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When Tiq Milan and Kim Katrin Milan spoke at TEDWomen 2016, they shared a vision of love and marriage that allowed each person to be who they were. Tiq, left, is a thoughtful spokesperson for a new vision of masculinity that involves choosing aspects of manhood that work for you — and leaving the negativity behind.
Tiq Milan and Kim Katrin Milan brought warmth and light to the TEDWomen stage in 2016, sharing their vision of queer love and possibility. As a Black trans activist, writer and media maker, Tiq Milan expands the cultural imaginary on what it is to live beyond the margins. It’s an interesting time to be Tiq; he’s working on a book, just completed a video project with GLAAD and Netflix — and recently became a first-time parent too. He made time to talk with us last month about his work as a trans advocate, what it means to redefine masculinity and how he lives as a model of possibility for LGBTQ+ youth.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Can you tell me a little bit about your journey and your work? Who is Tiq Milan and how have you gotten here?
I started off working in hip hop journalism, but I was becoming increasingly masculine in my appearance and I was trying to figure out if I was trans or not. In that environment, being a masculine woman at the time was really hard. People weren’t necessarily hostile. People were awkward — and it was just humiliating. People would misgender me, then look at me weird. I decided to switch it up and work in LGBT nonprofit and work with youth, which I had done before. I figured that if I was able to work in communities that would give me the space to transition in a way that felt really comfortable, I could be a role model and model of possibility for people around me. I was able to find the space where I could use media as a space for advocacy.
I started my transition about 12 years ago, in 2007. Transitioning was an evolution; there wasn’t a point in my life where I was like, “I’m trans and I have to do this.” It really was something that evolved over time. My book, Man of My Design, is about the evolution — it’s not so much about the legal and physical transition but rather about my journey throughout the spectrum of gender, from being a tomboy to a feminine teenager to a butch lesbian to a man. Being me has definitely been a process, and I’m still in that process to becoming my best self.
I am intrigued by that title. I think it’s a really interesting concept, especially in a world where — to some people — gender is immovable, inherent and unchanging. What does designing your own masculinity mean to you?
We’re changing the idea that gender is innate and immovable, and understanding it as self-determined. As transgender people, we’re showing other people in the world — particularly cisgendered people — that we’re all having gendered experiences. But we’re also securing the space to be who we are in our genders, whether you’re trans or cis. As a person who was not born into manhood, I’ve had to curate my masculinity from a blank slate. I had to look at different examples and tropes of masculine and decide what I wanted to engage in and what I didn’t. I had to think about how I could find a home in masculinity and not engage in what is so toxic about it. I had to intentionally not revel in the idea that being a man means being the one in control, being the one who has all the strength or power. It’s easy to fall in that place, particularly as a transman who is always assumed to be cisgender. I don’t deal with a lot of trans antagonism because people perceive me as a cisgender person, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to take up space in the perceived privileges that come with that.
“What does it look like to be a man tethered to my spirit, not so much to what I can control?”
This is about what I call organic masculinity. Manhood — particularly cisgendered heterosexual masculinity — defines itself by what it can control, and when it loses that control, when the entitlement is taken away, men lose their fucking mind. They get violent, they get awful. What happens when I take away that entitlement, take away that control and just start to create the man that I want to be? I am masculine and I have masculine traits, but I’m also compassionate. I believe as a man I can have a range of emotions — it doesn’t have to stop at lust and anger. There’s an idea that men can’t have fear, that men can’t be complicated. I want to turn that on its head.
“I saw the exact person I wanted to be in my mind and I manifested that in this world. If I can do that, I can do anything,” says Tiq Milan, left, shown here with Kim Katrin Milan at TEDWomen 2016. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED
What drives you to do the work that you do, toward “living visibly and living out loud”?
I’m visible so other people don’t have to be. Somebody has to be visible. Someone has to be a model of possibility for younger people, and for older people who aren’t out or are still dealing with their gender. Someone has to do it, so why not me? Particularly as a Black man, it’s important to push up against these ideas that being queer and being trans is something that is white. Making sure that people see that this is an intersectional human experience. Here I am, in the flesh, being Black, being queer, being a man; I am all of those things.
I’m starting to become obsessed with this idea of becoming my best self. I listen to Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday podcast. She’s on that guru shit. I’m trying to figure out what the formula is for this life. I was born a girl and I’m going to die a man. I saw the exact person I wanted to be in my mind and I manifested that in this world. If I can do that, I can do anything.
“What does it look like to be the architect of your own destiny? I want to use the trans experience of self-determination as a blueprint.”
I’m inspired by our journey as trans people, by us taking the reins and saying, “This is the person I want to be, and this is who I’m going to be.” I’m really interested in what that next step looks like spiritually. I want to raise my consciousness. My purpose is my wildest dreams, so what does it look like to live in that purpose? To live and breathe on another frequency is to stay in a place of gratitude, even when it’s hard, even when things aren’t going the way they should be. If I stay in a place of gratitude, then I stay understanding that what I want in this life is unequivocally possible. I think it’s about trying to let go of ego. What does it look like to be selfless? What does it mean to understand that we’re all in this together? Particularly now, with the rampant, vile racism that’s happening in the world I have to keep myself grounded in the fact that we’re all in this together. I try to operate with the understanding that the things that I say and do in this world have a ripple effect. You never know who you’re going to affect. That’s what I mean by raising my consciousness; I want to have a spiritual base, and understand myself as part of a community rather than as an individual.
As you navigate this world existing at multiple intersections of identity and marginalization, what are your core values? As you and Kim said in your talk, you exist at these intersections but you don’t live marginalized lives.
My most core value is to stay true and speak with integrity. I try to say what I mean and mean what I say. Because I hold those values, rarely do I say things that I can’t take back. I’m really conscious about thinking before I speak. What we speak is what we put out into the world, it’s what we create. What we write is what creates truth and what creates this world. I take that very seriously.
In your TED Talk, you mention having to hold up a mirror to yourself and interrogate masculinity, and that it was a process of learning and unlearning. What does that process of reflection look like to you? What does it look like to build your masculinity in a way that doesn’t subscribe to misogyny and toxic patriarchal ideals?
In my process of becoming a man, I had to understand that I swallowed a lot about the superiority of men and the inferiority of femininity. I had to do a lot of unlearning and check myself on a lot of things. What’s been helping has been being surrounded by so many amazing women in my life who would also check me too, and say, “You think you’re so smart and sophisticated, but you’re a sexist and I’m gonna show you all the ways you’re sexist.” It took a lot of hard conversations with really brilliant people to work through these things. I’m not perfect; I feel like I’m always working towards letting go of hardcore, engrained shit about gender.
This goes back to what it means to be a man who is compassionate. I have a heart. I empathize with people. I try to understand the space I take up as a man, and try to be really deliberate about creating space for other people. For instance, when I’m on panels or moderate panels with people of different genders, I make a point to make sure that the feminine people and women on the panels speak the most. I try not to take up space where there are women and feminine people who could speak to something in a better way than I can. I try to be conscious of those things.
“We can change the culture and start saying, ‘Being compassionate, empathic, emotionally complicated and available is a part of being a masculine person because it’s a part of being a human being,'” says Tiq Milan, shown here with his wife Kim Katrin Milan at TEDWomen 2016. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED
Research has shown that people who are conditioned to be men have been taught to emotionally repress, and that has devastating consequences, both to those men and to everyone else in the world who faces the backlash from that repression. How do we encourage boys and men to be vulnerable and emotionally communicative? How do we help men heal?
We need to teach little boys to be vulnerable, that nothing is taken away from them if they cry, nothing is taken from them if they’re scared or if they’re in pain. Nothing is taken from them if they’re in love. We have to start early. Growing up, I was a little girl. I’m not the trans person who knew I was trans when I was six. Not growing up in that man culture has had a huge influence on the man I am today. It has allowed me to be better. I don’t feel vulnerable around my own fear or falling in love. If I’m scared, I’ll tell you, I’m petrified. If I need help, I ask for it.
There are so many things that can fuck manhood up. You wear the color pink, you’re not man enough. You show some fear, you’re not man enough. If you actually love a person and show how much you love them, it’s not manly.
“Refusing emotions takes away from the complexity and wholeness of a human being.”
We can change the culture and start saying, “Being compassionate, empathic, emotionally complicated and available is a part of being a masculine person because it’s a part of being a human being,” instead of limiting masculinity to being one kind of person. That’s why there are so many men who are so oppressed, violent and awful. There are just so many cisgendered men who are just awful to everyone. How can you be happy with your humanity if everything tells you that if you don’t act in a very specific way you’ll be stripped of your masculinity, which is something that men hold dear?
There are lot of men who deny there’s a problem, who don’t care, or who just don’t realize. These men are still a part of a misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic social fabric — how do we reach them?
I think it takes a lot of hard conversations. The thing is — people need to be willing to change. We can’t force people. I can meet people where they’re at.
“I can educate people who are ready to change, who say, ‘I’m ready to be uncomfortable, and I’m ready to have my truths complicated so I can grow.’”
If they’re not saying that, there’s no conversation to be had. There’s just so many people out there who don’t care and who don’t want to care, because once they know there’s a problem, there’s an obligation to do something about it, and they don’t want that responsibility. We say ignorance is bliss — it’s easier to pretend that nothing’s going on. You can’t tell me that it’s natural for men to be so violent towards each other, and towards women and children in their homes. I don’t think that’s natural; I think that it’s conditioned. I think a lot of men are coming to place where they’re ready to change, and they’re becoming more disinvested in toxic masculinity. Look at Terry Crews — he’s one of the only men to come out and talk about sexual assault; yet women have been talking about sexual assault for centuries. It’s good to see a man finally say, “This has happened to me too, and I’m understanding this toxic culture that creates these systems.” We need men to understand that toxic masculinity exists in our culture, that we benefit from it, and that we created it so we have to change it.
How are you navigating fatherhood, and what does queering family mean for you?
I’m just trying to do my best. [laughs] I’m trying to make sure my kid doesn’t fall off the bed, doesn’t choke on anything, doesn’t poison herself. A lot of fatherhood is just making sure your kid is fine. My wife is such a good partner, and we’re both parenting full-time. Your whole life changes when you become a parent. My daughter is the light of my life. My kid has a cisgendered queer mom and a transgendered dad. We want her to grow up in a world where gender isn’t a binary system, gender is a spectrum of possibilities. She’s going to know that as a truth in her life; she’s going to know that gender looks so many different ways, and that her gender can look however she chooses as she gets older. Her journey in gender is not a process of coming out, it just is. We also want her to know that families can look a whole bunch of ways. We’re being really intentional about meeting other queer parents, other queer parents of color, other gay parents, so that she has a really open idea around family and around love.
“Queerness is freedom to create family and love how we want. She’s going to be raised with queerness as a culture. I think queerness is the future.”
Tiq and Kim with their daughter. As Tiq says: “My kid has a cisgendered queer mom and a transgendered dad. We want her to grow up in a world where gender isn’t a binary system, gender is a spectrum of possibilities. She’s going to know that as a truth in her life.”
“A common theme here is that the data exists, but it has been ignored or beaten back,” says science journalist Linda Villarosa. At the Aspen Ideas Festival, TEDWomen co-host Pat Mitchell (at right) led a conversation about challenges around getting fair and equitable health care for women. The panel included, from left, journalist Villarosa, Dr. Deborah Rhodes of the Mayo Clinic and Dr. Paula Johnson, president of Wellesley College.
TEDWomen co-host Pat Mitchell writes: Once again this summer, I had the privilege of moderating sessions during the Spotlight Health Aspen Institute Ideas Festival. There were some surprises in a session titled “Breakthroughs and Challenges in Women’s Health” with importance for all women, and I want to share some of that information with you.
With two esteemed physicians — Dr. Deborah Rhodes of the Mayo Clinic and Dr. Paula Johnson, who was chief of women’s health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard University and is now the president of Wellesley College — as well as science journalist Linda Villarosa, we began our conversation with the important reminder that improving health care depends in large part on research.
We don’t know what we don’t look for
Despite legislation passed over 20 years ago, women, and especially women of color, are still being left out of clinical trials, and the health outcomes for women, and especially women of color, reflect this disparity.
Dr. Paula Johnson talked about the disparity between the resources for research on men’s diseases and those specific to women in her 2014 TEDWomen talk — and if you haven’t seen it, I highly encourage you to watch it.
Dr. Johnson explained that every cell in the human body has a sex, which means that men and women are different right down to the cellular level! As a result, there are often significant differences in the ways in which men and women respond to disease or treatment. It’s very important in research trials to differentiate between female and male subjects so we can tease out the differences.
Although we have made progress since the 1990s with more women included in late-phase trials, we’re still not there in phases 1 and 2. This is important, she says, because how do we get to phase 3? Phases 1 and 2. In these early stages of research, female cells and female animals still aren’t being used. Why? She says one commonly cited reason is that female animals have an estrous cycle. Well, guess what, she says, so do we. What are we missing by not including female cells earlier in the research process?
The power and persistence of the status quo
One of the barriers to progress that perhaps we don’t think about as much is the problem with well-entrenched power paradigms, profit motives and institutional priorities. What happens when a doctor sees a need and solves it but the status quo is preferred over progress?
Dr. Deborah Rhodes — whose talk above from TEDWomen 2010 is a must — spoke about the challenges to her attempts to introduce a new diagnostic protocol for women with dense breasts. Dr. Rhodes (who in spirit of full disclosure is my personal physician at the Mayo Clinic) has observed in her practice that about 50% of women were potentially missing a cancer diagnosis because traditional mammograms fail in detecting breast cancer in women with dense breasts. Mammograms depend on visually seeing cancer cells, and in dense breasts this is more difficult because of the surrounding dense tissue.
As Dr. Rhodes says, in looking at entrenched paradigms in medicine, there is perhaps nothing more entrenched than the mammogram. She worked with physicists to come up with a new way to look for tumors using a tracer that has been safely used in cardiovascular medicine for decades that distinguishes tumor cells regardless of density. Her technique is FDA-approved, but you’ve probably never heard of it. It speaks to, as she says, “the extraordinary difficulties of upsetting something that is so precious to us as a mammogram.”
Earlier detection using her new test in women with dense breasts whose cancer may be hidden in a mammogram could spare women from toxic treatment (less advanced cancer means less chemotherapy) and, in more advanced cases, saving lives. Despite that, her research has been very, very difficult to fund. She says it’s a daily uphill battle to overturn the status quo. Doctors have invested years and years in learning how to read these difficult mammograms, and billions of dollars are invested in the current technology, resulting in a resistance to new technology and new ways of testing.
