TEDx’ers in New York City, bottles were lined up side by side like passengers on the subway during morning rush hour. A pale ale from Vail stood tall next to a stout from Kentucky that had been aged in oak bourbon barrels. They were flanked by a beer made from seawater, another that had been infused with coffee, as well as a group of lagers, pilsners and stouts. The beer exchange was a little bit like TEDFest itself: attended by 500 TEDx organizers from more than 60 countries. Attendees packed a table inside St. Ann’s Warehouse with beer from countries including Mexico, Germany, Argentina, Japan, France, Ireland and Aruba. Organizers were allowed to choose one beer for every bottle they brought, and when the time came to make the exchange, many took their time, studying what was available before carefully making the final decision. (For attendees who don’t drink alcohol, candy and other goodies were also exchanged.) Since they weren’t allowed to drink on site, whether they were satisfied with their selections would be discussed later. At the TEDx beer exchange, if you brought a beer, you got to take a beer. Photo: David Rosenberg / TED Some brought individual bottles, some brought six-packs — all left happy. Photo: David Rosenberg /TED The beer exchange is a fitting illustration of how, even though members of this community live in 60 countries, they have quite a lot in common. Photo: David Rosenberg / TED [...]



The TED2017 film festival: Shorts from the conference

2017-04-28T16:59:10Z

TED is about speakers stepping on a stage and sharing an idea in 18 minutes or less. But throughout our annual conference, short films play a vital part in the program too — opening sessions and providing moments of pause, reflection and laughter between talks. The short films shown during the conference are selected by Anyssa […]Every year at TED, we curate a program of short films to play between speakers and set the mood. The massive screens in the TED2017 theater made for spectacular viewing. What we’re looking at here is our opening video, created by Alec Donovan. Photo: Marla Aufmuth/TED TED is about speakers stepping on a stage and sharing an idea in 18 minutes or less. But throughout our annual conference, short films play a vital part in the program too — opening sessions and providing moments of pause, reflection and laughter between talks. The short films shown during the conference are selected by Anyssa Samari and Jonathan Wells, who talk to filmmakers and scour the internet year-round to find the right pieces. “We’re looking for artful treatments of topics,” says Samari. “The films we show are usually around 60 seconds, so it has to communicate an idea visually in a small fraction of time.” Below, the short films that showed over the course of TED2017.   class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='586' height='360' src='http://www.youtube.com/embed/jkBb7dePIL8?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'> The short: Desiigner’s “PANDA” featuring Taylor Hatala & Kyndall Harris. A duo of teenage dance prodigies slay a hip-hop performance. The creators: Directed by Tim Milgram. Choreography by Antoine Troupe. Shown during: Session 1, “One Move Ahead”   class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='586' height='360' src='http://www.youtube.com/embed/VXa9tXcMhXQ?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'> The short: Kraftwerk’s “The Robots.” The classic 1977 video from the band that blazed the trail in electronic music. The creators: Kraftwerk Shown during: Session 2, “Our Robotic Overlords”   class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='586' height='360' src='http://www.youtube.com/embed/AWJJnQybZlk?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'> The short: “Laws of Robotics.” The legendary sci-fi writer’s words prove eerily relevant in our debates on artificial intelligence today. The creators: BBC Horizon Shown during: Session 2, “Our Robotic Overlords”   class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='586' height='360' src='http://www.youtube.com/embed/ABz2m0olmPg?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'> The short: “Kenzo World.” A woman lets her inner dance machine lose in this viral Kenzo fragrance ad. The creators: Directed by Spike Jonze Shown during: Session 3, “The Human Response”   class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='586' height='360' src='http://www.youtube.com/embed/UlP4Z_pWhKo?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'> The short: “Simone Giertz and Her Ingenious Robot Helpers.” These dinky makeshift robots will surely add more time to your morning routine. The creators: Directed by Simone Giertz Shown during: Session 3, “The Human Response”   class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='586' height='360' src='htt[...]



