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À partir d’avant-hierTED Blog

You can now get customized TED Talk recommendations in your inbox

Par TED Staff

As the number of TED Talks on grows, we’ve created a new way to discover talks you’ll love: Tell us your favorite topics and areas of interest, and we’ll send you a customized email brimming with talks worth your personal attention.

Here’s how it works: Visit and tell us the topics that fascinate you most, as well as your personal goals in watching TED Talks. In other words: What do you want to get out of your time online? After you’ve answered these two quick questions, you’ll be asked to sign up for TED, or log in with your existing TED account. In less than a minute, you’ll get a personalized recommendation.

At the TED Recommends sign-in page, you can decide what kind of talks you’d most like to watch. Ask yourself: What do you hope to learn from watching a talk?

We’ll take that input and combine it with your watch history to serve up jaw-dropping, a-ha-moment-inducing, worldview-altering talks—picked just for you. The more you watch, the better the recommendations will get.

And you won’t just be taking our word for it. The recommended talks are selected by members of our community who share your passions and have strong opinions about what you need to see right now. You’ll hear from these community members in your personal email and learn why they served up what they did.



Electric and empowered: Monica Araya on Costa Rica’s clean energy future

Par Yasmin Belkhyr


Monica Araya made a big prediction on the TED stage in 2016: Costa Rica, her home country, will be the first nation in the world to pursue 100% renewable energy. Fast forward to 2018, and they’re on their way. Costa Rica already generates over 99% of their electricity through renewable energy, and went 300 days on clean energy in 2017. And in May, in a visionary next step, new president Carlos Alvarado announced at his inauguration that Costa Rica would phase out the use of fossil fuels in transportation, calling it a “generational imperative.” We talked to Monica, the director of Costa Rica Limpia (Clean Costa Rica), about what lies ahead.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Can you tell us about the clean energy movement in Costa Rica? What are the core objectives and how is Costa Rica positioned to lead the way?

I went on the TED stage [to share] a vision of a small country thinking big. We should completely get rid of fossil fuels. Why not? The country already runs on renewable energy, which is not the case for the world — it’s not the case for Europe, the US, India or China. We’ve already broken free from fossil fuels for power and electricity generation. We’ve done the work with civil society from the ground up, but we needed it to become a vision for the country. Costa Rica is a young nation that’s going to turn 200 in 2021. 200 years ago, we broke free from Spain and we became a free nation — and that matches perfectly with this timing. We’re now ready to say, “We are going to free ourselves from fossil fuels.”

“This is the new Costa Rica, and in that new Costa Rica, we know that the future is renewable and electric.”

We have all the conditions — we have clean electricity, we have a young president who wants to do right, and we have technology on our side. Renewable energy has become a part of the country’s identity. People feel proud: they believe it’s a Costa Rican thing to go green. If you look at the citizen consultations we’ve done with Costa Rica Limpia, people disagree on many things but they agree on this. The president knows that he can set a precedent at a time when the world is trying to figure out how to transition to electric mobility. We have to show that it’s doable and beneficial, that it works technologically; I think that’s the value of a small country doing it first.

What are the challenges that Costa Rica will face in transitioning to 100% clean energy? I’m particularly interested in transportation, and moving from gasoline to electric energy — what are the challenges of that?

In practice, there are five things we have to do. We managed to pass the first electric zero-emissions law in Latin America. That came out of a coalition led by congresswoman Marcela Guerrero Campos. We created that coalition and it led to a law — Argentina and Columbia are going to try to do the same — and now, the law needs to be implemented. It calls for electrification of at least 10 percent of all the transportation owned by the state, and gives financial incentives for five years for electrification. This law is the first step — and it was hard — but we won it. It was a big day. I had some tears in my eyes when we passed it.

Second, on June 5th, on World Environment Day, we launched an initiative to electrify buses. That’s going to take some time because that’s a sector that is resistant to change — in Costa Rica, the buses belong to companies and they run for concessions every seven years. We have to make sure when they apply for concessions for the next seven-year cycle, the mandate for the buses are embedded in this requirement. In the meantime, we’re going to start testing three bus lines. Public transportation is very important in Latin America and in Costa Rica. Latin America has the highest number of people in the world using public transit. So the electrification of buses is a very important step.


Monica Araya: “By 2022, electric cars and conventional cars are expected to cost the same, and cities are already trying electric buses…if we want to get rid of oil-based transportation, we can, because we have options now that we didn’t have before.” Photo: Bret Hartman / TED

The next element that is very important is the First Lady’s Office. The first lady is amazing — she’s an architect, and she’s totally into decarbonization. Her office is focusing on urban issues, and public transit is a big part of that. Her priority is to lead the process towards the urban electric train. The train is very important to this administration — it’s a symbol of modernization. For Costa Ricans, the train is something that was wanted for a long time and was blocked by bus companies. The First Lady has taken this on; by the end of the four years, we should have started the first electric train.

I think there’s a new generation around the world — it doesn’t matter if it’s Costa Rica, or Columbia, or the Philippines  — that aspire to have bikes and safe bike paths. It’s about democratizing the street and making sure the streets don’t belong to private cars. The President of our Congress, Carolina Hidalgo Herrera, goes to work on a bike — she rode her bike to the inauguration in high heels. That’s another route to decarbonization; the bike path is a symbol of good planning, and that is where we have failed in the past. In emerging economies, it’s common to just let cars rule. The electric bus was used to transport all of the ministers to the transportation and it was important for the people to see a zero-emission bus arriving to the inauguration. There’s a lot of backcasting — looking to the ideal future and working backwards from there to see what we need to do. It’s about having a direction of travel.

The President and Minister put a draft law in Congress that makes it impossible for Costa Rica to do any drilling and any exploitation of fossil fuels. We already have a moratorium on oil exploration and exploitation from around 15 years ago that has been sustained by five different governments from three different parties; it cannot be removed. This new government wants to make sure it is the law. It’s a way of saying that they’re serious about fossil fuels not being the future for us. In the early 2000s, there was lobbying by a company in Texas who wanted to do oil exploration in Costa Rica, and there was a lot of pressure on us. The Minister of Energy and Environment at the time said, “No way, this is not going to happen,” — and I know this because I asked him — he said, “Look, I don’t know what will happen, but I can assure you that as long as I’m the minister, they will have to go over my dead body.” That was very reassuring for me to hear as a young advocate.

“There’s a long tradition of environmental protection in Costa Rica.”

Here’s what’s interesting: the Minister of Energy and Environment at that time, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, is the minister again. It’s reassuring to have a confident and experienced minister because it means we’re going to think big. We organized a free citizen encounter with him a few weeks after he was appointed — we brought him to a museum and sat him in front of citizens. The two of us were on the stage — two chairs, nothing fancy — and I asked him questions and he answered. We also used Facebook Live so people could listen from home. And he says he wants to do these kinds of citizen encounters every six months.

That’s great — connecting the citizens to what can be a more abstract concern is important. Environmental changes can be very macro so bringing it to the citizens in an accessible place of understanding and engagement is necessary.

It’s very important to have symbols. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to get rid of plastics or protect the ocean — you have to know what your symbols are. We came up with a logo of a contour of Costa Rica’s map that connects through a plug, meaning that there’s clean electricity that connects us as Costa Ricans, as a country.


Photo: Costa Rica Limpia

We created the Costa Rican Association for Electric Mobility as a separate entity that represents users of electric mobility — electric buses, motorbikes, cars, etcetera. It’s helped as we talk to young people, mothers, grandmothers — people who don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the climate. It’s easy to feel small and scared, and feel like it all depends on what China or Trump does. That’s a dangerous framing of the problem because it’s so easy to do nothing and have a “why bother?” mentality. And when advocates and governments have that kind of framing, you lose the citizens, the people. So we had to think about the symbols of success. What is the symbol of success if we decarbonize? I’m obsessed with exhaust pipes and the fumes that come out of cars — they’re a symbol of the last century that we really need to get rid of.

“The day we are a country without exhaust pipes — the buses won’t have them, the cars won’t have them — then we have succeeded in our mission to decarbonize the country. Hopefully, the world will get there someday; Costa Rica will need to get there as soon as possible to show that it’s possible.“

The plug has become an important symbol for us. We show a very modern-looking plug and say — look, you have electricity at home to toast your bread, charge your phone, make your coffee. Everything you do is electric. Why on earth would you want an old technology that burns, that’s liquid, that’s not even Costa Rican? It costs a lot to bring it in, it causes climate change, and when you put it in your car, you have to burn it, then it comes out of an exhaust pipe and pollutes the air. People are really intrigued by the idea that everything they use is already electric other than their cars.

This technology will allow us to meet the Paris Agreement targets, and that’s important — we don’t walk around the Paris Agreement targets like other countries do. We won’t have a global impact on emissions or average temperature, because we’re too small. It’s easy to be cynical: people will say, “What’s the point? Whatever you’re reducing in Costa Rica won’t make a difference.” But we’re the ones who benefit the most. You have to win this on the basis of the benefits for the people and avoid the argument that you do it for the 2-degree temperature change — that framing won’t work for a family in Costa Rica.

It’s important to communicate that the situation is tough but it’s also important to pivot to resilience and to ideas of what is possible for us to protect ourselves. The TED Talk let us use a storytelling format — you can share it on Facebook, watch it on a phone. The TED Talk expanded the imagination of the people who listened to it. Even bigger countries like India have told me, “Maybe India can’t move forward the same way that Costa Rica can, but that doesn’t mean that a city in India the size of Costa Rica cannot think big and move faster to clean energy.” That was a very empowering idea. There’s something about smaller locations that’s great because we can move forward and just wait for the rest of the country to get there. In my country, if you want to get people excited, you have to say that this will make us a country that could inspire others.

We matter because of our ideas, not our size. Being small doesn’t mean thinking small.”

Can you tell us about your work with Costa Rica Limpia? How do you involve and center citizens in your approach? ​

Costa Rica Limpia (Clean Costa Rica) is centered on engaging citizens and consumers in the transition to a fossil free society. We educate, inspire and empower citizens by translating technical issues such as decarbonization, Paris targets and NDCs into layman’s language. We are very focused on zero emissions mobility because being carbon free in Costa Rica means using electricity instead of oil for transportation. We design education materials like infographics and videos that respond to common questions and myths. We also conduct citizen consultations on climate change and renewables, based on a Danish Board of Technology methodology. We pioneered the concept of Electric Mobility Citizen Festivals (we organized two in 2017 and 2018) because it is critical to get people to experience these new technologies.


Congresswoman Marcela Guerrero and Monica Araya attend an Electric Mobility Citizen Festival with their mothers. Photo: Monica Araya

In your talk, you mention that Costa Rica disbanded its army in 1948 and has been able to redirect those funds to programs that develop social progression and growth. In a world that, in a lot of respects, seems unwilling and unable to change, how has Costa Rica been able to cultivate a culture of forward-thinking innovation?

This would not be possible if we didn’t have a social contract that takes care of people’s needs by giving them free health care and free education. We do this work because it makes life better for people who are taking public transit. There’s something about the social guarantee in the ’40s before the abolition of the army that was important. It allowed people to have a safety net, and when you do that, you build a more resilient society. Social progress was able to develop in Costa Rica partially because we have the infrastructure for it. When you go to other places in Latin America, there is a very small group of people who have nearly everything, and you have a very large population that is very poor; we have been very fortunate in Costa Rica to be able to negotiate with those stakeholders.

If there’s something I’ve learned about Costa Rica, it’s that we’ve succeeded because we have a strong middle ground in politics. The new president, Carlos Alvarado, as a political scientist, is trying to practice this lesson from Costa Rica’s history. This is an environmental story, yes, but it’s also about balance. You have to do the environmental work but you can do it better when you have invested in the people’s social progress and have turned it into a good business opportunity. Costa Rica has a larger group of people making money off ecotourism now than in the ‘80s. This bet on natural capital has paid off — when you look at the materials and marketing of Costa Rica in the world, it emphasizes that we have a social safety net. It’s a balancing act between social, environment and economic concerns that we need to get right. It’s worked in the past, and if we want to make sure it works now with fossil-free Costa Rica, we will have to be able to bring on board the private sector but also be very socially oriented. We have to make sure that the people who have the least benefit the most.

What are some other ways Costa Rica is working to protect the environment?

There’s a big movement in Costa Rica to do more about the oceans and our plastic consumption as well. There is a protected area that was launched last year in the south of Costa Rica — it continues with our tradition to resist the exploitation of our natural capital for fossil fuels. The conservation agenda today is not just the land — it’s the oceans too. The relationship between the oceans and the fossil fuel agenda is extremely close because the drilling often happens offshore. If we keep protecting areas around the world, it’ll hopefully create an awareness that the gasoline you put in your car comes from somewhere. The same thing with plastics — there’s a cultural shift and awareness about our unsustainable plastic use. When you link it to oil, it’s really interesting: it comes from oil, from petroleum and natural gas. We continue to work in different bubbles — I’m in the fossil fuel and energy transportation bubbles, but other people are in the ocean bubbles and plastic bubbles. What links us is that we all advocate that we fundamentally have to change our relationship to fossil fuels.

Are you going to play a role in the energy transition? What are your next steps?

I’m going to help with the decarbonization pathways — that takes time, and it takes not just technical work but also consultation with key stakeholders. There’s methodologies with this but the Minister doesn’t want to end up with something too theoretical but rather, is grounded in our political reality. I’ll be helping with that. We need to find as many partners as possible — in Costa Rica, obviously — but also outside. My role is to tell the story as best as I can so that we can attract anyone around the world with brilliant ideas. We want to be the testing ground for a fossil-free society. In Costa Rica Limpia, I see the electrification of buses as a very strategic action plan. This is something that is going to transform life in a very tangible way. The buses are beautiful, quiet, and they don’t pollute. Imagine a single mom with two kids who will be commuting on that bus — her life will be transformed for the better.








What does TED look for in its Fellows?

Par TED Staff

Every year, TED opens applications for its new group of TED Fellows. We get thousands of applications from all corners of the world, representing every field under the sun — marine mammal conservation, biomechatronics, Khmer dance, space archeology. How do we select just 20 people to become TED Fellows?

It’s not an easy process. (Technically, our acceptance rate is lower than Harvard’s.) But we love reading your applications and hearing about your latest medical breakthroughs, ambitious art projects and incredible explorations in outer space and under the sea. We also love seeing the diversity of the people doing this groundbreaking work.

What exactly makes for a good application? Here are five traits that we look for in a TED Fellow.  

A track record of achievement. In order to be selected, you have to have done something in the world. What does that “something” look like? It depends. Maybe you’ve started a company or invented a new product. Maybe you’ve made a groundbreaking film or discovered a new galaxy. Whatever you’re doing, you should be deep in your craft, building something big.

Individuals on the cusp of a big break. Beyond a track record, we are looking for people who are ready to make a giant leap forward, and could benefit from support. Fellows are often in the early part of their careers, but we also know that big breaks can happen at any age. Fellows’ projects should have real potential for impact, and they should realistically be scalable in the next three to five years. What that scale looks like depends on the project, but we select Fellows whose ambitions are big and often global.

Originality and authenticity. An original “idea worth spreading” is the key to a successful Fellows applicant. Maybe you’re working to make a current system more efficient or equitable. Or maybe you’re working across fields, challenging the underlying assumptions of our current systems and creating brand-new ones. In fact, we’ve chosen Fellows whose work is just getting off the ground — but whose vision of the future is so imaginative and convincing that we know TED’s network can help them realize that future.   

Kind, collaborative character. The TED Fellows program now encompasses more than 450 Fellows in more than 90 countries. We’re looking for people who want to engage deeply in this amazing network — build companies together, start nonprofits, share research. Often, TED Fellows are engaging deeply with the communities around them, perhaps in the places where they were born or raised. In our experience, some of the best and most overlooked ideas for our contemporary global challenges come from those whose lives depend on the solutions.  

The truth is, we don’t always know what we’re looking for. Often, Fellows totally surprise and challenge us with brand-new ways of thinking about the world. There really is no secret formula to becoming a TED Fellow, but we know it when we see it. If you’re unsure about applying, do it anyway.

Does this sound like you or someone you know? Our application is now open. Dream bigger and apply by August 26, 2018.



Ideas sparked by “What if?”: The talks of TED@UPS 2018

Par Brian Greene

Juan Perez, UPS’s chief information and engineering officer, opens TED@UPS with a question: “What if?” (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

The greatest ideas of our time will be sparked by a simple question: “What if?”

What if we had truly inclusive workplaces? What if we removed the inefficiencies that stand in the way of eliminating world hunger? What if we could deliver quality health care in the home? What if we took back our privacy online? At this year’s TED@UPS — held on July 19, 2018, at SCADShow in Atlanta — TED and UPS partnered for the fourth year in a row to bring remarkable UPSers to the stage to explore these questions and more. In a time of uncertainty, global evolution and rapid innovation, their ideas on how to solve our most intractable problems have never been more important to hear.

After opening remarks from Juan Perez, UPS’s Chief Information and Engineering Officer, the talks in Session 1 …

“The lessons we learn about diversity at work actually transform the things we do, think and say outside of work​​,” says Janet Marie Stovall. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Getting single-minded about racially diverse workplaces. Inclusion crusader Janet Marie Stovall asks us to imagine a place where people​ ​of​ ​all colors and all races​ ​ar​e ​on​ ​and​ ​climbing every rung of the corporate ​​ladder — where they “feel safe and indeed expected to bring their unassimilated, authentic selves to work every day, because the difference that they bring is both recognized and respected.” How do we get there? According to Stovall, companies must​ ​create an action plan that has three key components. The first is “real problems.” By 2045, the US population is projected to be predominantly non-white, and businesses that don’t mirror that diversity in their workforce and customer base are set up to fail. The second: “real numbers.” Businesses need to set specific diversity goals and commit to them, Stovall says. And if they don’t reach those numbers, there must be “real consequence” — Stovall’s third attribute. We spend one-third of our lives at our jobs, and if we can do so in inclusive, diverse environments, these benefits will be felt society-wide. “The lessons we learn about diversity at work actually transform the things we do, think and say outside of work​​,” Stovall says.