Intersection of gender, race and ethnicity
One of the more shocking statistics that Dr. Rhodes highlighted in her presentation was the disparity in outcomes for white women and women of color with breast cancer. White women are more likely to get breast cancer than black women, but black women are more likely to die of breast cancer. She says that is true particularly for black women under the age of 50 who are diagnosed with breast cancer. They are 77% more likely to die than white women. She points out that despite abundant data that informs us of these disparities, solutions are not being pursued.
The same tragic disparity between what we need to know for better health outcomes and what is fully understood as life and death factors was the subject of Linda Villarosa’s recent cover story in the New York Times Magazine titled “Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis.” In her incredible article, she noted that black women were three-to-four times as likely to die in childbirth than white women and black babies die at a rate that is twice that of white babies.
Linda was one of the first journalists to put the maternal and infant mortality rates together and to investigate why black women and babies are so at risk. As she put it: “A common theme here is that the data exists, but it has been ignored or beaten back.” And further, she connected a condition identified earlier by Dr. Arline Geronimus called “weathering” that is a significant factor in the health outcomes for women of color. “The effect of racism — living with the near daily episodes of microaggressions and discriminations — have an adverse impact on health that needs to be better understood and incorporated into diagnosis and treatment for women of color.”
Shocking, yes, and deeply disturbing, but the good news is that the more we know about our own health and what impacts it adversely, the more proactive we can be as health consumers.
As one of the panelists noted to this highly engaged audience at Aspen Institute, “Nothing less than our lives depends on being informed and demanding that our health care institutions and physicians are, too.”
TEDWOMEN 2018 UPDATE
The theme for this year’s TEDWomen event is “Showing Up.” We’re planning three inspiring days of ideas and connections full of creators, connectors and leaders. These dynamic and diverse pioneers are facing challenges head on and shaping the future we all want to see. If you haven’t been before, this is the year to show up!
I hope you’ll join us in Palm Springs Nov. 28–30, 2018. Registration is filling up fast and I don’t want you to miss out, so click this link to apply to attend today.
TED.com is about to go quiet for two weeks. No new TED Talks will be posted on the website until Monday, August 13, 2018, while most of the TED staff takes our annual two-week summer holiday.
Yes, we all, or almost all, go on holiday at the same time. (No, we don’t all go to the same place.)
We’ve been doing it this way now for almost a decade. Our summer break is a little lifehack that solves the problem of a digital media and events company in perpetual-startup mode, where something new is always going on and everyone has raging FOMO. We avoid the fear of missing out on emails and new projects and blah blah blah … by making sure that nothing is going on.
I love how the inventor of this holiday, TED’s founding head of media June Cohen, once explained it: “When you have a team of passionate, dedicated overachievers, you don’t need to push them to work harder, you need to help them rest. By taking the same two weeks off, it makes sure everyone takes vacation,” she said. “Planning a vacation is hard — most of us still feel a little guilty to take two weeks off, and we’d be likely to cancel when something inevitably comes up. This creates an enforced rest period, which is so important for productivity and happiness.”
Bonus: “It’s efficient,” she said. “In most companies, people stagger their vacations through the summer. But this means you can never quite get things done all summer long. You never have all the right people in the room.” Instead, for two weeks — almost no one is.
So, as the bartender said: You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. We won’t post new TED Talks on the website for the next two weeks. (Though we’ll keep serving up great recommendations for talks you already love or might have missed across all our platforms.) The office is more than three-quarters empty. And we stay off email. The whole point is that vacation time should be truly restful, and we should be able to recharge without having to worry about what we’re missing back at the office.
See you on Monday, August 13!
Note: This piece was first posted on July 17, 2014. It was updated on July 27, 2015, again on July 20, 2016, and again on June 23, 2017, and yet again on July 27, 2018.
Juan Perez, UPS’s chief information and engineering officer, opens TED@UPS with a question: “What if?” (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)
The greatest ideas of our time will be sparked by a simple question: “What if?”
What if we had truly inclusive workplaces? What if we removed the inefficiencies that stand in the way of eliminating world hunger? What if we could deliver quality health care in the home? What if we took back our privacy online? At this year’s TED@UPS — held on July 19, 2018, at SCADShow in Atlanta — TED and UPS partnered for the fourth year in a row to bring remarkable UPSers to the stage to explore these questions and more. In a time of uncertainty, global evolution and rapid innovation, their ideas on how to solve our most intractable problems have never been more important to hear.
After opening remarks from Juan Perez, UPS’s Chief Information and Engineering Officer, the talks in Session 1 …
“The lessons we learn about diversity at work actually transform the things we do, think and say outside of work,” says Janet Marie Stovall. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)
Getting single-minded about racially diverse workplaces. Inclusion crusader Janet Marie Stovall asks us to imagine a place where people of all colors and all races are on and climbing every rung of the corporate ladder — where they “feel safe and indeed expected to bring their unassimilated, authentic selves to work every day, because the difference that they bring is both recognized and respected.” How do we get there? According to Stovall, companies must create an action plan that has three key components. The first is “real problems.” By 2045, the US population is projected to be predominantly non-white, and businesses that don’t mirror that diversity in their workforce and customer base are set up to fail. The second: “real numbers.” Businesses need to set specific diversity goals and commit to them, Stovall says. And if they don’t reach those numbers, there must be “real consequence” — Stovall’s third attribute. We spend one-third of our lives at our jobs, and if we can do so in inclusive, diverse environments, these benefits will be felt society-wide. “The lessons we learn about diversity at work actually transform the things we do, think and say outside of work,” Stovall says.
What we can learn from Marines and machines. Before he entered the business world, Drew Humphreys was a platoon commander with the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines in Afghanistan — in charge of 36 Marines fighting the Taliban and maintaining a vital supply route through Helmand Province. After commanding every convoy himself for months, Humphreys’ mission changed when the Marine Corps started pulling troops and equipment out of Afghanistan, forcing him to divide his platoon and give over some control to other commanders. The result: an unlocking of human potential. Humphreys defined success but allowed the Marines in his command to find their own solutions to the obstacles they encountered. But it’s not just the military moving toward this kind of decentralized leadership model — the same thing is happening in business, spurred on by innovations in machine learning. Humphreys outlines three lessons we can learn from this ongoing trend. First, emphasize purpose over process. “When you micromanage, you limit what’s possible,” Humphreys says. Next, encourage early and lifelong learning — the ultimate competitive advantage. And finally: have a bias for action. “Get comfortable with the decision that’s probably right instead of waiting for the elusive perfect answer,” Humphreys says.
New thoughts on gun safety. The slogan “Make America great again” reminds gun safety advocate David Farrell that gun violence wasn’t always rampant in the US. Forty years ago, mass shootings were a rarity in America. But in the 1970s, crime spiked, and the media went wild. By the ’80s, the NRA no longer touted guns solely as a tool for recreation — they were a means of countering fear. And when a gun becomes a tool to address our own fears, “it’s not hard to believe that somebody who’s troubled, angry or disenfranchised would then use a gun to solve their problems. And if you’re mentally disturbed, we’ve now made guns a rational decision,” Farrell says. He believes that fear should not be the reason people purchase guns. Responsible gun owners must insist that the NRA refocus on gun safety, and recognize that gun control does not equal infringing on gun rights. If we can stop being so afraid, we can “make America safe again,” Farrell says.
One of the oldest sounds in Chinese history. With a musical interlude, Yue Xiu Lim from UPS Singapore delights the audience with the riveting, delicate and harmonious sounds of the Chinese guzheng, a harp-like instrument that dates back to ancient times. She played two songs: “White,” a calming tune reminiscent of lullabies, and a twist on Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” with accompanist Joey Yeung.
Aparna Mehta reveals the unseen world of “free” online returns, which often end up in landfills instead of back on the shelf. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)
Are free online returns really free? Every year, four billion pounds of returned clothing ends up in the landfill — the equivalent of every resident in the US doing a load of laundry and then throwing it straight in the trash. Why? Because sometimes it’s cheaper for a company to throw a returned item away than to make the effort of relabeling it and returning it to the shelf. Recovering shopaholic and retail consultant Aparna Mehta has the ideal vantage point to assess the scope of our online return addiction — and an ideal platform to do something about the waste it creates. Obviously, shoppers could take the extra time to decide what they truly need and purchase accordingly, but this is only a first step. Aparna has an idea to go a step further: “green-turns” instead of “returns.” “What if, when a person is trying to return something, it could go to the next shopper who wants it, and not the retailer?” Each unwanted item could be assessed electronically for condition, matched with someone who wants it and redirected accordingly. With the proper incentives built into the system to get shoppers to use it, “green-turns” could revolutionize the way we buy — and return — clothes online, Mehta says.
Simple, logistical steps we can take to eradicate world hunger. During a work trip to Uganda in 2016, food advocate Dan Canale was shocked to see how small inefficiencies caused serious delays to food shipments to refugee camps. For example, the lack of a forklift at one humanitarian organization’s warehouse meant it took three hours of manual labor to load a single truck. As a result of inefficiencies like these across food delivery systems, Canale estimates that nearly a third of the food produced globally ends up lost or wasted. That’s why he’s working to find solutions to shipping and delivery problems — offering action-based steps like diversifying the number of ports able to receive food and ensuring that food closest to expiration is shipped first. He encourages us to imagine: What if we used our most cutting-edge technology, like drones and military-grade aquatic vehicles, to deliver food to the hungry? By approaching these questions with innovation and zeal, Canale says, we can solve world hunger for good.
Global citizen Wanis Kabbaj shares some lessons for nationalists and globalists alike. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)
Moving beyond binary thinking. Why do we have to choose between nationalism and globalism, between loving our countries and caring for the world? Wanis Kabbaj has been grappling with this question for years — having lived in four continents, the debate between nationalism and globalism isn’t new to him. But the recent worldwide surge in nationalist fervor got him thinking: What if, instead of making a choice between the two, we took it on ourselves to challenge this binary thinking? He provides some interesting insights for nationalists and globalists. For those opposed to nationalism, he offers research showing how national satisfaction is more predictive of overall happiness than job satisfaction or household income. And for those who see globalism as evil, he provides compelling examples of how even national treasures like the Eiffel Tower, cricket or Italian home cooking are actually products of cross-cultural interaction.
Two poems on discovering and celebrating love. To close out session 1, poet Muslim Sahib performs two lyrical, humorous poems for the close-listening crowd. In his first piece, “The Coming Out Beauty,” Sahib weaves together religion, queerness, family and beauty, guiding the audience through his journey to self-love and encouraging them to recognize the beauty within themselves. In his second poem, “419 square feet,” he shares the bittersweet practice of finding love and building a home in what can be a restrictive world.
Musician and UPS package car driver John Bidden rocks the UPS stage with a performance of “Not About Me.” (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)
To open Session 2, singer-songwriter and UPS package car driver John Bidden returns to the TED@UPS stage, performing an electrifying, reggae-tinged rendition of “Not About Me.”
Anti-trafficking champion Nikki Clifton outlines three ways businesses can fight sex trafficking. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)
Businesses can help end sex trafficking. People may think there’s little overlap between the buttoned-up world of business and the criminal underworld of sex trafficking. But according to one survey, most johns — people who purchase sex — are employed, and web-based sex-buying tends to spike around 2pm. “These johns are likely buying sex in the middle of the workday,” says anti-trafficking champion Nikki Clifton. Businesses have a huge opportunity to reach the johns in their workplaces and to mobilize their employees and resources to fight against trafficking, Clifton suggests. She outlines a three-point plan, starting with the idea that businesses should state in their official employee handbook that sex buying at work, on company travel or with company resources is prohibited (and, of course, enforce this policy). Second, all employees should be trained to spot the signs of sex trafficking. For example, Clifton says, UPS teamed up with a group called Truckers Against Trafficking to educate its drivers about what to look for and who they can call for help. Third, businesses can figure out how they can use their special capabilities to combat sex trafficking. Clifton points to Visa, MasterCard and American Express — they joined forces and refused to process transactions from Backpage.com, an online sex-trafficking hub, which helped shut it down. “There are thousands of things that businesses can do; they just have to decide what to do to join the fight,” Clifton says.
Small business success: it takes a village. Nearly half of all US small businesses fail within their first five years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — a figure that got small business strategist Ruchi Shah wondering: Is there a new model for entrepreneurial success? After shutting the doors of her own startup, Shah looked for answers from one group of consistently successful entrepreneurs: Guatemalan small business owners. Why? Because Guatemala and other developing countries use a microfinance approach called “village banking,” in which local entrepreneurs join together to get the loans and support they need to run their businesses. (The village banking concept was pioneered by social entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for the idea in 2006.) Shah traveled to South America to study why village banks work, discovering three primary reasons: they give entrepreneurs a built-in team of advisors upfront; they adjust to customer needs; and they have a relentless focus on managing cash flow. Shah believes the idea of entrepreneurs having a vested interest in each other’s success can help build a strong foundation for any business, helping them weather the tough times with a diverse network of support. “Ultimately, it’s going to take more than our country’s determined entrepreneurs to improve our startup failure rates,” Shah says. “From what I have learned, it takes a village.”
Healthcare delivered at home. It’s time to fix our broken and obsolete hospital system, says healthcare futurist Niels van Namen. Beyond their general unpleasantness, hospitals present many logistical challenges: patients often have to travel long distances to reach them, especially for people living in remote areas, and many people avoid hospitals due to the costs, causing them to miss out on proper treatment altogether. For those who do get treatment, hospitals often make them sicker thanks to antibiotic-resistant bacteria that flourish in hospitals. “We have the opportunity to revolutionize the system,” van Namen says. “It is time to create a system that revolves around health care at home.” With recent innovations in medical technology (such as the at-home blood test), “homecare” presents a cheaper and more accessible alternative to hospital stays. In this setup, patients would receive treatment from the comfort of their homes and in the proximity of their families, while hospitals would become small, agile and mobile care centers focused on acute care. Homecare could also be a boon to rural areas, enabling a kind of sharing economy that matches people in need of care with someone who can provide a nearby home for treatment. “I am passionate to make the change and help ensure that patients, and not their diseases, are in control of their lives,” van Namen says.
