Name: TED (Visit TED)
Type: Talk Shows
Best Website For: Short Intellectual Video Seminars
Reason it's on The Best Sites:
TED is a non-profit organization that brings you talks from industry experts on trending topics. This is a go-to source for intellectuals looking for quality videos. The videos are generally about 20 minutes each.
Updated June 20, 2018: 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.”
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.
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.
This talk and its removal was recently brought to our attention. 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.
Furthermore, after contacting the organizer to understand why it had been taken down, we learned that the speaker herself requested it be removed from the internet because she had serious concerns about her own safety in its wake.
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.
We will continue to take down any illegal copies of the talk posted on the Internet.
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 think 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.”
Our first collection of Audacious Project winners takes the stage after a stellar session at TED2018, in which each winner made a big, big wish to move their organization’s vision to the next level with help from a new consortium of nonprofits. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED
Creating wide-scale change isn’t easy. It takes incredible passion around an issue, and smart ideas on how to move the needle and, hopefully, improve people’s lives. It requires bottomless energy, a dedicated team, an extraordinary amount of hope. And, of course, it demands real resources.
TED would like to help, on the last part at least. This is an open invitation to all social entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders: apply to be a part of The Audacious Project in 2019. We’re looking for big, bold, unique ideas that are capable of affecting more than a million people or driving transformational change on a key issue. We’re looking for unexplored plans that have a real, credible path to execution. That can inspire people around the world to come together to act.
Applications for The Audacious Project are open now through June 10. And here’s the best part — this isn’t a long, detailed grant application that will take hours to complete. We’ve boiled it down to the essential questions that can be answered swiftly. So apply as soon as you can. If your idea feels like a good fit, we’ll be in touch with an extended application that you’ll have four weeks to complete.
The Audacious Project process is rigorous — if selected as a Finalist, you’ll participate in an ideation workshop to help clarify your approach and work with us and our partners on a detailed project proposal spanning three to five years. But the work will be worth it, as it can turbocharge your drive toward change.
More than $406 million has already been committed to the first ideas in The Audacious Project. And further support is coming in following the simultaneous launch of the project at both TED2018 and the annual Skoll World Forum last week. Watch the full session from TED, or highlight reel above that screened the next day at Skoll. And who knows? Perhaps you’ll be a part of the program in 2019.
From left in the photo at the top of this post: The Bail Project‘s Robin Steinberg; Heidi M. Sosik of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Caroline Harper of Sightsavers; Vanessa Garrison and T. Morgan Dixon of GirlTrek; Fred Krupp from Environmental Defense Fund; Chloe Davis and Maleek Washington of Camille A. Brown and Dancers and pianist Scott Patterson, who gave an astonishing performance of “New Second Line”; Andrew Youn of the One Acre Fund; and Catherine Foster, Camille A. Brown, Timothy Edwards, Juel D. Lane from Camille A. Brown and Dancers. Obscured behind Catherine Foster is Raj Panjabi of Last Mile Health (and dancer Mayte Natalio is offstage).
Earlier this week, I had the privilege and honor to plant trees with the daughter and granddaughter of environmentalist Wangari Maathai. In recognition of her life’s work promoting “sustainable development, democracy and peace,” Maathai received the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. She was a lifelong activist who founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977.
At that time, rural women in Kenya petitioned the government for help. They explained that their streams were drying up, causing their food supplies to be less secure and longer walks to fetch firewood. Maathai established the Green Belt Movement and encouraged the women of Kenya to work together to grow seedlings and plant trees to bind the soil, store rainwater, provide food and firewood, and receive a small monetary token for their work. Through her efforts, over 51 million trees have been planted in Kenya. Although Maathai died in 2011, her daughter Wanjira continues her work improving the livelihoods of the women of Kenya and striving for a “cleaner, greener world.”
This Earth Day, the work of Professor Maathai and the Green Belt Movement is an inspiration and a “testament to the power of grassroots organizing, proof that one person’s simple idea — that a community should come together to plant trees, can make a difference.”
With that in mind, here are 10 TEDWomen talks from over the years that highlight innovative ideas, cutting-edge science, and the power that each of us has to safeguard our planet and make our world better for everyone.
1. Climate change is unfair. While rich countries can fight against rising oceans and dying farm fields, poor people around the world are already having their lives upended — and their human rights threatened — by killer storms, starvation and the loss of their own lands. Mary Robinson asks us to join the movement for worldwide climate justice.
2. Ocean expert Nancy Rabalais tracks the ominously named “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico — where there isn’t enough oxygen in the water to support life. The Gulf has the second largest dead zone in the world; on top of killing fish and crustaceans, it’s also killing fisheries in these waters. Rabalais tells us about what’s causing it — and how we can reverse its harmful effects and restore one of America’s natural treasures.
3. Filmmaker Penelope Jagessar Chaffer was curious about the chemicals she was exposed to while pregnant: Could they affect her unborn child? So she asked scientist Tyrone Hayes to brief her on one he studied closely: atrazine, a herbicide used on corn. (Hayes, an expert on amphibians, is a critic of atrazine, which displays a disturbing effect on frog development.) Onstage together at TEDWomen, Hayes and Chaffer tell their story.
4. Deepika Kurup has been determined to solve the global water crisis since she was 14 years old, after she saw kids outside her grandparents’ house in India drinking water that looked too dirty even to touch. Her research began in her family kitchen — and eventually led to a major science prize. Hear how this teenage scientist developed a cost-effective, eco-friendly way to purify water.
5. Days before this talk, journalist Naomi Klein was on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico, looking at the catastrophic results of BP’s risky pursuit of oil. Our societies have become addicted to extreme risk in finding new energy, new financial instruments and more … and too often, we’re left to clean up a mess afterward. Klein’s question: What’s the backup plan?
6. The water hyacinth may look like a harmless, even beautiful flowering plant — but it’s actually an invasive aquatic weed that clogs waterways, stopping trade, interrupting schooling and disrupting everyday life. In this scourge, green entrepreneur Achenyo Idachaba saw opportunity. Follow her journey as she turns weeds into woven wonders.
7. A skyscraper that channels the breeze … a building that creates community around a hearth … Jeanne Gang uses architecture to build relationships. In this engaging tour of her work, Gang invites us into buildings large and small, from a surprising local community center to a landmark Chicago skyscraper. “Through architecture, we can do much more than create buildings,” she says. “We can help steady this planet we all share.”
8. Architect Kate Orff sees the oyster as an agent of urban change. Bundled into beds and sunk into city rivers, oysters slurp up pollution and make legendarily dirty waters clean — thus driving even more innovation in “oyster-tecture.” Orff shares her vision for an urban landscape that links nature and humanity for mutual benefit.
9. Beverly + Dereck Joubert live in the bush, filming and photographing lions and leopards in their natural habitat. With stunning footage (some never before seen), they discuss their personal relationships with these majestic animals — and their quest to save the big cats from human threats.
10. Artist and poet Cleo Wade shares some truths about growing up (and speaking up) and reflects on the wisdom of a life well-lived, leaving us with a simple yet enduring takeaway: be good to yourself, be good to others, be good to the earth. “The world will say to you, ‘Be a better person,'” Wade says. “Do not be afraid to say, ‘Yes.'”