What we can learn from Marines and machines. Before he entered the business world, Drew Humphreys was a platoon commander with the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines in Afghanistan — in charge of 36 Marines fighting the Taliban and maintaining a vital supply route through Helmand Province. After commanding every convoy himself for months, Humphreys’ mission changed when the Marine Corps started pulling troops and equipment out of Afghanistan, forcing him to divide his platoon and give over some control to other commanders. The result: an unlocking of human potential. Humphreys defined success but allowed the Marines in his command to find their own solutions to the obstacles they encountered. But it’s not just the military moving toward this kind of decentralized leadership model — the same thing is happening in business, spurred on by innovations in machine learning. Humphreys outlines three lessons we can learn from this ongoing trend. First, emphasize purpose over process. “When you micromanage, you limit what’s possible,” Humphreys says. Next, encourage early and lifelong learning — the ultimate competitive advantage. And finally: have a bias for action. “Get comfortable with the decision that’s probably right instead of waiting for the elusive perfect answer,” Humphreys says.

New thoughts on gun safety. The slogan “Make America great again” reminds gun safety advocate David Farrell that gun violence wasn’t always rampant in the US. Forty years ago, mass shootings were a rarity in America. But in the 1970s, crime spiked, and the media went wild. By the ’80s, the NRA no longer touted guns solely as a tool for recreation — they were a means of countering fear. And when a gun becomes a tool to address our own fears, “it’s not hard to believe that somebody who’s troubled, angry or disenfranchised would then use a gun to solve their problems. And if you’re mentally disturbed, we’ve now made guns a rational decision,” Farrell says. He believes that fear should not be the reason people purchase guns. Responsible gun owners must insist that the NRA refocus on gun safety, and recognize that gun control does not equal infringing on gun rights. If we can stop being so afraid, we can “make America safe again,” Farrell says.

One of the oldest sounds in Chinese history. With a musical interlude, Yue Xiu Lim from UPS Singapore delights the audience with the riveting, delicate and harmonious sounds of the Chinese guzheng, a harp-like instrument that dates back to ancient times. She played two songs: “White,” a calming tune reminiscent of lullabies, and a twist on Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” with accompanist Joey Yeung.

Aparna Mehta reveals the unseen world of “free” online returns, which often end up in landfills instead of back on the shelf. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Are free online returns really free? Every year, four billion pounds of returned clothing ends up in the landfill — the equivalent of every resident in the US doing a load of laundry and then throwing it straight in the trash. Why? Because sometimes it’s cheaper for a company to throw a returned item away than to make the effort of relabeling it and returning it to the shelf. Recovering shopaholic and retail consultant Aparna Mehta has the ideal vantage point to assess the scope of our online return addiction — and an ideal platform to do something about the waste it creates. Obviously, shoppers could take the extra time to decide what they truly need and purchase accordingly, but this is only a first step. Aparna has an idea to go a step further: “green-turns” instead of “returns.” “What if, when a person is trying to return something, it could go to the next shopper who wants it, and not the retailer?” Each unwanted item could be assessed electronically for condition, matched with someone who wants it and redirected accordingly. With the proper incentives built into the system to get shoppers to use it, “green-turns” could revolutionize the way we buy — and return — clothes online, Mehta says.

Simple, logistical steps we can take to eradicate world hunger. During a work trip to Uganda in 2016, food advocate Dan Canale was shocked to see how small inefficiencies caused serious delays to food shipments to refugee camps. For example, the lack of a forklift at one humanitarian organization’s warehouse meant it took three hours of manual labor to load a single truck. As a result of inefficiencies like these across food delivery systems, Canale estimates that nearly a third of the food produced globally ends up lost or wasted. That’s why he’s working to find solutions to shipping and delivery problems — offering action-based steps like diversifying the number of ports able to receive food and ensuring that food closest to expiration is shipped first. He encourages us to imagine: What if we used our most cutting-edge technology, like drones and military-grade aquatic vehicles, to deliver food to the hungry? By approaching these questions with innovation and zeal, Canale says, we can solve world hunger for good.

Global citizen Wanis Kabbaj shares some lessons for nationalists and globalists alike. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Moving beyond binary thinking. Why do we have to choose between nationalism and globalism, between loving our countries and caring for the world? Wanis Kabbaj has been grappling with this question for years — having lived in four continents, the debate between nationalism and globalism isn’t new to him. But the recent worldwide surge in nationalist fervor got him thinking: What if, instead of making a choice between the two, we took it on ourselves to challenge this binary thinking? He provides some interesting insights for nationalists and globalists. For those opposed to nationalism, he offers research showing how national satisfaction is more predictive of overall happiness than job satisfaction or household income. And for those who see globalism as evil, he provides compelling examples of how even national treasures like the Eiffel Tower, cricket or Italian home cooking are actually products of cross-cultural interaction.

Two poems on discovering and celebrating love. To close out session 1, poet Muslim Sahib performs two lyrical, humorous poems for the close-listening crowd. In his first piece, “The Coming Out Beauty,” Sahib weaves together religion, queerness, family and beauty, guiding the audience through his journey to self-love and encouraging them to recognize the beauty within themselves. In his second poem, “419 square feet,” he shares the bittersweet practice of finding love and building a home in what can be a restrictive world.

Musician and UPS package car driver John Bidden rocks the UPS stage with a performance of “Not About Me.” (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

To open Session 2, singer-songwriter and UPS package car driver John Bidden returns to the TED@UPS stage, performing an electrifying, reggae-tinged rendition of “Not About Me.”

Anti-trafficking champion Nikki Clifton outlines three ways businesses can fight sex trafficking. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Businesses can help end sex trafficking. ​Pe​ople may think there’s little overlap between the buttoned-up world of business and the criminal underworld of sex trafficking. But according to one ​survey​, ​most johns — people who purchase sex — are employed, and ​web-based sex-buying ​tends to ​spike around 2pm. “These johns are likely buying sex in the middle of the workday,” says anti-trafficking champion Nikki Clifton.​ Businesses have a huge opportunity to reach the johns in their workplaces​ and to mobilize their employees and resources to fight against trafficking​, Clifton suggests. She outlines a three-point plan​, starting with the idea that businesses should state in their official employee handbook that sex buying at work, on company travel or with company resources is prohibited (and, of course, enforce this​ policy). Second, all employees ​should be​ trained to spot the signs of sex trafficking. For example, Clifton says, UPS teamed up with a group called Truckers Against Trafficking to educate its drivers about what to look for and who they can call for help. Third, businesses ​can​ figure out how they can use their​ special​ capabilities to combat sex trafficking. Clifton points to Visa, MasterCard and American Express — they joined forces and refused to process transactions from, an online sex-trafficking hub, which helped shut it down. “There are thousands of things that businesses can do; they just have to decide what to do to join the fight,” Clifton says.

Small business success: it takes a village. Nearly half of all US small businesses fail within their first five years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — a figure that got small business strategist Ruchi Shah wondering: Is there a new model for entrepreneurial success? After shutting the doors of her own startup, Shah looked for answers from one group of consistently successful entrepreneurs: Guatemalan small business owners. Why? Because Guatemala and other developing countries use a microfinance approach called “village banking,” in which local entrepreneurs join together to get the loans and support they need to run their businesses. (The village banking concept was pioneered by social entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for the idea in 2006.) Shah traveled to South America to study why village banks work, discovering three primary reasons: they give entrepreneurs a built-in team of advisors upfront; they adjust to customer needs; and they have a relentless focus on managing cash flow. Shah believes the idea of entrepreneurs having a vested interest in each other’s success can help build a strong foundation for any business, helping them weather the tough times with a diverse network of support. “Ultimately, it’s going to take more than our country’s determined entrepreneurs to improve our startup failure rates,” Shah says. “From what I have learned, it takes a village.”

Healthcare delivered at home. It’s time to fix our broken and obsolete hospital system, says healthcare futurist Niels van Namen. Beyond their general unpleasantness, hospitals present many logistical challenges: patients often have to travel long distances to reach them, especially for people living in remote areas, and many people avoid hospitals due to the costs, causing them to miss out on proper treatment altogether. For those who do get treatment, hospitals often make them sicker thanks to antibiotic-resistant bacteria that flourish in hospitals. “We have the opportunity to revolutionize the system,” van Namen says. “It is time to create a system that revolves around health care at home.” With recent innovations in medical technology (such as the at-home blood test), “homecare” presents a cheaper and more accessible alternative to hospital stays. In this setup, patients would receive treatment from the comfort of their homes and in the proximity of their families, while hospitals would become small, agile and mobile care centers focused on acute care. Homecare could also be a boon to rural areas, enabling a kind of sharing economy that matches people in need of care with someone who can provide a nearby home for treatment. “I am passionate to make the change and help ensure that patients, and not their diseases, are in control of their lives,” van Namen says.

Robin Hooker asks: What new ideas could budding creatives bring to life if there was a makerspace in every town? (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

A makerspace in every town. While his friends were outside playing football, young Robin Hooker was in the garage with his dad, an Air Force mechanic, fusing iron with an oxyacetylene welder (and dodging the shoe-melting molten debris that would occasionally fly free). Hooker wasn’t just gaining a feel for design and learning his way around a workshop — he was learning that the world could be mashed-up, modded, repaired, reclaimed. Now he believes “we can transform the world by giving more people access to spaces like my dad’s garage” — what artisans now call “makerspaces.” Makerspaces are shared workshops that allow budding builders and designers to access the tools they need to create things — tools that otherwise would be prohibitively expensive. Perhaps more important, makerspaces offer inventors, hobbyists and tinkerers of diverse cultures, generations, genders and professions a chance to inspire each other to invent world-changing stuff. “What if entrepreneurs brought a makerspace to every town?” Hooker asks. “What new ideas could budding creatives bring to life?”

How to take back our online privacy. If someone broke into your house, chances are you’d take precautions to prevent it from happening again: new locks, a security alarm, increased insurance. Yet year after year, as massive data breaches sweep the internet, most of us have failed to safeguard our digital information. “We make the trade of online privacy for convenience,” says data privacy enthusiast Derek L. Banta. He’s working on a new way to protect people’s privacy called “anonymous commerce,” or “a-commerce.” Instead of giving your personal information to every website you visit, with a-commerce you’d give your information to a single, trusted third party. That third party would then secure your information and give you a personalized code to use when shopping online, serving as a kind of intermediary “avatar” between you and the brand. And what if the third party got hacked? The return on the hack would be less enticing, as hackers would only get access to one avatar at a time, instead of thousands of transactions. “In an a-commerce world, privacy is the business model,” Banta says. “We have an opportunity to hit the reset button on how we do business online. We can effectively disown the unintended consequences of being pioneers in the digital age.”

The dark side of disaster donations — and what you can do about it. In the aftermath of disaster, the world often responds with generosity and love, shipping thousands of boxes of resources to cities and countries healing from calamity. But what we’re not considering, says disaster relief expert Dale Herzog, is the logistical nightmare of receiving all of these donations. According to Herzog, the vast majority of disaster donations are destroyed — for example, a whopping 60 percent of donations sent to Haiti and Japan after natural disasters in 2010 and 2011 were thrown away. Herzog urges us to reconsider how we respond to disaster relief, suggesting that we replace that box of old clothes with a cash donation, and send an email or Tweet of support rather than mail a handwritten card. Instead of bogging relief organizations down with more stuff, we can donate in ways that help survivors recover and rebuild, Herzog says.

A silent national pandemic. In 2009, 11,341 untested rape kits — some dating back to the 1980s — were found in an abandoned warehouse where the Detroit police once stored evidence. When this scandal was uncovered, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy set a plan into action to get justice for the thousands of people affected, but she needed help to deal with the massive logistical challenges. In an eye-opening talk, Worthy explains how UPS supported her office and created a protocol to have these kits tracked and tested. As of June 2018, their partnership has led to more than 10,000 rape kits being tested, 2,600 identified suspects and historic state-wide laws being passed. But there is still a lot of work to be done — with more than 400,000 kits nationally that have yet to be tested and a rape culture that needs be fixed. The solution, says Worthy, will take inspired multi-industry collaboration.

Special thanks to the artists and filmmakers who contributed their work to TED@UPS.

Andrew Norton, Where Do Ideas Come From?

Fredrik Kasperi, Take On An Idea

Great Big Story, Laugh the Pain Away (Srsly)

Mainframe (North), For Approval

Issimo, Think A New Thought

TED@UPS - July 19, 2018 at SCADshow, Atlanta, Georgia


Why TED takes two weeks off every summer

Par Emily McManus is about to go quiet for two weeks. No new TED Talks will be posted on the website until Monday, August 13, 2018, while most of the TED staff takes our annual two-week summer holiday.

Yes, we all, or almost all, go on holiday at the same time. (No, we don’t all go to the same place.)

We’ve been doing it this way now for almost a decade. Our summer break is a little lifehack that solves the problem of a digital media and events company in perpetual-startup mode, where something new is always going on and everyone has raging FOMO. We avoid the fear of missing out on emails and new projects and blah blah blah … by making sure that nothing is going on.

I love how the inventor of this holiday, TED’s founding head of media June Cohen, once explained it: “When you have a team of passionate, dedicated overachievers, you don’t need to push them to work harder, you need to help them rest. By taking the same two weeks off, it makes sure everyone takes vacation,” she said. “Planning a vacation is hard — most of us still feel a little guilty to take two weeks off, and we’d be likely to cancel when something inevitably comes up. This creates an enforced rest period, which is so important for productivity and happiness.”

Bonus: “It’s efficient,” she said. “In most companies, people stagger their vacations through the summer. But this means you can never quite get things done all summer long. You never have all the right people in the room.” Instead, for two weeks — almost no one is.

So, as the bartender said: You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. We won’t post new TED Talks on the website for the next two weeks. (Though we’ll keep serving up great recommendations for talks you already love or might have missed across all our platforms.) The office is more than three-quarters empty. And we stay off email. The whole point is that vacation time should be truly restful, and we should be able to recharge without having to worry about what we’re missing back at the office.

See you on Monday, August 13!

Note: This piece was first posted on July 17, 2014. It was updated on July 27, 2015, again on July 20, 2016, and again on June 23, 2017, and yet again on July 27, 2018.




3 reasons why women are still fighting for equal healthcare

Par Pat Mitchell

“A common theme here is that the data exists, but it has been ignored or beaten back,” says science journalist Linda Villarosa. At the Aspen Ideas Festival, TEDWomen co-host Pat Mitchell (at right) led a conversation about challenges around getting fair and equitable health care for women. The panel included, from left, journalist Villarosa, Dr. Deborah Rhodes of the Mayo Clinic and Dr. Paula Johnson, president of Wellesley College.

TEDWomen co-host Pat Mitchell writes: Once again this summer, I had the privilege of moderating sessions during the Spotlight Health Aspen Institute Ideas Festival. There were some surprises in a session titled “Breakthroughs and Challenges in Women’s Health” with importance for all women, and I want to share some of that information with you.

With two esteemed physicians — Dr. Deborah Rhodes of the Mayo Clinic and Dr. Paula Johnson, who was chief of women’s health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard University and is now the president of Wellesley College — as well as science journalist Linda Villarosa, we began our conversation with the important reminder that improving health care depends in large part on research.

We don’t know what we don’t look for

Despite legislation passed over 20 years ago, women, and especially women of color, are still being left out of clinical trials, and the health outcomes for women, and especially women of color, reflect this disparity.

Dr. Paula Johnson talked about the disparity between the resources for research on men’s diseases and those specific to women in her 2014 TEDWomen talk — and if you haven’t seen it, I highly encourage you to watch it.

Dr. Johnson explained that every cell in the human body has a sex, which means that men and women are different right down to the cellular level! As a result, there are often significant differences in the ways in which men and women respond to disease or treatment. It’s very important in research trials to differentiate between female and male subjects so we can tease out the differences.

Although we have made progress since the 1990s with more women included in late-phase trials, we’re still not there in phases 1 and 2. This is important, she says, because how do we get to phase 3? Phases 1 and 2. In these early stages of research, female cells and female animals still aren’t being used. Why? She says one commonly cited reason is that female animals have an estrous cycle. Well, guess what, she says, so do we. What are we missing by not including female cells earlier in the research process?

The power and persistence of the status quo

One of the barriers to progress that perhaps we don’t think about as much is the problem with well-entrenched power paradigms, profit motives and institutional priorities. What happens when a doctor sees a need and solves it but the status quo is preferred over progress?

Dr. Deborah Rhodes — whose talk above from TEDWomen 2010 is a must — spoke about the challenges to her attempts to introduce a new diagnostic protocol for women with dense breasts. Dr. Rhodes (who in spirit of full disclosure is my personal physician at the Mayo Clinic) has observed in her practice that about 50% of women were potentially missing a cancer diagnosis because traditional mammograms fail in detecting breast cancer in women with dense breasts. Mammograms depend on visually seeing cancer cells, and in dense breasts this is more difficult because of the surrounding dense tissue.

As Dr. Rhodes says, in looking at entrenched paradigms in medicine, there is perhaps nothing more entrenched than the mammogram. She worked with physicists to come up with a new way to look for tumors using a tracer that has been safely used in cardiovascular medicine for decades that distinguishes tumor cells regardless of density. Her technique is FDA-approved, but you’ve probably never heard of it. It speaks to, as she says, “the extraordinary difficulties of upsetting something that is so precious to us as a mammogram.”

Earlier detection using her new test in women with dense breasts whose cancer may be hidden in a mammogram could spare women from toxic treatment (less advanced cancer means less chemotherapy) and, in more advanced cases, saving lives. Despite that, her research has been very, very difficult to fund. She says it’s a daily uphill battle to overturn the status quo. Doctors have invested years and years in learning how to read these difficult mammograms, and billions of dollars are invested in the current technology, resulting in a resistance to new technology and new ways of testing.

Intersection of gender, race and ethnicity

One of the more shocking statistics that Dr. Rhodes highlighted in her presentation was the disparity in outcomes for white women and women of color with breast cancer. White women are more likely to get breast cancer than black women, but black women are more likely to die of breast cancer. She says that is true particularly for black women under the age of 50 who are diagnosed with breast cancer. They are 77% more likely to die than white women. She points out that despite abundant data that informs us of these disparities, solutions are not being pursued.

The same tragic disparity between what we need to know for better health outcomes and what is fully understood as life and death factors was the subject of Linda Villarosa’s recent cover story in the New York Times Magazine titled “Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis.” In her incredible article, she noted that black women were three-to-four times as likely to die in childbirth than white women and black babies die at a rate that is twice that of white babies.

Linda was one of the first journalists to put the maternal and infant mortality rates together and to investigate why black women and babies are so at risk. As she put it: “A common theme here is that the data exists, but it has been ignored or beaten back.” And further, she connected a condition identified earlier by Dr. Arline Geronimus called “weathering” that is a significant factor in the health outcomes for women of color. “The effect of racism — living with the near daily episodes of microaggressions and discriminations — have an adverse impact on health that needs to be better understood and incorporated into diagnosis and treatment for women of color.”