Robin Hooker asks: What new ideas could budding creatives bring to life if there was a makerspace in every town? (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)
A makerspace in every town. While his friends were outside playing football, young Robin Hooker was in the garage with his dad, an Air Force mechanic, fusing iron with an oxyacetylene welder (and dodging the shoe-melting molten debris that would occasionally fly free). Hooker wasn’t just gaining a feel for design and learning his way around a workshop — he was learning that the world could be mashed-up, modded, repaired, reclaimed. Now he believes “we can transform the world by giving more people access to spaces like my dad’s garage” — what artisans now call “makerspaces.” Makerspaces are shared workshops that allow budding builders and designers to access the tools they need to create things — tools that otherwise would be prohibitively expensive. Perhaps more important, makerspaces offer inventors, hobbyists and tinkerers of diverse cultures, generations, genders and professions a chance to inspire each other to invent world-changing stuff. “What if entrepreneurs brought a makerspace to every town?” Hooker asks. “What new ideas could budding creatives bring to life?”
How to take back our online privacy. If someone broke into your house, chances are you’d take precautions to prevent it from happening again: new locks, a security alarm, increased insurance. Yet year after year, as massive data breaches sweep the internet, most of us have failed to safeguard our digital information. “We make the trade of online privacy for convenience,” says data privacy enthusiast Derek L. Banta. He’s working on a new way to protect people’s privacy called “anonymous commerce,” or “a-commerce.” Instead of giving your personal information to every website you visit, with a-commerce you’d give your information to a single, trusted third party. That third party would then secure your information and give you a personalized code to use when shopping online, serving as a kind of intermediary “avatar” between you and the brand. And what if the third party got hacked? The return on the hack would be less enticing, as hackers would only get access to one avatar at a time, instead of thousands of transactions. “In an a-commerce world, privacy is the business model,” Banta says. “We have an opportunity to hit the reset button on how we do business online. We can effectively disown the unintended consequences of being pioneers in the digital age.”
The dark side of disaster donations — and what you can do about it. In the aftermath of disaster, the world often responds with generosity and love, shipping thousands of boxes of resources to cities and countries healing from calamity. But what we’re not considering, says disaster relief expert Dale Herzog, is the logistical nightmare of receiving all of these donations. According to Herzog, the vast majority of disaster donations are destroyed — for example, a whopping 60 percent of donations sent to Haiti and Japan after natural disasters in 2010 and 2011 were thrown away. Herzog urges us to reconsider how we respond to disaster relief, suggesting that we replace that box of old clothes with a cash donation, and send an email or Tweet of support rather than mail a handwritten card. Instead of bogging relief organizations down with more stuff, we can donate in ways that help survivors recover and rebuild, Herzog says.
A silent national pandemic. In 2009, 11,341 untested rape kits — some dating back to the 1980s — were found in an abandoned warehouse where the Detroit police once stored evidence. When this scandal was uncovered, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy set a plan into action to get justice for the thousands of people affected, but she needed help to deal with the massive logistical challenges. In an eye-opening talk, Worthy explains how UPS supported her office and created a protocol to have these kits tracked and tested. As of June 2018, their partnership has led to more than 10,000 rape kits being tested, 2,600 identified suspects and historic state-wide laws being passed. But there is still a lot of work to be done — with more than 400,000 kits nationally that have yet to be tested and a rape culture that needs be fixed. The solution, says Worthy, will take inspired multi-industry collaboration.
Special thanks to the artists and filmmakers who contributed their work to TED@UPS.
Andrew Norton, Where Do Ideas Come From?
Fredrik Kasperi, Take On An Idea
Great Big Story, Laugh the Pain Away (Srsly)
Mainframe (North), For Approval
Issimo, Think A New Thought
Every year, TED opens applications for its new group of TED Fellows. We get thousands of applications from all corners of the world, representing every field under the sun — marine mammal conservation, biomechatronics, Khmer dance, space archeology. How do we select just 20 people to become TED Fellows?
It’s not an easy process. (Technically, our acceptance rate is lower than Harvard’s.) But we love reading your applications and hearing about your latest medical breakthroughs, ambitious art projects and incredible explorations in outer space and under the sea. We also love seeing the diversity of the people doing this groundbreaking work.
What exactly makes for a good application? Here are five traits that we look for in a TED Fellow.
A track record of achievement. In order to be selected, you have to have done something in the world. What does that “something” look like? It depends. Maybe you’ve started a company or invented a new product. Maybe you’ve made a groundbreaking film or discovered a new galaxy. Whatever you’re doing, you should be deep in your craft, building something big.
Individuals on the cusp of a big break. Beyond a track record, we are looking for people who are ready to make a giant leap forward, and could benefit from support. Fellows are often in the early part of their careers, but we also know that big breaks can happen at any age. Fellows’ projects should have real potential for impact, and they should realistically be scalable in the next three to five years. What that scale looks like depends on the project, but we select Fellows whose ambitions are big and often global.
Originality and authenticity. An original “idea worth spreading” is the key to a successful Fellows applicant. Maybe you’re working to make a current system more efficient or equitable. Or maybe you’re working across fields, challenging the underlying assumptions of our current systems and creating brand-new ones. In fact, we’ve chosen Fellows whose work is just getting off the ground — but whose vision of the future is so imaginative and convincing that we know TED’s network can help them realize that future.
Kind, collaborative character. The TED Fellows program now encompasses more than 450 Fellows in more than 90 countries. We’re looking for people who want to engage deeply in this amazing network — build companies together, start nonprofits, share research. Often, TED Fellows are engaging deeply with the communities around them, perhaps in the places where they were born or raised. In our experience, some of the best and most overlooked ideas for our contemporary global challenges come from those whose lives depend on the solutions.
The truth is, we don’t always know what we’re looking for. Often, Fellows totally surprise and challenge us with brand-new ways of thinking about the world. There really is no secret formula to becoming a TED Fellow, but we know it when we see it. If you’re unsure about applying, do it anyway.
Does this sound like you or someone you know? Our application is now open. Dream bigger and apply by August 26, 2018.
Monica Araya made a big prediction on the TED stage in 2016: Costa Rica, her home country, will be the first nation in the world to pursue 100% renewable energy. Fast forward to 2018, and they’re on their way. Costa Rica already generates over 99% of their electricity through renewable energy, and went 300 days on clean energy in 2017. And in May, in a visionary next step, new president Carlos Alvarado announced at his inauguration that Costa Rica would phase out the use of fossil fuels in transportation, calling it a “generational imperative.” We talked to Monica, the director of Costa Rica Limpia (Clean Costa Rica), about what lies ahead.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Can you tell us about the clean energy movement in Costa Rica? What are the core objectives and how is Costa Rica positioned to lead the way?
I went on the TED stage [to share] a vision of a small country thinking big. We should completely get rid of fossil fuels. Why not? The country already runs on renewable energy, which is not the case for the world — it’s not the case for Europe, the US, India or China. We’ve already broken free from fossil fuels for power and electricity generation. We’ve done the work with civil society from the ground up, but we needed it to become a vision for the country. Costa Rica is a young nation that’s going to turn 200 in 2021. 200 years ago, we broke free from Spain and we became a free nation — and that matches perfectly with this timing. We’re now ready to say, “We are going to free ourselves from fossil fuels.”
“This is the new Costa Rica, and in that new Costa Rica, we know that the future is renewable and electric.”
We have all the conditions — we have clean electricity, we have a young president who wants to do right, and we have technology on our side. Renewable energy has become a part of the country’s identity. People feel proud: they believe it’s a Costa Rican thing to go green. If you look at the citizen consultations we’ve done with Costa Rica Limpia, people disagree on many things but they agree on this. The president knows that he can set a precedent at a time when the world is trying to figure out how to transition to electric mobility. We have to show that it’s doable and beneficial, that it works technologically; I think that’s the value of a small country doing it first.
What are the challenges that Costa Rica will face in transitioning to 100% clean energy? I’m particularly interested in transportation, and moving from gasoline to electric energy — what are the challenges of that?
In practice, there are five things we have to do. We managed to pass the first electric zero-emissions law in Latin America. That came out of a coalition led by congresswoman Marcela Guerrero Campos. We created that coalition and it led to a law — Argentina and Columbia are going to try to do the same — and now, the law needs to be implemented. It calls for electrification of at least 10 percent of all the transportation owned by the state, and gives financial incentives for five years for electrification. This law is the first step — and it was hard — but we won it. It was a big day. I had some tears in my eyes when we passed it.
Second, on June 5th, on World Environment Day, we launched an initiative to electrify buses. That’s going to take some time because that’s a sector that is resistant to change — in Costa Rica, the buses belong to companies and they run for concessions every seven years. We have to make sure when they apply for concessions for the next seven-year cycle, the mandate for the buses are embedded in this requirement. In the meantime, we’re going to start testing three bus lines. Public transportation is very important in Latin America and in Costa Rica. Latin America has the highest number of people in the world using public transit. So the electrification of buses is a very important step.
Monica Araya: “By 2022, electric cars and conventional cars are expected to cost the same, and cities are already trying electric buses…if we want to get rid of oil-based transportation, we can, because we have options now that we didn’t have before.” Photo: Bret Hartman / TED
The next element that is very important is the First Lady’s Office. The first lady is amazing — she’s an architect, and she’s totally into decarbonization. Her office is focusing on urban issues, and public transit is a big part of that. Her priority is to lead the process towards the urban electric train. The train is very important to this administration — it’s a symbol of modernization. For Costa Ricans, the train is something that was wanted for a long time and was blocked by bus companies. The First Lady has taken this on; by the end of the four years, we should have started the first electric train.
I think there’s a new generation around the world — it doesn’t matter if it’s Costa Rica, or Columbia, or the Philippines — that aspire to have bikes and safe bike paths. It’s about democratizing the street and making sure the streets don’t belong to private cars. The President of our Congress, Carolina Hidalgo Herrera, goes to work on a bike — she rode her bike to the inauguration in high heels. That’s another route to decarbonization; the bike path is a symbol of good planning, and that is where we have failed in the past. In emerging economies, it’s common to just let cars rule. The electric bus was used to transport all of the ministers to the transportation and it was important for the people to see a zero-emission bus arriving to the inauguration. There’s a lot of backcasting — looking to the ideal future and working backwards from there to see what we need to do. It’s about having a direction of travel.
The President and Minister put a draft law in Congress that makes it impossible for Costa Rica to do any drilling and any exploitation of fossil fuels. We already have a moratorium on oil exploration and exploitation from around 15 years ago that has been sustained by five different governments from three different parties; it cannot be removed. This new government wants to make sure it is the law. It’s a way of saying that they’re serious about fossil fuels not being the future for us. In the early 2000s, there was lobbying by a company in Texas who wanted to do oil exploration in Costa Rica, and there was a lot of pressure on us. The Minister of Energy and Environment at the time said, “No way, this is not going to happen,” — and I know this because I asked him — he said, “Look, I don’t know what will happen, but I can assure you that as long as I’m the minister, they will have to go over my dead body.” That was very reassuring for me to hear as a young advocate.
“There’s a long tradition of environmental protection in Costa Rica.”
Here’s what’s interesting: the Minister of Energy and Environment at that time, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, is the minister again. It’s reassuring to have a confident and experienced minister because it means we’re going to think big. We organized a free citizen encounter with him a few weeks after he was appointed — we brought him to a museum and sat him in front of citizens. The two of us were on the stage — two chairs, nothing fancy — and I asked him questions and he answered. We also used Facebook Live so people could listen from home. And he says he wants to do these kinds of citizen encounters every six months.
That’s great — connecting the citizens to what can be a more abstract concern is important. Environmental changes can be very macro so bringing it to the citizens in an accessible place of understanding and engagement is necessary.
It’s very important to have symbols. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to get rid of plastics or protect the ocean — you have to know what your symbols are. We came up with a logo of a contour of Costa Rica’s map that connects through a plug, meaning that there’s clean electricity that connects us as Costa Ricans, as a country.
Photo: Costa Rica Limpia
We created the Costa Rican Association for Electric Mobility as a separate entity that represents users of electric mobility — electric buses, motorbikes, cars, etcetera. It’s helped as we talk to young people, mothers, grandmothers — people who don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the climate. It’s easy to feel small and scared, and feel like it all depends on what China or Trump does. That’s a dangerous framing of the problem because it’s so easy to do nothing and have a “why bother?” mentality. And when advocates and governments have that kind of framing, you lose the citizens, the people. So we had to think about the symbols of success. What is the symbol of success if we decarbonize? I’m obsessed with exhaust pipes and the fumes that come out of cars — they’re a symbol of the last century that we really need to get rid of.
“The day we are a country without exhaust pipes — the buses won’t have them, the cars won’t have them — then we have succeeded in our mission to decarbonize the country. Hopefully, the world will get there someday; Costa Rica will need to get there as soon as possible to show that it’s possible.“
The plug has become an important symbol for us. We show a very modern-looking plug and say — look, you have electricity at home to toast your bread, charge your phone, make your coffee. Everything you do is electric. Why on earth would you want an old technology that burns, that’s liquid, that’s not even Costa Rican? It costs a lot to bring it in, it causes climate change, and when you put it in your car, you have to burn it, then it comes out of an exhaust pipe and pollutes the air. People are really intrigued by the idea that everything they use is already electric other than their cars.
This technology will allow us to meet the Paris Agreement targets, and that’s important — we don’t walk around the Paris Agreement targets like other countries do. We won’t have a global impact on emissions or average temperature, because we’re too small. It’s easy to be cynical: people will say, “What’s the point? Whatever you’re reducing in Costa Rica won’t make a difference.” But we’re the ones who benefit the most. You have to win this on the basis of the benefits for the people and avoid the argument that you do it for the 2-degree temperature change — that framing won’t work for a family in Costa Rica.
It’s important to communicate that the situation is tough but it’s also important to pivot to resilience and to ideas of what is possible for us to protect ourselves. The TED Talk let us use a storytelling format — you can share it on Facebook, watch it on a phone. The TED Talk expanded the imagination of the people who listened to it. Even bigger countries like India have told me, “Maybe India can’t move forward the same way that Costa Rica can, but that doesn’t mean that a city in India the size of Costa Rica cannot think big and move faster to clean energy.” That was a very empowering idea. There’s something about smaller locations that’s great because we can move forward and just wait for the rest of the country to get there. In my country, if you want to get people excited, you have to say that this will make us a country that could inspire others.
“We matter because of our ideas, not our size. Being small doesn’t mean thinking small.”
Can you tell us about your work with Costa Rica Limpia? How do you involve and center citizens in your approach?