TEDWomen 2018 Updates
If you’re interested in attending TEDWomen later this year in Palm Springs, California, on November 28–30, we encourage you to sign up for our email newsletter now to stay up to date. We will be adding details on venue, sessions themes, guest curators and speakers soon. Don’t miss the news!
Cartier believes in the power of bold ideas to empower local initiatives to have global impact. To celebrate Cartier’s dedication to launching the ideas of female entrepreneurs into concrete change, TED has curated a special session of talks around the theme “Bold Alchemy” for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards, featuring a selection of favorite TED speakers.
Leading up to the session, TED talked with entrepreneur, designer and CEO of Barefoot College International, Meagan Fallone.
TED: Tell us who you are.
Meagan Fallone: I am an entrepreneur, a designer, a passionate mountaineer and a champion of women in the developing world and all women whose voices and potential remain unheard and unrealized. I am a mother and am grounded in the understanding that of all the things I may ever do in my life, it is the only one that truly will define me or endure. I am immovable in my intolerance to injustice in all its forms.
TED: What’s a bold move you’ve made in your career?
MF: I decided to leave the two for-profit companies I started and grow a nonprofit social enterprise.
TED: Tell us about a woman who inspires you.
MF: The women in my family who were risk-takers in their own individual ways: they are always with me and inspire me. My female friends who push me always to dig deeper within myself, to use my power and skills for ever bigger and better impact in the world. I am inspired always by every woman who has ever accepted to come to train with us at Barefoot College. They place their trust in us, leave their community and everyone they love to make an unimaginable journey on every level. It is the bravest thing I have ever seen.
TED: If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 18-year-old self?
MF: I would tell myself not to take myself so seriously. I would tell myself to trust that the world takes us exactly where we should be. It took me far too long to learn to laugh at how ridiculous I am sometimes. It took me even longer to accept that the path that was written for me was not exactly the one I envisaged for myself. Within the things I never imagined lay all the beauty and wonder of my journey so far — and the promise of what I have yet to impact.
The private TED session at Cartier takes place April 26 in Singapore. It will feature talks from a diverse range of global leaders, entrepreneurs and change-makers, exploring topics ranging from the changing global workforce to maternal health to data literacy, and it will include a performance from the only female double violinist in the world.
More than 100 speakers — activists, scientists, adventurers, change-makers and more — took the stage to give the talk of their lives this week in Vancouver at TED2018. One blog post could never hope to hold all of the extraordinary wisdom they shared. Here’s a (shamelessly inexhaustive) list of the themes and highlights we heard throughout the week — and be sure to check out full recaps of day 1, day 2, day 3 and day 4.
Discomfort is a proxy for progress. If we hope to break out of the filter bubbles that are defining this generation, we have to talk to and connect with people we disagree with. This message resonated across the week at TED, with talks from Zachary R. Wood and Dylan Marron showing us the power of reaching out, even when it’s uncomfortable. As Wood, a college student who books “uncomfortable speakers,” says: “Tuning out opposing viewpoints doesn’t make them go away.” To understand how society can progress forward, he says, “we need to understand the counterforces.” Marron’s podcast “Conversations With People Who Hate Me” showcases him engaging with people who have attacked him on the internet. While it hasn’t led to world peace, it has helped him develop empathy for his bullies. “Empathizing with someone I profoundly disagree with doesn’t suddenly erase my deeply held beliefs and endorse theirs,” he cautions. “I simply am acknowledging the humanity of a person who has been taught to think a certain way, someone who thinks very differently than me.”
The Audacious Project, a new initiative for launching big ideas, seeks to create lasting change at scale. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)
Audacious ideas for big impact. The Audacious Project, TED’s newest initiative, aims to be the nonprofit version of an IPO. Housed at TED, it’s a collaboration among some of the biggest names in philanthropy that asks for nonprofit groups’ most audacious dreams; each year, five will be presented at TED with an invitation for the audience and world to get involved. The inaugural Audacious group includes public defender Robin Steinberg, who’s working to end the injustice of bail; oceanographer Heidi M. Sosik, who wants to explore the ocean’s twilight zone; Caroline Harper from Sight Savers, who’s working to end the scourge of trachoma; conservationist Fred Krupp, who wants to use the power of satellites and data to track methane emissions in unprecedented detail; and T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison, who are inspiring a nationwide movement for Black women’s health. Find out more (and how you can get involved) at AudaciousProject.org.
Living means acknowledging death. Philosopher-comedian Emily Levine has stage IV lung cancer — but she says there’s no need to “oy” or “ohhh” over her: she’s OK with it. Life and death go hand in hand, she says; you can’t have one without the other. Therein lies the importance of death: it sets limits on life, limits that “demand creativity, positive energy, imagination” and force you to enrich your existence wherever and whenever you can. Jason Rosenthal’s journey of loss and grief began when his wife, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, wrote about their lives in an article read by millions of people: “You May Want to Marry My Husband” — a meditation on dying disguised as a personal ad for her soon-to-be-solitary spouse. By writing their story, Amy made Jason’s grief public — and challenged him to begin anew. He speaks to others who may be grieving: “I would like to offer you what I was given: a blank sheet of paper. What will you do with your intentional empty space, with your fresh start?”
“It’s the responsibility of all of us to get to know our weaknesses, and make sure they don’t become weapons in the hands of enemies of democracy,” says Yuval Noah Harari. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)
Can we rediscover the humanity in our tech? In a visionary talk about a “globally tragic, astoundingly ridiculous mistake” companies like Google and Facebook made at the foundation of digital culture, Jaron Lanier suggested a way we can fix the internet for good: pay for it. “We cannot have a society in which, if two people wish to communicate, the only way that can happen is if it’s financed by a third person who wishes to manipulate them,” he says. Historian Yuval Noah Harari, appearing onstage as a hologram live from Tel Aviv, warns that with consolidation of data comes consolidation of power. Fascists and dictators, he says, have a lot to gain in our new digital age; and “it’s the responsibility of all of us to get to know our weaknesses, and make sure they don’t become weapons in the hands of enemies of democracy,” he says. Gizmodo writers Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu survey the world of “smart devices” — the gadgets that “sit in the middle of our home with a microphone on, constantly listening,” and gathering data — to discover just what they’re up to. Hill turned her family’s apartment into a smart home, loading up on 18 internet-connected appliances; her colleague Mattu built a router that tracked how often the devices connected, who they were transmitting to, what they were transmitting. Through the data, he could decipher the Hill family’s sleep schedules, TV binges, even their tooth-brushing habits. And a lot of this data can be sold, including deeply intimate details. “Who is the true beneficiary of your smart home?” he asks. “You, or the company mining you?”
An invitation to build a better world. Actor and activist Tracee Ellis Ross came to TED with a message: the global collection of women’s experiences will not be ignored, and women will no longer be held responsible for the behaviors of men. Ross believes it is past time that men take responsibility to change men’s bad behavior — and she offers an invitation to men, calling them in as allies with the hope they will “be accountable and self-reflective.” She offers a different invitation to women: Acknowledge your fury. “Your fury is not something to be afraid of,” she says. “It holds lifetimes of wisdom. Let it breathe, and listen.”