In Case You Missed It: The personal talks from day 4 of TED2017

2017-04-28T04:57:13Z

On the fourth day of TED, the talks got more personal and packed with takeaways for everyday life. Below, some highlights. Pond scum: a source of wonder. In her ode to the microorganisms we’ve spent a century trying to kill, Anne Madden shared how, in pond scum, scientists found an organism that appears to vaccinate […]Today, the scale of talks at TED2017 moved from lofty technology and global issues to the personal, with ideas on topics like aging and heartbreak. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED On the fourth day of TED, the talks got more personal and packed with takeaways for everyday life. Below, some highlights. Pond scum: a source of wonder. In her ode to the microorganisms we’ve spent a century trying to kill, Anne Madden shared how, in pond scum, scientists found an organism that appears to vaccinate mice against PTSD; in dirt, a microorganism that could kill superbugs; and in wasps, a microorganism that makes delicious sour beer. Pond scum also led Elizabeth Blackburn to the discovery that secured her the Nobel Prize in Medicine, as they proved perfect research subjects for her work on telomeres, the caps of DNA at the end of chromosomes. And other gross things are amazing too. Levon Biss showed his stunning portraits of insects, created by stitching together thousands of individual photographs. The goal: to reveal the “microsculpture” of their bodies. Meanwhile, Wang Jun suggested the idea of a “smart toilet” that collects data about our health: “So much valuable information gets flushed away every day!” Big thoughts on aging. Just a few hours after Elizabeth Blackburn’s talk on telomeres, believed to play a central role in how we age, Shah Rukh Khan made a powerful age-related analogy. “Humanity is a lot like me,” he said. “It’s an aging movie star, grappling with all the newness around it.” Then Ashton Applewhite burned the house down with a takedown of ageism, the prejudice against our future selves. “There is no line in the sand, no crossover between young and old after which it’s all downhill,” she said to cheers. Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn touched on aging and pond scum — two surprising themes of the day. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED Why you should make a list of the things you hate about your ex. Guy Winch said that heartbreak isn’t just sad — it’s addictive. We refuse to accept the simple reasons why it didn’t work out, and we keep on idealizing our exes. So he suggested: remembering all the bad. Write down all those negative qualities, all those little things you dislike about your former partner, and keep a list in your phone. Read it out loud when you feel sad. The importance of connection. Emily Esfahani Smith shared how belonging is one of four key pillars that make people feel like they’re leading a meaningful life. But connection might mean a longer and healthier life too. Susan Pinker showed us our brain on face-to-face social interaction — it’s lit up in bright yellow, in the shape of two large butterfly wings. Smiles and high fives are enough to lift our spirits, and close connections are associated with lower stress and increased healing. “I call this building your village,” she said. “Building it and sustaining it is a matter of life and death.” Two talks from bold-faced names. The first two featured videos from TED2017 are live on TED.com. Check out Serena Williams and Gayle King on tennis, love and motherhood — and Pope Francis on inclusion, interconnection and hope. The second is setting a TED.com record for views, already nearing a million. It’s even the subject of the highest form of flattery, parody, courtesy of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='586' height='360' src='http://www.youtube.com/embed/B1MlW787KIU?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearc[...]



Tales of tomorrow: The talks of Session 10 of TED2017

2017-04-28T15:45:35Z

The stories we tell define us. In the Thursday-night session of TED2017, a singer, an artist, a poet, an author, two podcasters and Bollywood’s biggest star showed us what our stories mean today — and gave a preview of what they’ll look like in the future. Below, recaps of the talks from Session 10, in chronological order. […]The star of The Color Purple on Broadway, Cynthia Erivo comes to TED to perform “Johnny and Donna” and “Natural Woman” on Thursday night at TED2017, April 27, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED The stories we tell define us. In the Thursday-night session of TED2017, a singer, an artist, a poet, an author, two podcasters and Bollywood’s biggest star showed us what our stories mean today — and gave a preview of what they’ll look like in the future. Below, recaps of the talks from Session 10, in chronological order. A little bit of tune in our hearts. “I don’t know if you can tell, but I love music,” says Cynthia Erivo. “I love to sing … because it’s the fast track to the heart. When I sing I get to connect with each one of you, because we all understand music. With music, we get a little bit of a superpower.” Best known for her role in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple, the Tony- and Grammy-winning performer opens the session singing two songz, “Johnny and Donna” and a laid-back rendition of “Natural Woman,” accompanied by Jason Michael Webb, the musical director of The Color Purple. Her unforgettable voice opens the session. Manoush Zomorodi wondered what would happen if we put down our phones and let ourselves get bored … so she asked her listeners to find out. She speaks at TED2017, April 27, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED How to wrestle your life back from your phone. A UX designer told Manoush Zomorodi that “the only people who refer to their customers as ‘users’ are drug dealers and technologists.” Our attention is valuable, and we’re feeling the effects of competition for it. “A decade ago we shifted our attention about every three minutes. Now we shift it about every 45 seconds,” says Zomorodi, host of the radio show “Note to Self.” The problem: we’re never bored. Thus, we’ve lost our most creative mode. “When you get bored, you ignite a network in your brain called the ‘default mode,'” she continues. “In the default mode, our mind makes connections between disparate ideas and finds solutions to nagging problems.” Zomorodi was concerned that “all the cracks in my life were filled with phone time.” So she posed a week-long challenge to her listeners, called “Bored and Brilliant: The Lost Art of Spacing Out.” About 20,000 people signed up to do a challenge every day, like deleting the app most likely to draw them in. Before the challenge, her users were averaging two hours a day on their phones. And after? Well, they only shaved about six minutes off. But they felt different. Seventy percent said they got more time to think; they slept better and felt happier. Teenagers who’d never known life without connectivity found it a revelation. One user described it as “waking up from a mental hibernation.” Zomorodi’s point: we have to decide how we want to use technology. Otherwise, it uses us. Writing as a form of time travel. A single letter has the power to change friends into fiends. Language enthusiast and podcaster Helen Zaltzman knows this more intimately than most (due to a grave error on her grandmother’s tombstone), which underlines the enduring significance of the written word. “I love how the English language is strewn with little signs of tension between the desire to be[...]