Costa Rica Limpia (Clean Costa Rica) is centered on engaging citizens and consumers in the transition to a fossil free society. We educate, inspire and empower citizens by translating technical issues such as decarbonization, Paris targets and NDCs into layman’s language. We are very focused on zero emissions mobility because being carbon free in Costa Rica means using electricity instead of oil for transportation. We design education materials like infographics and videos that respond to common questions and myths. We also conduct citizen consultations on climate change and renewables, based on a Danish Board of Technology methodology. We pioneered the concept of Electric Mobility Citizen Festivals (we organized two in 2017 and 2018) because it is critical to get people to experience these new technologies.
Congresswoman Marcela Guerrero and Monica Araya attend an Electric Mobility Citizen Festival with their mothers. Photo: Monica Araya
In your talk, you mention that Costa Rica disbanded its army in 1948 and has been able to redirect those funds to programs that develop social progression and growth. In a world that, in a lot of respects, seems unwilling and unable to change, how has Costa Rica been able to cultivate a culture of forward-thinking innovation?
This would not be possible if we didn’t have a social contract that takes care of people’s needs by giving them free health care and free education. We do this work because it makes life better for people who are taking public transit. There’s something about the social guarantee in the ’40s before the abolition of the army that was important. It allowed people to have a safety net, and when you do that, you build a more resilient society. Social progress was able to develop in Costa Rica partially because we have the infrastructure for it. When you go to other places in Latin America, there is a very small group of people who have nearly everything, and you have a very large population that is very poor; we have been very fortunate in Costa Rica to be able to negotiate with those stakeholders.
If there’s something I’ve learned about Costa Rica, it’s that we’ve succeeded because we have a strong middle ground in politics. The new president, Carlos Alvarado, as a political scientist, is trying to practice this lesson from Costa Rica’s history. This is an environmental story, yes, but it’s also about balance. You have to do the environmental work but you can do it better when you have invested in the people’s social progress and have turned it into a good business opportunity. Costa Rica has a larger group of people making money off ecotourism now than in the ‘80s. This bet on natural capital has paid off — when you look at the materials and marketing of Costa Rica in the world, it emphasizes that we have a social safety net. It’s a balancing act between social, environment and economic concerns that we need to get right. It’s worked in the past, and if we want to make sure it works now with fossil-free Costa Rica, we will have to be able to bring on board the private sector but also be very socially oriented. We have to make sure that the people who have the least benefit the most.
What are some other ways Costa Rica is working to protect the environment?
There’s a big movement in Costa Rica to do more about the oceans and our plastic consumption as well. There is a protected area that was launched last year in the south of Costa Rica — it continues with our tradition to resist the exploitation of our natural capital for fossil fuels. The conservation agenda today is not just the land — it’s the oceans too. The relationship between the oceans and the fossil fuel agenda is extremely close because the drilling often happens offshore. If we keep protecting areas around the world, it’ll hopefully create an awareness that the gasoline you put in your car comes from somewhere. The same thing with plastics — there’s a cultural shift and awareness about our unsustainable plastic use. When you link it to oil, it’s really interesting: it comes from oil, from petroleum and natural gas. We continue to work in different bubbles — I’m in the fossil fuel and energy transportation bubbles, but other people are in the ocean bubbles and plastic bubbles. What links us is that we all advocate that we fundamentally have to change our relationship to fossil fuels.
Are you going to play a role in the energy transition? What are your next steps?
I’m going to help with the decarbonization pathways — that takes time, and it takes not just technical work but also consultation with key stakeholders. There’s methodologies with this but the Minister doesn’t want to end up with something too theoretical but rather, is grounded in our political reality. I’ll be helping with that. We need to find as many partners as possible — in Costa Rica, obviously — but also outside. My role is to tell the story as best as I can so that we can attract anyone around the world with brilliant ideas. We want to be the testing ground for a fossil-free society. In Costa Rica Limpia, I see the electrification of buses as a very strategic action plan. This is something that is going to transform life in a very tangible way. The buses are beautiful, quiet, and they don’t pollute. Imagine a single mom with two kids who will be commuting on that bus — her life will be transformed for the better.
As the number of TED Talks on TED.com grows, we’ve created a new way to discover talks you’ll love: Tell us your favorite topics and areas of interest, and we’ll send you a customized email brimming with talks worth your personal attention.
Here’s how it works: Visit ted.com/recommends and tell us the topics that fascinate you most, as well as your personal goals in watching TED Talks. In other words: What do you want to get out of your time online? After you’ve answered these two quick questions, you’ll be asked to sign up for TED, or log in with your existing TED account. In less than a minute, you’ll get a personalized recommendation.
At the TED Recommends sign-in page, you can decide what kind of talks you’d most like to watch. Ask yourself: What do you hope to learn from watching a talk?
We’ll take that input and combine it with your watch history to serve up jaw-dropping, a-ha-moment-inducing, worldview-altering talks—picked just for you. The more you watch, the better the recommendations will get.
And you won’t just be taking our word for it. The recommended talks are selected by members of our community who share your passions and have strong opinions about what you need to see right now. You’ll hear from these community members in your personal email and learn why they served up what they did.
As usual, the TED community is bursting with new projects and discoveries. Here are a few highlights.
The power of representation. Writer and trans activist Tiq Milan, at left in the photo above, was interviewed for a new initiative by Netflix and GLAAD called “First Time I Saw Me.” Alongside Elliot Fletcher, Jamie Clayton, Jazz Jennings and other trans actors and media makers, Tiq spoke on the realities of being marginalized in media, and what representation means to him. “With representation, we’re going to see the hearts and minds of people change,” he said. “And then, we see policies change.” Bonus: As a beautiful part of the project (and a surprise to Tiq!), Netflix commissioned visual artist Rae Senarighi to live-paint a larger-than-life color portrait of Tiq as he spoke. (Watch Tiq’s TED Talk here.)
The most fearless comedian alive. In a new profile in Glamour, Palestinian-American comedian Maysoon Zayid offers her thoughts on the internet, our political landscape and the limitless possibilities of humor. Maysoon uses her comedy to shine a light on Islamophobia and disability, and is a vocal advocate against bigotry of all kinds. She co-founded the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival (now in its 14th season!), “to combat the negative images about Arabs and Muslims in media.” (Watch Maysoon’s TED Talk here.)
Illuminating truth by mining map data. In a feature by the BBC, political scientist and megacity expert Robert Muggah revealed fascinating insights from several super-maps he helped develop at Instituto Igarapé. By sifting through key data points found while researching geographical patterns, these maps can offer fascinating information about climate change, refugee and migration patterns, even light pollution. Instituto Igarapé has just released a new website, Earth Time, for global citizens to dive into to understand comprehensive information through highly visual, accessible formats. (Watch Robert’s TED Talk here.)
Where are the aliens? American senior astronomer Seth Shostak was recently interviewed for Vox’s Explained series on Netflix on the famous Fermi paradox and the possibilities of discovering intelligent extraterrestrial life. At TED in 2012, Seth shared a bold prediction: we’ll find aliens within the next two dozen years. Others are not quite so sure, retooling a probability equation called the Drake equation to shut down our hopes of finding and communicating with otherworldly beings. As a researcher at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute, Seth is determined to prove them wrong. (Watch Seth’s TED Talk.)
Cancer: a descendent of the ancient dog. New research from Elizabeth Murchison and others has found that the closest relative to ancient American dogs isn’t a dog at all — it’s a canine cancer. According to an article by TED speaker Ed Yong in the Atlantic, canine-transmissible venereal tumors (CTVT) likely began in the genitals of a dog thousands of years ago. By remaining alive in dogs dozens of generations (and continents) beyond its humble origins, CTVT stands as the closest living descendent to indigenous American dogs. (Watch Elizabeth’s TED Talk here.)
Dance us to the end of love. One important update isn’t about a speaker at all, rather about someone we got to know through a TED Talk: the dancer and choreographer Gillian Lynne, who died last week after an astonishing life. Here is what Sir Ken Robinson said about her, and it’s worth reading at length:
Gillian Lynne. Have you heard of her? Some have. She’s a choreographer, and everybody knows her work. She did “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera.” She’s wonderful. Gillian and I had lunch one day and I said, “How did you get to be a dancer?” It was interesting. When she was at school, she was really hopeless. And the school, in the ’30s, wrote to her parents and said, “We think Gillian has a learning disorder.” She couldn’t concentrate; she was fidgeting. I think now they’d say she had ADHD. Wouldn’t you? But this was the 1930s, and ADHD hadn’t been invented at this point. It wasn’t an available condition. People weren’t aware they could have that.
Anyway, she went to see this specialist. So, this oak-paneled room, and she was there with her mother, and she was led and sat on this chair at the end, and she sat on her hands for 20 minutes while this man talked to her mother about the problems Gillian was having at school. Because she was disturbing people; her homework was always late; and so on, little kid of eight. In the end, the doctor went and sat next to Gillian, and said, “I’ve listened to all these things your mother’s told me, I need to speak to her privately. Wait here. We’ll be back; we won’t be very long,” and they went and left her.
But as they went out of the room, he turned on the radio that was sitting on his desk. And when they got out, he said to her mother, “Just stand and watch her.” And the minute they left the room, she was on her feet, moving to the music. And they watched for a few minutes and he turned to her mother and said, “Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn’t sick; she’s a dancer. Take her to a dance school.”
I said, “What happened?” She said, “She did. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was. We walked in this room and it was full of people like me. People who couldn’t sit still. People who had to move to think.” Who had to move to think. They did ballet, they did tap, jazz; they did modern; they did contemporary. She was eventually auditioned for the Royal Ballet School; she became a soloist; she had a wonderful career at the Royal Ballet. She eventually graduated from the Royal Ballet School, founded the Gillian Lynne Dance Company, met Andrew Lloyd Webber. She’s been responsible for some of the most successful musical theater productions in history, she’s given pleasure to millions, and she’s a multi-millionaire. Somebody else might have put her on medication and told her to calm down.
At One Acre Fund’s soil lab in Kenya, soil samples from small farms are analyzed to help the farmers select the right seeds and fertilizer to maximize their yields. Photo: Courtesy of One Acre Fund
Their ideas are big — aimed at impacting millions of lives or creating sweeping global change. Three months after the first project leaders of The Audacious Project stood on the TED stage and shared their ambitious plans, things are already starting to happen. Below, enjoy the latest news.
When Sightsavers and its partners started working in Ghana in 2000, about 2.8 million people in the country were at risk of contracting trachoma, an ancient disease that eventually causes blindness. But on June 13, 2018, the World Health Organization announced: Ghana has eliminated trachoma. It’s a very big deal, the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to reach this milestone. Caroline Harper and her team expect more countries to follow — their goal is to end trachoma across twelve African countries. Last month’s news, she says, is proof it can be done when a country’s ministry of health teams up with the right coalition of partners.
The Bail Project is gaining national momentum — since launching in January 2018, the project has bailed out more than 1,000 people in four US cities. And it recently opened a fifth site in Louisville, Kentucky, where on any given night there are about 2,100 people and fewer than 1,800 beds in the Department of Corrections jail. The department estimates that 77 percent of those being held are there because they can’t afford to pay bail. The Bail Project aims to help as many of them as possible return to their families to await trial. Next up for Robin Steinberg and her team: Detroit, where The Bail Project will work with the Detroit Justice Center to assist residents who can’t otherwise pay their bail bonds.
Most people know The Twilight Zone as a vintage television show. Now, more people are getting to know it as the vast, dark midwater region of the ocean. On World Ocean Day in early June, as TED posted a talk from Heidi Sosik of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), both The New York Times and Washington Post ran op-eds on why exploring the twilight zone is so critical. Both called for increasing our knowledge of the region before commercial interests can exploit it. WHOI’s far-reaching twilight zone exploration will begin in August. One mission, leaving from Rhode Island, will test DEEP-SEE, a new instrument designed to gather acoustical data and imagery. And a second, leaving from Seattle (funded by both NASA and the National Science Foundation), will study how phytoplankton and other organisms move carbon through the ocean to the twilight zone, making it a critical part of the climate system.
Last month, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) released a study showing that US oil and natural gas companies are leaking 60 percent more methane than EPA estimates predicted. About 2.3 percent of overall natural gas output is lost, meaning that companies are essentially leaking $2 billion of their product. But EDF stresses the potential for this to motivate action — in fact, Shell, ExxonMobil and BP have already committed to reduction efforts. At the World Gas Conference, held in Washington D.C. in late June, EDF continued to share this message, showing how the launch of MethaneSAT will help companies and governments take action. During a panel, Fred Krupp said the satellite should be in orbit in three years. And at a booth, EDF demoed a virtual reality experience that showed just how easily methane leaks can be spotted and fixed. With headsets on, Methane CH4llenge users could play hero by stopping multiple leaks.
At the World Gas Conference in June, an attendee plays the Methane CH4llenge, spotting and fixing methane leaks. Photo: Courtesy of Environmental Defense Fund
T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison of GirlTrek are laying the groundwork for next summer’s big event, the Summer of Selma. They’re on a 12-month, 50-city wellness revival that they’re calling the Road to Selma, and they’re making stops all around the country, holding Civil Rights Movement-style teach-ins for Black women. So far, they’ve been to New York, Detroit and New Orleans and are gearing up for stops in Houston, Baltimore and Kansas City. The Summer of Selma festival will be held May 24–27, 2019, and registration is expected to open later in the year.
Living Goods and Last Mile Health are on the way to their 2018 goal of equipping nearly 14,000 community health workers with mobile technology that will allow them to more effectively diagnose and treat members of their community at their doorsteps. “No one should die because they live too far from a doctor. Not in the 21st century,” said Raj Panjabi at a TIME 100 x WeWork Speaker event in June, where he highlighted how training community health workers in 30 life-saving skills has the potential to save 30 million lives by 2030. In the fall, Last Mile Health’s Community Health Academy will begin enrolling students in its first course, designed to help local leaders build community health worker programs in their countries. Reps from both Living Goods and Last Mile Health spoke on this topic at the World Health Assembly in late May, just as community health workers were applauded for circulating the vaccines that squashed the Ebola flare-up in Democratic Republic of the Congo.