Wow! discoveries. Among the TED Fellows, explorer and conservationist Steve Boyes’ efforts to chart Africa’s Okavango Delta has led scientists to identify more than 25 new species; University of Arizona astrophysicist Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil discovered a galaxy with an outer ring and a reddish inner ring that was unlike any ever seen before (her reward: it’s now called Burçin’s Galaxy). Another astronomer, University of Hawaii’s Karen Meech saw — and studied for an exhilarating few days — ‘Oumuamua, the first interstellar comet observed from Earth. Meanwhile, engineer Aaswath Raman is harnessing the cold of deep space to invent new ways to keep us cooler and more energy-efficient. Going from the sublime to the ridiculous, roboticist Simone Giertz showed just how much there is to be discovered from the process of inventing useless things.
Walter Hood shares his work creating public spaces that illuminate shared memories without glossing over past — and present — injustices. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)
Language is more than words. Even though the stage program of TED2018 consisted primarily of talks, many went beyond words. Architects Renzo Piano, Vishaan Chakbrabarti, Ian Firth and Walter Hood showed how our built structures, while still being functional, can lift spirits, enrich lives, and pay homage to memories. Smithsonian Museum craft curator Nora Atkinson shared images from Burning Man and explained how, in the desert, she found a spirit of freedom, creativity and collaboration not often found in the commercial art world. Designer Ingrid Fetell Lee uncovered the qualities that make everyday objects a joy to behold. Illustrator Christoph Niemann reminded us how eloquent and hilarious sketches can be; in her portraits of older individuals, photographer Isadora Kosofsky showed us that visuals can be poignant too. Paul Rucker discussed his painful collection of artifacts from America’s racial past and how the artistic act of making scores of Ku Klux Klan robes has brought him some catharsis. Our physical movements are another way we speak — for choreographer Elizabeth Streb, it’s expressing the very human dream to fly. For climber Alex Honnold, it was attaining a sense of mastery when he scaled El Capitan alone without ropes. Dolby Laboratories chief scientist Poppy Crum demonstrated the emotions that can be read through physical tells like body temperature and exhalations, and analytical chemist Simone Francese revealed the stories told through the molecules in our fingerprints.
Kate Raworth presents her vision for what a sustainable, universally beneficial economy could look like. (Photo: Bret Hartman / TED)
Is human growth exponential or limited? There will be almost ten billion people on earth by 2050. How are we going to feed everybody, provide water for everybody and get power to everybody? Science journalist Charles C. Mann has spent years asking these questions to researchers, and he’s found that their answers fall into two broad categories: wizards and prophets. Wizards believe that science and technology will let us produce our way out of our dilemmas — think: hyper-efficient megacities and robots tending genetically modified crops. Prophets believe close to the opposite; they see the world as governed by fundamental ecological processes with limits that we transgress to our peril. As he says: “The history of the coming century will be the choice we make as a species between these two paths.” Taking up the cause of the prophets is Oxford economist Kate Raworth, who says that our economies have become “financially, politically and socially addicted” to relentless GDP growth, and too many people (and the planet) are being pummeled in the process. What would a sustainable, universally beneficial economy look like? A doughnut, says Raworth. She says we should strive to move countries out of the hole — “the place where people are falling short on life’s essentials” like food, water, healthcare and housing — and onto the doughnut itself. But we shouldn’t move too far lest we end up on the doughnut’s outside and bust through the planet’s ecological limits.
Seeing opportunity in adversity. “I’m basically nuts and bolts from the knee down,” says MIT professor Hugh Herr, demonstrating how his bionic legs — made up of 24 sensors, 6 microprocessors and muscle-tendon-like actuators — allow him to walk, skip and run. Herr builds body parts, and he’s working toward a goal that’s long been thought of as science fiction: for synthetic limbs to be integrated into the human nervous system. He dreams of a future where humans have augmented their bodies in a way that redefines human potential, giving us unimaginable physical strength — and, maybe, the ability to fly. In a beautiful, touching talk in the closing session of TED2018, Mark Pollock and Simone George take us inside their relationship — detailing how Pollock became paralyzed and the experimental work they’ve undertaken to help him regain motion. In collaboration with a team of engineers who created an exoskeleton for Pollock, as well as Dr. Reggie Edgerton’s team at UCLA, who developed a way to electrically stimulate the spinal cord of those with paralysis, Pollock was able to pull his knee into his chest during a lab test — proving that progress is definitely still possible.
TED Fellow and anesthesiologist Rola Hallam started the world’s first crowdfunded hospital in Syria. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)
Spotting the chance to make a difference. The TED Fellows program was full of researchers, activists and advocates capitalizing on the spaces that go unnoticed. Psychiatrist Essam Daod, found a “golden hour” in refugees’ treks when their narratives can sometimes be reframed into heroes’ journeys; landscape architect Kotcharkorn Voraakhom realized that a park could be designed to allow her flood-prone city of Bangkok mitigate the impact of climate change; pediatrician Lucy Marcil seized on the countless hours that parents spend in doctors’ waiting rooms to offer tax assistance; sustainability expert DeAndrea Salvador realized the profound difference to be made by helping low-income North Carolina residents with their energy bills; and anesthesiologist Rola Hallam is addressing aid shortfalls for local nonprofits, resulting in the world’s first crowdfunded hospital in Syria.
Reed Hastings, the head of Netflix, listens to a question from Chris Anderson during a sparky onstage Q&A on the final morning of TED2018, April 14, 2018. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED
What a week. We’ve heard so much, from dystopian warnings to bold visions for change. Our brains are full. Almost. In this session we pull back to the human stories that underpin everything we are, everything we want. From new ways to set goals and move business forward, to unabashed visions for joy and community, it’s time to explore what matters.
The original people of this land. One important thing to know: TED’s conference home of Vancouver is built on un-ceded land that once belonged to First Nations people. So this morning, two DJs from A Tribe Called Red start this session by remembering and honoring them, telling First Nations stories in beats and images in a set that expands on the concept of Halluci Nation, inspired by the poet, musician and activist John Trudell. In Trudell’s words: “We are the Halluci Nation / Our DNA is of earth and sky / Our DNA is of past and future.”
The power of why, what and how. Our leaders and our institutions are failing us, and it’s not always because they’re bad or unethical. Sometimes, it’s simply because they’re leading us toward the wrong objectives, says venture capitalist John Doerr. How can we get back on track? The trick may be a system called OKR, developed by legendary management thinker Andy Grove. Doerr explains that OKR stands for ‘objectives and key results’ – and setting the right ones can be the difference between success and failure. However, before you set your objective (your what) and your key results (your how), you need to understand your why. “A compelling sense of why can be the launch pad for our objectives,” he says. He illustrates the power of OKRs by sharing the stories of individuals and organizations who’ve put them into practice, including Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin. “OKRs are not a silver bullet. They’re not going to be a substitute for a strong culture or for stronger leadership, but when those fundamentals are in place, they can take you to the mountaintop,” he says. He encourages all of us to take the time to write down our values, our objectives, and our key results – and to do it today. “Let’s fight for what it is that really matters, because we can take OKRs beyond our businesses. We can take them to our families, to our schools, even to our government. We can hold those governments accountable,” he says. “We can get back on the right track if we can and do measure what really matters.”