Shocking, yes, and deeply disturbing, but the good news is that the more we know about our own health and what impacts it adversely, the more proactive we can be as health consumers.

As one of the panelists noted to this highly engaged audience at Aspen Institute, “Nothing less than our lives depends on being informed and demanding that our health care institutions and physicians are, too.”

You can listen to the entire panel on

– Pat




The theme for this year’s TEDWomen event is “Showing Up.” We’re planning three inspiring days of ideas and connections full of creators, connectors and leaders. These dynamic and diverse pioneers are facing challenges head on and shaping the future we all want to see. If you haven’t been before, this is the year to show up!

I hope you’ll join us in Palm Springs Nov. 28–30, 2018. Registration is filling up fast and I don’t want you to miss out, so click this link to apply to attend today.




A model of possibility: Tiq Milan on being the architect of his own destiny

Par Yasmin Belkhyr
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“I saw the exact person I wanted to be in my mind and I manifested that in this world. If I can do that, I can do anything,” says Tiq Milan, left, who spoke with partner Kim Katrin Milan onstage at TEDWomen 2016. Photo: Marla Aufmuth/ TED

Tiq Milan and Kim Katrin Milan brought warmth and light to the TEDWomen stage in 2016, sharing their vision of queer love and possibility. As a Black trans activist, writer and media maker, Tiq Milan expands the cultural imaginary on what it is to live beyond the margins. It’s an interesting time to be Tiq; he’s working on a book, just completed a video project with GLAAD and Netflix — and recently became a first-time parent too. He made time to talk with us last month about his work as a trans advocate, what it means to redefine masculinity and how he lives as a model of possibility for LGBTQ+ youth.

This interview has been edited and condensed. (Learn more about TEDWomen 2018, coming up this fall.)

Can you tell me a little bit about your journey and your work? Who is Tiq Milan and how have you gotten here?

I started off working in hip hop journalism, but I was becoming increasingly masculine in my appearance and I was trying to figure out if I was trans or not. In that environment, being a masculine woman at the time was really hard. People weren’t necessarily hostile. People were awkward — and it was just humiliating. People would misgender me, then look at me weird. I decided to switch it up and work in LGBT nonprofit and work with youth, which I had done before. I figured that if I was able to work in communities that would give me the space to transition in a way that felt really comfortable, I could be a role model and model of possibility for people around me. I was able to find the space where I could use media as a space for advocacy.

I started my transition about 12 years ago, in 2007. Transitioning was an evolution; there wasn’t a point in my life where I was like, “I’m trans and I have to do this.” It really was something that evolved over time. My book, Man of My Design, is about the evolution — it’s not so much about the legal and physical transition but rather about my journey throughout the spectrum of gender, from being a tomboy to a feminine teenager to a butch lesbian to a man. Being me has definitely been a process, and I’m still in that process to becoming my best self.

I am intrigued by that title. I think it’s a really interesting concept, especially in a world where — to some people — gender is immovable, inherent and unchanging. What does designing your own masculinity mean to you?

We’re changing the idea that gender is innate and immovable, and understanding it as self-determined. As transgender people, we’re showing other people in the world — particularly cisgendered people — that we’re all having gendered experiences. But we’re also securing the space to be who we are in our genders, whether you’re trans or cis. As a person who was not born into manhood, I’ve had to curate my masculinity from a blank slate. I had to look at different examples and tropes of masculine and decide what I wanted to engage in and what I didn’t. I had to think about how I could find a home in masculinity and not engage in what is so toxic about it. I had to intentionally not revel in the idea that being a man means being the one in control, being the one who has all the strength or power. It’s easy to fall in that place, particularly as a transman who is always assumed to be cisgender. I don’t deal with a lot of trans antagonism because people perceive me as a cisgender person, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to take up space in the perceived privileges that come with that.

“What does it look like to be a man tethered to my spirit, not so much to what I can control?”

This is about what I call organic masculinity. Manhood — particularly cisgendered heterosexual masculinity — defines itself by what it can control, and when it loses that control, when the entitlement is taken away, men lose their fucking mind. They get violent, they get awful. What happens when I take away that entitlement, take away that control and just start to create the man that I want to be? I am masculine and I have masculine traits, but I’m also compassionate. I believe as a man I can have a range of emotions — it doesn’t have to stop at lust and anger. There’s an idea that men can’t have fear, that men can’t be complicated. I want to turn that on its head.


When Tiq Milan and Kim Katrin Milan spoke at TEDWomen 2016, they shared a vision of love and marriage that allowed each person to be who they were. Tiq, left, is a thoughtful spokesperson for a new vision of masculinity that involves choosing aspects of manhood that work for you — and leaving the negativity behind. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

What drives you to do the work that you do, toward “living visibly and living out loud”?

I’m visible so other people don’t have to be. Somebody has to be visible. Someone has to be a model of possibility for younger people, and for older people who aren’t out or are still dealing with their gender. Someone has to do it, so why not me? Particularly as a Black man, it’s important to push up against these ideas that being queer and being trans is something that is white. Making sure that people see that this is an intersectional human experience. Here I am, in the flesh, being Black, being queer, being a man; I am all of those things.

I’m starting to become obsessed with this idea of becoming my best self. I listen to Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday podcast. She’s on that guru shit. I’m trying to figure out what the formula is for this life. I was born a girl and I’m going to die a man. I saw the exact person I wanted to be in my mind and I manifested that in this world. If I can do that, I can do anything.

“What does it look like to be the architect of your own destiny? I want to use the trans experience of self-determination as a blueprint.”

I’m inspired by our journey as trans people, by us taking the reins and saying, “This is the person I want to be, and this is who I’m going to be.” I’m really interested in what that next step looks like spiritually. I want to raise my consciousness. My purpose is my wildest dreams, so what does it look like to live in that purpose? To live and breathe on another frequency is to stay in a place of gratitude, even when it’s hard, even when things aren’t going the way they should be. If I stay in a place of gratitude, then I stay understanding that what I want in this life is unequivocally possible. I think it’s about trying to let go of ego. What does it look like to be selfless? What does it mean to understand that we’re all in this together? Particularly now, with the rampant, vile racism that’s happening in the world I have to keep myself grounded in the fact that we’re all in this together. I try to operate with the understanding that the things that I say and do in this world have a ripple effect. You never know who you’re going to affect. That’s what I mean by raising my consciousness; I want to have a spiritual base, and understand myself as part of a community rather than as an individual.

As you navigate this world existing at multiple intersections of identity and marginalization, what are your core values? As you and Kim said in your talk, you exist at these intersections but you don’t live marginalized lives.

My most core value is to stay true and speak with integrity. I try to say what I mean and mean what I say. Because I hold those values, rarely do I say things that I can’t take back. I’m really conscious about thinking before I speak. What we speak is what we put out into the world, it’s what we create. What we write is what creates truth and what creates this world. I take that very seriously.

In your TED Talk, you mention having to hold up a mirror to yourself and interrogate masculinity, and that it was a process of learning and unlearning. What does that process of reflection look like to you? What does it look like to build your masculinity in a way that doesn’t subscribe to misogyny and toxic patriarchal ideals?

In my process of becoming a man, I had to understand that I swallowed a lot about the superiority of men and the inferiority of femininity. I had to do a lot of unlearning and check myself on a lot of things. What’s been helping has been being surrounded by so many amazing women in my life who would also check me too, and say, “You think you’re so smart and sophisticated, but you’re a sexist and I’m gonna show you all the ways you’re sexist.” It took a lot of hard conversations with really brilliant people to work through these things. I’m not perfect; I feel like I’m always working towards letting go of hardcore, engrained shit about gender.

This goes back to what it means to be a man who is compassionate. I have a heart. I empathize with people. I try to understand the space I take up as a man, and try to be really deliberate about creating space for other people. For instance, when I’m on panels or moderate panels with people of different genders, I make a point to make sure that the feminine people and women on the panels speak the most. I try not to take up space where there are women and feminine people who could speak to something in a better way than I can. I try to be conscious of those things.


“We can change the culture and start saying, ‘Being compassionate, empathic, emotionally complicated and available is a part of being a masculine person because it’s a part of being a human being,'” says Tiq Milan, shown here with his wife Kim Katrin Milan at TEDWomen 2016. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

Research has shown that people who are conditioned to be men have been taught to emotionally repress, and that has devastating consequences, both to those men and to everyone else in the world who faces the backlash from that repression. How do we encourage boys and men to be vulnerable and emotionally communicative? How do we help men heal?

We need to teach little boys to be vulnerable, that nothing is taken away from them if they cry, nothing is taken from them if they’re scared or if they’re in pain. Nothing is taken from them if they’re in love. We have to start early. Growing up, I was a little girl. I’m not the trans person who knew I was trans when I was six. Not growing up in that man culture has had a huge influence on the man I am today. It has allowed me to be better. I don’t feel vulnerable around my own fear or falling in love. If I’m scared, I’ll tell you, I’m petrified. If I need help, I ask for it.

There are so many things that can fuck manhood up. You wear the color pink, you’re not man enough. You show some fear, you’re not man enough. If you actually love a person and show how much you love them, it’s not manly.

“Refusing emotions takes away from the complexity and wholeness of a human being.”

We can change the culture and start saying, “Being compassionate, empathic, emotionally complicated and available is a part of being a masculine person because it’s a part of being a human being,” instead of limiting masculinity to being one kind of person. That’s why there are so many men who are so oppressed, violent and awful. There are just so many cisgendered men who are just awful to everyone. How can you be happy with your humanity if everything tells you that if you don’t act in a very specific way you’ll be stripped of your masculinity, which is something that men hold dear?

There are lot of men who deny there’s a problem, who don’t care, or who just don’t realize. These men are still a part of a misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic social fabric — how do we reach them?

I think it takes a lot of hard conversations. The thing is — people need to be willing to change. We can’t force people. I can meet people where they’re at.

“I can educate people who are ready to change, who say, ‘I’m ready to be uncomfortable, and I’m ready to have my truths complicated so I can grow.’”

If they’re not saying that, there’s no conversation to be had. There’s just so many people out there who don’t care and who don’t want to care, because once they know there’s a problem, there’s an obligation to do something about it, and they don’t want that responsibility. We say ignorance is bliss — it’s easier to pretend that nothing’s going on. You can’t tell me that it’s natural for men to be so violent towards each other, and towards women and children in their homes. I don’t think that’s natural; I think that it’s conditioned. I think a lot of men are coming to place where they’re ready to change, and they’re becoming more disinvested in toxic masculinity. Look at Terry Crews — he’s one of the only men to come out and talk about sexual assault; yet women have been talking about sexual assault for centuries. It’s good to see a man finally say, “This has happened to me too, and I’m understanding this toxic culture that creates these systems.” We need men to understand that toxic masculinity exists in our culture, that we benefit from it, and that we created it so we have to change it.

How are you navigating fatherhood, and what does queering family mean for you?

I’m just trying to do my best. [laughs] I’m trying to make sure my kid doesn’t fall off the bed, doesn’t choke on anything, doesn’t poison herself. A lot of fatherhood is just making sure your kid is fine. My wife is such a good partner, and we’re both parenting full-time. Your whole life changes when you become a parent. My daughter is the light of my life. My kid has a cisgendered queer mom and a transgendered dad. We want her to grow up in a world where gender isn’t a binary system, gender is a spectrum of possibilities. She’s going to know that as a truth in her life; she’s going to know that gender looks so many different ways, and that her gender can look however she chooses as she gets older. Her journey in gender is not a process of coming out, it just is. We also want her to know that families can look a whole bunch of ways. We’re being really intentional about meeting other queer parents, other queer parents of color, other gay parents, so that she has a really open idea around family and around love.

Queerness is freedom to create family and love how we want. She’s going to be raised with queerness as a culture. I think queerness is the future.”



Tiq and Kim with their daughter. As Tiq says: “My kid has a cisgendered queer mom and a transgendered dad. We want her to grow up in a world where gender isn’t a binary system, gender is a spectrum of possibilities. She’s going to know that as a truth in her life.”

Find out more about TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, coming up this fall in Palm Springs, California.

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Nnedi Okorafor pens a new Black Panther comic series, and more updates from TED speakers

Par Yasmin Belkhyr

We’ve been on break but the TED community definitely hasn’t — here are some highlights from the past few weeks.

Black Panther’s Shuri stars in her own comic. Writer Nnedi Okorafor will team up with visual artist Leonardo Romero to bring Marvel’s newest Black Panther comic series to life. Shuri will follow Wakandan princess and tech genius Shuri as she struggles to lead Wakanda after the mysterious disappearance of her brother, T’Challa, the Black Panther and Wakandan king. Okorafor will infuse her signature Afrofuturist style into the African fantasy franchise, which has also been written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and TED speaker Roxane Gay. In an interview with Bustle, Okorafor said “[Shuri is] a character in the Marvel Universe who really sings to me.” (Watch Okorafor’s TED Talk.)

Saving media through blockchain technology. Alongside Jen Poyant, journalist Manoush Zomorodi has launched Stable Genius Productions, a podcast production company that aims to “help people navigate personal and global change” through the lens of technological advances. In an innovative move, the company has joined forces with Civil, a decentralized marketplace operating with blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies to fund digital journalism. Their first project, ZigZag, is a podcast about “changing the course of capitalism, journalism and women’s lives,” and documents the co-founders’ journey building Stable Genius Productions. In an interview with Recode, Zomorodi comments on her partnership with Civil: “The idea is that there’s this ecosystem of news sites … niche is okay; they don’t need to be massive. We’re not trying to build another New York Times on here. This is small and specific and quality.” (Watch Zomorodi’s TED Talk.)

Pope declares death penalty “inadmissible.” Pope Francis recently instituted a change in the Catholic Church’s position on capital punishment, naming it an “attack” on the “dignity of the person.” Though the Catholic Church has been vocally opposed to the death penalty for several decades, with Pope John Paul II calling the practice “cruel and unnecessary,” this move sets a clear and firm position from the Vatican that the death penalty is inexcusable. Pope Francis also urged bishops to advocate for rehabilitation and social integration for offenders, rather than punishment for the sake of deterring future crimes, and announced a goal to work toward the abolishment of the death penalty globally. (Watch the Pope’s TED Talk.)

Two nominations for the alternative Nobel Prize in literature. More great news for Nnedi Okorafor! Both Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Nnedi Okorafor have been longlisted for the New Academy Prize in Literature. Following the announcement that the Swedish Academy would withhold awarding a 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature due to sexual assault allegations, The New Academy was founded to ensure that an international literary prize was awarded this year. Adichie and Okorafor have been nominated along with other international literary luminaries such as Jamaica Kincaid, Neil Gaiman, Arundhati Roy and Margaret Atwood. (Watch Adichie’s TED Talk.)

A new exhibition on the strength and beauty of the Black Madonna. Artist Theaster Gates has funneled his fascination with how the Virgin Mary and Christ are represented into his new solo exhibition at Kunstmuseum Basel in Switzerland. Inspired by Maerten van Heemskerck’s Virgin and Child, Gates’ new work urges viewers to complicate their understanding of the Virgin Mary, a character who is most often rendered as white in traditional fine art. Speaking to BBC Culture, Gates says his show “weaves back and forth from religious adoration to political manifesto to self-empowerment to historical reflection.” Other aspects of the exhibition include a 2,600-strong photo collection of black women whom Gates calls “Black Madonnas…everyday women who do miraculous things,” drawn from the iconic Ebony magazine archive. (Watch Gates’ TED Talk.)




Moving healthcare forward: The talks of TED Salon: Catalyst

Par Brian Greene

TED and Optum partnered to cultivate the dialogue and collaboration that’s needed to understand and guide changes in healthcare. (Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED)

Healthcare is at a turning point. Big data, evolving consumer preferences and shifting cost structures are just a few of the many complex factors shaping the opportunities and challenges that will define the future. How can we all become forces for positive change and progress?

For the first time, TED partnered with Optum, a health services and innovation company, for a salon focused on what happens when we trust our ideas to change health and healthcare for the better. At the salon, held on July 31 at the ARIA Las Vegas, six speakers and a performer shared fresh thinking on how we can make a health system that works better for everyone.

Empathy shouldn’t be a nice-to-have, says Adrienne Boissy — it’s a hard skill that should be integrated into everything we do. (Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED)

How we can put empathy back in healthcare. Many in healthcare believe that empathy — imagining another person’s feelings and then doing something to help them — is a “soft skill,” and not an important factor in the success or failure of medical treatments. But according to Adrienne Boissy, chief experience officer for the Cleveland Clinic Health System, empathy is a critical part of healthcare that, when cultivated, delivers proven, positive impacts to everything from controlling high blood pressure to the outcomes of diabetes. Best of all, it’s something that healthcare workers can learn, in order to “bake caring fixes back into every single part of the healthcare system.” Boissy knows that patients and doctors both suffer under current healthcare systems and their long wait times, communications gaps, and the endemic pressures that lead to staff burnout. To address these problems in her health system, Boissy implemented some big fixes, like same-day appointments for patients, communications training for doctors and less bureaucratic pressure. Her strategies are designed to build empathy back into the healthcare system and “transform the human experience into something much more humane.”

The myth of obesity and the need for a social movement. The global obesity crisis has reached epidemic proportions — but its root cause may not be what you think. Obesity expert Lee Kaplan has studied the issue for nearly 20 years, and the misconceptions around obesity have remained fairly constant throughout: if people simply ate less and exercised more, the thinking goes, they’d be able to control their weight. But the reality is much more complex. “Numerous studies demonstrate that each of our bodies has a powerful, and very accurate, system for seeking and maintaining the right amount of fat,” Kaplan says. “Obesity is the disease in which that finely tuned system goes awry.” There are many types of obesity, with many causes — genetics, brain damage, sleep deprivation, medications that promote weight gain — but in the end, all obesity reflects the disruption of this internal system (controlled by the body’s adipostat). In order to begin solving this massive health crisis, Kaplan calls for us to stop stigmatizing obesity and take collective action to improve the lives of those affected. “We need to change the public perception of blame and responsibility, and support a social movement that will lead to real progress,” Kaplan says. “In so doing, we will begin to see society shrink before our eyes.”