One Acre Fund is thinking a lot about soil and how optimizing it can help smallholder farmers boost their income and feed their families. On their blog, they gave readers a peek inside their soil analytics lab in Kakamega, Kenya, just as 3,000 samples had arrived from small farms in Rwanda to be analyzed. The goal of the analysis is two-fold: to determine the best kinds of seeds and fertilizer mixes for each farmer, and to collect data for a study on how farming practices affect soil health. This kind of research is helping Andrew Youn and his team scale and improve their overall operations. By the end of the year, they plan to serve 760,000 small-scale farmers, tracking well ahead of their goal of working with one million by 2020. This expansion is key for preventing another global food crisis — and promoting gender equality in a region where a high percentage of farmers are women, yet systems are not designed to help them thrive.
As usual, the TED community is hard at work — here are some highlights:
A new drug-delivering nanoparticle. Paula Hammond, the head of the Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT, is part of a research team that has developed a new nanoparticle designed to treat a kind of brain tumor called glioblastoma multiforme. The nanoparticles deliver drugs to the brain that work in two ways — to destroy the DNA of tumor cells, and to impede the reparation of those cells. The researchers were able to shrink tumors and stop them from growing back in mice — and there’s hope this technology can be used for human applications in the future. (Watch Hammond’s TED Talk).
Reflections on grief, loss and love. Amy Krouse Rosenthal penned a poignant, humorous and heart-rending love letter to her husband — published in The New York Times ten days before her death — that resonated deeply with readers across the world. In the year since, Jason Rosenthal established a foundation in her name to fund ovarian cancer research and childhood literacy initiatives. Following the anniversary of Amy’s death, Rosenthal responded to her letter in a moving reflection on mourning and the gifts of generosity she left in her wake. “We did our best to live in the moment until we had no more moments left,” he wrote for The New York Times. “Amy continues to open doors for me, to affect my choices, to send me off into the world to make the most of it. Recently I gave a TED Talk on the end of life and my grieving process that I hope will help others.” (Watch Rosenthal’s TED Talk.)
Why we need to change our perceptions of teenagers. Neurologist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore urges us to reconsider the way we understand and treat teenagers, especially in school settings. (She wrote a book about the secret life of the teenage brain in March.) According to the latest research, teenagers shed 17% of their grey matter in the prefrontal cortex between childhood and adulthood, which, as Blakemore says, explains that traditional “bad” behaviors like sleeping in late and moodiness are a result of cognitive changes, not laziness or abrasiveness. (Watch Blakemore’s TED Talk.)
Half empty or half full? Research by Dan Gilbert indicates that our decisions may be more faulty than we think — and that we may be predisposed to seeing problems even when they aren’t there. In a recent paper Gilbert co-authored, researchers found that our judgment doesn’t follow fixed rules, but rather, our decisions are more relative. In one experiment, participants were asked to look at dots along a color spectrum from blue to purple, and note which dots were blue; at first, the dots were shown in equal measure, but when blue dots were shown less frequently, participants began marking dots they previously considered purple as blue (this video does a good job explaing). In another experiment, participants were more likely to mark ethical papers as unethical, and nonthreatening faces as threatening, when the previously-set negative stimulus was shown less frequently. This behavior — dubbed “prevalence-induced concept change” — has broad implications; the paper suggests it may explain why social problems never seem to go away, regardless of how much work we do to fix them. (Watch Gilbert’s TED Talk).
Terrifying insights from the world of parasites. Ed Yong likes to write about the creepy and uncanny of the natural world. In his latest piece for The Atlantic, Yong offered a deeper view into the bizarre habits and powers of parasitic worms. Based on research by Nicolle Demandt and Benedikt Saus from the University of Munster, Yong described how some tapeworms capitalize on the way fish shoals guide and react to each other’s behaviors and movements. Studying stickleback fish, Demandt and Saus realized parasite-informed decisions of infected sticklebacks can influence the behavior of uninfected fish, too. This means that if enough infected fish are led to dangerous situations by the controlling powers of the tapeworms, uninfected fish will be impacted by those decisions — without ever being infected themselves. (Read more of Yong’s work and watch his TED Talk.)
A new documentary on corruption within West African football. Ghanaian investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas joined forces with BBC Africa to produce an illuminating and hard-hitting documentary exposing fraud and corruption in West Africa’s football industry. In an investigation spanning two years, almost 100 officials were recorded accepting cash “gifts” from a slew of undercover reporters from Anas’ team posing as business people and investors. The documentary has already sent shock-waves throughout Ghana — including FIFA bans and resignations from football officials across the country. (Watch the full documentary and Anas’ TED Talk.)
The TED Fellows program is turning ten years old next year, and we are looking for our most ambitious class yet. We select people from every discipline and every country to be Fellows, and we give them support to scale their dreams and scale their impact.
Who are TED Fellows? Fellows are individuals with original work, a record of achievement in their field and exceptional potential. They are also courageous, collaborative people dedicated to improving life where they work.
How do we help you dream bigger? The Fellows program is robust, long-term and, we think, unlike any other Fellowship out there. From our open application process to our rigorous support systems, we have designed a program that maximizes innovation and collaboration.
Fellows get career coaching and speaker training as well as mentorship and public relations guidance. Fellows also give a talk at a TED Conference, a huge opportunity to share their work with a wide, new audience. And perhaps most important, Fellows join the community of 450+ other Fellows who inspire one another and collaborate on new projects.
What have Fellows done after joining the program? In our nearly 10-year history, the Fellows program has sparked remarkable cultural change and reached millions of people. With the support of TED, Fellows have conserved large swaths of our planet, protecting many species in the process. They’ve made headway in understanding complex diseases like Parkinson’s, cancer and malaria. They’ve created art that shines a light on injustice and made music that celebrates our history. They’ve made huge strides in robotics and 4-D printing and launched new startups. They’ve passed laws and have gone on to win Oscars, Grammys and MacArthur “genius” grants. And in the process, Fellows have improved conditions on our planet for countless communities and inspired others to pursue their own unconventional projects.
Our application is straightforward. It’s open to everyone (no one is appointed a Fellow; everyone has to apply), and we encourage you to apply even if you’re not sure you’re qualified. We have a way of picking winners before they know it.
The online application can take as little as 20 minutes. It asks for general biographical information, short essays on your work and three references. We don’t have an upper age limit, but you must be 18 or older to apply. If you’re selected, you will be part of our 10-year anniversary class, and you will need to reserve April 13 through April 20, 2019, for TED2019 and our own very special pre-conference.
So dream bigger. Apply to be a TED Fellow today.
For more information on the TED Fellows:
An independently organized TEDx event recently posted, and subsequently removed, a talk from the TEDx YouTube channel that the event organizer titled: “Why our perception of pedophilia has to change.”
After reviewing the talk, we believe it cites research in ways that are open to serious misinterpretation. This led some viewers to interpret the talk as an argument in favor of an illegal and harmful practice. TED would like to make clear that it does not promote pedophilia.
In the TEDx talk, a speaker described pedophilia as a condition some people are born with, and suggested that if we recognize it as such, we can do more to prevent those people from acting on their instincts and harming children. This field of science is developing, and the definition of the condition is just one of many points that are in debate across the global scientific community (and even in standard reference works).
While there is much debate around this field, scholars in the field are united in their wish to keep children from coming to harm — as the speaker makes clear in her own talk, saying “Let me be very clear here. Abusing children is wrong without any doubt.”
TEDx events are organized independently from the main annual TED conference, with some 3,500 events held every year in more than 100 countries. Our nonprofit TED organization does not control TEDx events’ content.
After contacting the local TEDx organizer to understand why the talk had been taken down, we learned that the speaker herself requested it be removed from the internet because she had concerns about her own safety.
Our policy is and always has been to remove speakers’ talks when they request we do so. That is why we support this TEDx organizer’s decision to respect this speaker’s wishes and keep the talk offline.
Original, posted June 19, 2018: An independently organized TEDx event recently posted, and subsequently removed, a talk from the TEDx YouTube channel that the event organizer had titled: “Why our perception of pedophilia has to change.”
We were not aware of this organizer’s actions, but understand now that their decision to remove the talk was at the speaker’s request for her safety.
In our review of the talk in question, we at TED believe it cites research open for serious misinterpretation.
TED does not support or advocate for pedophilia.
We are now reviewing the talk to determine how to move forward.
Until we can review this talk for potential harm to viewers, we are taking down any illegal copies of the talk posted on the Internet.
We all have a story to tell. And in my work as curator of the TEDWomen conference, I’ve had the pleasure of providing a platform to some of the best stories and storytellers out there. Beyond their TED Talk, of course, many TEDWomen speakers are also accomplished authors — and if you liked them on the TED stage, odds are you will enjoy spending more time with them in the pages of their books.
All of the women and men listed here have given talks at TEDWomen, though some talks are related to their books and some aren’t. See what connects with you and enjoy your summer!
Luvvie Ajayi‘s 2017 TEDWomen talk has already amassed over 2.2 million views online! In it, she talks about how she wants to leave this world better than she found it and in order to do that, she says we all have to get more comfortable saying the sometimes uncomfortable things that need to be said. What’s great about Luvvie is that she delivers her commentary with a sly side eye that pokes fun at everyone, including herself.
In her book, I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual — written in the form of an Emily Post-type guidebook for modern manners — Luvvie doles out criticism and advice with equal amounts of wit, charm and humor that’s often laugh-out-loud funny. As Shonda Rhimes noted in her review, “This truth-riot of a book gives us everything from hilarious lectures on the bad behavior all around us to razor sharp essays on media and culture. With I’m Judging You, Luvvie brilliantly puts the world on notice that she is not here for your foolishness — or mine.”
At the first TEDWomen in 2010, Madeleine Albright talked to me about what it was like to be a woman and a diplomat. In her new book, entitled Fascism: A Warning, the former secretary of state writes about the history of fascism and the clash that took place between two ideologies of governing: fascism and democracy. She argues that “fascism not only endured the 20th century, but now presents a more virulent threat to peace and justice than at any time since the end of World War II.”
“At a moment when the question ‘Is this how it begins?’ haunts Western democracies,” the Economist notes in its review, “[Albright] writes with rare authority.”
Sometimes a talk perfectly captures the zeitgeist, and that was the case with Gretchen Carlson last November at TEDWomen. At the time, the #MeToo movement founded in 2007 by Tarana Burke was seeing a huge surge online, thanks to signal-boosting from Alyssa Milano and more women with stories to share.
Carlson took to the stage to talk about her personal experience with sexual harassment at Fox News, her historic lawsuit and the lessons she’d learned and related in her just-released book, Be Fierce. In her talk, she identifies three specific things we can all do to create safer places to work. “We will no longer be underestimated, intimidated or set back,” Carlson says. “We will stand up and speak up and have our voices heard. We will be the women we were meant to be.” In her book, she writes in detail about how we can stop harassment and take our power back.
John Cary is an architect who thinks deeply about diversity in design — and how the field’s lack of diversity leads to thoughtless, compassionless spaces in the modern world. As he said in his 2017 TEDWomen talk, “well-designed spaces are not just a matter of taste or a questions of aesthetics. They literally shape our ideas about who we are in the world and what we deserve.”
For years, as the executive director of Public Architecture, John has advocated for the term “public interest design” to become part of the architect’s lexicon, in much the same way as it is in fields like law and health care. In his new book, Design for Good, John presents 20 building projects from around the world that exemplify how good design can improve communities, the environment, and the lives of the people who live with it.
In her thought-provoking 2016 TEDWomen talk, professor Brittney Cooper examined racism through the lens of time — showing how moments of joy, connection and well-being had been lost to people of color because of delays in social progress.
Last summer, I recommended Brittney’s book on the lives and thoughts of intellectual Black women in history who had been left out of textbooks. And this year, Brittney is back with another book, one that is more personal and also very timely in this election year in which women are figuring out what a truly intersectional feminist movement looks like.
As my friend Jane Fonda wrote in a recent blog post, in order to build truly multi-racial coalitions, white people need to do the work to truly understand race and racism. For white feminists in particular, the work starts by listening to the perspectives of women of color. Brittney’s book, Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower, offers just that opportunity. Brittney’s sharp observations from high school (at a predominantly white school), college (at Howard University) and as a 30-something professional make the political personal. As she told the Washington Post, “When we figure out politics at a personal level, then perhaps it wouldn’t be so hard to figure it out at the more structural level.”
Susan David is a Harvard Medical School psychologist who studies how we process our emotions. In a deeply moving talk at TEDWomen 2017, Susan suggested that the way we deal with our emotions shapes everything that matters: our actions, careers, relationships, health and happiness. “I’m not anti-happiness. I like being happy. I’m a pretty happy person,” she says. “But when we push aside normal emotions to embrace false positivity, we lose our capacity to develop skills to deal with the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.”
In her book, Emotional Agility, Susan shares strategies for the radical acceptance of all of our emotions. How do we not let our self-doubts, failings, shame, fear, or anger hold us back?
“We own our emotions,” she says. “They don’t own us.”
Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro is president and CEO of Global Fund for Women, one of the world’s leading publicly supported foundations for gender equality. In her TEDWomen talk last year, she introduced us to the Maragoli concept of “isirika” — a pragmatic way of life that embraces the mutual responsibility to care for one another — something she sees women practicing all over the world.
In All the Women in My Family Sing, Musimbi is one of 69 women of color who have contributed prose and poetry to this “moving anthology” that “illuminates the struggles, traditions, and life views of women at the dawn of the 21st century. The authors grapple with identity, belonging, self-esteem, and sexuality, among other topics.” Contributors range in age from 16 to 77 and represent African-American, Native American, Asian-American, Muslim, Cameroonian, Kenyan, Liberian, Mexican-American, Korean, Chinese-American and LGBTQI experiences.
In her 2017 TEDWomen talk, author Anjali Kumar shared some of what she learned in researching her new book, Stalking God: My Unorthodox Search for Something to Believe In. A few years ago, Anjali — a pragmatic lawyer for Google who, like more than 56 million of her fellow Americans, describes herself as not religious — set off on a mission to find God.
Spoiler alert: She failed. But along the way, she learned a lot about spirituality, humanity and what binds us all together as human beings.
In her humorous and thoughtful book, Anjali writes about her search for answers to life’s most fundamental questions and finding a path to spirituality in our fragmented world. The good news is that we have a lot more in common than we might think.
New York Times best-selling author Peggy Orenstein is out with a new collection of essays titled Don’t Call Me Princess: Girls, Women, Sex and Life. Peggy combines a unique blend of investigative reporting, personal revelation and unexpected humor in her many books, including Schoolgirls and the book that was the subject of her 2016 TEDWomen talk, Girls & Sex.