What’s powering China’s tech innovation? The largest mass migration in the world occurs every year around the Chinese Spring Festival. Over 40 days, travelers — including 290 million migrant workers — take 3 billion trips all over China. Few can afford to fly, so railways strained to keep up, with crowding, fraud and drama. So the Chinese technology sector has been building everything from apps to AI to ease not only this process, but other pain points throughout society. But unlike the US, where innovation is often fueled by academia and enterprise, China’s tech innovation is powered by “an overwhelming need economy that is serving an underprivileged populace, which has been separated for 30 years from China’s economic boom.” The CEO of the China Morning Post, Gary Liu has a front-row seat to this transformation. As China’s introduction of a “social credit rating” system suggests, a technology boom in an authoritarian society hides a significant dark side. But the Chinese internet hugely benefits its 772 million users. It has spread deeply into rural regions, revitalizing education and creating jobs. There’s a long way to go to bring the internet to everyone in China — more than 600 million people remain offline . But wherever the internet is fueling prosperity, “we should endeavor to follow it with capital and with effort, driving both economic and societal impact all over the world. Just imagine for a minute what more could be possible if the global needs of the underserved become the primary focus of our inventions.”
Netflix and chill, the interview. The humble beginnings of Netflix paved the way to transforming how we consume content today. Reed Hastings — who started out as a high school math teacher — admits that making the shift from DVDs to streaming was a big leap. “We weren’t confident,” he admits in his interview with TED Curator Chris Anderson. “It was scary.” Obviously, it paid off over time, with 117 million subscribers (and growing), more than $11 billion in revenue (so far) and a slew of popular original content (Black Mirror, anyone?) fueled by curated algorithmic recommendations. The offerings of Netflix, Hastings says, is a mixture of candy and broccoli — and it allows people to decide what a proper “diet” is for them. “We get a lot of joy from making people happy,” he says. The external culture of the streaming platform reflects its internal culture as well: they’re super focused on how to run with no process, but without chaos. There’s an emphasis on freedom, responsibility and honesty (as he puts it, “disagreeing silently is disloyal”). And though Hastings loves business — competing against the likes of HBO and Disney — he also enjoys his philanthropic pursuits supporting innovative education, such as the KIPP charter schools, and advocates for more variety in educational content. For now, he says, it’s the perfect job.
“E. Pluribus Unum” — ”Out of many, one.” It’s the motto of the United States, yet few citizens understand its meaning. Artist and designer Walter Hood calls for national landscapes that preserve the distinct identities of peoples and cultures, while still forging unity. Hood believes spaces should illuminate shared memories without glossing over past — and present — injustices. To guide his projects, Hood follows five simple guidelines. The first — “Great things happen when we exist in each other’s world” — helped fire up a Queens community garden initiative in collaboration with Bette Midler and hip-hop legend 50 Cent. “Two-ness” — or the sense of double identity faced by those who are “othered,” like women and African-Americans — lies behind a “shadow sculpture” at the University of Virginia that commemorates a forgotten, buried servant household uncovered during the school’s expansion. “Empathy” inspired the construction of a park in downtown Oakland that serves office workers and the homeless community, side-by-side. “The traditional belongs to all of us” — and to the San Francisco neighborhood of Bayview-Hunter’s Point, where Hood restored a Victorian opera house to serve the local community. And “Memory” lies at the core of a future shorefront park in Charleston, which will rest on top of Gadsden Wharf — an entry point for 40% of the United States’ slaves, where they were then “stored” in chains — that forces visitors to confront the still-resonating cruelty of our past.
The tension between acceptance and hope. When Simone George met Mark Pollock, it was eight years after he’d lost his sight. Pollock was rebuilding his identity — living a high-octane life of running marathons and racing across Antarctica to reach the South Pole. But a year after he returned from Antarctica, Pollock fell from a third-story window; he woke up paralyzed from the waist down. Pollock shares how being a realist — inspired by the writings of Admiral James Stockdale, a Vietnam POW — helped him through bleak days after this accident, when even hope seemed dangerous. George explains how she helped Pollock navigate months in the hospital; told that any sensation Pollock didn’t regain in the weeks immediately after the fall would likely never come back, the two looked to stories of others, like Christopher Reeve, who had pushed beyond what was understood as possible for those who are paralyzed. “History is filled with the kinds of impossible made possible through human endeavor,” Pollock says. So he started asking: Why can’t human endeavor cure paralysis in his lifetime? In collaboration with a team of engineers in San Francisco, who created an exoskeleton for Pollock, as well as Dr. Reggie Edgerton’s team at UCLA, who had developed a way to electrically stimulate the spinal cord of those with paralysis, Pollock was able to pull his knee into his chest during a lab test, proving that progress is definitely still possible. For now, “I accept the wheelchair, it’s almost impossible not to,” says Pollock. “We also hope for another life — a life where we have created a cure through collaboration, a cure that we’re actively working to release from university labs around the world and share with everyone who needs it.”
The pursuit of joy, not happiness. “How do tangible things make us feel intangible joy?” asks designer Ingrid Fetell Lee. She pursued this question for ten years to understand how the physical world relates to the mysterious, quixotic emotion of joy. In turns out, the physical can be a remarkable, renewable resource for fostering a happier, healthier life. There isn’t just one type of joy, and its definition morphs from person to person — but psychologists, broadly speaking, describe joy as intense, momentary experience of positive emotion (or, simply, as something that makes you want to jump up and down). However, joy shouldn’t be conflated with happiness, which measure how good we feel over time. So, Lee asked around about what brings people joy and eventually had a notebook filled with things like beach balls, treehouses, fireworks, googly eyes and ice cream cones with rainbow sprinkles, and realized something significant: the patterns of joy have roots in evolutionary history. Things like symmetrical shapes, bright colors, an attraction to abundance and multiplicity, a feeling of lightness or elevation — this is what’s universally appealing. Joy lowers blood pressure, improves our immune system and even increases productivity. She began to wonder: should we use these aesthetics to help us find more opportunities for joy in the world around us? “Joy begins with the senses,” she says. “What we should be doing is embracing joy, and finding ways to put ourselves in the path of it more often.”
And that’s a wrap. Speaking of joy, Baratunde Thurston steps out to close this conference with a wrap that shouts out the diversity of this year’s audience but also nudges the un-diverse selection of topics: next year, he asks, instead of putting an African child on a slide, can we put her onstage to speak for herself? He winds together the themes of the week, from the terrifying — killer robots, octopus robots, genetically modified piglets — to the badass, the inspiring and the mind-opening. Are you not amazed?
A monumental part of what brings the TED conference to life is the speakers and the amazing ideas they share on the TED stage. But here’s a riddle: What also shares the spotlight with each person who spends their 3 to 18 minutes speaking on the red dot? The magnificent session art, of course!
TED has collaborated with design firm Colours & Shapes since 2014. They are the minds behind the mesmerizing animated art seen at the start and throughout each session, which is tailored specifically to that session’s theme.
We caught up with Colours & Shapes in their hometown of Vancouver, BC, to learn more about the process behind an integral part of what’s brought TED2018: The Age of Amazement to life.
A globally changing landscape forms the backdrop for Session 4, the Audacious Project. Over the course of the evening’s session, the light slowly fades onscreen.
Q: Tell us about your team and company:
Colours & Shapes was founded in 2012 by Gordie Cochran and Anthony Diehl. We actually sort of stumbled into it. We saw an opportunity to leverage our diverse backgrounds in film, events and tech to craft amazing, meaningful experiences. Our passion has really been to architect “moments” that stick with you; moments that resonate with that deep “why” behind any event or experience.
Q: Take us through the creative process: from receiving the prompts to fruition … were there technical considerations or concerns you had to troubleshoot?