The quest for love and compassion: Shah Rukh Khan speaks at TED2017

2017-04-28T07:58:24Z

“I sell dreams, and I peddle love to millions of people,” says Shah Rukh Khan, Bollywood’s biggest star and the host of the upcoming TED Talks India: Nayi Soch. In a charming, funny, insightful and self-aware talk, Khan traces the movements of his life — and leaves us with hard-earned wisdom. “I’ve been made to understand there […]Shah Rukh Khan speaks at TED2017, April 27, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED “I sell dreams, and I peddle love to millions of people,” says Shah Rukh Khan, Bollywood’s biggest star and the host of the upcoming TED Talks India: Nayi Soch. In a charming, funny, insightful and self-aware talk, Khan traces the movements of his life — and leaves us with hard-earned wisdom. “I’ve been made to understand there are lots of you here who have never seen my work, and I feel really sad for you,” Khan says to uproarious laughter from the crowed gathered in Vancouver. “That doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m completely self-obsessed, as a movie star should be.” “Humanity is a lot like me,” he says.”It’s an aging movie star, grappling with all the newness around it, wondering whether it got it right in the first place and still trying to find a way to keep on shining regardless.” Khan brings us back to his early days, from the refugee camp in New Delhi where he was born to the night his father died when Khan was only 14. “From that night onwards, much akin to humanity in its adolescence, I learned the crude tools of survival,” he says. The framework of life was simple then. You ate what you could find, and you did what you were told to do. “You married the first girl you dated, and you were a techie if you could fix the carburetor in your car,” Khan says. “You went wherever life took you for work, and people were mostly welcoming of you … Most important, you were who you were, and you said what you thought.” In his late 20s, Khan shifted to the sprawling metropolis of Mumbai, and his framework — like the industrialized aspirations of humanity — began to change. He met people from all over the world, and definitions became more and more fluid. Ideas were flowing with more freedom and speed, and he experienced the miracle of innovation and cooperation. His own creativity, supported by the resourcefulness of the collective, catapulted him into superstardom. “By the time I was 40, I was really flying. I had done 50 films by then, and 200 songs, and I’d been knighted by the Malaysians and given the highest civil honor by the French government,” Khan recounts. “Humanity was soaring with me,” he says. “We were both flying off the handle, actually.” Then the internet happened. “Everything I said took a new meaning; everything I did — good, bad, ugly — was there for the world to comment upon and judge,” Khan recalls. “Everything I didn’t say or do was also met with the same fate.” In this new world, reality became virtual, and virtual became real. “I started to feel that I couldn’t be who I wanted to be or say what I actually thought,” Khan says. “And humanity at this time completely identified with me. Both of us were going through our midlife crisis. Humanity, like me, was becoming an over-exposed prima donna.” “The whole world, and all of humanity, seemed as lost as I was,” Khan says. And here we are. With all of the complex problems and confusion in the world, Khan, now 51, still believes that there has never been a more momentous time for humanity. What has he learned, and how can it help the rest of the world? “The present you is brave. The present[...]



It’s personal: The talks of Session 9 of TED2017

2017-04-28T03:10:02Z

For the ninth session of TED2017, hosted by TED’s Editorial Director Helen Walters and Curation Director Kelly Stoetzel, we look into ourselves with seven speakers who take on subjects ranging from parenting to social interaction and heartbreak, revealing nuggets of wisdom that just might help you lead a better, more fulfilled life. The longest-running study […]For the ninth session of TED2017, hosted by TED’s Editorial Director Helen Walters and Curation Director Kelly Stoetzel, we look into ourselves with seven speakers who take on subjects ranging from parenting to social interaction and heartbreak, revealing nuggets of wisdom that just might help you lead a better, more fulfilled life. Helen Pearson wrote a book about the longest-running study of human development. She talked about it at TED2017, April 27, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED The longest-running study of human development. “I’ve got three boys, and like most parents, the honest truth is that I have pretty much no idea what I’m doing,” admits science journalist Helen Pearson. She spent most of her parenting time making it up as she went along … until she stumbled across the longest running study of human development in history. For 70 years, British scientists have been following thousands of children from the time they were born, allowing researchers a unique chance to make sense of why some adults struggle more than others. On stage, Pearson shared two important discoveries from the research. The first, those born into poverty will have a more difficult path in life. The second, “parents really matter,” she says, explaining that good parents can help children partially overcome early disadvantages. “Poverty leaves a really lasting scar,” says Pearson. “It means that if we really want to ensure the success and well-being of the next generation, tackling child poverty is an incredibly important thing to do.” Your brain on social interaction. Psychologist Susan Pinker starts with a fact you might have heard: across the developed world, women live an average of six to eight years longer than men. She traveled to a place where that isn’t true — the so-called “Blue Zone” of Sardinia, an Italian island in the Mediterranean. Here, there are six times as many centenarians as on the mainland, a mix of men and women. Centenarians here don’t eat a low-fat or gluten-free diet. (Pinker notes their love of pasta.) They don’t all have a sunny disposition. (She mentions Giovanni, “the grumpiest person I’ve ever met.”) But they do constantly have people dropping by to spend time with them. Pinker sees these social connections as the secret to their longevity, as well as the reason why women tend live to longer than men. “Women are more likely to prioritize and groom face-to-face relationships over their lifetime,” she says. Close relationships and high social integration are key predictors of longevity, she explains. Women with strong connections more likely to survive breast cancer than loners; baboons with three stable relationships show lower levels of stress. “Social isolation is the public risk of our time,” says Pinker. But it can be fought back against with every smile, high five and moment of eye contact. Schedule a screen sabbatical. Many of us spend a large part of our day studying our screens. Adam Alter has spent the last five years literally studying screens and their effects on our lives, specifically how much time they steal from us and how they’re getting away with it. He points out that screens “rob us of stopping cues” or signals that remind us to move on. Unlike reading a newspaper, where the end of the page[...]