Don’t Call Me Princess “offers a crucial evaluation of where we stand today as women — in our work lives, sex lives, as mothers, as partners — illuminating both how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.” Don’t miss it.
Caroline Paul began her remarkable career as the first female firefighter in San Francisco. She wrote about that in her first book, Fighting Fires. In the 20 years since, she’s written many more books, including her most recent, You Are Mighty: A Guide to Changing the World.
This well-timed book offers advice and inspiration to young activists. She writes about the experiences of young people — from famous kids like Malala Yousafzai and Claudette Colvin to everyday kids — who stood up for what they thought was right and made a difference in their communities. Paul offers loads of tactics for young people to use in their own activism — and proves you’re never too young to change the world.
I first encountered Cleo Wade‘s delightful, heartfelt words of wisdom like most people, on Instagram. Cleo has over 350,000 followers on her popular feed that features short poems, bits of wisdom and pics. Cleo has been called the poet of her generation, everybody’s BFF and the millennial Oprah. In her new poetry collection, Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life, the poet, artist and activist shares some of the Instagram notes she wrote “while sitting in her apartment, poems about loving, being and healing” and “the type of good ol’-fashioned heartfelt advice I would share with you if we were sitting in my home at my kitchen table.”
In 1994, the Rwandan Civil War forced six-year-old Clemantine Wamariya and her fifteen-year-old sister from their home in Kigali, leaving their parents and everything they knew behind. In her 2017 TEDWomen talk, Clemantine shared some of her experiences over the next six years growing up while living in refugee camps and migrating through seven African countries.
In her new memoir, The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After, Clemantine recounts her harrowing story of hunger, imprisonment, and not knowing whether her parents were alive or dead. At the age of 12, she moved to Chicago and was raised in part by an American family. It’s an incredible, poignant story and one that is so important during this time when many are denying the humanity of people who are victims of war and civil unrest. For her part, Clemantine remains hopeful. “There are a lot of great people everywhere,” she told the Washington Post. “And there are also a lot of not-so-great people. It’s all over the world. But when we stepped out of the airplane, we had people waiting for us — smiling, saying, ‘Welcome to America.’ People were happy. Many countries were not happy to have us. Right now there are people at the airport still holding those banners.”
I also want to mention that registration for TEDWomen 2018 is open now! Space is limited and I don’t want you to miss out. This year, TEDWomen will be held Nov. 28–30 in Palm Springs, California. The theme is Showing Up.
The time for silent acceptance of the status quo is over. Women around the world are taking matters into their own hands, showing up for each other and themselves to shape the future we all want to see.We’ll explore the many aspects of this year’s theme through curated TED Talks, community dinners and activities.
The past few weeks have brimmed over with TED-related news. Below, some highlights.
Exploring the ocean like never before. A school of ocean-loving TED speakers have teamed up to launch OceanX, an international initiative dedicated to discovering more of our oceans in an effort to “inspire a human connection to the sea.” The coalition is supported by Bridgewater Capital’s Ray Dalio, along with luminaries like ocean explorer Sylvia Earle and filmmaker James Cameron, and partners such as BBC Studios, the American Museum of Natural History and the National Geographic Society. The coalition is now looking for ideas for scientific research missions in 2019, exploring the Norwegian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Dalio’s son Mark leads the media arm of the venture; from virtual reality demonstrations in classrooms to film and TV releases like the BBC show Blue Planet II and its follow-up film Oceans: Our Blue Planet, OceanX plans to build an engaged global community that seeks to “enjoy, understand and protect our oceans.” (Watch Dalio’s TED Talk, Earle’s TED Talk and Cameron’s TED Talk.)
The Ebola vaccine that’s saving lives. In response to the recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, GAVI — the Vaccine Alliance, led by Seth Berkeley — has deployed thousands of experimental vaccines in an outbreak control strategy. The vaccines were produced as part of a partnership between GAVI and Merck, a pharmaceutical company, committed to proactively developing and producing vaccines in case of a future Ebola epidemic. In his TED Talk, Berkeley spoke of the drastic dangers of global disease and the preventative measures necessary to ensure we are prepared for future outbreaks. (Watch his TED Talk and read our in-depth interview with Berkeley.)
A fascinating new study on the halo effect. Does knowing someone’s political leanings change how you gauge their skills? Cognitive neurologist Tali Sharot and lawyer Cass R. Sunstein shared insights from their latest research answering the question in The New York Times. Alongside a team from University College London and Harvard Law School, Sharot conducted an experiment testing whether knowing someone’s political leanings affected how we would engage and trust in other non-political aspects of their lives. The study found that people were more willing to trust someone who had the same political beliefs as them — even in completely unrelated fields, like dentistry or architecture. These findings have wide-reaching implications and can further our understanding of the social and political landscape. (Watch Sharot’s TED Talk on optimism bias).
A new essay anthology on rape culture. Roxane Gay’s newest book, Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, was released in May to critical and commercial acclaim. The essay collection, edited and introduced by Gay, features first-person narratives on the realities and effects of harassment, assault and rape. With essays from 29 contributors, including actors Gabrielle Union and Amy Jo Burns, and writers Claire Schwartz and Lynn Melnick, Not That Bad offers feminist insights into the national and global dialogue on sexual violence. (Watch Gay’s TED Talk.)
One million pairs of 3D-printed sneakers. At TED2015, Carbon founder and CEO Joseph DeSimone displayed the latest 3D printing technology, explaining its seemingly endless applications for reshaping the future of manufacturing. Now, Carbon has partnered with Adidas for a bold new vision to 3D-print 100,000 pairs of sneakers by the end of 2018, with plans to ramp up production to millions. The company’s “Digital Light Synthesis” technique, which uses light and oxygen to fabricate materials from pools of resin, significantly streamlines manufacturing from traditional 3D-printing processes — a technology Adidas considers “revolutionary.” (Watch DeSimone’s TED Talk.)
Onstage to host the event, Corey Hajim, TED’s business curator, and Cloe Shasha, TED’s speaker development director, kick off TEDNYC Intersections, a night of talks presented by TED and the Brightline Initiative. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)
At the intersections where we meet and collaborate, we can pool our collective wisdom to seek solutions to the world’s greatest problems. But true change begs for more than incremental steps and passive reactions — we need to galvanize transformation to create our collective future.
To celebrate the effort of bold thinkers building a better world, TED has partnered with the Brightline Initiative, a noncommercial coalition of organizations dedicated to helping leaders turn ideas into reality. In a night of talks at TED HQ in New York City — hosted by TED’s speaker development director Cloe Shasha and co-curated by business curator Corey Hajim and technology curator Alex Moura — six speakers and two performers showed us how we can effect real change. After opening remarks from Brightline’s Ricardo Vargas, the session kicked off with Stanford professor Tina Seelig.
Creativity expert Tina Seelig shares three ways we can all make our own luck. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)
How to cultivate more luck in your life. “Are you ready to get lucky?” asks Tina Seelig, a professor at Stanford University who focuses on creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation. While luck may seem to be brought on by chance alone, it turns out that there are ways you can enhance it — no matter how lucky or unlucky you think you are. Seelig shares three simple ways you can help luck to bend a little more in your direction: Take small risks that bring you outside your comfort zone; find every opportunity to show appreciation when others help you; and find ways to look at bad or crazy ideas with a new perspective. “The winds of luck are always there,” Seelig says, and by using these three tactics, you can build a bigger and bigger sail to catch them.
A new mantra: let’s fail mindfully. We celebrate bold entrepreneurs whose ingenuity led them to success — but how do we treat those who have failed? Leticia Gasca, founder and director of the Failure Institute, thinks we need to change the way we talk about business failure. After the devastating closing of her own startup, Gasca wiped the experience from her résumé and her mind. But she later realized that by hiding her failure, she was missing out on a valuable opportunity to connect. In an effort to embrace failure as an experience to learn from, Gasca co-created the Failure Institute, which includes international Fuck-Up Nights — spaces for vulnerability and connection over shared experiences of failure. Now, she advocates for a more holistic culture around failure. The goal of failing mindfully, Gasca says, is to “be aware of the consequences of the failed business,” and “to be aware of the lessons learned and the responsibility to share those learnings with the world.” This shift in the way we address failure can help make us better entrepreneurs, better people, and yes — better failures.
A police officer for 25 years, Tracie Keesee imagines a future where communities and police co-produce public safety in local communities. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED
Preserving dignity, guaranteeing justice. We all want to be safe, and our safety is intertwined, says Tracie Keesee, cofounder of the Center for Policing Equity. Sharing lessons she’s learned from 25 years as a police officer, Keesee reflects on the challenges — and opportunities — we all have for creating safer communities together. Policies like “Stop, Question and Frisk” set police and neighborhoods as adversaries, creating alienation, specifically among African Americans; instead, Keesee shares a vision for how the police and the neighborhoods they serve can come together to co-produce public safety. One example: the New York City Police Department’s “Build the Block Program,” which helps community members interact with police officers to share their experiences. The co-production of justice also includes implicit bias training for officers — so they can better understand how this biases we all carry impact their decision-making. By ending the “us vs. them” narrative, Keesee says, we can move forward together.
We can all be influencers. Success was once defined by power, but today it’s tied to influence, or “the ability to have an effect on a person or outcome,” says behavioral scientist Jon Levy. It rests on two building blocks: who you’re connected to and how much they trust you. In 2010, Levy created “Influencers” dinners, gathering a dozen high-profile people (who are strangers to each other) at his apartment. But how to get them to trust him and the rest of the group? He asks his guests to cook the meal and clean up. “I had a hunch this was working,” Levy recalls, “when one day I walked into my home and 12-time NBA All-Star Isiah Thomas was washing my dishes, while singer Regina Spektor was making guac with the Science Guy himself, Bill Nye.” From the dinners have emerged friendships, professional relationships and support for social causes. He believes we can cultivate our own spheres of influence at a scale that works for us. “If I can encourage you to do anything, it’s to bring together people you admire,” says Levy. “There’s almost no greater joy in life.”
Yelle and GrandMarnier rock the TED stage with electro-pop and a pair of bright yellow jumpsuits. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)
The intersection of music and dance. All the way from France, Yelle and GrandMarnier grace the TEDNYC stage with two electro-pop hits, “Interpassion” and “Ba$$in.” Both songs groove with robotic beats, Yelle’s hypnotic voice, kaleidoscopic rhythms and hypersonic sounds that rouse the audience to stand up, let loose and dance in the aisles.
How to be a great ally. We’re taught to believe that working hard leads directly to getting what you deserve — but sadly, this isn’t the case for many people. Gender, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, class and geography — all of these can affect our opportunities for success, says writer and advocate Melinda Epler, and it’s up to all of us to do better as allies. She shares three simple ways to start uplifting others in the workplace: do no harm (listen, apologize for mistakes and never stop learning); advocate for underrepresented people in small ways (intervene if you see them being interrupted); and change the trajectory of a life by mentoring or sponsoring someone through their career. “There is no magic wand that corrects diversity and inclusion,” Epler says. “Change happens one person at a time, one act at a time, one word at a time.”
AJ Jacobs explains the powerful benefits of gratitude — and takes us on his quest to thank everyone who made his morning cup of coffee. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)
Lessons from the Trail of Gratitude. Author AJ Jacobs embarked on a quest with a deceptively simple idea at its heart: to personally thank every person who helped make his morning cup of coffee. “This quest took me around the world,” Jacobs says. “I discovered that my coffee would not be possible without hundreds of people I take for granted.” His project was inspired by a desire to overcome the brain’s innate “negative bias” — the psychological tendency to focus on the bad over the good — which is most effectively combated with gratitude. Jacobs ended up thanking everyone from his barista and the inventor of his coffee cup lid to the Colombian farmers who grew the coffee beans and the steelworkers in Indiana who made their pickup truck — and more than a thousand others in between. Along the way, he learned a series of perspective-altering lessons about globalization, the importance of human connection and more, which are detailed in his new TED Book, Thanks a Thousand: A Gratitude Journey. “It allowed me to focus on the hundreds of things that go right every day, as opposed to the three or four that go wrong,” Jacobs says of his project. “And it reminded me of the astounding interconnectedness of our world.”
Inspired by JD Schramm’s powerful TEDTalk on surviving a suicide attempt, this list of resources has been updated to help you widen your understanding of mental health, depression, suicide and suicide prevention. Whether you’re an attempt survivor, a concerned family member or friend, or struggling with suicidal thoughts yourself, this list offers helpful resources and hotlines from across the world. This list is not exhaustive so we’d love to hear from you— add suggestions to the comments or email us.
To start off, here is a TED playlist on breaking the silence around suicide.
In the US:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
A free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call will be routed to the nearest crisis center to you.
The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project is determined to end suicide among LGBTQ youth by providing life-saving and life-affirming resources including a nationwide, 24/7 crisis intervention lifeline, digital community and advocacy/educational programs that create a safe, supportive and positive environment for everyone.
Samaritans centers provide volunteer-staffed hotlines and professional and volunteer-run public education programs, “suicide survivor” support groups and many other crisis response, outreach and advocacy activities.
A two-year project that collected blog posts and stories for and by attempt survivors, set up by the American Association of Suicidology. While the active collection has stopped, the archive is a good place to explore, to hear open, honest voices exploring life after a suicide attempt.
An anonymous online resource where you can learn about suicide prevention and campus-specific resources.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:
A national nonprofit organization dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people impacted by suicide.
Mental Health First Aid USA
A public education program that helps the public identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
A national nonprofit dedicated to preventing suicide through public awareness and education.
Live Through This
An organization documenting the stories and portraits of suicide attempt survivors to encourage more open dialogue around suicide and depression.
International Association for Suicide Prevention
IASP now includes professionals and volunteers from more than fifty different countries. IASP is a Non-Governmental Organization in official relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO) concerned with suicide prevention.
A suicide prevention resource with phone helplines across the world.
Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention
A resource for survivors as well as anyone in suicidal distress.
To find the nearest crisis center: https://suicideprevention.ca/need-help/
To find the nearest support group: https://suicideprevention.ca/coping-with-suicide-loss/survivor-support-centres/
Centro de Valorização da Vida (Brazil)
Tel: 188 or 141
Sociedade Portuguesa de Suicidologia (Portugal)
Samaritans Onlus (Italy)
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (South Africa)
Suicide Ecoute (France)
한국자살예방협회 (Korean Association for Suicide Prevention)
한국자살협회 사이버 상담실 (Korean Suicide Prevention Cyber Counseling)
If you know of good resources available where you live, please add them to the comments section of this post.