The creative process has been really wonderful. We love how open the TED curation team is to some pretty “out there” visual ideas. Our process was really all about understanding the session themes and curation and finding ways to to unpack “amazement” in each. We started with really rough sketches and motifs. We gave particular consideration to how we could use projection on the stage and the beautiful wood cases. We knew from the start that we wanted to treat the entire stage and screens as one unified canvas for content. We worked really closely with Mina, Mike and Martha to find just the right tone for each session. Our looks moved pretty quickly from sketches and moodboards to illustration and animation.
The creative process really followed the development of the sessions. As we learned more about the speakers and topics, there was so much great inspiration to draw on visually. From the unique red laser light in Mary Lou Jepsen’s talk to ocean exploration and intimate storytelling, we wanted each session to feel like the perfect space to hear each TED Talk. Our team worked incredibly hard in the weeks leading up to TED to produce all these diverse session environments. And we worked in a lot of different mediums! Traditional animation, illustration, film, compositing, VFX … At one point we found ourselves smearing around a lot of tea, cream and sugar in macro videography for one session look (Session 5: Space to Dream).
Q: What were you most excited about when you heard this year’s theme was Age of Amazement?
Love the theme! We were immediately intrigued and drawn in when we starting talking about this year theme. Each session really has its own way that it interacts with the theme in a way that is really fun and interesting. The early creative motifs we developed were all about exploring “amazement” through a variety of lenses: emotions, optical illusions, perspective shifts, shadow play, etc.
Q: The art for each session is based on the session title — any secret inspirations? (A little birdy told me about song lyrics inspiring Session 5 … are there others like that?)
- There were a few sessions that we really wanted to tie into. The red laser light for Session 9: Body Electric is a nod to Mary Lou Jepsen’s talk.
- Nerdish Delight is a playful nod to the ubiquitous “sexy tech product reveal” video. It’s all cool sculpted lines, slick materials and studio lighting … except we never get to see just what the product is!
- “Wow. Just wow.” is an M.C. Escher-esque optical illusion. It’s all about the thrill of a perspective shift, that “wow” moment when you realize you are seeing something completely new and exciting.
- “Space to Dream” really started as we asked ourselves, “What do astrophysicist daydream about?” We imagined ourselves staring into a cup of tea and losing ourselves in a waking dream about beautiful unseen corners of the universe. In one of our creative meetings with the TED team the lyrics to the Blondie song “Dreaming” came up: “I’ll have a cup of tea and tell you of my dreaming …” It’s a beautiful deep space daydream that is built entirely from filmed elements like tea, sugar, cream and food coloring. No actual nebulae were harmed in the filming of that session.
Q: Any “easter eggs” we should look for?
The Blondie song connection above is a fun one.
Session 10, Personally Speaking, is a session all about little scenes and objects that suggest a story, but don’t quite give you all the info. Sort of like the opening line of a good short story. The wood cases on stage and “rooms” in the session environment shift and turn.
Q: What do you want the audience to experience while watching your art?
In a word? Amazement! Our hope is that each visual environment serves to support the deep, intentional and thoughtful curation that has gone into each session for TED 2018. In working closely with the team at TED, we have worked to extract as many insights, themes, inspirations for each session and then have endeavoured to create visual environments that effectively captures the DNA of each session in thoughtful, creative and whimsical ways.
The shifting panels and details of Session 2’s screen reflects the session title: “After the end of history …”
Q: What are you most proud of from this project?
Definitely our talented team members! Producing great experiences and beautiful creative takes a team that can bend and bow with evolving ideas and creative discovery. Getting to partner with the brilliant team at TED and come alongside and be able to visually bring big ideas to life in the theatre has been a really fantastic and creatively rich experience for C&S. Hard to pick favourites from the content but we really love how the conference opener came out. Jorge Canedo Estrada’s sumptuous animation is second to none. Also, seeing Mike Ellis’ gorgeous illustration come to life in a crazy shifting 3D world in “Wow. Just Wow.” is something we could watch all day!
Q: How many people work on making this happen?
We pulled together a team of multidisciplinary creatives to built out the visual worlds for TED2018. We have collaborated with a team of illustrators, designers, animators and composers, 13 people total.
Q: Any interesting or fun stories you’d like to share that happened during the process?
The intensity of taking everything on with a short timeline, and then throwing the opener into the mix weeks before the event. This led to some long nights in animation! But seeing it all come to life in the theatre was incredibly rewarding.
Q: Anything I’m missing? Anything you’d like to add?
Thank you to Chris, Mina, Mike, Martha and the TED team for having us along for the ride this year!
Bright colors and natural motifs tell the story of Session 11, “What matters.”
For the TED conference this year, we wanted to entertain attendees between talks — and support and encourage up-and-coming filmmakers. Meet TEDFilms, a new program for promoting the creation of original short films.
Executive-produced by Sinéad McDevitt and led up by TED’s director of Production and Video Operations, Mina Sabet, the short films acted as a creative palate-cleanser during the speaker program, a short blast of humor, beauty and awe.
Each film is less than two minutes, and genres range from experimental art and documentary to PSA and dark comedy. Enjoy!
As light passes through defective glass, beams split into color spectra, causing ‘diffraction grating’. For the first time ever in film, we get up close and personal with this visual phenomenon in a series of beautiful chromatic abstractions.
Director: Shane Griffin
Music: Gavin Little
With special thanks to:
Ed Bruce at Screenscene
Illusions for a Better Society
Could visual illusions be a cure for polarization?
Director of Photography: William Atherton
Production Design: Adam Pruitt
Creative Partner: SpecialGuest
Production Company: 1stAveMachine
Music: Bryn Bliska
It’s Not Amazing Enough
The pressures of having to make an amazing film sent this deadpan deep-voiced award winning filmmaker into a crippling spiral of self-doubt and comic indecision.
Director, Writer & Producer: Duncan Cowles
After 100 years of progress, AI bots have finally become too human for their own good.
Directors: Emerald Fennell & Chris Vernon
Director of Photography: Ben Kracun
Production Design: Jessica Sutton
VFX: Coffee & TV
Even in the Age of Amazement, sometimes you need a break between talks packed with fascinating science, tech, art and so much more. That’s where interstitials come in: short videos that entertain and intrigue, while allowing the brain a moment to reset and ready itself to absorb more information.
For this year’s conference, TED commissioned and premiered four short films made just for the conference. Check out those films here!
Mixed in with our originals, curators Anyssa Samari and Jonathan Wells hand-picked even more videos — animations, music, even cool ads — to play throughout the week. Here’s the program of shorts they found, from creative people all around the world:
The short: Jane Zhang: “Dust My Shoulders Off.” A woman having a bad day is transported to a world of famous paintings where she has a fantastic adventure.
The creator: Outerspace Leo
Shown during: Session 2, After the end of history …
The short: “zoom(art).” A kaleidoscopic, visually compelling journey of artificial intelligence creating beautiful works of art.
The creator: Directed and programmed by Alexander Mordvintsev, Google Research
Shown during: Session 2, After the end of history …
The short: “20syl – Kodama.” A music video of several hands playing multiple instruments (and drawing a picture) simultaneously to create a truly delicious electronic beat.
The creators: Mathieu Le Dude & 20syl
Shown during: Session 3, Nerdish Delight
The short: “If HAL-9000 was Alexa.” 2001: A Space Odyssey seems a lot less sinister (and lot more funny) when Alexa can’t quite figure out what Dave is saying.