If we design healthcare systems with trust, innovation and ambition, says Dr. Andrew Bastawrous, we can create solutions that change the lives of millions of people worldwide. (Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED)

Innovating the healthcare funding and distribution model. While working in an eye care clinic in Kenya, Andrew Bastawrous was frustrated to find that because of rigid funding regulations, he wasn’t able to help people in desperate need who didn’t have “the right problems.” Though specific resource allocation makes business sense, Bastawrous says, inflexible rules often block healthcare organizations from adapting to shifting situations on the ground. This makes it difficult to deliver even simple medical treatments — for example, though we’ve had glasses for over 700 years, 2.5 billion people still don’t have access to them. That’s why Peek Vision, the eye care organization Bastawrous co-founded and leads, is set up as both a company and a charity — an innovation that allows them to sustainably create healthcare products and serve the communities who need them most. Peek Vision’s successful partnership with the Botswana government to screen and treat every child in the country by 2021 shows that this model can work — now, it needs to be scaled globally. If we design health care systems with trust, innovation and ambition, Bastawrous says, we can create solutions that fulfill the needs of financial partners and improve the lives of millions of people worldwide.

One pill to rule them all? We live in the age of the “quantified self,” where it’s possible to measure, monitor and track much of our physiology and behavior with a few taps of a finger. (Think smartwatches and fitness trackers.) With all this information, says Daniel Kraft, we should be able to make the shift into “quantified health” and design truly personalized medicine that allows us to synthesize many of our medications into a single pill. Onstage, Kraft revealed a prototype that would not only engender an easier time taking medications but also print the drugs he envisions right in the home. “I’m hopeful that with the help of novel approaches like this, we can move from an era of intermittent data, reactive one-size-fits-all therapy,” he says, “improving health and medicine across the planet.”

When it comes to health, we’re not as divided as we think we are, says Rebecca Onie. (Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED)

Divided on healthcare, united on health. The American conversation around healthcare has long been divisive. Yet as health services innovator Rebecca Onie reveals in new research, people in the US are not as polarized as they think. She launched a new initiative to ask voters around the country one question: “What do you need to be healthy?” As it turns out, across economic, political and racial divides, Americans are aligned when it comes to their healthcare priorities: healthy food, safe housing and good wages. “When you ask the right questions, it becomes pretty clear: our country may be fractured on healthcare, but we are unified on health,” she says. The insights from her research demonstrate how our common experience can inform our approach to pressing healthcare questions — and even bring people across the political spectrum together.

Medicine isn’t made by miracles. Our narratives of our greatest medical and healthcare advances all follow the same script, Darshak Sanghavi says: “The heroes are either swashbuckling doctors fighting big odds and taking big risks, or miracle drugs found in the unlikeliest of places.” We love to hear — and tell — stories based on this script. But these stories cause us to redirect our resources toward creating hero doctors and revolutionary medications, and by doing so, “we potentially harm more people than we help,” Sanghavi says. He believes we should turn away from these myths and focus on what really matters: teamwork. Incremental refinements in treatments, painstakingly assembled by healthcare workers pooling their resources over time, are what really lead to improved survival rates and higher-quality lives for patients. “We don’t need to wait for a hero in order to make our lives better,” Sanghavi says. “We already know what to do. Small steps over time will get us where we need to go.”

Jessica Care Moore performs her poem “Gratitude Is a Recipe for Survival” to close out the salon. (Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED)

She has decided to live. Poet, performer and artist Jessica Care Moore closes out the salon with a performance of “Gratitude Is a Recipe for Survival” — a vigorous, personal, lyrical journey through the mind and life of a professional poet raising a young son in a thankless world.

TEDSalon Optum - July 31, 2018 at ARIA Resort & Casino, Las Vegas


‘Crazy Rich Asians’ shows that diversity onscreen is a win for everyone

Par Pat Mitchell
Actress Michelle Yeoh in a scene from "Crazy Rich Asians." (Photo by Sanja Bucko) © 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and SK Global Entertainment

Michelle Yeoh, center, in a scene from “Crazy Rich Asians.” Photo by Sanja Bucko © 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and SK Global Entertainment

Crazy Rich Asians, a new Hollywood film that is an adaptation of the best-selling book by Kevin Kwan, topped the box office over the weekend, proving the “power of diversity (again).”

The romantic comedy is a major motion picture with big studio backing and a reported budget of $30 million. For Hollywood it also presents something unique: an all-Asian cast. As The New York Times reported last week, “The last time a major Hollywood film set in the present day showcased a majority Asian cast was a whopping 25 years ago, with The Joy Luck Club in 1993.”

NYT writer Robert Ito called Crazy Rich Asians something of a “cinematic Halley’s comet because — before Joy Luck Club, there was The Flower Drum Song in 1961, and then what?”

The film was not only an incredible opportunity for Asian actors, but also for Asian- and Asian-American moviegoers. The filmmaker and Kwan turned down a lucrative deal with Netflix in order to get to the silver screen. “Ultimately, we decided Netflix is probably the future. But right now, it’s not,” director Jon M. Chu told Vanity Fair. “We’re really focused on the financial victory of people showing up so that other voices can be heard and other stories can be told.”

Hollywood has made depressingly little progress

Despite the big opening for Chu’s film, a recent report from Stacy Smith’s research team at the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, “Inequality in 1,100 Popular Films,” revealed some disappointing data for women and particularly women of color in Hollywood. Of the top 100 films in 2017, two thirds didn’t include a single Asian or Asian-American character. Two-thirds. Among the female leads, only 4 actors out of the 33 films that had female leads weren’t white.

None were Asian.

Courtesy of Annenberg Inclusion Initiative

The smaller screen is no better. A recent study by Asian-American Pacific Islander academics found that 64% of television shows do not include one Asian or Asian-American character.

With all the talk in Hollywood of inclusion and diversity, we’d all hoped to see some movement in these numbers over the past few years. But the study reveals just how little top-grossing movies have changed when it comes to the on-screen prevalence and portrayal of females, underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, the LGBT community and individuals with disabilities.

In order to combat ongoing inequality in film, report authors offer several solutions.

Put more women in charge.

The answer to addressing “on-screen diversity deficits may lie behind the scenes,” Dr. Stacy Smith and her co-authors of the Annenberg report write: “The presence of a female in the directing or writing role is associated with more female characters on screen. The same is true for Black directors and Black characters — particularly Black female characters.”

One woman with power agrees. In the September issue of Vogue, Beyoncé told journalist Clover Hope why she insisted on working with “this brilliant 23-year-old photographer Tyler Mitchell.” At 23, Mitchell is among the youngest photographers to have shot the cover of Vogue. He is also the first African-American photographer to have done it in the magazine’s 125-year history.

“We will all lose” without diversity, Beyoncé says. “If people in powerful positions continue to hire and cast only people who look like them, sound like them, come from the same neighborhoods they grew up in, they will never have a greater understanding of experiences different from their own. They will hire the same models, curate the same art, cast the same actors over and over again, and we will all lose.”

But first we need to get more women and people of color into those powerful positions. The Annenberg report notes that “few women or people of color have worked as directors on the most popular films across more than a decade. Of 2017’s top-grossing film directors, only 7.3% were female, 5.5% were Black, and 3.7% were Asian. Only one woman of color worked on the top movies released last year.”

New projects should make use of inclusion riders.

Dr. Stacy Smith is the founder and director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California. She and her team have been conducting extensive research on gender equality in entertainment for over a decade. Other organizations, such as the Sundance Institute, the Representation ProjectWomen in Film, and the Women’s Media Center, also lead initiatives intended to document the diversity gap and to implement programs to close that gap.

In 2014, Stacy wrote an op-ed in The Hollywood Reporter introducing the concept of equity, or inclusion, riders and talked about it in her 2016 TEDWomen talk (watch below). A template of the rider is available at the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative website.

Set targets for inclusion goals.

One way to move toward measurable change is for companies to set target inclusion goals. These objectives, which should be transparent and public, should specify not only a company’s expectations for inclusion but also the steps it will take to achieve the goals.

One model for how studios and production companies can activate equilibrium change for inclusion comes from powerhouse producer and director Ava Duvernay. She set a goal that she met: 100% women directors for her TV series, Queen Sugar.


Just add five.

Most of the background speaking roles in film are awarded to men. In order to increase the percentage of women on screen and set a new overall norm for female characters, “directors could add five female speaking characters to every one of the 100 top movies next year.”

Geena Davis, founder of Institute on Gender in Media, lays out the process in two easy steps. Besides speaking roles, she encourages parity in crowd scenes and other scenes involving extras. Although you can’t “snap your fingers and suddenly half the Congress is female,” onscreen it’s much easier, she explains. “In the time it takes to make a movie or create a television show, we can change what the future looks like.”

Tax incentives that promote diversity.

Lastly, entertainment companies benefit from state tax incentives that subsidize production costs. Earlier this year, Asian-American lawmakers in California pushed through legislation that extended its film and TV tax incentive program and introduced new measures for productions receiving the credit to report on diversity. The Hollywood Reporter notes that even though productions don’t have to meet any quotas to be considered for the credit, the “objective is to motivate change by starting with self-awareness.”

“‘By including reporting on diversity above the line, this bill creates accountability,’ said Dr. Stacy L. Smith. ‘Rather than waiting for reports like mine, content creators have to tabulate their own scores on inclusion, and creating this awareness opens up a space for people to make intentional choices in who is hired, and it forces filmmakers to recognize when they have not made choices toward inclusion.’”

Other states with successful tax incentive programs, such as my home state of Georgia where more films were made last year than in Hollywood and New York, should follow California’s lead and institute inclusion reporting of their own.

Yes, we have a long way to go in getting to gender and racial equality onscreen…to getting closer to the “REEL” world looking like the “real” world, and we can’t wait for the film and TV industry to move in this direction without new strategies and incentives. But another very effective lever for this change is what you and I buy tickets to watch and listen to and what we decide to stream and read. Supporting projects that promote diversity is one very important step in that direction.

Will Crazy Rich Asians be another Halley’s Comet or a new constellation that lights up Hollywood?

As actress Constance Wu tweeted, “I know [Crazy Rich Asians] won’t represent every Asian American. So for those who don’t feel seen, I hope there is a story you find soon that does represent you. I am rooting for you. We’re not all the same, but we all have a story.”

It’s a good time to start telling the untold ones.

– Pat

TEDWomen 2018 Update

TEDWomen, the conference that I am honored and privileged to curate in partnership with the TED team, continues to do our part to equalize with an unparalleled digital platform for women’s ideas and stories.

Join us this year at TEDWomen 2018! The theme is “Showing Up” and you can be sure that we’ll be talking about ideas and strategies for equity in media, business, academia, government and health care. This year the conference will be held in Palm Springs, Calif. from November 28-30.

Registration is filling up fast, so I encourage you to register to join us today!



Galaxies hidden in plain sight, a new role at Netflix and other TED news

Par Yasmin Belkhyr

The TED community is busy with new projects and ideas: below, some highlights.

A new galaxy cluster hidden in plain sight. Researchers at MIT, including TED speaker Henry Lin, have recently discovered a cluster of hundreds of galaxies obscured by an intensely active supermassive black hole at its center. That extra-bright black hole, named PKS1353-341, is 46 billion times brighter than our sun; in their newest paper, the team concluded that a feeding frenzy (big chunks of matter falling into the hole and feeding it) is the likely cause of the black hole’s extraordinary light, which blocked the cluster from view. This insight has led to the development of CHiPS, or Clusters Hiding in Plain Sight, an initiative that will re-analyze older data and images, in the hopes of identifying other galaxy clusters. (Watch Lin’s TED Talk.)

Mothers of Invention: the women solving climate change. Alongside comedian Maeve Higgins, Mary Robinson has launched a new feminist podcast spotlighting women who are leading the charge in the climate change battle. The series, Mothers of Invention, has featured Judi Wakhungu and Alice Kaudia, Kenyan policymakers who instituted Kenya’s plastic bag ban; Tara Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican restaurateur who led efforts to develop sustainable farming measures on the island following Hurricane Maria; and TED speaker Tara Houska, an indigenous rights lawyer who works toward mass divestment from fossil fuel funds. Robinson, who helped negotiate the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, has long advocated for environment policy that protects vulnerable communities; in an interview with iNews, she said, “Climate change isn’t gender neutral: it affects women worse. So of course it makes sense that they would be the ones coming up with solutions.” (Watch Robinson’s TED Talk.)

Diversity specialist Vernā Myers joins Netflix. Following two decades of leading the Vernā Myers Company, Vernā Myers will soon join Netflix as Vice President of Inclusion Strategy. In the newly created role, Myers will strategize how Netflix can best integrate “cultural diversity, inclusion and equity” into their global expansion plans. In a press release from Netflix, Myers said, “I am so excited and look forward to collaborating all across Netflix to establish bold innovative frameworks and practices that will attract, fully develop, and sustain high performing diverse teams.” (Watch Myers’ TED Talk.)

Monica Lewinsky talks Emmy nomination. In a podcast interview with Vanity Fair, Monica Lewinsky discusses her anti-bullying work and recent Emmy nomination for her PSA “In Real Life.” The campaign, which debuted last October, features actors recreating real cyberbullying comments on the streets of New York to unknowing bystanders, and shows strangers stepping in to defend the victims. The film, which was produced in collaboration with ad agency BBDO New York and Dini von Mueffling Communications, asks the question: If it’s not okay in person, why is it okay online? “There’s a lot of pain out there from this,” Lewinsky said to Vanity Fair. “We carry that with us for a long time. I hope it helps heal people.” (Watch Lewinsky’s TED Talk.)

A celebration of poetry and art in Bhutan. Poet and educator Sarah Kay captivated audiences last week at the Mountain Echoes literary festival in Thimphu, Bhutan, with an enthralling performance and workshop session. The annual festival, which registered 17,000 visitors this year, gathered artists and literary luminaries including Kay, the Queen Mother Dorji Wangmo and theatre actress Sanjana Kapoor to facilitate ”cultural dialogue, share stories, and create memories.” In addition to her performance, Kay led a workshop session called “Considering Breakthrough: Connecting with Spoken Word Poetry.” In The Times of India, Kay, who leads the global education initiative Project VOICE, says that for her, poetry is like “puzzle-solving.” (Watch Kay’s TED Talk.)



New insights on climate change action, a milestone for Maysoon Zayid and more TED news

Par Yasmin Belkhyr

As usual, the TED community is making headlines. Below, some highlights.

Does local action make a difference when fighting climate change? Environmental scientist Angel Hsu teamed up with experts at several climate research institutes on a fascinating new report about the potential effects of local action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions globally. Hsu synthesized data from thousands of cities, regions and companies at Data-Driven Yale, the Singapore-based research group she founded and leads. The study found that committed action by local entities could help bring the world closer to the goals of 2015’s Paris Climate Agreement. Researchers also found that local action by American entities could reduce emissions by at least half of America’s initial Paris Agreement pledge, even without federal support. On the study, Hsu said, “The potential of these commitments to help the world avoid dangerous climate change is clear – the key is now to ensure that these commitments are really implemented.” (Watch Hsu’s TED Talk.)

A groundbreaking comedy show. Actor, comedian and disability activist Maysoon Zayid will write and star in a new show inspired by her life for ABC. The show, titled Can, Can, will follow a Muslim woman with cerebral palsy as she navigates the intricacies of her love life, career and her opinionated family. Much of Zayid’s comedy explores and expands the intersections of disability and Muslim-American identity. Zayid will be joined by writer Joanna Quraishi to help produce and write the single-camera series. (Watch Zayid’s TED Talk.)

Meet 2018’s Humanist of the Year. For his advocacy work on responsible and progressive economic ethics, Nick Hanauer will be honored as Humanist of the Year by the Humanist Hub, an organization based at MIT and Harvard. In a statement, Hanauer said, “It is an honor both to receive this award, and to join the Humanist Hub in helping to change the way we think and talk about the economy. It turns out that most people get capitalism wrong. Capitalism works best when it works for everybody, not just for zillionaires like me.” The Humanist Hub, a nonreligious philosophy group, annually celebrates a public individual they believe embodies the ideals of humanism, a philosophy of living ethically to serve the greater good of humanity. (Watch Hauner’s TED Talk.)

Are you saving enough for retirement? Behavioral economist Dan Ariely doesn’t think so — in a new study conducted with Aline Holzwarth at the Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University, Ariely found that we can expect to spend up to 130% of our preretirement income once we retire. Ariely and Holzwarth urge us to abandon the conventional idea that 70% of our income will be enough for retirement. Instead, they suggest we approach saving for retirement with a personalized methodology that takes into account the seven most prominent spending categories: eating out, digital services, recharge (relaxing and self-care), travel, entertainment and shopping, and basic needs. Moving past a generic one-size measurement, they advocate planning your retirement spending only after you spending time understanding your individual needs. (Watch Ariely’s TED Talk.)

In Italy, a bridge offers hope after tragedy. Following a devastating bridge collapse that killed 43 people in Genoa, Italian architect Renzo Piano has offered to donate a new bridge design to help his beloved hometown recover from the traumatic loss. Preliminary designs present a bridge that is distinctly ship-like, alluding to Genoa’s maritime history; it includes 43 illuminated posts resembling sails to memorialize each of the victims. Meanwhile, Piano has worked closely with England’s Royal Academy of the Arts to design and curate an expansive retrospective of his work called “The Art of Making Buildings,” opening September 15. On the exhibition, Piano said, “[M]aking buildings is a civic gesture and social responsibility. I believe passionately that architecture is about making a place for people to come together and share values.” (Watch Piano’s TED Talk.)



Meet the Fall 2018 class of TED Residents

Par TED Staff
Activist Glenn Cantave (far left) and artist Kemi Layeni (far right) introduce themselves; behind them, Savannah Rodgers (center) says hello to alumnus Bayeté Ross Smith.

In the foreground, activist Glenn Cantave (far left) and artist Kemi Layeni (far right) introduce themselves; behind them, Savannah Rodgers (center) says hello to alumnus Bayeté Ross Smith during the meet-and-greet that kicked off this season’s Residency. Photo: Dian Lofton / TED

On September 12, TED welcomed its latest class to the TED Residency program, an in-house incubator for breakthrough ideas. These 21 Residents will spend 14 weeks in TED’s New York headquarters working and thinking together. The class includes exceptional people from all over the map — from Bulgaria to South Africa, Canada to Kansas.

New Residents include:

  • A rabbi helping to bring centuries-old wisdom to modern-day social media
  • An underwater photographer depicting the surprising variety of wildlife in urban waters
  • A former banker who inherited a plot of land and is now learning how to farm
  • A journalist seeking transparency in the US healthcare system
  • A rapper helping others find their voice

Heidi Boisvert, PhD, is an interdisciplinary artist and creative technologist building an open-source biometric lab and AI system to understand humans’ emotional reactions to media. Her goal: to figure out what makes media truly affecting and effective, so the knowledge can be used for good and to safeguard against manipulation.