At TED2015, Seth Berkley showed two Ebola vaccines under review at the time. One of these vaccines is now being deployed in the current Ebola outbreak in the DRC. Photo: Bret Hartman/TED
Dr. Seth Berkley is an epidemiologist and the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a global health organization dedicated to improving access to vaccines in developing countries. When he last spoke at TED, in 2015, Seth showed the audience two experimental vaccines for Ebola — both of them in active testing at the time, as the world grappled with the deadly 2014–2016 outbreak. Just last week, one of these vaccines, the Merck rVSV-ZEBOV, was deployed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help slow the spread of a new Ebola outbreak in and around the city of Mbandaka. With more than 30 confirmed cases and a contact list of more than 600 people who may be at risk, the situation in the DRC is “on a knife edge,” according to the World Health Organization. Seth flew to the DRC to help launch the vaccine; now back in Geneva, he spoke to TED on the challenges of vaccine development and the stunning risks we are overlooking around global health epidemics.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
You were on the scene in Mbandaka; what were you working on there?
My role was to launch the vaccine — to make sure that this technology which wasn’t going to get made was made, and was made available in case there was another big emergency. And lo and behold, there it is. Obviously, given the emergency nature, a lot of the activity recently has been about how to accelerate the work and prepare the critical pieces that are going to be necessary to get this under control, and not have it spin out of control.
Health workers in the DRC prepare the first dose of the Ebola vaccine. Photo: Pascal Emmanuel Barollier/Gavi
This is the ninth outbreak in the DRC. They are more experienced [with Ebola] than any other country in the world, but the DRC is a massive country, and the people in Mbandaka, Bikoro and Iboko are in very isolated communities. The challenge right now is to set up the basic pillars of Ebola care — basic infection control procedures, making sure that you identify every case, that you create a line-list of cases, and that you identify the context that those cases have had. All of that is the prerequisite to vaccination.
The other thing you have to do is educate the population. They know vaccines — we vaccinate for all diseases in DRC, as we do across most countries in Africa — but the challenge is, people know we do vaccine campaigns where everybody goes to a clinic and get vaccinations, so the idea that somebody comes to your community, goes to a sick person’s house, and vaccinates just people in that house and surrounding family and friends is a concept that won’t make sense. The other important thing is, although the vaccine was 100% effective in the clinical trial … well, it’s 100% effective after 10 days, so people who were already incubating Ebola will go ahead and get diseased. If people don’t understand that, then they’re going to say the vaccine didn’t work and that the vaccine gave them Ebola.
The good news is, logistics is set up. There is an air-bridge from Kinshasa, there’s helicopters to go out to Bikoro, a cold chain of the vaccine is set up in Mbandaka and Bikoro, and there are these cool carriers that keep the vaccine cold so you can transport it out to vaccination campaigns in isolated areas. We have 16,000 doses there, with 300,000 doses total, and we can release more doses as it makes sense.
You mentioned the local communities — how do you navigate that intersection of medical necessity and the lack of education or misinformation? I read that some people are refusing medical treatment and are turning to local healers or churches, instead of getting vaccinated.
There is no treatment right now available in DRC; the hope is that some experimental treatments will come in. We don’t have the equivalent for the vaccines on the treatment side. It’s going to be very important to get those treatments because, without them, what you’re saying to people is: Leave your loved ones, go to an Ebola care facility and get isolated until you most likely die, and if you don’t die, you’ll be sick for a long time. Compare that to the normal process when you get hospitalized in the DRC, which is that your family will take care of you, feed you and provide nursing care. These are tough issues for people to understand even in the best of circumstances. In an ideal world, [health workers will] work with anthropologists and social scientists, but of course, it all has to be done in the local language by people who are trusted. It’s a matter of working to bring in workers from the DRC, religious leaders and elders to educate the community so that they understand what is happening, and can cooperate with the rather chaotic but rapid effort that needs to occur to get this under control.
We know now it’s in three different health zones; we don’t yet know whether cases are connected to other cases or if these are the correct numbers of cases. It could be twice or three or ten times as many. You don’t know until you begin to do the detective work of line-listing. In an ideal world, you know you’re getting where you need to get when 100% of new cases are from the contact list of previous cases, but if 50% or 30% or 80% of the cases are not connected to previous cases. then there’s rings of transmission that are occurring that you haven’t yet identified. This is painstaking, careful detective work.
The EPI manager Dr. Guillaume Ngoie Mwamba is vaccinated in the DRC in response to the 2018 Ebola outbreak. Photo: Pascal Emmanuel Barollier/Gavi
What is different about this outbreak from the 2014 crisis? What will be the impact of this particular vaccine?
It’s the same strain, the Ebola Zaire, just like in West Africa. The difference in West Africa is that they hadn’t seen Ebola before; they initially thought it was lassa fever or cholera, so it took a long time for them to realize this was Ebola. As Isaid, the DRC has had nine outbreaks, so the government and health workers are familiar with the situation and were able to say, “Okay, we know this is Ebola, let’s call for help and bring people in.” For the vaccine campaign, they brought in a lot of the vaccinators that worked in Guinea and other countries to help do the vaccination work, because it’s an experimental vaccine under clinical trial protocols, so informed consent is required.
The impact of the vaccine is that once the line-listings are there — it was highly effective in Guinea — if this is an accelerating epidemic and you get good listing of cases, you can stop the epidemic with intervention. The other thing is that you don’t want health workers or others to say “Oh, I got the vaccine now, I don’t have to worry about it!” They still need to use full precautions, because although the vaccine was 100% effective in previous trials, the confidence interval given the size was between 78% and 100%.
In your TED Talk, you mentioned the inevitability of deadly viruses; that they will incubate, that they are an evolutionary reality. On a global level, what more can be done to anticipate epidemics, and how can we be more proactive?
I talked about the concept of prevention: How do you build vaccines for these diseases before they become real problems, and try to treat them like they’re at global health emergency before they become one? There was the creation of the new initiative at last year’s Davos called CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation) that is working to develop new vaccines against agents that haven’t yet caused major epidemics but have caused small outbreaks, with an understanding that they could. The idea would be to make a risk assessment and leave the vaccines frozen like they were with Ebola; you can’t do a human trial until you have an outbreak.
In 2015, at the TED Conference, Seth Berkley showed this outbreak map. During our conversation last week, he told us: “The last outbreak in 2014 was the first major outbreak. There had been 24 previous outbreaks, a handful of cases to a few hundred cases, but that was the first case that had gone in the tens of thousands. This vaccine was tried in the waning days of that outbreak, so we know what it looks like in an emergency situation.” Photo: Bret Hartman/TED
Now, the biggest threat of all — and I did a different TED talk on this — is global flu. We’re not prepared in case of a flu pandemic. A hundred years ago, the Spanish flu killed between 50 and 100 million people, and today in an interconnected world, it could be many, many times more than that. A billion people travel outside of their countries these days, and there are 66 million displaced people. I often have dinner in Nairobi, breakfast in London, and lunch in New York, and that’s within the incubation period of any of these infections. It’s a very different world now, and we really have to take that seriously. Flu is the worst one; the good thing about Ebola is that it’s not so easy to transmit, whereas the flu is really easy to transmit, as are many other infectious diseases.
It’s interesting to go back to the panic that existed with Ebola — there were only a few cases in the US but this was the “ISIS of diseases,” “the news story of the decade”. The challenge is, people get so worked up and there’s such fear, and then as soon as the epidemic goes away, they forget about it. I tried to raise money after that TED Talk, and people in general weren’t interested: “Oh, that’s yesterday’s disease.” We persevered and made sure that in our agreement with Merck that they would produce those doses, even though these are not licensed doses — as soon as they get licensed, they’ll have to get rid of those doses and make more. This was a big commitment, but we said, “Can you imagine what would happen if they had an 100% efficacious vaccine and then an outbreak occurred and we didn’t have any doses of the vaccine?” It was a risky thing to do, but it was the right thing to do from a global risk perspective, and here we are in an outbreak. Maybe it’ll stay small, but right now in the DRC, we’re seeing new cases occurring every day. It’s a scary thing.
The idea that we can make a difference is exciting — we announced the Advance Purchase Commitment in January 2017, and it’s now about a year later and here we have it being used. And it’s amazing that Merck has put this much effort in. They’ve done great work and they deserve credit for this, because it’s not like they’re going to make any money out of this. If they break even, it’ll be lucky. They’re doing this because it’s important and because they can help. We need to bring together all of the groups who can help in these circumstances — it’s the dedication of all the people on the ground from the DRC, as well as international volunteers and agencies, that will provide the systems to get this epidemic under control. There’s a lot of heroes here.
The Wangata Hospital in Mbandaka. Photo: Pascal Emmanuel Barollier/Gavi
The financial aspect is interesting — with the scale and scope of a potential global health crisis like Ebola or the flu, once it’s too late, you wouldn’t even be thinking about the relatively small financial risk of creating a vaccine that could have kept us prepared. Even if there is an immediate financial risk, in the long term, it seems incomparable.
The costs of the last Ebola outbreak were huge. In those three countries, their GDP went from positive to negative, health workers died, it affected health work going forward, travel on the continent, selling of commodities, etc. Even in the US, the cost of vanishing the few cases that were there was huge. Even if you’re a cynic and say, “I don’t care about the people, I’m only interested in a capitalistic view of the world”, these outbreaks are really expensive. The problem is there isn’t necessarily a direct link between that and getting products developed and having them stockpiled and ready to go.
The challenge is investing years ahead of time not knowing when a virus will occur or what the strain is going to be. That’s the same thing here with Ebola — we agreed to invest up to $390 million to create a stockpile, at a time when we didn’t have the money and when others weren’t interested. But if we didn’t have those doses, we’d be sitting here saying, “Well gee, shouldn’t we make some doses now?” — it takes a long time to produce the doses, to quality assure and check them, to fill and finish them, and to get them to the site. [It’s important to have] that be done by the world even when the financial incentives aren’t there.
In an interview with NPR’s TED Radio Hour, you mention the “paradox of prevention”, the idea that we seem to view health care with a treatment-centered approach, rather than prevention. With diseases that kill quickly and spread rapidly, we can’t have a solely treatment mindset, we have to be thinking about preventing it from becoming epidemics.
That is right, but we can’t ignore the treatment too [and the context in which you give it]. Personalize it: If your mother gets sick, and you’re dedicated — you would give your life for your mother in that culture, family takes care of family — do you now ship your mother to a center that you’ve heard through the grapevine will lock her up and isolate her, where she will die alone, or do you hide her and pretend she has malaria or something else? But if a doctor can say, “There might be treatment that can save your mother’s life,” well, then you want to do that for her. It [helps create] the right mindset in the population, to know that people are trying to give the best treatment, that this isn’t hopeless.
How do you think that the current Ebola situation will affect the way that we approach vaccine development? The Advance Purchase Commitment was an instance of an industry innovation. How can we continue to create incentives for pharmaceutical companies to invest in long-term development of vaccines that don’t have an immediate or guaranteed market demand?
Every time we support industry with this type of public-private partnership, it increases confidence that vaccines will be bought and supported, and increases the likelihood of industry engagement for future projects. However, it is important to state that this will not be a highly profitable vaccine. There are opportunity costs associated with it, and risks. The commitment helps but doesn’t fully solve the problem. Using push mechanisms like the funding from BARDA, Wellcome Trust and others, or a mechanism like CEPI, also helps with the risk. In an ideal world, there would be more generous mechanisms to actively incentivize industry engagement. Also, by [offering] priority review vouchers, fast track designations and others, governments can put in really good incentives for these types of programs.
Outside of closely monitoring the DRC, what are the next steps in your work?
We just opened a window for typhoid vaccines. And this is perfect timing as we have just seen the first cluster of extreme antibiotic-resistant typhoid in Pakistan, with a case exported to the UK. Pakistan has already submitted an application for support, and the Gates Foundation has provided some doses in the interim. This is an example where prevention is way, way better than cure.
What’s it like to stand in the wings, preparing to give your TED Talk and share a big idea to create ripples of change? This video, captured at TED2018, gives a taste of that. It follows the first speakers of The Audacious Project, TED’s new initiative to fund big ideas for global change. These speakers had a lot on the line as they gave their talks — in addition to a packed house at the conference, their talks were viewed around the world via Facebook Watch. And they all crushed it, sharing their ideas with unique power. (Want goosebumps? Watch Robin Steinberg’s talk about ending the injustice of the US bail system.)
Have an idea for the social good that feels in the same spirit? Apply to be a part of The Audacious Project next year. Applications are open now through June 10, 2018 — and the questionnaire is intentionally short to encourage you to apply. So go for it. Share your biggest, wildest vision for how to tackle one of the world’s most pressing problems.
El presentador Gerry Garbulsky da inicio al evento TED en Español en el teatro TEDNYC, Nueva York, NY (Foto: Dian Lofton/TED)
El 26 de abril tuvo lugar el primer evento de oradores de TED en Español, presentado por TED en su oficina de Nueva York. El evento, completamente en español, contó con ocho oradores, una presentación musical, cinco cortometrajes y 13 charlas de un minuto dadas por miembros de la audiencia.
El evento en Nueva York es la última incorporación a la iniciativa “TED en Español” de TED, diseñada para difundir ideas en Español a la comunidad hispana mundial. El evento fue conducido por Gerry Garbulsky, director de TED en Español (también director del mayor evento de TEDx del mundo: TEDxRiodelaPlata en Argentina.) TED en Español, además, incluye su página en TED.com, una comunidad de Facebook, un feed de Twitter, un “Boletín” semanal, un canal de YouTube y, a principios de este mes, un podcast original creado en asociación con Univision.
¿Deberíamos automatizar la democracia? “¿Soy solo yo, o hay más personas que están un poco decepcionadas con la democracia?, pregunta César A. Hidalgo. Al igual que otros ciudadanos preocupados, el profesor e investigador de física del MIT quiere asegurarse de que hayamos elegido gobiernos que realmente representen nuestros valores y deseos. Su solución: ¿qué tal si los científicos pudieran crear una IA que votara por ti? Hidalgo visualiza un sistema en el que cada votante pueda enseñar a su propia IA, cómo pensar como ella, utilizando cuestionarios, listas de lectura y otros tipos de datos. Una vez que hayas entrenado a tu IA y validado algunas decisiones que toma por ti, puedes dejarla en piloto automático, votando y representándote… o puedes decidir aprobar cada cosa que sugiera. Es muy sencillo restarle credibilidad a su idea, pero Hidalgo cree que vale la pena probarlo a menor escala. Su conclusión: “la democracia tiene una pésima interfaz de usuario. Si se pudiera mejorar la interfaz, podríamos usarla más”.