The creator: ScreenJunkies
Shown during: Session 3, Nerdish Delight
The short: “Maxine the Fluffy Corgi.” A narrated day in the life of an adorable pup named Maxine who knows what she wants.
The creator: Bryan Reisberg
Shown during: Session 3, Nerdish Delight
The short: “RGB FOREST.” An imaginative, colorful and geometric jaunt through the woods set to jazzy electronic music.
The creator: LOROCROM
Shown during: Session 6, What on earth do we do?
The short: “High Speed Hummingbirds.” Here’s your chance to watch the beauty and grace of hummingbirds in breathtaking slow motion.
The creator: Anand Varma
Shown during: Session 6, What on earth do we do?
The short: “Cassius ft. Cat Power & Pharrell Williams | Go Up.” A split screen music video that cleverly subverts and combines versions of reality.
The creator: Alex Courtès
Shown during: Session 7, Wow. Just wow.
The short: “Blobby.” A stop motion film about a man and a blob and the peculiar relationship they share.
The creator: Laura Stewart
Shown during: Session 7, Wow. Just wow.
The short: “WHO.” David Byrne and St. Vincent dance and sing in this black-and-white music video about accidents and consequences.
The creator: Martin de Thurah
Shown during: Session 8, Insanity. Humanity.
The short: “MAKIN’ MOVES.” When music makes the body move in unnatural, impossible ways.
The creator: Kouhei Nakama
Shown during: Session 9, Body electric
The short: “The Art of Flying.” The beautiful displays the Common Starling performs in nature.
The creator: Jan van IJken
Shown during: Session 9, Body electric
The short: “Kiss & Cry.” The heart-rending story of Giselle, a woman who lives and loves and wants to be loved. (You’ll never guess who plays the heroine.)
The creators: Jaco Van Dormael and choreographer Michèle Anne De Mey
Shown during: Session 10, Personally speaking
The short: “Becoming Violet.” The power of the human body, in colors and dance.
The creator: Steven Weinzierl
Shown during: Session 10, Personally speaking
The short: “Golden Castle Town.” A woman is transported to another world and learns to appreciate life anew.
The creator: Andrew Benincasa
Shown during: Session 10, Personally speaking
The short: “Tom Rosenthal | Cos Love.” A love letter to love that is grand and a bit melacholic.
The creator: Kathrin Steinbacher
Shown during: Session 11, What matters
Three sessions of memorable TED Talks covering life, death and the future of humanity made the penultimate day of TED2018 a remarkable space for tech breakthroughs and dispatches from the edges of culture.
Here are some of the themes we heard echoing through the opening day, as well as some highlights from around the conference venue in Vancouver.
The future built on genetic code. DNA is built on four letters: G, C, A, T. These letters determine the sequences of the 20 amino acids in our cells that build the proteins that make life possible. But what if that “alphabet” got bigger? Synthetic biologist and chemist Floyd Romesberg suggests that the four letters of the genetic alphabet are not all that unique. He and his colleagues constructed the first “semi-synthetic” life forms based on a 6-letter DNA. With these extra building blocks, cells can construct hitherto unseen proteins. Someday, we could tailor these cells to fulfill all sorts of functions — building new, hyper-targeted medicines, seeking out and destroying cancer, or “eating” toxic materials. And maybe soon, we’ll be able to use that expanded DNA alphabet to teleport. That’s right, you read it here first: teleportation is real. Biologist and engineer Dan Gibson reports from the front lines of science fact that we are now able to transmit the most fundamental parts of who we are: our DNA. It’s called biological teleportation, and the idea is that biological entities including viruses and living cells can be reconstructed in a distant location if we can read and write the sequence of that DNA code. The machines that perform this fantastic feat, the BioXP and the DBC, stitch together both long and short forms of genetic code that can be downloaded from the internet. That means that in the future, with an at-home version of these machines (or even one worlds away, say like, Mars), we may be able to download and print personalized therapeutic medications, prescriptions and even vaccines.
“If we want to create meaningful technology to counter radicalization, we have to start with the human journey at its core,” says technologist Yasmin Green at Session 8 at TED2018: The Age of Amazement, April 13, Vancouver. (Photo: Jason Redmond / TED)
Dispatches from the fight against hate online. At Jigsaw (a division of Alphabet), Yasmin Green and her colleagues were given the mandate to build technology that could help make the world safer from extremism and persecution. In 2016, Green collaborated with Moonshot CVE to pilot a new approach, the “Redirect Method.” She and a team interviewed dozens of former members of violent extremist groups, and used what they learned to create targeted advertising aimed at people susceptible to ISIS’s recruiting — and counter those messages. In English and Arabic, the eight-week pilot program reached more than 300,000 people. “If technology has any hope of overcoming today’s challenges,” Green says, “we must throw our entire selves into understanding these issues and create solutions that are as human as the problems they aim to solve.” Dylan Marron is taking a different approach to the problem of hate on the internet. His video series, such as “Sitting in Bathrooms With Trans People,” have racked up millions of views, and they’ve also sent a slew of internet poison in his direction. He developed a coping mechanism: he calls up the people who leave hateful remarks, opening their chats with a simple question: “Why did you write that?” These exchanges have been captured on Marron’s podcast “Conversations With People Who Hate Me.” While it hasn’t led to world peace, he says it’s caused him to develop empathy for his bullies. “Empathizing with someone I profoundly disagree with doesn’t suddenly erase my deeply held beliefs and endorse theirs,” he cautions. “I simply am acknowledging the humanity of a person who has been taught to think a certain way, someone who thinks very differently than me.”
Is artificial intelligence actually intelligence? Not yet, says Kevin Frans. Earlier in his teen years (he’s now just 18) he joined the OpenAI lab to think about the fascinating problem of making AI that has true intelligence. Right now, he says, a lot of what we call intelligence is just trial-and-error on a massive scale — a machine can try every possible solution, even ones too absurd for a human to imagine, until it finds the thing that works best to solve a single discrete problem. Which really isn’t general intelligence. So Frans is conceptualizing instead a way to think about AI from a skills perspective — specifically, the ability to learn simple skills and assemble them to accomplish tasks. It’s early days for this approach, and for Kevin himself, who is part of the first generation to grow up as AI natives. Picking up on the thread of pitfalls of current AI, artist and technology critic James Bridle describes how automated copycats on YouTube mimic trusted videos by using algorithmic tricks to create “fake news” for kids. End result: children exploring YouTube videos from their favorite cartoon characters are sent down autoplaying rabbit holes, where they can find eerie, disturbing videos filled with very real violence and very real trauma. Algorithms are touted as the fix, but as Bridle says, machine learning is really just what we call software that does things we don’t understand … and we have enough of that already, no?
Chetna Gala Sinha tells us about a bank in India that meets the needs of rural poor women who want to save and borrow. (Photo: Jason Redmond / TED)
Listen and learn. Takemia MizLadi Smith spoke up for the front-desk staffer, the checkout clerk, and everyone who’s ever been told they need to start collecting information from customers, whether it be an email, zip code or data about their race and gender. Smith makes the case to empower every front desk employee who collects data — by telling them exactly how that data will be used. Chetna Gala Sinha, meanwhile, started a bank in India that meets the needs of rural poor women who want to save and borrow — and whom traditional banks would not touch. How does the bank improve their service? As Chetna says: simply by listening. Meanwhile, sex educator Emily Nagoski talked about a syndrome called emotional nonconcordance, where what your body seems to want runs counter to what you actually want. In an intimate situation, ahem, it can be hard to figure out which one to listen to, head or body. Nagoski gives us full permission and encouragement to listen to your head, and to the words coming out of the mouth of your partner. And Harvard Business School prof Frances Frei gave a crash course in trust — building it, keeping it, and the hardest, rebuilding it. She shares lessons from her stint as an embed at Uber, where far from listening to in meetings, staffers would actually text each other during meetings — about the meeting. True listening, the kind that builds trust, starts with putting away your phone.