Heartbreak 101: Guy Winch speaks at TED2017

2017-04-28T01:32:03Z

“Why do the same coping mechanisms that get us through all kinds of life challenges fail us so miserably when our heart gets broken?” asks psychologist Guy Winch. For the past 20 years, Winch has counseled people of all ages reeling from the blow of a breakup, and in this talk, he explains why heartbreak […]Psychologist Guy Winch tells us how to fix a broken heart at TED2017, April 27, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED “Why do the same coping mechanisms that get us through all kinds of life challenges fail us so miserably when our heart gets broken?” asks psychologist Guy Winch. For the past 20 years, Winch has counseled people of all ages reeling from the blow of a breakup, and in this talk, he explains why heartbreak is so severe — and shares some tools and tactics the brokenhearted can use to move on. Above all, he says: Don’t trust your instincts. Heartbreak causes such dramatic emotional pain, says Winch, that our mind tells us the cause must be equally dramatic. But often it’s not — often the reason a relationship ends is as simple as someone waking up one morning and deciding they no longer feel the way they once did. And while Winch confirms that you need closure to move on, you shouldn’t play detective and sift through your memories or your ex’s Facebook looking for clues. Those behaviors only fuel your obsessive mind, and they don’t help you heal. Winch says, either take the reason you were offered or decide on one yourself — and then put the question to rest. Instead, rely on your reason. Make an exhaustive list of all of your ex’s worst qualities (their nail-biting, their chronic lateness …) and keep it on your phone. Consult it whenever your mind starts spinning a fantasy narrative about your ex or playing a highlight reel of your relationship’s “best of” moments. And if you’re already in too deep, too distraught to remember your ex as anything other than perfect, Winch suggests cautiously asking your friends for their input. Fill in the gaps. “Heartbreak is a complex psychological injury,” says Winch, and recovering from one is not easy. Not only have you lost a lover and a companion but a social network, a routine, a rhythm. To recover, Winch urges you to identify these voids in your life — the voids in your identity, the gaps in your social life, the lost activities, even the empty spaces on your wall where pictures used to hang — and find ways to fill them. We grieve a heartbreak just like any other significant loss. Heartbreak can provoke clinical depression, impair cognition and even lower immunity. But whereas we once had to rely on time and social support to get over an ex, we now know what helps. If you avoid the mistakes that set you back, says Winch, you can significantly minimize your suffering — and heal faster. [...]



The puzzle of aging: Elizabeth Blackburn speaks at TED2017

2017-04-28T01:09:41Z

For Nobel Prize-winning biologist Elizabeth Blackburn, it all began with pond scum. She was curious about chromosomes, and specifically the caps at the ends of chromosomes, known as telomeres, and pond scum provided an ample supply for her research. Her curiosity sent her on a journey that shed light on one of humanity’s biggest, and oldest, […]Nobel-winning biologist Elizabeth Blackburn studies how humans age — and the hidden factors that might explain differences in how age affects different people. She speaks at TED2017, April 27, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED For Nobel Prize-winning biologist Elizabeth Blackburn, it all began with pond scum. She was curious about chromosomes, and specifically the caps at the ends of chromosomes, known as telomeres, and pond scum provided an ample supply for her research. Her curiosity sent her on a journey that shed light on one of humanity’s biggest, and oldest, questions — why and how we age. Telomeres are special sections of noncoding DNA at the end of chromosomes that, like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces, protect our coding DNA during cell division. Each time a cell divides, all of its genetic information has to be copied, but due to a glitch in how DNA is copied, telomeres get worn down and shortened. Telomeres help protect our coding DNA from being worn down during cell division by sacrificing themselves. Eventually, worn-down telomeres send a signal to cells that the coding DNA is at risk and it’s time for the cell to die. Based on this research, Blackburn concluded that telomere shortening was simply a fact of aging, but it turned out to be far from the full story. With colleague Carol Greider, she noticed something strange. Pond scum cells never got old and died. “Their telomeres weren’t shortening as time marched on. Sometimes they even got longer,” she says. “Something else was at work.” The mystery led them to the discovery of a previously undreamed-of enzyme, telomerase, which helps replenish telomeres. “When we removed telomerase in pond scum, their cells wore down and they died,” she says. In other words, telomerase can slow, prevent or even reverse telomere shortening caused by cell division and, as we’ll see, exacerbated by the stresses of life. (Warning: unless you mistakenly think at this point that the puzzle of aging has been solved and all you have to do is get your hands on a bottle of telomerase, Blackburn is careful to stress that too much telomerase can actually be a bad thing, increasing your risk of cancer.) “Our telomeres shorten as we age, and that’s aging us,” says Blackburn. Telomere shortening has been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s — the diseases that many of us eventually die of. However, telomere shortening doesn’t happen at the same rate in everyone. For some, it happens slowly, extending the healthy, productive years of life, what Blackburn calls your “healthspan.” For others, it happens faster, and the disease span — the years of feeling old and sick — comes more quickly. Blackburn began to wonder whether we had any control over our telomere length — and thus our health and wellbeing. The answer came when psychologist Elissa Epel walked into her lab. Appel studied the effects of severe chronic psychological stress, focusing on caregivers to children with a chronic disorder, and she wanted to know what happened to telomeres in the chronically stressed. “When she asked about this, I suddenly saw telomeres in a whole light,” says Blackburn, “I saw beyond genes and chromosomes into the lives of the rea[...]