TED Fellow and human rights activist Yana Buhrer Tavanier — based in Sofia, Bulgaria — is the co-founder of Fine Acts, which bridges human rights and art to instigate social change. In 2017, she launched Fine Acts Labs, bringing activists, and artists and technologists together in one space to tackle one social issue.

Recognizing that history-book narratives are Eurocentric, Glenn Cantave’s organization Movers and Shakers wants to paint a fuller picture using augmented reality. His team is working with local educators to create an AR book on the true story of Christopher Columbus. He also plans to launch neighborhood walking tours that depict digital landmarks of black and brown people in the US. He calls the project a “Pokemon-Go for contextualized history.”

Maria Adele Carrai is a sinologist and political scientist finishing a book about sovereignty in China, and how its infrastructure initiatives are changing the country’s place in the world.

Diana Henry chats with fellow residents Heidi Boisvert and Azi Jamalian.

From left, investor Diane Henry chats with fellow residents Heidi Boisvert, an artist and technologist, and Azi Jamalian, a cognitive scientist and entrepreneur. Photo: Dian Lofton / TED

Luz Claudio, PhD, is an environmental health research scientist, author and educator who develops innovative tools for research and the mentoring of young scientists. She is also developing new ways to translate discoveries from the environmental health sciences into practical actions—like writing a children’s book!

Keith Ellenbogen is an acclaimed underwater photographer who focuses on environmental conservation. His work dives into New York’s surprisingly vibrant and diverse marine ecosystems.

Diane Henry is a tech seed investor and startup strategist dedicated to finding, funding and amplifying visionary founders who believe in building ethics into tech as it evolves.

Muhammed Y. Idris is putting his PhD in social data analytics to good use through his app, Atar — a mobile platform that gives refugees seeking asylum information about their rights and available services. For now, the app is limited to people in Montreal but in the last year he has partnered with the UNHCR to expand his work further.

Azadeh (Azi) Jamalian is an entrepreneur and cognitive science PhD building invention hubs and communities for kid inventors. Her mission is to create a world in which all children dare to act on their dreams.

Keith Kirkland is an industrial designer, CEO and cofounder of WearWorks, a company that makes haptic navigation products for the blind. Their product, Wayband, helped the first blind person ever navigate the 2017 NYC Marathon without sighted assistance.

TED Res alumni came back to give the new class some advice on how to take advantage of their time.

TED Res alumni came back to give the new class some advice on how to take advantage of their time. A veteran of the first class, podcaster and author Brian McCullough (in orange), gives his thoughts. Photo: Dian Lofton / TED

TEDx organizer Kelo Kubu started her career in finance and later founded a design studio, but then inherited farmland as restitution from apartheid but didn’t know what to do with it. She’s launching an ag-tech accelerator focusing on urban female farmers so they can all learn to profit from their land.

Kemi Layeni is an artist focusing on the stories and experiences of people of African descent. She is working on a multimedia project about slavery “through a speculative, Afro-futuristic and Afro-surreal lens.”

Entrepreneur and graduate of The Second City, Mary Lemmer is applying improv comedy training to help people become better leaders.

Mordechai Lightstone is a Chasidic rabbi, the social media editor at and the founder of Tech Tribe. He is passionate about using new media to further Jewish identity and community building.

Jullia Suhyoung Lim designs technology to tackle challenges in education and medicine. She is currently designing an AR app to help autistic children identify abstract concepts in real life.

Samy el-Noury is an actor and LGBTQ+ advocate developing his first full-length play, about the life of a historical transgender activist. His goal is to recognize trans people in history and create more opportunities for working trans artists.

Technologist Muhammad Y. Idiris meets alum Danielle Gustafson.

Technologist Muhammad Y. Idiris meets alum Danielle Gustafson. Photo: Dian Lofton / TED

Jeanne Pinder demands radical transparency from the US healthcare system. Although price opacity is often drowned out by the noisier debate about policy and politics, the effects on real people are huge and growing, she says. Her award-winning startup, ClearHealthCosts, reports on and crowdsources true costs of medical procedures and makes the data public.

Originally from Colombia, Mariana Prieto designs scalable solutions to solve complex wildlife conservation challenges.

Savannah Rodgers is a documentary filmmaker from Kansas City. She wanted to make movies after seeing her favorite film, Chasing Amy (1997), for the first time at age 12. Now she’s making a documentary about the film and its enduring, controversial LGBTQ+ legacy.

Julie Scelfo is a journalist and social justice activist whose stories about society and human behavior reframe popular ideas and ask us to rethink basic assumptions. The author of The Women Who Made New York says she believes Donald Trump is onto something when he talks about “fake news” — although she would define it differently.

Raegan Sealy is a poet, singer, rapper and the founder of Sound Board NYC. An advocate of social change through the arts, Raegan and her work draw on her own experiences of overcoming domestic violence, sexual abuse and addiction.

Two members of this class, Kemi Layeni and Savannah Rodgers, won their seats in the Adobe Project 1324 TED Residency challenge, for young creatives (aged 18 to 24) with big ideas to share. The TED team chose the winners; Adobe is generously picking up the tab for their travel, room and board.

The fall Residency will culminate with a program of TED Talks in December. Would you or someone you know like to become a Resident? Applications for the Spring 2019 Residency (February 25–May 31) open October 1 and will close December 3, 2018. You can learn more at



Activist Glenn Cantave (far left) and artist Kemi Layeni (far right) introduce themselves; behind them, Savannah Rodgers (center) says hello to alumnus Bayeté Ross Smith.

Diana Henry chats with fellow residents Heidi Boisvert and Azi Jamalian.

TED Res alumni came back to give the new class some advice on how to take advantage of their time.

7 big ideas gain momentum: Updates from The Audacious Project

Par Kate Torgovnick May

In this anonymous conference room, The Bail Project is doing paperwork to release 20 people from jail in a single day. Want to know more about the bail system in the US? Read this explainer.

Their ideas are ambitious, with the goal of changing outdated systems and impacting millions of lives. It’s been five months since The Audacious Project’s first class of project leaders spoke at TED2018, and each one is gaining momentum. Below, the latest news.

1,600 bails paid and counting

More than 1,600 people have now had their bail paid by The Bail Project, allowing them to await their trial from home rather than in a jail cell. In July 2018, The Bail Project opened in Detroit, working with the Detroit Justice Center — and that same week, they had their biggest-impact day so far, bailing out more than 20 people in Louisville, Kentucky. Next up for the project: California. They’ve started operations in San Diego, and are gearing up to launch in Compton, working with the UCLA School of Law and the Compton Public Defender.

The media is starting to take note. Robin Steinberg and “bail disrupters” Shawna Baldwin-Harrell and Richard Baxter were featured on NBC’s Dateline in a powerful episode that takes you inside the local jail in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to meet some of the women affected. Meanwhile, The Bail Project has gotten great coverage from The Christian Science Monitor, Michigan Public Radio, PBS NewsHour and St. Louis Public Radio. And after California passed a sweeping set of reforms that Steinberg and other activists fear will dramatically increase pretrial incarceration, she explained last week in an op-ed in The New York Times what should come after cash bail.

Two satellites take aim at methane

Earlier this month, Fred Krupp’s talk posted on, explaining the Environmental Defense Fund’s plan to slow down climate change by focusing on the greenhouse gas methane. Barely a week later, the Trump administration issued a proposal to weaken EPA rules, made in 2016, to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas companies. EDF projections show that this proposal could result in a half million additional tons of methane pollution by 2025. While they plan to fight the proposal, EDF stresses that it just strengthens the need for MethaneSAT. When oil and gas companies have data on leaks, they take action — this summer, BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Equinor and Shell all committed to addressing the problem of methane emissions.

Last week, Krupp attended the Global Climate Action Summit in California, where Governor Jerry Brown announced exciting news: California is developing its own satellite to measure greenhouse gas emissions. EDF is working with the state, and these two satellites will work together in tandem. While MethaneSAT will take broad, detailed measures of methane emission, surveying 80 percent of global oil and gas operations every four days, California’s system will detect medium to large leaks at specific locations. As EDF puts it on their blog, “It’s like having two camera lenses — wide angle and telephoto — that together produce a more complete picture.”

Trachoma is on the run

It was announced in June, but made official in a ceremony in August: Ghana has eliminated trachoma as a public health problem. It is the seventh country to do so in recent years, following Cambodia, Laos, Mexico, Morocco, Oman and Nepal. Sightsavers has been working since 2000 on eliminating the disease in Ghana, and getting to this milestone was a long road. Watch a video on what it took, and read an account of the final days of trachoma in Ghana, spent searching towns for the final patients, with nurses performing surgeries in teams of four.

Meet the ctenophore, an incredible inhabitant of the ocean’s twilight zone. Want to meet more creatures who live here? Check out this gallery.

Already, new insights on the twilight zone

The first cruise in Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s mission to explore the ocean’s twilight zone — define — left shore from Newport, Rhode Island, on August 11. The goal was to test Deep-See — a tool that’s 20 feet long and packed with broad-frequency sonars, cameras and sensors capable of capturing two terabytes of data every hour. When the cruise returned to land 10 days later, it had already generated more data about the twilight zone than almost any expedition before it. Andone Lavery, a physicist who is part of the project, said it was surprising to see organisms evenly distributed through the zone, rather than in dense layers. She told Science magazine that the new tool was “like color TV versus black-and-white.”

Meanwhile, a second cruise — funded in collaboration with NASA and NSF —  is making its way through the Pacific, looking at the role the twilight zone plays in Earth’s climate. What it finds could show us new dimensions of the carbon cycle. And this is just the beginning.

Health workers amplify vaccination efforts

Living Goods and Last Mile Health have a new partner in their project to digitally empower community health workers, to serve their neighbors in key countries in East and West Africa. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, is joining them to make sure that community health workers can collect data and educate communities about immunizations. This work should allow nurse supervisors to vaccinate up to 8 million people by 2021. It’s exciting work, sure to have a big impact. The news comes just as a controlled study of Last Mile Health’s community health worker program was published in the American Journal of Public Health, showing that its model rapidly increases access to lifesaving care for children.

On the road to Selma, a #StressProtest

T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison of GirlTrek are midway through a 50-city wellness tour they’ve dubbed the Road to Selma. As they travel the country and hold workshops with Black women, they’re gathering insights on how to make next year’s Summer of Selma a success. Planning for the event is underway, alongside partners at the Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth and Reconciliation.

Over Labor Day, the GirlTrek team took a break to camp out in Rocky Mountain National Park for the second annual #StressProtest, a long weekend of self-care, hiking and nature for Black women. Dixon and Garrison spoke to Essence and Shondaland about why this is so vital. “Slowing down is the most radical thing you can do in this capitalist world that demands your work from sunup to sundown,” said Dixon. She and Garrison, recently named Women’s Health 2018 Game Changers, had an incredible time, from long hikes to conversations around the campfire. But even in this weekend of self-care, there was a bitter moment: As Garrison posted on Instagram, while driving a van full of Black women down the road after a hike, she was pulled over by a park police officer. “This man was asking me what I was doing in the park,” she writes. “Asked me while still holding his hand to his gun, despite seeing our hiking gear when we rolled the windows down.” But as Garrison powerfully writes: “I belong here. We belong here.” And she promises: “We’ll be back to the park next year. Thinking we will bring 1,000 Black women this time.”

Helping one million farmers help themselves

One Acre Fund is building capacity, and fast. By the end of the year, Andrew Youn and his team will serve more than 750,000 small-scale farmers, tracking far ahead of their goal of one million by 2020. This work is far-reaching, but its impact is personal. Six years ago, Wycklyfe Mwanje — now age 40 — was a small-scale farmer whose only source of income was his two-acre farm. Today, after working with One Acre Fund to improve his planting materials and techniques, he runs his farm, owns a mill for grinding maize and operates a popular butcher shop.

Wycklyfe Mwanje has gone from small-scale farmer to the owner of a mill and butcher shop. Want to know more about One Acre Fund’s plans to scale? Watch the update from TED2018.

Bail Project_Louisville bailouts


Humanizing our future: A night of talks from TED and Verizon

Par Brian Greene

Hosts Bryn Freedman, left, and Kelly Stoetzel open the “Humanizing Our Future” salon, presented by Verizon at the TED World Theater, September 20, 2018, in New York. Photo: Ryan Lash / TED

There are moments when the world begins to shift beneath our feet. Sometimes slowly, sometimes dramatically. Now more than ever we are living and working in an era of exponential technological advancement. How we address rapid change, what collaborative relationships we create, how we find our humanity — all this will determine the future we step into.

For the first time, TED has partnered with Verizon for a salon focused on building that future. In a night of talks at the TED World Theater in New York City — hosted by TED curators Bryn Freedman and Kelly Stoetzel — six speakers and one performer shared fresh thinking on healing our hospital system, empowering rural women, creating a safer internet, harnessing intergenerational wisdom and much more.

How intergenerational wisdom helps companies thrive. In 2013, Chip Conley, who built a multi-decade career running boutique hotels, was brought into Airbnb to be the mentor of CEO Brian Chesky. Conley was 52 (and thus 21 years older than Chesky) and he wondered what, if anything, he could offer these digital natives. But he realized he could become what he calls a “Modern Elder,” someone with the “ability to use timeless wisdom and apply it to modern-day problems.” For instance, he shares with the younger employees the people skills he gained over decades, while they teach him about technology. Nearly 40 percent of Americans have a boss who is younger than them — and when people of all ages exchange knowledge and learn from each other, good things happen. “This is the new sharing economy,” Conley says.

Can hospitals heal our environmental illness? “It’s not possible to have healthy people on a sick planet,” says healthcare change agent Gary Cohen. Working in healthcare for 30 years, Cohen has seen firsthand the pollution created by hospitals in the United States — if American hospitals were a country, he says, they would have more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire United Kingdom. Cohen suggests that it’s time for hospitals to go beyond medical practice and become centers of holistic community healing. What could that look like? Investment in sustainable, renewable energy and transportation, green and affordable housing, and partnership with schools to pool local food resources. “Transform hospitals from being cathedrals of chronic disease to beacons of community wellness,” Cohen says.

Meagan Fallone works on an education program that’s teaching thousands of rural, illiterate women to create solar power systems — and improve their communities and lives along the way. She speaks at the “Humanizing Our Future” salon. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Empowering rural women through solar-powered education. The innovators best prepared to cope with the issues of the future won’t be found in Silicon Valley or at an Ivy League school, says Barefoot College CEO Meagan Fallone. Instead, they’ll be found among the impoverished women of the Global South. Fallone works on groundbreaking programs at Barefoot College, a social work and research center, helping illiterate women break cycles of poverty through solar power education and training. Nearly 3,000 women have completed Barefoot College’s six-month business and solar engineering curriculum, and their skills have brought solar light to more than one million people. Following the success of the solar education program, and at the request of graduates, Barefoot College developed a follow-up program called “Enriche,” which offers a holistic understanding of enterprise skills, digital literacy, human rights and more. By democratizing and demystifying technology and education, Fallone says, we can empower illiterate women with the skills to become leaders and entrepreneurs — and make real change in their communities.

It’s fine to enjoy a dystopian movie, says Rima Qureshi — but when we’re building our real future, dystopia is a choice. She speaks at the “Humanizing Our Future” salon. {Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Dystopia is a choice. From The Matrix to Black Mirror, many of us crave science-fiction tales of rogue technologies: robots that will take our jobs, enslave us, destroy us or pit us against one another. Is our dread of dystopia a self-fulfilling prophecy? Rima Qureshi offers a warning — and some hopeful advice to remind us that dystopia is a choice. Our love for dystopia courts actual disaster through “target fixation”: the phenomenon where a driver or a pilot panics when a hazard looms, and thus becomes more likely to actually strike it. Although we should always keep cyber threats in our peripheral vision, Qureshi says, we should remain focused on the technologies that will help us: virtual classrooms, drones that race into burning buildings to find survivors, or VR that allows doctors to perform surgery remotely. We should not assume the future will be terrible (though we can still enjoy the next apocalyptic movie about how technology will destroy us all).

Ever played a djembe? The audience at the “Humanizing Our Future” salon got to try their skills on this traditional drum, led by motivator Doug Manuel, at the TED World Theater. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

How drums build community. In 1995, entrepreneur Doug Manuel made a trip to West Africa and fell in love — with a drum. That drum is called the djembe, a rope-tuned instrument played with the hands; it’s one of the world’s oldest forms of communication. “With its more than 300 different traditional rhythms, it’s accompanied every aspect of life — from initiations to celebrations and even sowing the seeds for an abundant harvest,” Manuel says. Since his life-changing trip, Manuel has used the djembe to develop team-building programs and build bridges between Africa and the West. In a live demo of his work, Manuel invites the audience to try their hands at the djembe during two upbeat drum lessons. Backed by two professional drummers, Manuel teaches a few beats — and shows how the djembe can still bring people together around a collective rhythm.

Healing the pain of racial division. During the Civil Rights era, Ruby Sales joined a group of freedom fighters in Alabama, where she met Jonathan Daniels, a fellow student. The two became friends, and in 1965 they were jailed during a labor demonstration, ostensibly to save them from vigilantes. After six days in jail, the sheriff released the activists — but shortly after, they were attacked by a man with a shotgun. Daniels pulled Sales out of the way, and he was killed by the blast. In this moment, Sales witnessed “both love and hate coming from two very different white men that represented the best and the worst of white America.” Traumatized, she was stricken silent for six months. Fifty years later, our nation is still mired in what Sales calls a “culture of whiteness”: “a systemic and organized set of beliefs … [that] maintain a hierarchical power structure based on skin color.” To battle this culture, Sales calls for each of us to embrace our multi-ethnic identities and stories. Collectively shared, these stories can relieve racial tension and, with the help of connective technology, expand our vistas beyond our segregated daily lives.

Bryn Freedman, left, interviews technologist Fadi Chehadé at the “Humanizing Our Future” salon in New York. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

What the internet is missing right now. Technology architect Fadi Chehadé helped set up the infrastructure that makes the internet work — basic things like the domain name system and IP address standards. Today as an advisory board member with the World Economic Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, Chehadé is focused on finding ways for society to benefit from technology and on strengthening international cooperation in the digital space. In a crisp conversation with Bryn Freedman, curator of the TED Institute, Chehadé discusses the need for norms on issues like privacy and security, the ongoing war between the West and China over artificial intelligence, how tech companies can become stewards of the power they have to shape lives and economies, and what everyday citizens can do to claim power on the internet. “My biggest hope is that we will each become stewards of this new digital world,” Chehadé says.