Cuando el foco del fracaso cambia de lo que se pierde a lo que se gana, todos podemos aprender a “fallar conscientemente”, afirma Leticia Gasca (Foto: Jasmina Tomic/TED)
Cómo fallar conscientemente. Si tu negocio hubiera fallado en la Antigua Grecia, habrías tenido que pararte en la plaza del pueblo con una canasta sobre tu cabeza. Afortunadamente, hemos recorrido un largo camino… ¿o no? La dueña de un negocio fallido, Leticia Gasca, no lo cree. Motivada por su dolorosa experiencia, se dispuso a crear una forma para que otros como ella, transformaran la culpa y la vergüenza de un emprendimiento que salió mal, en un acelerador del crecimiento. En consecuencia, nació “Fuckup Nights” (FUN), una serie de eventos en diversos lugares del mundo para compartir historias de fracaso profesional; y “The Failure Institute” (el Instituto del Fracaso), un grupo de investigación, que estudia el fracaso y su impacto en las personas, empresas y comunidades. Para Gasca, cuando el foco del fracaso cambia de lo que se pierde a lo que se gana, todos podemos aprender a “fallar conscientemente” y ver los desenlaces como puertas a la empatía, la resiliencia y la renovación.
De cuatro países a un escenario. El grupo musical panlatinoamericano LADAMA trajo mucho más que música al escenario de TED en Español. La venezolana María Fernanda González, la brasilera Lara Klaus, la colombiana Daniela Serna y la estadounidense Sara Lucas cantan y bailan al son de una variedad de ritmos, que van desde estilos sudamericanos hasta fusiones caribeñas, invitando a la audiencia a bailar con ellas. Tocando “Night Traveler” y “Porro Maracatu”, LADAMA transformó el escenario en un espacio musical que vale la pena difundir.
Gastón Acurio comparte historias sobre el poder de la comida para cambiar vidas (Foto: Jasmina Tomic/TED)
El cambio mundial comienza en tu cocina. En su trabajo pionero por llevar la cocina peruana al mundo, Gastón Acurio descubrió el poder que tiene la comida para cambiar la vida de las personas. A medida que el ceviche apareció en restaurantes de renombre en todo el mundo, Gastón vio que su país natal, Perú, comenzaba a apreciar la diversidad de su gastronomía y se enorgullecía de su propia cultura. Pero la comida no siempre se ha usado para traer bien al mundo. Debido a la revolución industrial y al aumento del consumismo, “muere más cantidad de gente de obesidad que de hambre”, afirma, y el estilo de vida de muchas personas no es sostenible. Al interactuar y preocuparnos por los alimentos que comemos, dice Gastón, podemos cambiar nuestras prioridades como individuos y cambiar las industrias que nos sirven. Todavía no tiene las respuestas a cómo hacer de esto un movimiento sistemático que los políticos puedan respaldar, sin embargo, cocineros de renombre alrededor del mundo están llevando estas ideas a sus cocinas. Él cuenta historias sobre un restaurante en Perú que ayuda a los nativos obteniendo ingredientes de ellos, un chef famoso en Nueva York que lucha contra el uso de monocultivos y un restaurante emblemático en Francia que ha excluido la carne del menú. “Los cocineros alrededor del mundo estamos convencidos de que no podemos esperar a que otros hagan los cambios y que debemos ponernos en acción”, afirma. Pero los cocineros profesionales no pueden hacerlo todo. Si queremos realizar un cambio profundo, urge Gastón, necesitamos que la comida casera sea la clave.
La interconexión de la música y la vida. El director de orquesta chileno, Paolo Bortolameolli, envuelve su opinión sobre la música, alrededor de su recuerdo de haber llorado la primera vez que escuchó música clásica en vivo. Compartiendo las emociones que la música causó en él, Bortolameolli presenta la misma como una metáfora de la vida, llena de lo esperado y lo inesperado. Cree que escuchamos las mismas canciones una y otra vez porque, como humanos, nos gusta experimentar la vida desde un punto de vista de expectativa y estabilidad y, a la vez, sugiere que cada vez que escuchamos una canción, animamos la música, impregnándola con el potencial de no solo ser reconocida, sino también redescubierta.
Cosechamos lo que sembramos – sembremos algo distinto. Hasta mediados de los años 80, los ingresos en los principales países latinoamericanos estaban a la par de los de Corea. Pero ahora, menos de una generación después, los coreanos ganan entre dos y tres veces más que sus contrapartes latinoamericanos. ¿Cómo puede ser? La diferencia, afirma el futurista Juan Enríquez, radica en una priorización nacional de la capacidad intelectual y en identificar, educar y celebrar las mejores mentes. ¿Qué sucedería si en América Latina empezáramos a seleccionar la excelencia académica como lo hacemos hoy con la selección nacional de fútbol? Si los países latinoamericanos prosperan en la era de la tecnología y más, deberían buscar establecer sus propias universidades superiores en lugar de dejar que sus mentes más brillantes estén ansiosas de alimento, competencia y logros, y lo encuentren en otro lugar, en tierras extranjeras.
Rebeca Hwang comparte su sueño de un mundo donde las identidades se utilizan para unir a la gente, no para alienarlas (Foto: Jasmina Tomic/TED)
La diversidad es un superpoder. Rebeca Hwang nació en Corea, fue criada en Argentina y educada en los Estados Unidos. Como alguien que ha pasado su vida intercambiando varias identidades, Hwang afirma que tener un trasfondo variado, aunque a veces sea desafiante, es en realidad un superpoder. La inversora de riesgo compartió cómo su fluidez en muchos idiomas y culturas le permite establecer conexiones con todo tipo de personas de todo el mundo. Como madre de dos niños pequeños, Hwang espera transmitir esta perspectiva a sus hijos. Ella quiere enseñarles a abrazar sus orígenes y crear un mundo donde las identidades se utilicen para unir a las personas, no para alienarlas.
El ecologista marino Enric Sala desea proteger las últimas especies salvajes del océano (Foto: Jasmina Tomic/TED)
Cómo salvaremos nuestros océanos. Si saltas al océano en cualquier lugar, dice Enric Sala, tendrías un 98 por ciento de posibilidades de sumergirte en una zona muerta, un paisaje estéril, vacío de grandes peces y otras formas de vida marina. Como ecologista marino y explorador residente de National Geographic, Sala ha dedicado su vida a inspeccionar los océanos del mundo. Enfocándose en alta mar, propone una solución radical para ayudar a proteger los océanos, fomentando la creación de una reserva que incluiría dos tercios de los océanos del planeta. Al salvaguardar nuestra alta mar, Sala cree que restauraremos los beneficios ecológicos, económicos y sociales del océano y podremos asegurarnos de que cuando nuestros nietos salten a cualquier lugar en el mar, se encuentren con una gran cantidad de vida marina gloriosa en lugar de un espacio vacío.
Y para concluir… En una presentación improvisada de rap con muchos pasos de baile bien sincronizados, el psicólogo, rapero y bailarín César Silveyra cierra el evento. En una espectacular demostración de sus habilidades, Silveyra une las ideas de oradores anteriores del evento, incluyendo las advertencias de Enric Sala sobre la sobrepesca en los océanos, la revolución de la cocina peruana de Gastón Acurio e incluso un grito para la abuela de la oradora Rebeca Hwang… todo el tiempo “sintiéndose como Beyoncé”.
Host Gerry Garbulsky opens the TED en Español event in the TEDNYC theater, New York, NY. (Photo: Dian Lofton / TED)
Thursday marked the first-ever TED en Español speaker event hosted by TED in its New York City office. The all-Spanish daytime event featured eight speakers, a musical performance, five short films and fifteen one-minute talks given by members of the audience.
The New York event is just the latest addition to TED’s sweeping new Spanish-language TED en Español initiative, designed to spread ideas to the global Hispanic community. Led by TED’s Gerry Garbulsky, also head of the world’s largest TEDx event, TEDxRiodelaPlata in Argentina, TED en Español includes a Facebook community, Twitter feed, weekly “Boletín” newsletter, YouTube channel and — as of earlier this month — an original podcast created in partnership with Univision Communications.
Should we automate democracy? “Is it just me, or are there other people here that are a little bit disappointed with democracy?” asks César A. Hidalgo. Like other concerned citizens, the MIT physics professor wants to make sure we have elected governments that truly represent our values and wishes. His solution: What if scientists could create an AI that votes for you? Hidalgo envisions a system in which each voter could teach her own AI how to think like her, using quizzes, reading lists and other types of data. So once you’ve trained your AI and validated a few of the decisions it makes for you, you could leave it on autopilot, voting and advocating for you … or you could choose to approve every decision it suggests. It’s easy to poke holes in his idea, but Hidalgo believes it’s worth trying out on a small scale. His bottom line: “Democracy has a very bad user interface. If you can improve the user interface, you might be able to use it more.”
When the focus of failure shifts from what is lost to what is gained, we can all learn to “fail mindfully,” says Leticia Gasca. (Photo: Jasmina Tomic / TED)
How to fail mindfully. If your business failed in Ancient Greece, you’d have to stand in the town square with a basket over your head. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way — or have we? Failed-business owner Leticia Gasca doesn’t think so. Motivated by her own painful experience, she set out to create a way for others like her to convert the guilt and shame of a business venture gone bad into a catalyst for growth. Thus was born “Fuckup Nights” (FUN), a global movement and event series for sharing stories of professional failure, and The Failure Institute, a global research group that studies failure and its impact on people, businesses and communities. For Gasca, when the focus of failure shifts from what is lost to what is gained, we can all learn to “fail mindfully” and see endings as doorways to empathy, resilience and renewal.
From four countries to one stage. The pan-Latin-American musical ensemble LADAMA brought much more than just music to the TED en Español stage. Inviting the audience to dance with them, Venezuelan Maria Fernanda Gonzalez, Brazilian Lara Klaus, Colombian Daniela Serna and American Sara Lucas sing and dance to a medley of rhythms that range from South American to Caribbean-infused styles. Playing “Night Traveler” and “Porro Maracatu,” LADAMA transformed the stage into a place of music worth spreading.
Gastón Acurio shares stories of the power of food to change lives. (Photo: Jasmina Tomic / TED)
World change starts in your kitchen. In his pioneering work to bring Peruvian cuisine to the world, Gastón Acurio discovered the power that food has to change peoples’ lives. As ceviche started appearing in renowned restaurants worldwide, Gastón saw his home country of Peru begin to appreciate the diversity of its gastronomy and become proud of its own culture. But food hasn’t always been used to bring good to the world. With the industrial revolution and the rise of consumerism, “more people in the world are dying from obesity than hunger,” he notes, and many peoples’ lifestyles aren’t sustainable. By interacting with and caring about the food we eat, Gastón says, we can change our priorities as individuals and change the industries that serve us. He doesn’t yet have all the answers on how to make this a systematic movement that politicians can get behind, but world-renowned cooks are already taking these ideas into their kitchens. He tells the stories of a restaurant in Peru that supports native people by sourcing ingredients from them, a famous chef in NYC who’s fighting against the use of monocultures and an emblematic restaurant in France that has barred meat from the menu. “Cooks worldwide are convinced that we cannot wait for others to make changes and that we must jump into action,” he says. But professional cooks can’t do it all. If we want real change to happen, Gastón urges, we need home cooking to be at the center of everything.
The interconnectedness of music and life. Chilean musical director Paolo Bortolameolli wraps his views on music within his memory of crying the very first time he listened to live classical music. Sharing the emotions music evoked in him, Bortolameolli presents music as a metaphor for life — full of the expected and the unexpected. He thinks that we listen to the same songs again and again because, as humans, we like to experience life from a standpoint of expectation and stability, and he simultaneously suggests that every time we listen to a musical piece, we enliven the music, imbuing it with the potential to be not just recognized but rediscovered.
We reap what we sow — let’s sow something different. Up until the mid-’80s, the average incomes in major Latin American countries were on par with those in Korea. But now, less than a generation later, Koreans earn two to three times more than their Latin American counterparts. How can that be? The difference, says futurist Juan Enriquez, lies in a national prioritization of brainpower — and in identifying, educating and celebrating the best minds. What if in Latin America we started selecting for academic excellence the way we would for an Olympic soccer team? If Latin American countries are to thrive in the era of technology and beyond, they should look to establish their own top universities rather than letting their brightest minds thirst for nourishment, competition and achievement — and find it elsewhere, in foreign lands.
Rebeca Hwang shares her dream of a world where identities are used to bring people together, not alienate them. (Photo: Jasmina Tomic / TED)
Diversity is a superpower. Rebeca Hwang was born in Korea, raised in Argentina and educated in the United States. As someone who has spent a lifetime juggling various identities, Hwang can attest that having a blended background, while sometimes challenging, is actually a superpower. The venture capitalist shared how her fluency in many languages and cultures allows her to make connections with all kinds of people from around the globe. As the mother of two young children, Hwang hopes to pass this perspective on to her kids. She wants to teach them to embrace their unique backgrounds and to create a world where identities are used to bring people together, not alienate them.
Marine ecologist Enric Sala wants to protect the last wild places in the ocean. (Photo: Jasmina Tomic / TED)
How we’ll save our oceans If you jumped in the ocean at any random spot, says Enric Sala, you’d have a 98 percent chance of diving into a dead zone — a barren landscape empty of large fish and other forms of marine life. As a marine ecologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Sala has dedicated his life to surveying the world’s oceans. He proposes a radical solution to help protect the oceans by focusing on our high seas, advocating for the creation of a reserve that would include two-thirds of the world’s ocean. By safeguarding our high seas, Sala believes we will restore the ecological, economic and social benefits of the ocean — and ensure that when our grandchildren jump into any random spot in the sea, they’ll encounter an abundance of glorious marine life instead of empty space.
And to wrap it up … In an improvised rap performance with plenty of well-timed dance moves, psychologist and dance therapist César Silveyra closes the session with 15 of what he calls “nano-talks.” In a spectacular showdown of his skills, Silveyra ties together ideas from previous speakers at the event, including Enric Sala’s warnings about overfished oceans, Gastón Acurio’s Peruvian cooking revolution and even a shoutout for speaker Rebeca Hwang’s grandmother … all the while “feeling like Beyoncé.”