Highlights from TED 2010: Day Two
Suspended animation, augmented reality, and what sheep’s knuckles have to do with the future of cultural problem-solving.
By Maria Popova
SESSION 1: REASON
Be skeptical. Ask questions. Get proof. Don’t take anything for granted. But when you get proof, accept it. We have a hard time doing that. ~ Michael Specter
Science tells us what we can value, but it never tells us what we ought to value. ~ Sam Harris
Pisani’s book, The Wisdom of Whores: Bureaucrats, Brothels and the Business of AIDS, sounds fascinating and eye-opening.
Nicholas Christakis, whose social contagion studies we tweeted some time ago, talked about
Christakis’ book, Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, is a sociology and digital anthropology must-read.
SESSION 5: PROVOCATION
Ex-CIA covert operations officer Valerie Plame Wilson shares Global Zero, her advocacy for eliminating nuclear weapons.
One thing our country needs is better political debates. We need to rediscover the lost art of political argument. ~ Michael Sandel
Kevin Bales reveals some shocking facts about modern-day slavery: Today, there are 27,000 people in real, physical slavery. He points to four main causes: Overpopulation, extreme poverty, vulnerability of disadvantaged groups, and corruption.
Kevin advocates “freedom dividend” — letting people out of slavery and letting them work for themselves, which causes local communities to flourish. He says the total cost of enduring freedom for those 27,000 contemporary slaves is $10.8 billion, which is how much the US spent shopping this past holiday season.
We stand wholeheartedly behind Chris Anderson’s recommendation for Bales’ chilling and fascinating book, Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy.
A TED first: Mark Jacobson and Stewart Brand (whose compelling new book, Whole Earth Discipline, we reviewed recently) entered a good old fashioned debate on the merits of nuclear power.
If all of the electricity in your lifetime came from nuclear, waste would fit in a Coke can. ~ Stewart Brand
To power the entire world with wind you will need only about 1% of US land area. ~ Mark Jacobson
SESSION 6: INVENTION
The Extraordinary Legion of Dancers, LXD, were extraordinary indeed.
Though without the impact of a live performance, you can see for yourself:
When I dance, I want people to question the reality of what they’re seeing. ~ Madd Chadd
Game designer Jane McGonigal delivered some staggering statistics on gaming: Since World of Warcraft launched, we’ve spent 5.33 million years solving it; to put this in time perspective, 5.33 million years ago, the first humans stood up.
In the game world, we become the best version of ourselves. ~Jane McGonigal
Today’s kids, McGonigal pointed out, spend some 10,000 hours gaming by the time they turn 21. At the same time, the average child with perfect attendance spends 10,800 hours in school by graduation — so there’s a parallel “education” going on. She advocates for using social games as something bigger than escapism from reality — a cultural advancement tool putting gamers’ problem-solving talents to work. She demoes World Without Oil, a collaborative social game made in 2007.
McGonigal premieres Urgent Evoke, a game developed in partnership with the World Bank. If you complete it, you get certified by the World Bank as “social innovator”.
In the developing world, 10-50% of vaccines spoil before delivery. Kids die. ~Nathan Myhrvold
Polymath Nathan Myhrvold delivers some known but still chilling statistics about malaria — it sickens 250 million people a year; every 43 seconds a child in Africa dies — and demonstrates a radical new way of fighting the disease: By laser-blasting infected mosquitoes.
SESSION 7: BREAKTHROUGH
Stephen Wolfram, creator of revolutionary semantic search engine Wolfram|Alpha, argues raw computation combined with built-in knowledge changes the economics of the web and democratizes programming. He talks about the principle of computational equivalence — the idea that even incredibly simple systems can do complex computation.
For the first time, Microsoft Labs’ revolutionary Pivot software is availble for the world to tinker with.
MacArthur genius fellow Mark Roth admits he didn’t know what TED was until Chris invited him to talk, but we quickly forgive him after hearing his incredible — literally — and surprisingly grounded sci-fiish work in “suspended animation,” a slowing life process and makes a living being appear dead without harming, then reanimates it. In layman’s terms, resurrection.
Published February 12, 2010