Bionic man Hugh Herr envisions humanity soaring out of the 21st century. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)
A new way to heal our bodies … and build new ones. Optical engineer Mary Lou Jepsen shares an exciting new tool for reading what’s inside our bodies. It exploits the properties of red light, which behaves differently in different body materials. Our bones and flesh scatter red light (as she demonstrates on a piece of raw chicken breast), while our red blood absorbs it and doesn’t let it pass through. By measuring how light scatters, or doesn’t, inside our bodies, and using a technique called holography to study the resulting patterns as the light comes through the other side, Jepsen believe we can gain a new way to spot tumors and other anomalies, and eventually to create a smaller, more efficient replacement for the bulky MRI. MIT professor Hugh Herr is working on a different way to heal — and augment — our bodies. He’s working toward a goal that’s long been thought of as science fiction: for synthetic limbs to be integrated into the human nervous system. He calls it “NeuroEmbodied Design,” a methodology to create cyborg function where the lines between the natural and synthetic world are blurred. This future will provide humanity with new bodies and end disability, Herr says — and it’s already happening. He introduces us to Jim Ewing, a friend who lost a foot in a climbing accident. Using the Agonist-antagonist Myoneural Interface, or AAMI, a method Herr and his team developed at MIT to connect nerves to a prosthetic, Jim’s bones and muscles were integrated with a synthetic limb, re-establishing the neural connection between his ankle and foot muscles and his brain. What might be next? Maybe, the ability to fly.
Announcements! Back in 2014, space scientist Will Marshall introduced us to his company, Planet, and their proposed fleet of tiny satellites. The goal: to image the planet every day, showing us how Earth changes in near-real time. In 2018, that vision has come good: every day, a fleet of about 200 small satellites pictures every inch of the planet, taking 1.5 million 29-megapixel images every day (about 6T of data daily), gathering data on changes both natural and human-made. This week at TED, Marshall announced a consumer version of Planet, called Planet Stories, to let ordinary people play with these images. Start playing now here. Another announcement comes from futurist Ray Kurzweil: a new way to query the text inside books using something called semantic search — which is a search on ideas and concepts, rather than specific words. Called TalkToBooks, the beta-stage product uses an experimental AI to query a database of 120,000 books in about a half a second. (As Kurzweil jokes: “It takes me hours to read a hundred thousand books.”) Jump in and play with TalkToBooks here. Also announced today: “TED Talks India: Nayi Soch” — the wildly popular Hindi-language TV series, created in partnership with StarTV and hosted by Shah Rukh Khan — will be back for three more seasons.
But would it be a dream to sit on? Steelcase showed off its SILQ Chair at TED2018: The Age of Amazement, April 10 – 14, 2018, Vancouver. Photo: Jason Redmond / TEDs
It’s only fitting that the chair which serves as the focal point of the Steelcase exhibit space at TED2018 was inspired, in part, by a TED Talk. Back at TED2009, Steelcase VP of Global Design and Product Engineering James Ludwig saw athlete and Paralympian Aimee Mullins speak about her different prostheses (TED Talk: My 12 pairs of legs). He was especially intrigued by her carbon-fiber “cheetah feet” and how they could store and release energy. He wondered: Could this wondrously light yet stiff yet flexible material — revolutionizing airplane, car and bicycle manufacturing — be used in a desk chair?
Carbon fiber hadn’t been used in mainstream furniture, but Ludwig was also bent on following a vision he’d had the previous year. The standard high-tech office chair had become what he calls “an exquisite machine” — consisting of up to 250 parts — but he’d tired of these contraptions. “I didn’t want to feel like I was sitting on a mechanical bull,” says Ludwig (can we get an amen?). He wanted to make a chair that was far simpler, so he sketched one that sat on “four leaf-like tendrils.” He had no idea how he’d build it, but that’s the task of industrial designers: envisioning what doesn’t exist — and then making it happen.
Mullins’s feet lingered in his mind, and he thought back to his dream seating and realized he might have found a solution. His next step was to see if a chair could even been made from carbon fiber. The result, which took him and his team several years to design and execute, was the LessThanFive, named because it weighs less than five pounds.
The game was on. In the Steelcase Innovation Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Ludwig found a corner space, papered the windows, gathered a handful of colleagues, and set to realizing the chair that he’d seen only in his mind. Six months later, he had a prototype. It was everything he wanted — responsive and streamlined — except for its price: it would be prohibitively expensive to produce. “Carbon fiber is a handicraft; it needs to be finished by hand,” explains Ludwig.
He told his engineers that they needed to figure out how to do it more cheaply. After some grumbling and sighing, they returned to work and created what Ludwig evasively refers to as a “proprietary fiber and material composition” — in other words, a patent-pending substance that was made from a high-performance polymer. Upholstery, molding and operations teams were called in, and 18 months later, Ludwig’s creation was released in January 2018: the SILQ chair.
He had a lofty mission: “I wanted it to look like Isamu Noguchi had an aerospace degree.” And with its soft curves and sculptural lines, it kind of does. It also drastically reduced the number of parts: just 30. The special polymer replaced many of the springs and hinges that provide flex and support in the typical desk chair. And in a welcome development to anyone who’s hit the wrong switch and made their chair plummet ridiculously during a meeting, it has only one lever that raises and lowers the seat.
But how does it feel? Well, when I sat in the SILQ, it felt like it was made for someone my size. In some sort of industrial-design wizardry, the back cradled my lower back and my head in the right spots — it was the opposite experience of sitting in an airplane seat where I always feel like I’m wearing someone else’s shoes. “This is a once-in-a-decade chair,” pronounces Ludwig.”It’s intuitive and material-based.” Maybe so, but to me, it was something much more special: comfortable.
What does an illustrator’s life look like? Well, says Christoph Niemann, most of the time: this. He spoke at TED2018 on April 13, 2018, in Vancouver. Photo: Jason Redmond / TED
Sketches that speak volumes. When illustrator Christoph Niemann wakes up after falling asleep on an airplane, he says, “I have the most terrible taste in my mouth that cannot be described with words … But it can be drawn.” Then he shows a spot-on sketch of an outstretched tongue with a dead-fish-rat-hybrid creature on it. Trying to recap his intensely visual talk in words resembles his struggle, because this talk speaks largely through witty, whimsical drawings. Niemann believes all people are bilingual, “fluent in the language of reading images,” and most of our fluency comes organically. For example, while you might remember learning to read the words “men” and “women,” can you recall anyone explaining to you what the symbols on the doors of the bathroom meant? You just figured it out. People share a rich and common visual vocabulary, so Niemann likes to take “images from remote cultural areas and bring them together” — hence his putting the words “ceci n’est pas une pipe” in cursive above white iPhone earbuds. Using this collective lexicon, Niemann and other artists can communicate information, satirize people and ideas, express empathy, and make us laugh — all without words. In that way, he says, as deft as his drawings are, they’d be nothing without an audience. He says, “The real magic happens in the mind of the viewer.”