Preview our new podcast: The TED Interview

Par TED Staff

TED is launching a new way for curious audiences to immerse themselves more deeply in some of the most compelling ideas on our platform: The TED Interview, a long-form TED original podcast series. Beginning October 16, weekly episodes of The TED Interview will feature head of TED Chris Anderson deep in conversation with TED speakers about the ideas they shared in their TED Talks. Guests will include Elizabeth Gilbert and Sir Ken Robinson, as well as Sam Harris, Mellody Hobson, Daniel Kahneman, Ray Kurzweil and more. Listen to the trailer here.

NEW: Listen to the first episode, our conversation with Elizabeth Gilbert.

“If you look at the cast of characters who have given TED Talks over the past few years, it’s a truly remarkable group of people, and includes many of the world’s most remarkable minds,” Chris said. “We got a glimpse of their thinking in their TED Talk, but there is so much more there. That’s what this podcast series seeks to uncover. We get to dive deeper, much deeper than was possible in their original talk, allowing them to further explain, amplify, illuminate and, in some cases, defend their thinking. For anyone turned on by ideas, these conversations are a special treat.”

The launch comes at an exciting time when TED is testing multiple new formats and channels to reach even wider global audiences. In the past year TED has experimented with original podcasts, including WorkLife with Adam Grant, Facebook Watch series like Constantly Curious, primetime international television in India with TED Talks India Nayi Soch and more.

“We’ve been very ambitious in our goal of developing and testing new formats and channels that can support TED’s mission of Ideas Worth Spreading,” said Colin Helms, head of media at TED. “A decade after TED began posting talks online, there are so many more differing media habits to contend with—and, lucky for us, so many more formats to more to play with. The TED Interview is an exciting new way for us to offer curious audiences a front-row seat to some of the day’s most fascinating and challenging conversations.”

The first episode of the TED Interview debuts Tuesday, October 16, on Apple Podcasts, the TED Android app or wherever you like to listen to podcasts. Season 1 features eleven episodes, roughly 40 minutes each. New episodes will be made available every Tuesday. Subscribe and check out the trailer here.



We the Future: Talks from TED, Skoll Foundation and United Nations Foundation

Par Brian Greene

Bruno Giussani (left) and Chris Anderson co-host “We the Future,” a day of talks presented by TED, the Skoll Foundation and the United Nations Foundation, at the TED World Theater in New York City, September 25, 2018. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

We live in contentious times. Yet behind the dismaying headlines and social-media-fueled quarrels, people around the world — millions of them — are working unrelentingly to solve problems big and small, dreaming up new ways to expand the possible and build a better world.

At “We the Future,” a day of talks at the TED World Theater presented in collaboration with the Skoll Foundation and the United Nations Foundation, 13 speakers and two performers explored some of our most difficult collective challenges — as well as emerging solutions and strategies for building bridges and dialogue.

Updates on the Sustainable Development Goals. Are we delivering on the promises of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, which promised to improve the lives of billions with no one left behind? Using the Social Progress Index, a measure of the quality of life in countries throughout the world, economist Michael Green shares a fresh analysis of where we are today in relationship to the goals — and some new thinking on what we need to do differently to achieve them. While we’ve seen progress in some parts of the world on goals related to hunger and healthy living, the world is projected to fall short of achieving the ambitious targets set by the SDGs for 2030, according to Green’s analysis. If current trends keep up — especially the declines we’re seeing in things like personal rights and inclusiveness across the world — we actually won’t hit the 2030 targets until 2094. So what can we do about this? Two things, says Green: We need to call out rich countries that are falling short, and we need to look further into the data and find opportunities to progress faster. Because progress is happening, and we’re tantalizingly close to a world where nobody dies of things like hunger and malaria. “If we can focus our efforts, mobilize the resources, galvanize the political will,” Green says, “that step change is possible.”

Sustainability expert Johan Rockström debuts the Earth-3 model, a new way to track both the Sustainable Development Goals and the health of the planet at the same time. He speaks at “We the Future.” (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

A quest for planetary balance. In 2015, we saw two fantastic global breakthroughs for humanity, says sustainability expert Johan Rockström — the SDGs and the Paris Agreement. But are the two compatible, and can be they be pursued at the same time? Rockström suggests there are inherent contradictions between the two that could lead to irreversible planetary instability. Along with a team of scientists, he created a way to combine the SDGs within the nine planetary boundaries (things like ocean acidification and ozone depletion); it’s a completely new model of possibility — the Earth-3 model — to track trends and simulate future change. Right now, we’re not delivering on our promises to future generations, he says, but the window of success is still open. “We need some radical thinking,” Rockström says. “We can build a safe and just world: we just have to really, really get on with it.”

Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF, is spearheading a new global initiative, Generation Unlimited, which aims to ensure every young person is in school, training or employment by 2030. She speaks at “We the Future.” (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

A plan to empower Generation Unlimited. There are 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 in the world, one of the largest cohorts in human history. Meeting their needs is a big challenge — but it’s also a big opportunity, says the executive director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore. Among the challenges facing this generation are a lack of access to education and job opportunities, exposure to violence and, for young girls, the threats of discrimination, child marriage and early pregnancy. To begin addressing these issues, Fore is spearheading UNICEF’s new initiative, Generation Unlimited, which aims to ensure every young person is in school, learning, training or employment by 2030. She talks about a program in Argentina that connects rural students in remote areas with secondary school teachers, both in person and online; an initiative in South Africa called Techno Girls that gives young women from disadvantaged backgrounds job-shadowing opportunities in the STEM fields; and, in Bangladesh, training for tens of thousands of young people in trades like carpentry, motorcycle repair and mobile-phone servicing. The next step? To take these ideas and scale them up, which is why UNICEF is casting a wide net — asking individuals, communities, governments, businesses, nonprofits and beyond to find a way to help out. “A massive generation of young people is about to inherit our world,” Fore says, “and it’s our duty to leave a legacy of hope for them — but also with them.”

Improving higher education in Africa. There’s a teaching and learning crisis unfolding across Africa, says Patrick Awuah, founder and president of Ashesi University. Though the continent has scaled up access to higher education, there’s been no improvement in quality or effectiveness of that education. “The way we teach is wrong for today. It is even more wrong for tomorrow, given the challenges before us,” Awuah says. So how can we change higher education for the better? Awuah suggests establishing multidisciplinary curricula that emphasize critical thinking and ethics, while also allowing for in-depth expertise. He also suggests collaboration between universities in Africa — and tapping into online learning programs. “A productive workforce, living in societies managed by ethical and effective leaders, would be good not only for Africa but for the world,” Awuah says.

Ayọ (right) and Marvin Dolly fill the theater with a mix of reggae, R&B and folk sounds at “We the Future.” (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Songs of hardship and joy. During two musical interludes, singer-songwriter Ayọ and guitarist Marvin Dolly fill the TED World Theater with the soulful, eclectic strumming of four songs — “Boom Boom,” “What’s This All About,” “Life Is Real” and “Help Is Coming” — blending reggae, R&B and folk sounds.

If every life counts, then count every life. To some, numbers are boring. But data advocate Claire Melamed says numbers are, in fact, “an issue of power and of justice.” The lives and death of millions of people worldwide happen outside the official record, Melamed says, and this lack of information leads to big problems. Without death records, for instance, it’s nearly impossible to detect epidemics until it’s too late. If we are to save lives in disease-prone regions, we must know where and when to deliver medicine — and how much. Today, technology enables us to inexpensively gather reliable data, but tech isn’t a cure-all: governments may try to keep oppressed or underserved populations invisible, or the people themselves may not trust the authorities collecting the data. But data custodians can fix this problem by building organizations, institutions and communities that can build trust. “If every life counts, we should count every life,” Melamed says.

How will the US respond to the rise of China? To Harvard University political scientist Graham Allison, recent skirmishes between the US and China over trade and defense are yet another chapter unfolding in a centuries-long pattern. He’s coined the term “Thucydides’ Trap” to describe it — as he puts it, the Trap “is the dangerous dynamic that occurs when a rising power threatens to displace a ruling power.” Thucydides is viewed by many as the father of history; he chronicled the Peloponnesian Wars between a rising Athens and a ruling Sparta in the 4th century BCE (non-spoiler alert: Sparta won, but at a high price). Allison and colleagues reviewed the last 500 years and found Thucydides’ Trap 16 times — and 12 of them ended in war. Turning to present day, he notes that while the 20th century was dominated by the US, China has risen far and fast in the 21st. By 2024, for instance, China’s GDP is expected to be one-and-a-half times greater than America’s. What’s more, both countries are led by men who are determined to be on top. “Are Americans and Chinese going to let the forces of history draw us into a war that would be catastrophic to both?” Allison asks. To avoid it, he calls for “a combination of imagination, common sense and courage” to come up with solutions — referencing the Marshall Plan, the World Bank and United Nations as fresh approaches toward prosperity and peace that arose after the ravages of war. After the talk, TED curator Bruno Giussani asks Allison if he has any creative ideas to sidestep the Trap. “A long peace,” Allison says, turning again to Athens and Sparta for inspiration: during their wars, the two agreed at one point to a 30-year peace, a pause in their conflict so each could tend to their domestic affairs.

Can we ever hope to reverse climate change? Researcher and strategist Chad Frischmann introduces the idea of “drawdown” — the point at which we remove more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere than we put in — as our only hope of averting climate disaster. At his think tank, he’s working to identify strategies to achieve drawdown, like increased use of renewable energy, better family planning and the intelligent disposal of HFC refrigerants, among others. But the things that will make the biggest impact, he says, are changes to food production and agriculture. The decisions we make every day about the food we grow, buy and eat are perhaps the most important contributions we could make to reversing global warming. Another focus area: better land management and rejuvenating forests and wetlands, which would expand and create carbon sinks that sequester carbon. When we move to fix global warming, we will “shift the way we do business from a system that is inherently exploitative and extractive to a ‘new normal’ that is by nature restorative and regenerative,” Frischmann says.

The end of energy poverty. Nearly two billion people worldwide lack access to modern financial services like credit cards and bank accounts — making it difficult to do things like start a new business, build a nest egg, or make a home improvement like adding solar panels. Entrepreneur Lesley Marincola is working on this issue with Angaza, a company that helps people avoid the steep upfront costs of buying a solar-power system, instead allowing them to pay it off over time. With metering technology embedded in the product, Angaza uses alternative credit scoring methods to determine a borrower’s risk level. The combination of metering technology and an alternative method of assessing credit brings purchasing power to unbanked people. “To effectively tackle poverty at a global scale, we must not solely focus on increasing the amount of money that people earn,” Marincola says. “We must also increase or expand the power of their income through access to savings and credit.”

Anushka Ratnayake displays one of the scratch-off cards that her company, MyAgro, is using to help farmers in Africa break cycles of poverty and enter the cycle of investment and growth. She speaks at “We the Future.” (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

An innovative way to help rural farmers save. While working for a microfinance company in Kenya, Anushka Ratnayake realized something big: small-scale farmers were constantly being offered loans … when what they really wanted was a safe place to save money. Collecting and storing small deposits from farmers was too difficult and expensive for banks, and research from the University of California, Berkeley shows that only 14–21 percent of farmers accept credit offers. Ratnayake found a simpler solution — using scratch-off cards that act as a layaway system. MyAgro, a nonprofit social enterprise that Ratnayake founded and leads, helps farmers save money for seeds. Farmers buy myAgro scratch cards from local stores, depositing their money into a layaway account by texting in the card’s scratch-off code. After a few months of buying the cards and saving little by little, myAgro delivers the fertilizer, seed and training they’ve paid for, directly to their farms. Following a wildly successful pilot program in Mali, MyAgro has expanded to Senegal and Tanzania and now serves more than 50,000 farmers. On this plan, rural farmers can break cycles of poverty, Ratnayake says, and instead, enter the cycle of investment and growth.

Durable housing for a resilient future. Around the world, natural disasters destroy thousands of lives and erase decades of economic gains each year. These outcomes are undeniably devastating and completely preventable, says mason Elizabeth Hausler — and substandard housing is to blame. It’s estimated that one-third of the world will be living in insufficiently constructed buildings by 2030; Hausler hopes to cut those projections with a building revolution. She shares six straightforward principles to approach the problem of substandard housing: teach people how to build, use local architecture, give homeowners power, provide access to financing, prevent disasters and use technology to scale. “It’s time we treat unsafe housing as the global epidemic that it is,” Hausler says. “It’s time to strengthen every building just like we would vaccinate every child in a public health emergency.”

A daring idea to reduce income inequality. Every newborn should enter the world with at least $25,000 in the bank. That is the basic premise of a “baby trust,” an idea conceived by economists Darrick Hamilton of The New School and William Darity of Duke University. Since 1980, inequality has been on the rise worldwide, and Hamilton says it will keep growing due to this simple fact: “It is wealth that begets more wealth.” Policymakers and the public have fallen for a few appealing but inaccurate narratives about wealth creation — that grit, education or a booming economy can move people up the ladder — and we’ve disparaged the poor for not using these forces to rise, Hamilton says. Instead, what if we gave a boost up the ladder? A baby trust would give an infant money at birth — anywhere from $500 for those born into the richest families to $60,000 for the poorest, with an average endowment of $25,000. The accounts would be managed by the government, at a guaranteed interest rate of 2 percent a year. When a child reaches adulthood, they could withdraw it for an “asset-producing activity,” such as going to college, buying a home or starting a business. If we were to implement it in the US today, a baby trust program would cost around $100 billion a year; that’s only 2 percent of annual federal expenditures and a fraction of the $500 billion that the government now spends on subsidies and credits that favor the wealthy, Hamilton says. “Inequality is primarily a structural problem, not a behavioral one,” he says, so it needs to be attacked with solutions that will change the existing structures of wealth.

Nothing about us, without us. In 2013, activist Sana Mustafa and her family were forcibly evacuated from their homes and lives as a result of the Syrian civil war. While adjusting to her new reality as a refugee, and beginning to advocate for refugee rights, Mustafa found that events aimed at finding solutions weren’t including the refugees in the conversation. Alongside a group of others who had to flee their homes because of war and disaster, Mustafa founded The Network for Refugee Voices (TNRV), an initiative that amplifies the voices of refugees in policy dialogues. TNRV has worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other organizations to ensure that refugees are represented in important conversations about them. Including refugees in the planning process is a win-win, Mustafa says, creating more effective relief programs and giving refugees a say in shaping their lives.

Former member of Danish Parliament Özlem Cekic has a novel prescription for fighting prejudice: take your haters out for coffee. She speaks at “We the Future.” (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Conversations with people who send hate mail. Özlem Cekic‘s email inbox has been full of hate mail and personal abuse for years. She began receiving the derogatory messages in 2007, soon after she won a seat in the Danish Parliament — becoming one of the first women with a minority background to do so. At first she just deleted the emails, dismissing them as the work of the ignorant or fanatic. The situation escalated in 2010 when a neo-Nazi began to harass Cekic and her family, prompting a friend to make an unexpected suggestion: reach out to the hate mail writers and invite them out to coffee. This was the beginning of what Cekic calls “dialogue coffee”: face-to-face meetings where she sits down with people who have sent hate mail, in an effort to understand the source of their hatred. Cekic has had hundreds of encounters since 2010 — always in the writer’s home, and she always brings food — and has made some important realizations along the way. Cekic now recognizes that people of all political convictions can be caught demonizing those with different views. And she has a challenge for us all: before the end of the year, reach out to someone you demonize — who you disagree with politically or think you won’t have anything in common with — and invite them out to coffee. Don’t give up if the person refuses at first, she says: sometimes it has taken nearly a year for her to arrange a meeting. “Trenches have been dug between people, yes,” Cekic says. “But we all have the ability to build the bridges that cross the trenches.”



Bronwyn King leads global pledge for tobacco-free finance, and more TED news

Par Yasmin Belkhyr

The TED community has been making headlines — here are a few highlights.

Tobacco-free finance initiative launched at the UN. Oncologist and Tobacco Free Portfolios CEO Bronwyn King has made it her mission to detangle the worlds of finance and tobacco — and ensure that no one will ever accidentally invest in a tobacco company again. Together with the French and Australian governments, and a number of finance firms, King introduced The Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge at the United Nations during General Assembly week. The aim of the measure is to decrease the toll of tobacco-related deaths, which now stands at 7 million annually. More than 120 banks, companies, organizations and groups representing US$6.82 trillion have joined the launch as founding signatories and supporters. (Watch King’s TED Talk.)

The Museum of Broken Windows. Artists Dread Scott and Hank Willis Thomas are featured in a new pop-up show grappling with the dangerous impact of “broken windows” policing strategies, which target and criminalize low-income communities of color. The exhibition, which is hosted by the New York Civil Liberties Union, explores the disproportionate and inequitable system of policing in the United States with work by 30 artists from across the country. Scott’s piece for the showcase is a flag that reads, “A man was lynched by police yesterday.” Compelled by the police killing of Walter Scott, Scott revamped a NAACP flag from the 1920s and ‘30s for the piece. Thomas’ contribution to the exhibition are poems, letters and notes from incarcerated people titled “Writings on the Wall.” The exhibition is open through September 30 in Manhattan. (Watch Scott’s TED Talk and Thomas’ TED Talk.)

The future of at-home health care. Technologist Dina Katabi spoke at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference about Emerald, the healthcare technology she’s working on to revolutionize the way we gather data on patients at home. Using a low-power wireless connection, Katabi’s device, which she developed with a team at MIT, can monitor patient vital signs without any wearables — and even through walls — by tracking the electromagnetic field surrounding the human body, which shifts every time we move. “The future should be that the healthcare comes to the patient in their homes,” Katabi said, “as opposed to the patient going to the doctor or the clinic.” Some 200 people have already installed the system, and several leading biotech companies are studying the technology for future applications. (Watch Katabi’s TED Talk.)

Does New York City have a gut biome? In collaboration with Elizabeth Hénaff, The Living Collective and the Evan Eisman Company, algoworld expert and technologist Kevin Slavin has debuted an art installation featuring samples of New York City microorganisms titled “Subculture: Microbial Metrics and the Multi-Species City.” Weaving together biology, data analytics and design, the exhibit urges us to reconsider our relationship with bacteria and redefine how we interact with the diversity of life in urban spaces. Hosted at Storefront for Art and Architecture, the project uses genetic sequencing devices installed in the front of the gallery space to collect, extract and analyze microbial life. The gallery will be divided into three spaces: an introduction area, an in-house laboratory and a mapping area that will visualize the data gathered in real time. The exhibit is open through January 2019. (Watch Slavin’s TED Talk.)