Bugs and bodies: The talks of Session 8 of TED2017

2017-04-28T23:08:57Z

In the eight session of TED2017, hosted by TED’s Head Curator Chris Anderson, eight speakers — and one unforgettable live jetpack demo — showed us that there’s wonder all around us, from the bugs that live in our backyards and on our skin to the dreams that live inside our minds, waiting to be unleashed. Below, […]In the eight session of TED2017, hosted by TED’s Head Curator Chris Anderson, eight speakers — and one unforgettable live jetpack demo — showed us that there’s wonder all around us, from the bugs that live in our backyards and on our skin to the dreams that live inside our minds, waiting to be unleashed. Below, recaps of the talks from Session 8, in chronological order. Explaining our extremes. Robert Sapolsky is not a violent person. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t fantasized about torturing Hitler — or gotten a little too into shooting his friends in a game of laser tag. When it comes to violence, we’re all a little confused. “We don’t uniformly hate violence,” Sapolsky says. “We hate the wrong kind of violence … when it’s the right kind of violence, we love it.” In order to understand how such a compassionate and altruistic species can also exhibit such brutality, we need to understand context, at every stage — from “one second before to a million years before,” from adulthood to embryo. Only then can we attempt to understand the poles of human behavior and our remarkable ability to change. Wang Jun talks about the future of personal genomics at TED2017, April 27, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED Better health choices, through digital doppelgangers. For his college thesis, genomics researcher Wang Jun coded a digital ladybug to search for food. He was delighted to find that its paths matched those of ladybugs in real life. “Life is a learning program,” he says. The code is DNA, but our genomes aren’t the only things that affect our health; environment and lifestyle factors play a part, too. Jun wondered: “Could I make a ‘digital me’? Could I try to run multiple options on that ‘digital me’?” At iCarbonX, Jun is working to develop digital doppelgangers for real people. These include genetic code, but they’ll factor in other kinds of data as well, from food intake to sleep to data collected by a “smart toilet.” (“So much valuable information flushed away every day!” he jokes.) The idea is that, with all this information, a person could see what would happen with different choices. What if they eat less meat? Run a marathon? Work less? Take a certain dosage of a medication? This tool would empower people to make better health choices. But there’s a bigger goal here too — to pool all this data and create an engine that learns more and more about health and disease. “When we make this ‘digital me’ a ‘digital we’ — when we try to form an internet of life — people can learn from each other’s data.” Anne Madden introduces us to the thousands of microorganisms in our homes and on our bodies at TED2017, April 27, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED How the microorganisms in dust bunnies could change our lives. When you touch your face, you’re feeling more than your skin — you’re also feeling fungi pumped out of the air ducts, some of the one hundred billion bacterial cells that live on your skin and the tiny mites that squirm across all our faces. “Last night, they had sex on the bridge of your nose,” says microbial researcher Anne Madden. But this isn&[...]



Building bridges and playing with data at the Target social space

2017-04-28T23:08:48Z

This year at TED, Target is all about building bridges and forging strong connections — literally and figuratively. The Commons — an open, airy minimalist structure — is a truly interactive space that allows TED attendees a moment to recharge away (and above) from the hustle and bustle of the conference. Made from sturdy wood […]Target builds a bridge to create a cozy social space at TED2017, April 24-28, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED This year at TED, Target is all about building bridges and forging strong connections — literally and figuratively. The Commons — an open, airy minimalist structure — is a truly interactive space that allows TED attendees a moment to recharge away (and above) from the hustle and bustle of the conference. Made from sturdy wood and cardboard with a backdrop of the breathtaking Vancouver mountains, The Commons appears as an intricate and inviting bridge that provides ample seating within the structure itself. As a cozy place to get work done or rest, attendees are encouraged to sit down, relax and engage with classic wooden puzzles, with easy access to notebooks and pencils for note-taking. The space is more than just a place to take a breath, but also functions as comfortable grounds to reflect. Every day, Target presents a new question with two answers that attendees can choose between — with each answer represented by specific colors that change daily. For example, Wednesday’s question was “What is the future of communities?”  the answer being either “Face-to-face” in yellow and “Online” in blue. Today’s is: “Would you consider committing to a tech sabbatical?” Bright, colorful beams that line The Commons change dependent on which answer (thus, which color) gets more votes and puts on open display where the TED audience diverges in vibrant harmony. This thought experiment is meant to start conversation, spark curiosity by asking questions that will impact the future you. Giorgio Lupi draws data portraits at the Target social space during TED2017, April 24-28, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED When attendees want to take a step back from the future and are curious about the current them, TED speaker and MoMA artist Giorgia Lupi between sessions (and in only a few questions) transforms personalized data into mini visual portraits that are truly unique to each attendee — with color and shapes — as a conversation starter. The questions are non-invasive and reveal only fun, small facts about participants, such as “Which TED letter are you?” and “When do you get your best ideas?” “Soft, small data can promote connections with a bold visual representation,” says Liupi. “You can find data everywhere, if you’re wearing the right glasses.” So far, Lupi and her team have completed over 500 portraits and when asked the last question on her data portrait survey (The future is…), a majority of attendees have said that the future is bright. [...]