“Once your appliances can talk, who else will they talk to?” Gizmodo writers Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu survey the world of “smart devices” — the gadgets that “sit in the middle of our home with a microphone on, constantly listening,” and gathering data — to discover just what they’re up to. To do this, Kashmir turned her San Francisco apartment into a full-fledged smart home, loading up on 18 different internet-connected appliances — including a “smart bed” that calculated her nightly “sleep score” to let her know if she was well-rested or not. Her colleague Surya built a special router to figure out how often the devices connected, who they were transmitting to, what they were transmitting — and what of that data could be sold. The results were surprising — and a little creepy. By poring over Kashmir’s family’s data, Surya could decipher their sleep schedules, TV binges, tooth-brushing habits. And while many appliances connected only for updates, the Amazon Echo connected shockingly often — every three minutes. All of this data can tell companies how rich or poor you are, whether or not you’re an insurance risk, and — perhaps worst of all — the state of your sex life. (A digital vibrator company was caught “data-mining their customers’ orgasms.”) All this may lead you to ask, as Surya does, “Who is the true beneficiary of your smart home? You, or the company mining you?”
Embrace the diversity within. Rebeca Hwang has spent a lifetime juggling identities (Korean heritage, Argentinian upbringing, educated in the United States), and for a long time she had difficulty finding a place in the world to call home. Instead, one day, she had a pivotal realization: it was fruitless to search for total commonality with the people around her. Instead, she decided, she would embrace all the possible versions of herself — and the superpower it grants her to make connections with all kinds of people. Through thoughtful reinvention of her personhood, Hwang rid herself of constant anxiety, by “cultivating diversity within me and not just around me.” In the wake of her personal revolution, she’s continued to live a multifaceted life and accept the endless advantages it brings. She hopes to raise her children, who are already growing up with a unique combination of backgrounds, to help create a world where identities are used not to alienate others but to bring people together.
Life after loss. Jason Rosenthal’s journey of loss and grief began when his wife, Amy Krouse-Rosenthal (a best-selling children’s book author), wrote about their lives in a New York Times article read by millions of people. “You May Want to Marry My Husband” was a meditation on dying, disguised as a personal ad for her soon-to-be-solitary spouse. By writing their story, Amy made Jason’s grief public, and gave him an empty page on which he could inscribe the rest of his life. For Jason, “The key to my being able to persevere is Amy’s express and very public edict that I must go on.” But grief carries memories, especially of the process of dying itself. Amy chose home hospice, which gave her happiness — but Jason is honest about the complications it caused for the survivors, including the inevitable, indelible memory of when Jason carried a lifeless Amy “down our stairs, through our living and our dining room, to a waiting gurney to have her body cremated.” Jason’s salvation lay in Amy’s challenge to begin anew, which he shares with others who may be grieving: “I would like to offer you what I was given: a blank sheet of paper. What will you do with your intentional empty space, with your fresh start?”
An emotional reset. Many of us in the audience knew Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who had a key role in planning our TED Active conference; session co-host Juliet Blake asks for the house lights to dim for a moment to create some space for quiet reflection. Then the extraordinary violinist Lili Haydn steps onstage for a welcome musical interlude. Unaccompanied by a band, she performs an emotional and elegant piece of her original musical, called “The Last Serenade.”
Can we help every employee be GRACED? Over the years, poet and trainer Tamekia MizLadi Smith has met her share of Miz Margarets — the longtime front-desk employee at a medical office who knows her job perfectly well and doesn’t take kindly to change. So when new rules for data collection come down from the top, and that suddenly she needs to ask every patient to self-identify by gender (with 6 options!), by race (with even more options!) and nationality (with even more options still!!), it’s no wonder that Miz Margaret starts thinking about early retirement. But what if she knew that this data would be used to help her patients, not to stereotype them — to help the office speak more respectfully to people of all genders, to get research funding for under-served groups? Smith shares an acrostic poem on the letters G.R.A.C.E.D. that will inspire bosses, trainers and data collectors to think carefully about the front-line employees who’ll be asking for this data. Bottom line: Always let people know that (and how) their work matters.
A bank that helps women empower themselves. A few years after social entrepreneur Chetna Gala Sinha moved from Mumbai to a remote village in Maharashtra, India, she met a woman named Kantabai. She was a blacksmith who wanted to open a bank account to save her hard-earned money, but when Sinha accompanied her to the bank, she was turned down because they didn’t think her small savings rate was worth their effort or time. Sinha decided that if the bank wouldn’t open an account for poor women like Kantabai, she would start one that would – and the Mann Deshi Bank was born. Today, it has 100,000 accounts and has done over $20 million in business. Over the years, her women customers have consistently pushed Sinha to come up with better solutions to their needs, teaching her one of the biggest lessons she’s learned: “Never provide poor solutions to poor people.” She shares the stories of Kerabai, Sunita, and Sarita – other women like Kantabai who’ve inspired her over the years and profoundly influenced her work. “There are millions of women like Sarita, Kerabai, Sunita, who can be around you also, they can be all over the world, but at first glance, you may think that they do not have anything to say, they do not have anything to share. You would be so wrong,” she says. Encouraged by the women she works with, Sinha is now in the midst of creating the first fund for women micro entrepreneurs in India, and the first Small Finance Bank for women in the world.
Paging through the Chess Records catalog. “You can’t do Chuck Berry better than Chuck, or Fontella Bass better than Fontella,” says Elise LeGrow, but on her latest record, Playing Chess, the Canadian singer pays homage to these greats (and the American label Chess Records that produced them) with intimate, pared-down interpretations of their hits. On the TED stage, she and her band performed Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell,” “Over the Mountain,” first popularized by Johnnie and Joe, and a slinky cover of Fontella Bass’s sensational “Rescue Me.”
Truth comes from the collision of ideas. Legendary artistic director Oskar Eustis closes session 10 with a beautiful message about the place of theater in modern (and ancient) life. Theater and democracy were born together in Athens in the late sixth century BCE, when the idea that power should stem from the consent of the governed — from below to above, not the other way around — was reshaping the world. At the same time, people were exploring how the truth can best emerge from the conflict between two points of view. Through dialogue, empathy with characters and the experience of watching a performance together with others in the audience, the theater and democracy become parts of a whole. Fast-forward 2,500 years to when Joseph Papp founded The Public Theater. Papp wanted everyone in America to be able to experience theater — so he created free Shakespeare in the Park, based on the idea that the best art that we can produce should be available for everybody. Over the next decades, The Public brought art to the people with plays like The Normal Heart, Chorus Line and Angels in America, among many others. In 2005, when Eustis took over artistic direction, he took Shakespeare in the Park on the road, bringing theater to the people and making it about them. With Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda tapped into this idea of art for the people as well. “What Lin was doing is exactly what Shakespeare was doing — he was taking the language of the people, elevating it into verse and by doing so ennobling the language and ennobling the people who spoke the language.” But we need to go a step further on this form of inclusion, Eustis says, outlining his plan to reach (and listen to) people in places across the United States where the theater, like so many other institutions, has turned its back — like the de-industrialized Rust Belt. “Our job is to try to hold up a vision to America that shows not only who all of us are individually but that welds us back into the commonality that we need to be,” Eustis says.