TEDxSydney 2017


Society 5.0: Talks from TED and Samsung

Par Brian Greene

Carmel Coscia, vice president of B2B marketing for Samsung Electronics America, welcomes the audience to TEDSalon: Society 5.0, held at Samsung’s 837 Space in New York, September 26, 2018. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

We live in an interconnected world where boundaries between physical and digital spaces are blurring. We can no longer think about innovation in isolation, but must consider how emerging technologies — like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, the Internet of Things, 5G networks, robotics and the decentralized web — will combine to create (we hope!) a super-smart society.

At TEDSalon: Society 5.0, presented by TED and Samsung, seven leaders and visionaries explored the new era of interconnectivity and how it will reshape our world.

Do you know how your data is being used? We tap on apps and devices all day long, not quite grasping that our usage is based on a “power imbalance,” says Finn Lützow-Holm Myrstad, director of digital policy at the Norwegian Consumer Council. Most of us automatically click “yes” to terms and conditions without realizing we have agreed to let companies collect our personal information and use it on a scale we could never imagine, he explains. To demonstrate, Myrstad introduces Cayla, a Bluetooth-connected doll. According to Cayla’s terms, its manufacturer can use the recordings of children and relatives who play with the doll for advertising, and any information it gathers can be shared with third parties. Myrstad and his team also looked at the terms for a dating app, finding that users had unwittingly forked over their entire dating history — photos, chats and interactions — to the app creator forever. After the Council’s investigations, Cayla was pulled from retailers and the app changed its policies, but as Myrstad points out, “Organizations such as mine … can’t be everywhere, nor can consumers fix this on their own.” Correcting the situation requires ongoing vigilance and intention. Companies must prioritize trust, and governments should constantly update and enforce rules. For the rest of us, he says: “Be the voice that constantly reminds the world that technology will only truly benefit society if it respects basic rights.”

Aruna Srinivasan, executive director for the mobile communication trade group GSMA, believes the Internet of Things will improve our quality of life — from tackling pollution to optimizing food production. She speaks at TEDSalon: Society 5.0. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

How the Internet of Things is solving real problems. You’re surrounded by things connected to the internet — from cars and smart elevators to parking meters and industrial machines used for manufacturing. How can we use the data created by all of these connected devices to make the world safer and healthier? Aruna Srinivasan, executive director at the mobile communication trade group GSMA, shows how the Internet of Things (IoT) is helping to solve two pressing issues: pollution and food production. Using small IoT-connected sensors on garbage trucks in London, Srinivasan and her team created a detailed map showing pollution hotspots and the times of day when pollution was worst. Now, the data is helping the city introduce new traffic patterns, like one-way streets, and create bicycle paths outside of the most highly polluted areas. In the countryside, IoT-enabled sensors are being used to measure soil moisture, pH and other crop conditions in real time. Srinivasan and her team are working with China Agricultural University, China Mobile and Rothamsted Research to use the information gathered by these sensors to improve the harvest of grapes and wheat. The goal: help farmers be more precise, increasing food production while preventing things like water scarcity. “The magic of the IoT comes from the health and security it can provide us,” Srinivasan says. “The Internet of Things is going to transform our world and change our lives for the better.”

Web builder Tamas Kocsis is developing his own internet: a decentralized network powered and secured by the people. He speaks at TEDSalon: Society 5.0. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Internet by the people, for the people. Web builder Tamas Kocsis is worried about the future of the internet. In its current form, he says, the internet is trending toward centralization: large corporations are in control of our digital privacy and access to information. What’s more, these gatekeepers are vulnerable to attacks and surveillance, and they make online censorship easier. In China, for instance, where the government tightly controls its internet, web users are prohibited from criticizing the government or talking about protests. And the recent passage of EU copyright directive Article 13, which calls for some platforms to filter user-generated content, could limit our freedom to openly blog, discuss, share and link to content. In 2015, Kocsis began to counteract this centralization process by developing an alternative, decentralized network called ZeroNet. Instead of relying on centralized hosting companies, ZeroNet — which is powered by free and open-source software — allows users to help host websites by directly downloading them onto their own servers. The whole thing is secured by public key cryptography, ensuring no one can edit the websites but their owners — and protecting them from being taken down by one central source. In 2017, China began making moves to block Kocsis’s network, but that hasn’t deterred him, he says: “Building a decentralized network means creating a safe harbor, a space where the rules are not written by political parties and big corporations, but by the people.”

The augmented reality revolution. Entrepreneur Brian Mullins believes augmented reality (AR) is a more important technology than the internet — and even the printing press — because of the opportunities it offers for revolutionizing how we work and learn. At a gas turbine power plant in 2017, Mullins saw that when AR programs replaced traditional training measures, workers slashed their training and work time from 15.5 hours to an average of 50 minutes. Mullins predicts AR will bring a cognitive literacy to the world, helping us transition to new careers and workplaces and facilitating breakthroughs in the arts and sciences. Ultimately, Mullins says, AR won’t just change how we work — it’ll change the fundamentals of how we live.

MAI LAN rocks the stage with a performance of two songs, “Autopilote” and “Pumper,” at TEDSalon: Society 5.0. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

A genre-bending performance. During a musical interlude, French-Vietnamese artist MAI LAN holds the audience rapt with a performance of “Autopilote” and “Pumper.” Alternating between French and English lyrics, lead singer Mai-Lan Chapiron sings over diffuse electronic beats and circular synths, bringing her cool charisma to the stage.

Researcher Kate Darling asks: What can our interactions with robots teach us about what it means to be human? She speaks at TEDSalon: Society 5.0. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Robotic reflections of our humanity. We’re far from developing robots that feel emotions, but we already feel for them, says researcher Kate Darling — and an instinct like that can have consequences. We’re biologically hardwired to project intent and life onto any movement that seems autonomous to us, which sometimes makes it difficult to treat machines (like a Roomba) any differently from the way we treat our own pets. But this emotional connection to robots, while illogical, could prove useful in better understanding ourselves. “My question for the coming era of human-robot interaction is not: ‘Do we empathize with robots?'” Darling says. “It’s: ‘Can robots change people’s empathy?'”

Humans belong in the digital future. Author, documentarian and technologist Douglas Rushkoff isn’t giving up on humans just yet. He believes humans deserve a place in the digital future, but he worries that the future has become “something we bet on in a zero-sum, winner-takes-all competition,” instead of something we work together to create. Humans, it sometimes seems to him, are no longer valued for their creativity but for their data; as he frames it, we’ve been conditioned to see humanity as the problem and technology as the solution. Instead, he urges us to focus on making technology work for us and our future, not the other way around. Believing in the potential and value of humans isn’t about rejecting technology, he says — it’s about bringing key values of our pre-digital world into the future with us. “Join Team Human. Find the others,” Rushkoff says. “Together let’s make the future that we always wanted.”



Reboot: The talks of TED@BCG

Par Brian Greene

CEO of BCG, Rich Lesser, welcomes the audience to TED@BCG, held October 3, 2018, at Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

How do we manage the transformations that are radically altering our lives — all while making a positive impact on our well-being, productivity and the world? In a word: reboot.

For a seventh year, BCG has partnered with TED to bring experts in leadership, psychology, technology, sustainability and more to the stage to share ideas on rethinking our goals and redefining the operating systems we use to reach them. At this year’s TED@BCG — held on October 3, 2018, at the Princess of Wales Theater in Toronto — 18 creators, leaders and innovators invited us to imagine a bright future with a new definition of the bottom line.

After opening remarks from Rich Lesser, CEO of BCG, the talks of Session 1

Let’s stop trying to be good. “What if I told you that our attachment to being ‘good people’ is getting in the way of us being better people?” asks social psychologist Dolly Chugh, professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business. The human brain relies on shortcuts so we can cope with the millions of pieces of information bombarding us at any moment. That’s why we’re often able to get dressed or drive home without thinking about it — our brains are reserving our attention for the important stuff. In her research, Chugh has found the same cognitive efficiency occurs in our ethical behavior, where it shows up in the form of unconscious biases and conflicts of interest. And we’re so focused on appearing like good people — rather than actually being them — that we get defensive or aggressive when criticized for ethical missteps. As a result, we never change. “In every other part of our lives, we give ourselves room to grow — except in this one where it matters the most,” Chugh says. So, rather than striving to be good, let’s aim for “good-ish,” as she puts it. That means spotting our mistakes, owning them and, last but not least, learning from them.

You should take your technology out to coffee, says BCG’s Nadjia Yousif. She speaks at TED@BCG about how we can better embrace our tech — as colleagues. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Treat your technology like a colleague. “The critical skill in the 21st-century workplace is … to collaborate with the technologies that are becoming such a big and costly part of our daily working lives,” says technology advisor Nadjia Yousif. She’s seen countless companies invest millions in technology, only to ignore or disregard it. Why? Because the people using the technology are skeptical and even afraid of it. They don’t spend the time learning and training — and then they get frustrated and write it off. What if we approached new technology as if it were a new colleague? What if we treated it like a valued member of the team? People would want to get to know it better, spend time integrating it into the team and figure out the best ways to collaborate, Yousif says — and maybe even give feedback and make sure the tech is working well with everyone else. Yousif believes we can treat technology this way, and she encourages us to “share a bit of humanity” with our software, algorithms and robots. “By embracing the ideas that these machines are actually valuable colleagues, we as people will perform better … and be happier,” she says.

Confessions of a reformed micromanager. When Chieh Huang started the company Boxed out of his garage in 2013, there wasn’t much more to manage than himself and the many packages he sent. As his company expanded, his need to oversee the smallest of details increased — a habit that he’s since grown out of, but can still reference with humor and humility. “What is micromanaging? I posit that it’s actually taking great, wonderful, imaginative people … bringing them into an organization, and then crushing their souls by telling them which font size to use,” he jokes. He asks us to reflect on the times when we’re most tired at work. It probably wasn’t those late nights or challenging tasks, he says, but when someone was looking over your shoulder watching your every move. Thankfully, there’s a cure to this management madness, Huang says: trust. When we stop micromanaging the wonderfully creative people at our own companies, he says, innovation will flourish.

Dancing with digital titans. Tech giants from the US and China are taking over the world, says digital strategist François Candelon. Of the world’s top 20 internet companies, a full 100 percent of them are American or Chinese — like the US’s Alphabet Inc. and Amazon, and China’s Tencent and Alibaba. Europe and the rest of the world must find a way to catch up, Candelon believes, or they will face US-China economic dominance for decades to come. What are their options for creating a more balanced digital revolution? Candelon offers a solution: governments should tango with these digital titans. Instead of fearing their influence — as the EU has done by levying fines against Google, for instance — countries would be better off advocating for the creation of local digital jobs. Why would companies like Facebook or Baidu be willing to tango with governments? Because they can offer things like tax incentives and adapted regulations. Candelon points to “Digital India,” a partnership between Google and the government of India, as an example: one of the project’s initiatives is to train two million Indian developers in the latest technologies, helping Google develop its talent pipeline while cultivating India’s digital ecosystem. “Let’s urge our governments and the American and Chinese digital titans to invest enough brainpower and energy to imagine and implement win-win strategic partnerships,” Candelon says. The new digital world order depends on it.

Upcycling air pollution into ink. In 2012, a photo of an exhaust stain on a wall sparked a thought for engineer Anirudh Sharma: What if we could use air pollution as ink? A simple experiment with a candle and vegetable oil convinced Sharma that the idea was viable, leading him home to Bangalore to test how to collect the carbon-rich PM2.5 nanoparticles that would make up the ink. Sharma and his team at AIR INK created a device that could capture up to 95 percent of air pollution that passed through it; using it, 45 minutes of diesel car exhaust can become 30 milliliters of ink (or about 2 tablespoons). Artists worldwide embraced AIR INK, and this success brought surprising interest from the industrial world. Sharma realized that by incentivizing corporations to send their pollution to AIR INK, they could upcycle pollution usually headed for landfills into a productive tool. AIR INK won’t necessarily solve global pollution concerns, Sharma says, “but it does show what can be done if you look at problems a little differently.”

Leadership lessons for an uncertain world. Jim Whitehurst is a recovering know-it-all CEO. Kicking off Session 2, Whitehurst tells the story of how his work as the COO of Delta trained him to think that a good leader was someone who knew more than anyone else. But after becoming CEO of RedHat, an open-source software company, Whitehurst encountered a different kind of organization, one where open criticism of superiors — and not exactly following a boss’s orders — were normal. This experience yielded insights about success and leadership, as Whitehurst came to realize that being a good leader isn’t about control and compliance, it’s about creating the context for the best ideas to emerge out of your organization. “In a world where innovation wins and ambiguity is the only certainty, people don’t need to be controlled,” Whitehurst says. “They need to get comfortable with conflict. And leaders need to foment it.”

Elizabeth Lyle shares ideas on the future of leadership in the workplace at TED@BCG. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Why we need to coach people before they lead. The C-suites of corporate America are full of management coaches, yet top-tier execs are not the ones who really need the help, says Elizabeth Lyle, a principal in BCG’s Boston office. “Outdated leadership habits are forming right before our eyes among the middle managers who will one day take their place,” she says. While the uncertain future of work demands new ways of thinking, acting and interacting, tomorrow’s leaders aren’t given the autonomy or training they need to develop — and they don’t ask for it, lest they seem pushy and disagreeable. They also think that they’ll be able to change their behavior once they’ve earned the authority to do things their own way, Lyle says, but this rarely happens. By the time they’re in a high-stakes position, they tend to retreat to doing what their bosses did. The solution: senior leaders must present their direct reports with the opportunities to try new things, and reports should return that trust by approaching their work with thought and creativity. Lyle also suggests bringing in coaches to work in the same room with leaders and reports — like a couples therapist, they’d observe the pair’s communication and offer ideas for how to improve it.

A breakdown, and a reboot. Each of us feels the burden of daily repetitive actions on our bodies and psyches, whether we create them or they’re imposed by outside forces. Left unchecked, these actions can “turn into cages,” says Frank Müller-Pierstorff, Global Creative Director at BCG. In an electronic music performance, he uses soundscapes built out of dense, looped phrases to embody these “cages,” while dancer Carlotta Bettencourt attempts to keep up in an accompanying video — and ultimately shows us what might happen if we could only “reboot” under the weight of our stress.

WWMD? What would MacGyver do? That’s what Dara Dotz asks herself, whether she’s working to help build the first factory in space or aiding survivors of a recent catastrophic event. Much like the fictional genius/action hero, Dotz loves to use technology to solve real-life problems — but she believes our increasing reliance on tech is setting us up for major failure: Instead of making us superhuman, tech may instead be slowly killing our ability to be creative and think on our feet. If disaster strikes — natural or man-made — and our tech goes down, will we still have the ingenuity, resilience and grit to survive? With that concern in mind, Dotz cofounded a nonprofit, Field Ready, to support communities that experience disasters by creating life-saving supplies in the field from found materials and tools. With real-world examples from St. Thomas to Syria, Dotz demonstrates the importance of co-designing with communities to create specific solutions that fit the need — and to ensure that the communities can reproduce these solutions. “We aren’t going to be able to throw tech at every problem as efficiently or effectively as we would like — as time moves on, there are more disasters, more people and less resources,” she says. “Instead of focusing on the next blockchain or AI, perhaps the things we really need to focus on are the things that make us human.”

Rebooting how we work. What are we willing to give up to achieve a better way of working? For starters: the old way of doing things, says Senior Partner and Managing Director of BCG Netherlands, Martin Danoesastro. In a world that’s increasingly complex and fast-paced, we need a way of working that allows people to make faster decisions, eliminates bureaucracy and creates alignment around a single purpose. Danoesastro learned this firsthand by visiting and studying innovative and hugely profitable tech companies. He discovered the source of their success in small, autonomous teams that have the freedom to be creative and move fast. Danoesastro provides a few steps for companies that want to replicate this style: get rid of micro-managers, promote open and transparent communication throughout the organization, and ensure all employees take initiative. Changing deeply ingrained structures and processes is hard, and changing behavior is even harder, but it’s worth it. Ultimately, this model creates a more efficient workplace and sets the company up for a future in which they’ll be better prepared to respond to change.

The power of visual intelligence. Are you looking closely enough? Author Amy Herman thinks we should all increase our perceptual intelligence — according to Herman, taking a little more time to question and ponder when we’re looking at something can have lasting beneficial impact in our lives. Using a variety of fine art examples, Herman explains how to become a more intentional, insightful viewer by following the four A’s: assess the situation, analyze what you see, articulate your observations and act upon them. Herman has trained groups across a spectrum of occupations — from Navy SEALS to doctors to crime investigators — and has found that by examining art, we can develop a stronger ability to understand both the big picture and influential small details of any scene. By using visual art as a lens to look more carefully at what’s presented to us, Herman says, we’ll have the confidence to see our work and the world clearer than ever.

Fintech entrepreneur Viola Llewellyn shares her work pairing AI with local knowledge to create smarter products for the African market. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Culturally attuned microfinance for Africa. Financial institutions in Africa’s business sector don’t have the technology or tools to harness the continent’s potential for wealth, says fintech entrepreneur Viola Llewellyn, opening Session 3. The continent is made up of thousands of ethnic groups speaking more than 2,000 languages among them, rooted in a long, rich history of cultural diversity, tradition and wealth. “You need a deep understanding of nuance and history,” Llewellyn says, “and a respect for the elegance required to code and innovate [financial] products and services for the vast African market.” She cofounded Ovamba, a mobile technology company, to bridge the gap in knowledge between institutions and African entrepreneurs. Working with teams on the ground, Ovamba pairs human insights about local culture with AI to create risk models and algorithms, and ultimately product designs. Llewellyn highlights examples across sub-Saharan Africa that are successfully translating her vision into real-world profit. “In digitizing our future, we will preserve the beauty of our culture and unlock the code of our best wealth traits,” she says. “If we do this, Africans will become global citizens with less reliance on charity. Becoming global citizens gives us a seat at the table as equals.”