The biology of behavior: Robert Sapolsky speaks at TED2017

2017-04-28T22:58:04Z

Robert Sapolsky is “your basic confused human when it comes to violence.” He’s for gun control but loves shooting people in laser tag. He doesn’t believe in the death penalty but has specific fantasies about how he would kill Hitler. He’s also a neuroscientist who studies stress and its effects in primates. So, naturally, he wanted […]Robert Sapolsky speaks live via video, with help from Prezi AR, at TED2017, April 28, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED Robert Sapolsky is “your basic confused human when it comes to violence.” He’s for gun control but loves shooting people in laser tag. He doesn’t believe in the death penalty but has specific fantasies about how he would kill Hitler. He’s also a neuroscientist who studies stress and its effects in primates. So, naturally, he wanted to figure out what this dichotomy in human nature is all about. Sapolsky explains our confusing relationship with violence as the result of two complications. The first: “We don’t hate violence; we hate the wrong kind,” he says. “Because when it’s the right kind, we cheer it on, we hand out medals. We vote for, we mate with our champions of violence. When it’s the right kind we love it.” The second is that “amid us being this miserably violent species, we’re also extraordinarily compassionate and altruistic.” Sapolsky attempts to answer the question, “How do you make sense of the biology of our best moments, our worst and all the ambiguous ones in between?” The answer, he says, is you trace it back … all the way back. Take, for instance, this scenario: you’re in a riot and see a person running toward you holding what you think is a gun. You have a split second to decide what to do. You fire. Immediately afterward you see that what they were holding was not in fact a gun but a cellphone. How do we explain this glitch in behavior? First, ask what was going on in your brain seconds before the event. Specifically, how active was your emotional control center, the amygdala. From there, move on to minutes before, analyzing the environmental factors that stimulated your amygdala in the first place, such as the race and gender of the person running toward you or even how hungry you were. Zoom out from hours to days and you’re at the hormonal level. If, for example, your levels of testosterone were high, you would have been more likely to interpret the face running toward you as threatening, sending an important message to your amygdala to pull that trigger. The past weeks and months also come into play in explaining your actions. Prolonged stress at work or home could have enlarged your amygdala and increased neural connections amplifying the signals instructing it to act. From there, head back to adolescence before your brain fully matured, when your experiences and environment were shaping the future you. Then go back further to fetal development, when epigenetic changes were deciding which genes got turned on and which got turned off. And that’s just your own brain. Sapolsky instructs us to look back centuries ago into the lives of our ancestors, analyzing how those cultures affected the values that have been passed down to present-day you. Your last stop is millions of years ago during the evolution of genes that lead to our branching off from our ape ancestors. So basically, Sapolsky says, “If you want to understand a behavior, you need to understand everything from one second before to millions of years before … it’s complicated.” It may seem like a lot of work went into in[...]



Video: Watch how five TEDx organizers share an idea around the world

2017-04-28T19:58:03Z

First, watch this wonderful new promo for TED’s mobile app — a wander through five countries and communities, linked by a love for great ideas. TED’s filmmakers asked the help of five TEDx organizers to make a video highlighting TED’s mobile app, the result became something much more: visual evidence that ideas bring people together. “We […]First, watch this wonderful new promo for TED’s mobile app — a wander through five countries and communities, linked by a love for great ideas. class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='586' height='360' src='http://www.youtube.com/embed/mxxIloURtoU?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent' allowfullscreen='true' style='border:0;'> TED’s filmmakers asked the help of five TEDx organizers to make a video highlighting TED’s mobile app, the result became something much more: visual evidence that ideas bring people together. To help make this video for mobile TED Talks, Kelo Kubu from TEDxJohannesburg (center) brought an iPhone to Skateistan, a youth center in Johannesburg, South Africa, uses skateboarding and education for empowerment. “We wanted to highlight one of our core values — a deep respect for diversity of ideas shared by a global community. And we wanted to express this in both the content of the video as well as the physical production of it,” says Kari Mulholland, the creative director and producer on the project. To tell this story around the world, they reached out to the TEDx community and found five enthusiastic collaborators: Reza Ghiabi from TEDxTehran, Antonella Broglia from TEDxMadrid, Jon Yeo from TEDxMelbourne, Kelo Kubu from TEDxJohannesburg and Jimmy Tan from TEDxXiguan. And to find a TED Talk that linked these communities together, the team immediately thought of Chimimanda Ngozi Adiche’s TED Talk “The danger of a single story,” which eloquently communicates an idea that resonates across cultures and languages. TEDx organizer Antonella Broglia from TEDxMadrid connected filmmakers with the staff at Berkana, one of the most important gay and lesbian bookshops in Madrid. “We built a visual narrative using iPhones to create a sense of intimacy and continuity between the multiple locations,” Kari says. “We loved the challenge of matching action and framing across all of these cities.” The TEDx organizers helped Kari and Sheena Ozaki, the production assistant, develop scenes and locations. It was important to capture places that are meaningful to each community, and the local teams used these settings to help tell the story. Jon Yeo from TEDxMelbourne worked with Robert Moorman from Hunting With Pixels to film street artist George Manioudakis in Melbourne, Australia. The video also highlights organizations and people involved in these neighborhoods. Skateistan in Johannesburg, South Africa, uses skateboarding and education as a form of youth empowerment. Berkana is one of the most important gay and lesbian bookshops in Madrid, Spain. And the street art was done by George Manioudakis, a renowned street artist who works out of Blender Studios in Melbourne, Australia. The TEDxTehran team filmed a typical cafe conversation in their hometown. The film shows how a powerful idea can spread across borders and languages, and how an idea can bring individuals together. Fittingly, the video was premiered today at TEDFest, a gathering in New York of over 500 TEDx organizers from around the world, who spread the mission of TED and bring powerful ideas to their own communities. The TED mobile app is available on iOS and And[...]



Connection and community: The talks of Session 7 of TED2017

2017-04-28T03:12:13Z

We’re more connected than ever before but, in some parts of the world, life has never been more difficult. From refugee camps full of people displaced by war to urban blight in the developed world, our problems are growing more complex. But in that strife lies opportunity. In the seventh session of TED2017, hosted by […]We’re more connected than ever before but, in some parts of the world, life has never been more difficult. From refugee camps full of people displaced by war to urban blight in the developed world, our problems are growing more complex. But in that strife lies opportunity. In the seventh session of TED2017, hosted by TED’s Curation Director Kelly Stoetzel and International Curator Bruno Giussani, seven speakers and one multi-instrumentalist took us on a trip to America’s only school for refugee kids, an urban farm changing the landscape in Detroit, a cohousing complex in Oakland and more. Below, recaps of the talks from Session 7, in chronological order. Musical multiplicity, from a single mind. Jacob Collier is a one-man band / a cappella group. In his popular YouTube videos (watch his take on Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing“) and debut album, he sings every part — and plays every instrument. He’s won two Grammys as a result. On the TED stage, Collier has re-created the “magical room” at his home in London where he plays. He’s so comfortable here that he performs in his socks. As he sings harmonic parts, multiple versions of his face appear on screen, singing with him as he floats toward the moon. In a second song, he jumps frenetically from guitar to piano to drums to upright bass and back again, a tree growing out of water behind him, its limbs blowing in the breeze before exploding in a kaleidoscope of movement. Everything visual takes its cues from something auditory, he explains after the performance. It’s created in real time, always new, reacting to what he plays with his impressive range. The modern refugee crisis is manageable, not insoluble. David Miliband gives us specific ways to make a difference in the modern refugee crisis: if you run a business, employ refugees; if you believe refugees deserve help, use your voice and take on the myths that hold back policy; if you have money, give it to charities that help refugees; if you’re a citizen, put people in power who will put the policy solutions into practice. “This is about the rescue of us and our values as well as the rescue of them and their lives,” he says. Read a full recap of his talk here. Sharing the stories of refugees. As the founder and head of the Fugees Academy in Clarkston, Georgia, the first accredited private school in America for refugees, Luma Mufleh is a fierce advocate for people who have fled war and persecution in their native countries. Why? “I am an Arab, I am an immigrant, I am a Muslim and I am gay,” she says. “And I am the daughter of a refugee.” Her grandparents left Syria in 1964 during the first Assad regime and restarted their lives in Jordan, where Mufleh grew up. After college, she applied for political asylum in America (since she is gay, she risked imprisonment in some countries) and received it. She found friends and work, yet struggled to find a real home — a place where she felt like she fit in. But she found that home when she made a wrong turn into an apartment complex and saw kids playing soccer. She watched them for an hour, smiling because they reminded her of playing soccer with her cousins when she was young. She approac[...]



The duty we owe to strangers: David Miliband speaks at TED2017

2017-04-27T16:10:52Z

David Miliband came to TED with a specific message: The global refugee crisis is not unsolvable — and it’s actually a test of those of us in the West. For Miliband, this crisis is personal, not just professional. Both his mother and father were refugees who were forced to flee their homes in World War […]David Miliband asks us to see the refugee crisis as a test of our humanity — and our humility. He speaks at TED2017, April 26, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED David Miliband came to TED with a specific message: The global refugee crisis is not unsolvable — and it’s actually a test of those of us in the West. For Miliband, this crisis is personal, not just professional. Both his mother and father were refugees who were forced to flee their homes in World War II. “If Britain had not admitted refugees in the 1940s,” he says, “I certainly wouldn’t be here today.” Today, humanitarian principles are on fire in the very countries that seventy years ago said “Never again” to statelessness and hopelessness.Sixty-five million people were displaced from their homes by conflict and disaster last year — that’s 24 people every single minute — from a chemical attack in Syria to the Taliban on the rampage in Afghanistan to girls driven from their schools in Nigeria. If these people were a country, they would be the 21st-largest country in the world. “These are not people on the move seeking a better life — they’re fleeing for their lives,” Miliband says. Most of these people are displaced within their own home country, but 25 million cross borders and become refugees. They are living in Turkey, Jordan, Pakistan, Kenya, Iran. One in every four people in Lebanon is a refugee, a quarter of the population. And most refugees are displaced for a long time — the average is ten years. The causes are deep: weak states that can’t support their own people and a divided international political system. “Those are long-term, generational challenges,” Miliband says. “This refugee crisis is a trend, not a blip.” The problems are real, but so are the solutions, Miliband says. Solution 1: Refugees need to be able to work. Support for work needs to be the norm.  Solution 2: Education for refugee kids should be a lifeline, not a luxury. “Kids can bounce back when they’re given the proper social, emotional support alongside literacy and numeracy,” Miliband says. Solution 3: Refugees need money. Most refugees are in cities, not camps, and cash assistance empowers refugees and boosts the local economy. Solution 4: The most vulnerable refugees need the chance to start a new life in the West. “Now is not the time to be banning refugees,” Miliband says, “it’s the time to be embracing people who are victims of terror.” “This is not just a crisis — it’s a test,” he continues. “It’s a test of our humanity — of us, in the western world, of who we are and what we stand for. It’s a test of our character; not our policies.” Fail to help and we show we have no moral compass at all. It’s also a test of whether we know our own history. Extraordinary Western leadership after World War II created the international system of refugee rights we have today. “Trash the protections of refugees and we trash our own history,” Miliband says. It’s also about democracy. For refugees fleeing for freedom, democracy really means something. Wester[...]



In Case You Missed It: Mind-bending thoughts from day 3 of TED2017

2017-04-27T19:52:21Z

On day three of TED2017, we got an exploration of the mind, new ideas on climate change and thoughts on how our world is hyper global and at the same time hyper local. Below, some highlights. Perception is a hallucination. Surprise! In Session 4, Anil Seth made a convincing case that we’re hallucinating all the […]The third day of TED brought a slew of powerhouse talks — and one vibrant debate. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED On day three of TED2017, we got an exploration of the mind, new ideas on climate change and thoughts on how our world is hyper global and at the same time hyper local. Below, some highlights. Perception is a hallucination. Surprise! In Session 4, Anil Seth made a convincing case that we’re hallucinating all the time. In a delightfully disorienting talk, he explained how our minds are constantly making “best guesses” between sensory signals and prior experiences, then updating with new information. “It’s just that when we agree about our hallucinations, that’s what we call ‘reality,’” he said. Redefining home around core values. Devita Davison, dismayed by the fact that many Detroiters live closer to a fast food restaurant than a supermarket, walked us through some organizations promoting urban agriculture in the city, to ensure that everyone has access to healthy food. Grace Kim sung the praises of co-housing, a system where neighbors share spaces and lives. This fights back against isolation, and creates neighborhoods founded on mutual care, she said. Then in one of the most powerful talks of the day, Luma Mufleh, a Jordanian immigrant of Syrian descent, shared how she became a soccer coach for young refugees in Atlanta after running across a group of kids playing barefoot, with rocks as goals. She formed a team that supports players from war-torn nations, affirming their basic humanity as they make new homes. “What I get to see every day is their hope, resilience, determination, love of life and appreciation for being able to rebuild their lives,” she said. A live experiment. Dan Ariely and Mariano Sigman woke us up this morning by having us participate in an impromptu experiment. They asked us consider two morally ambiguous scenarios — then discuss them in random groups. They suspect that conversation might have effect on how people think about these kinds of questions. While their research won’t be available for a bit, they wanted us to do this to make a key point: “Experiments are an admission of how little we know.” Daan Roosegaarde shows a ring made from the waste of Beijing smog. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED The smog ring and “yes, but” chair. Daan Roosegaarde made a smog vacuum that cleans local parks in Beijing — then turns the waste into diamond-like rings. In an ode to hope and creativity in a session with sobering warnings on climate change, he said, “If we implement that kind of thinking, there’s a whole new world to be explored.” For anyone opposed, he had a surprise: a chair with voice recognition software that shocks anyone who says, “yes, but….” Because it’s a phrase guilty of killing many a good idea too soon. In algorithms we shouldn’t trust. “Algorithms are opinions embedded in code,” warned Cathy O’Neil in a blistering talk. We accept algorithms as truth — even when we have no idea what they’re based on. And that’s a big problem, since they’re determining who gets released from prison, who loses their job and so much more. It’s a fascinating call to demand transparency in algorithms. Geoengineering [...]



At TED, BMW i announces a search for mobility visionaries (maybe … you?)

2017-04-27T02:13:29Z

Whatever our shared future brings, it’s a safe bet it will involve many bold new ways to get around. So at this year’s TED Conference, themed “The Future You,” TED and BMW i are teaming up to search for promising new ideas in mobility, from visionaries in many fields. Today at TED, BMW i and TED […]A concept-car sculpture at BMW i at TED2017, April 24-28, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED Whatever our shared future brings, it’s a safe bet it will involve many bold new ways to get around. So at this year’s TED Conference, themed “The Future You,” TED and BMW i are teaming up to search for promising new ideas in mobility, from visionaries in many fields. Today at TED, BMW i and TED kick off the NextVisionaries initiative, a search for proposed vehicle and technological concepts, hardware and software solutions, and ideas for products and services that could shape the face of personal transport in tomorrow’s world. Visions could be based around environment friendly mobility that conserves resources — or even on strategies for creating a society geared toward better mobility. Hildegard Wortmann, Senior Vice President Brand BMW, says: “We want to help give visionaries a platform for promoting their ideas for tomorrow’s world. TED offers the perfect arena for this.” Applications can be submitted now at the www.nextvisionaries.com microsite, where you can also find information on the conditions for participation. The microsite also serves as a platform for exchanging ideas about new forms of personal mobility. (You can also find details on Twitter and YouTube.) During a multi-phase selection process over the next four months, a panel of mentors will choose the most impressive, most promising and most groundbreaking proposals. Six winning entrants will present their visionary ideas at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt — and one will speak on stage at a TED event in New York. [...]