Globalization isn’t dead — it’s transforming into something new. All the way up to Davos, business leaders have proclaimed the death of globalization. But Arindam Bhattacharya thinks their obituary was published prematurely. Despite growing economic protectionism, and the declining influence of multilateral trade organizations, business is booming. Technology has allowed data-driven businesses like Netflix to reach their customers instantly and simultaneously — and as a result, Netflix revenues have grown more than five-fold. Netflix is one of a new breed of companies using cutting-edge technology to build “a radical new model of globalization.” And it’s not just data — soon, 3D printing will redefine our supply chains. Working with the manufacturer SpeedFactory, Adidas allows customers to choose designs online, have them printed at a nearby “mini-factory,” and delivered via drone in a matter of days, not weeks or months. Aided by local production, cross-border data flow could be worth $20 trillion by 2025 — more than every nation’s current exports combined. As society becomes “more nationalistic and less and less open,” Bhattacharya says, commerce is becoming more personalized and less tied to cross-border trade. These twin narratives are reinvigorating globalization.

Viruses that fight superbugs. Viruses have a bad reputation — but some might just be the weapon we need to help in the fight against superbugs, says biotech entrepreneur Alexander Belcredi. While many viruses do cause deadly diseases, others can actually help cure them, he says — and they’re called phages. More formally known as bacteriophages, these viruses hunt, infect and kill bacteria with deadly selectivity. Whereas antibiotics inhibit the growth of broad range of bacteria — sometimes good bacteria, like you find in the gut — phages target specific strains. Belcredi’s team has estimated that we have at least ten billion phages on each hand, infecting the bacteria that accumulate there. So, why is it likely you’ve never heard of phages? Although they were discovered in the early 20th century, they were largely forgotten in favor of transformative antibiotics like penicillin, which seemed for many decades like the solution to bacterial infections. Unfortunately, we were wrong, Belcredi says: multi-drug-resistant infections — also known as superbugs — have since developed and now overpower many of our current antibiotics. Fortunately, we are in a good place to develop powerful phage drugs, giving new hope in the fight against superbugs. So, the next time you think of a virus, try not to be too judgmental, Belcredi says. After all, a phage might one day save your life.

Madame Gandhi and Amber Galloway-Gallego perform “Top Knot Turn Up” and “Bad Habits” at TED@BCG. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

How music brings us together. “Music is so much more than sound simply traveling through the ear,” says sign language interpreter Amber Galloway-Gallego, during the second musical interlude of the day. In a riveting performance, musician and activist Madame Gandhi plays two songs — her feminist anthems “Top Knot Turn Up” and “Bad Habits” — while Galloway-Gallego provides a spirited sign language interpretation.

Agreeing to disagree. Our public discourse is broken, says behavioral economist Julia Dhar, and the key to fixing it might come from an unexpected place: debate teams. In the current marketplace of ideas, Dhar says, contempt has replaced conversation: people attack each other’s identity instead of actually hashing out ideas. If we turn to the principles of debate, Dhar believes we can learn how to disagree productively — over family dinners, during company meetings and even in our national conversations. The first principle she mentions is rebuttal: “Debate requires that we engage with a conflicting idea directly, respectfully and face-to-face,” she says — and as research shows, this forces us to humanize the “other side.” Second, ideas are totally separate from the identity of the person advocating for them in debate tournaments. Dhar invites us to imagine if the US Congress considered a policy without knowing if it was Democrat or Republican, or if your company submitted and reviewed proposals anonymously. And third, debate lets us open ourselves up to the possibility of being wrong, an exercise that can actually make us better listeners and decision makers. “We should bring [debate] to our workplaces, our conferences and our city council meetings,” Dhar says — and begin to truly reshape the marketplace of ideas.

A better world through activist investment. Who’s working on today’s most pressing issues? Activist investors, says BCG’s Vinay Shandal, or as he calls them: “the modern-day OGs of Wall Street.” These investors — people like Carl Icahn, Dan Loeb and Paul Singer — have made an art of getting large corporations to make large-scale changes. And not just to make money. They’re also interested in helping the environment and society. “The good news and perhaps the saving grace for our collective future is that it’s more than just an act of good corporate citizenship,” Shandal says. “It’s good business.” Shandal shares examples of investors disrupting industries from retail to food service to private prisons and shows growing evidence of a clear correlation between good ESG (environmental, social and governance) investing and good financial performance. You don’t need to be a rich investor to make a difference, Shandal says. Every one of us can put pressure on our companies, including the ones that manage our money, to do the right thing. “It’s your money, it’s your pension fund, it’s your sovereign wealth fund. And it is your right to have your money managed in line with your values.” Shandal says. “So speak up … Investors will listen.”

TED@BCG - October 3, 2018 at Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Remembering Paul Allen

Par Emily McManus

The directory of the Allen Brain Atlas, at, a huge collection of data from brains (mouse and human) that any scientist can use. The Allen Institute for Brain Science, like several other scientific and technical institutes funded by Paul Allen, does fundamental research that is made openly available.

What’s an appropriate second act after co-founding Microsoft? When Paul Allen left the massive software company, sure, he bought a sports team or two, founded a museum, funded schools and a telescope array, built some lovely buildings. But his deepest impact — even beyond the game-changing software he brought to market — may turn out to be his funding of foundational research in science and tech, driven by public spiritedness and a passion for inquiry.

The Allen Institute — composed of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the Allen Institute for Cell Science and The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group — explores fundamental questions like Can we build an atlas of the brain? and How does a single cell work within a complex system? Meanwhile, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, led by Oren Etzioni, conducts AI research and engineering “all for the common good.” In exploring ground-level questions and openly sharing their findings, these efforts empower future scientists and technologists to push further, faster.

Allen was a longtime TEDster, and this evening, Chris Anderson wrote on Twitter: “It’s been such an honor to have Paul as part of the TED community the past two decades. Despite being so smart and so powerful, he was extraordinarily humble, and contributed to numerous ideas and projects with zero fanfare. We’ll miss him terribly. RIP, Paul.”



Titus Kaphar and Vijay Gupta named MacArthur Fellows, a musical tribute to #MeToo and other TED news

Par Yasmin Belkhyr

As usual, the TED community is busy with new projects and news — here are a few highlights.

Meet two newly minted MacArthur “geniuses.” Visual artist Titus Kaphar and violinist Vijay Gupta have been named 2018 MacArthur Fellows! The fellowship, established in 1981, awards $625,000 over the course of five years to individuals of exemplary creative merit, to spend as they like. Kaphar’s recent projects include The Jerome Project, a painting series on mass incarceration and The Next Haven project, a community space that offers fellowships to artists and curators and mentorship to local high-schoolers. In a video profile, Kaphar said, “I think merging art and history can help motivate social change.” Gupta is a social justice advocate who founded Street Symphony, a nonprofit that centers homeless and incarcerated communities through creative and educational programming in downtown Los Angeles. On his work, Gupta said, “It is as much our job to heal and inspire as it is to disrupt and provoke. It is our job to be the truth tellers of our time.” Congratulations to them both! (Watch Kaphar’s TED Talk and Gupta’s TED Talk.)

SpaceX achieves first California ground landing. Rocket company SpaceX, led by CEO Elon Musk and President Gwynne Shotwell, has landed one of their previously used Falcon 9 rockets on California land for the first time. The Falcon 9 was launched on October 7 to deliver the first of two 3,500-pound Argentinian satellites into low Earth orbit; following the drop-off, the rocket returned to Earth faster than the speed of sound and landed on SpaceX’s new landing pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base, north of LA. The full video of the launch and landing is about 30 minutes long and well worth the watch — it’s history in the making! (Watch Musk’s TED Talk and Shotwell’s TED Talk.)

A powerful musical tribute to #MeToo. In collaboration with singer Jasmine Power, Amanda Palmer has released a new song and video called “Mr. Weinstein Will See You Now,” marking the one-year anniversary of The New York Times exposé on Harvey Weinstein that catalyzed the #MeToo movement. Directed and choreographed by Noémie Lafrance, the video (NSFW) weaves striking visuals and haunting lyrics into a poignant reflection on sexual violence. In a statement, Palmer said, “As we directed the chorus members through our song chorus, I felt this overwhelming emotion come over me as I gazed into the eyes of each and every woman singing along … Women are rising up, everywhere. Change is happening at every level.” All proceeds from the song’s sales on Bandcamp will be forwarded to the Time’s Up legal defense fund. (Watch Palmer’s TED Talk.)

Rethink Robotics shutters. Widely regarded as the company that introduced the world to collaborative robots, Rethink Robotics, co-founded by Rodney Brooks, has closed. Rethink’s starred products, the Sawyer and Baxter robots, were breakthroughs, the first industrial robots built to work safely with people, rather than operated at a distance. The robots were designed to be used by factory floor workers who could program them by moving their “arms” to complete repetitive or dangerous tasks; they also had animated faces to communicate with their human co-workers. In The Verge, Rethink’s lack of commercial success was listed as the main reason for closing. (Watch Brooks’ TED Talk.)

Spittin’ Venom. Musician Reggie Watts debuted a new track on The Late Late Show with James Corden, paying homage to ’90s hip-hop with a hilarious take on Marvel’s new thriller Venom. Written by Demi Adejuyigbe and featuring Jenny Slate, along with a slew of aggressively ’90s outfits, the skit is a fun, quick watch with a surprisingly catchy beat. (Watch Watts’ TED Talk.)



Unconventional ideas: A night of talks from TED and the Brightline Initiative

Par Brian Greene

Ricardo Vargas, executive director of the Brightline Initiative, welcomes the audience to TEDSalon: Unconventional — a night of talks about creating simple and unique solutions to old problems. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Today’s volatile world demands that we do things differently — that we pay attention to things most people don’t see. At TEDSalon: Unconventional, presented by TED and the Brightline Initiative and hosted by TED’s Cloe Shasha and Alex Moura, six leaders and visionaries shared novel ideas that are driving the world’s most impactful organizations.

“Marketoonist” Tom Fishburne shares insights from his dual careers as a marketer and cartoonist, and makes the case for more humor in business. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

The power of laughing at ourselves. A sense of humor is one of the most important — and overlooked — tools in business, says author and cartoonist Tom Fishburne. With his “Marketoonist” cartoons as a backdrop, he shares three ways that laughing at ourselves is good for business. First, humor gives us a way to bond with others, opening up conversations and making people feel connected to each other. It’s also disarming, letting us talk about things that we’d otherwise be uncomfortable bringing up; in other words, “It helps us say what needs to be said.” And humor lets us be vulnerable, to let down our guard and confront our fears. “Fear kills creativity,” Fishburne says, “and humor is our most powerful tool to drive fear out of the system.”

What Henry Ford can teach us about AI. Henry Ford is best known for the assembly line, but a different aspect of his work interests AI strategist Kathryn Hume: charcoal briquettes. Ford began making charcoal in the 1920s to reuse wood scraps from his auto plants, eventually leading to the creation of the charcoal briquette used to power portable grills. By the mid-1930s, he was marketing “picnic kits” for suburban families driving to parks (in their Models Ts, of course), repurposing a byproduct of his core business to develop a whole new revenue stream. Hume brings this concept to her own work, where she helps companies use AI to optimize their current work and then use the data collected to create new businesses. She gives the example of a medical device company that uses machine learning to identify high-risk moments in prostate surgery: each operation has become a learning opportunity, and the data is being repurposed to empower an autonomous surgeon robot. This is the true promise of AI and machine learning, Hume says: using AI to make a process better, and then repurposing the data collected to build something entirely new. Or, as she puts it: “Take the fruits of yesterday’s work and transform it into tomorrow’s value.”

Publisher Chiki Sarkar introduces Juggernaut, a company that creates books and other digital content for users in India, meant to be read on mobile phones. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Transforming reading (and writing) for the smartphone age. Imagine if you could settle into a seat for your train or bus ride home from work, tap an app on your phone and get an engaging story that costs under $1 and occupies you for the length of your commute. That kind of concise, inexpensive, in-app reading experience is available in India via Juggernaut, which Chiki Sarkar cofounded in 2015. Juggernaut content is written specifically for reading on a phone, reflects what’s in the news and serves as a platform for new writers. Anyone can submit a poem, essay, story or novel to be considered for publication and sale on the app. “Just as we redefined what a book is and how a reader behaves, we’re rethinking who an author is,” Sarkar says. “By being everywhere, by being accessible and relevant, I hope to make reading a daily habit — as easy and effortless as checking your email, booking a ticket online or ordering your groceries.”

With her “Spanglish folk blues,” Gaby Moreno performs two songs at TEDSalon: Unconventional. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Spanglish beats. During a musical interlude, singer-songwriter Gaby Moreno brings her soothing and melodic voice to the TED stage. Born and raised in Guatemala, she sings in both English and Spanish, a unique genre she calls “Spanglish folk blues.” Moreno plays two songs, the soulful “O, Me” and mesmerizing “Sálvese Quien Pueda,” leaving the audience in just the right vibe to finish off the evening.

How to learn a language in months, not years. Lýdia Machová loves languages so much that she learns a new one every two years. She’s currently studying her eighth one. Machová is a polyglot — someone who can speak many languages fluently — and part of a large community of people from around the world who are just as passionate as she is about living a linguistically rich life. Each polyglot has their own way of absorbing the rules of conversation, vocabulary and syntax, she says — whether it’s watching episodes of Friends in German or making dinner with an Italian cookbook — but they all share the same four principles. The most important one, she says, is enjoyment. If you can infuse each step of the language-learning process with joy, the rest of the principles should follow easily: creating personalized methods of memorization, incorporating learning into your daily life, and cultivating a large dose of patience — because no language can be fully learned in a day. “If you’ve tried to learn a language and you gave up, thinking it’s too difficult, or you don’t have the language talent — give it another try,” Machová says. “Maybe you’re just one enjoyable method away from learning a language fluently.”

What does it mean to be civil? Author Teresa Bejan thinks that civility is BS — or, at least the way we talk about it is. In the United States, a country that proclaims itself to be diverse and tolerant, disagreements occur often, and in our divided political and social landscape, they can quickly become heated. Calls for civility during high-stakes disagreements can actually serve to silence, berate and dismiss opposing views, Bejan says. Through her research, she found that bringing the idea of civility — or the lack of it — into arguments dates as far back as the 16th century, when theologian Martin Luther called the Pope the “Anti-Christ.” Luther’s opponents spat back insults like “heretic,” “Protestant” and, yes, “uncivil.” The problem with civility talk, she says, is its concern with the manner of discussion rather than the ideas being discussed; accusing someone of incivility during an argument distracts from the dialogue entirely. Bejan suggests that instead we try “mere civility,” which she defines as “being able to disagree fundamentally with others, but doing so without destroying the possibility of a common life tomorrow with the people who are standing in our way today.”



New writing from Casey Gerald, Stephen Hawking’s final book and more TED news

Par Yasmin Belkhyr

The TED community is brimming with new books and projects. Below, a selection of highlights.

A powerful story of an American odyssey. Writer and business leader Casey Gerald has published a new memoir on his journey through American life. Titled There Will Be No Miracles Here, the book tells Gerald’s story from a childhood of scraping by, to Yale University, to his role as the leader of a nonprofit placing MBA graduates in communities where they can share their knowledge and make a difference. In an interview with NYMag, Gerald says, “I feel very certain that this book, writing it and giving it away, was the highest and best use of the luxury of being alive. Only time will tell whether that’s true.” The memoir, which The New York Times calls “magnificent,” can be found in bookstores and online. (Watch Gerald’s TED Talk.)

New insights on the benefits of playing instruments. In collaboration with neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, guitar manufacturer Fender has published a new report on the emotional, physical and mental benefits of playing instruments with a focus on the guitar. The study has some fascinating findings: women make up half of all new and aspiring guitar players, 72% of participants began playing guitar as a way of bettering themselves and 42% of participants considered guitar-playing a part of their identity. On the study, Levitin said, “Playing an instrument has a meditative aspect that can release positive hormones in the brain … When we play an instrument, it allows us to see ourselves differently — taking on something that is seen as being a masterful skill in society.” (Watch Levitin’s TED Talk.)

A free resource on integrating ethics and tech. In a closing keynote at the 2018 Borah Symposium, game designer and technologist Jane McGonigal spoke about the tangible benefits of video games. As quoted in The Argonaut, McGonigal said, “Microsoft Research estimated that the United States’ global life expectancy had increased by 2.825 million years just because of the amount of increase in physical activity [from the release of Pokémon Go]. That’s a real outcome.” McGonigal also discussed Ethical OS, her latest project, a free online ethics toolkit for technology makers and futurists. McGonigal crafted it in collaboration with the Omidyar Network and her team at the Institute for the Future, where she is the Director for Game Research and Development. (Watch McGonigal’s TED Talk.)

Marvel’s SHURI series is here. The Black Panther universe has a new addition: a comic series focusing on Shuri, the princess of Wakanda. Written by Afrofuturist writer Nnedi Okorafor and illustrated by Leonardo Romero, the first issue was released last week. This series signals a departure from the Black Panther lore so far. According to Marvel, SHURI leads the eponymous main character on exciting adventures and challenges as she strives to lead Wakanda — the fictional African country of the Black Panther universe — in the absence of her brother, King T’Challa. The first issue has three gorgeous covers by artist Sam Spratt and the second issue is out next month. (Watch Okorafor’s TED Talk. and read our new interview with her)

Brief Answers to Big Questions. The final book of the late theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking was published in October, seven months after Hawking passed away at age 76. Published by Bantam Books, Brief Answers to Big Questions explores some of life’s greatest mysteries, including the existence of God and the possibility of time travel (spoiler alert: Hawking says no and maybe, respectively). The book was finished and polished by Hawking’s family members, who drew from his research, notes and papers following his death. In addition, Hawking, widely considered one of the most influential scientists of his generation, will be honored at the 2019 Breakthrough Prize ceremony. Hawking was awarded a Special Fundamental Physics Prize by the organization in 2013 for his discovery that black holes emit radiation. (Watch Hawking’s TED Talk.)



The Next Wave: A night of talks from TED and Zebra Technologies

Par Brian Greene

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is bringing a tsunami of change that will dramatically affect how we interact with and adapt to technology. The ways we choose to ride this wave will determine the shape of our future. Will we use this as an opportunity to solve our most pressing issues, or allow it to become a calamity that divides us?

At TED Salon: The Next Wave, presented by TED and Zebra Technologies and hosted by TED’s Bryn Freedman, five speakers and one performer explored the tools and expertise we’ll harness to build the future.

Does artificial intelligence keep humans from learning too? AI is more and more important in our workplaces, but there’s a big catch, says researcher Matt Beane: it’s threatening our own ability to learn on the job. Beane studies the relationship between humans and AI, and he’s found that, in industries ranging from investment banking to surgery, the story is the same: As tools get more sophisticated, workers (especially people just starting out) get fewer opportunities for hands-on learning, the kind that involves struggle, practice and mentorship. The paradox: That’s the very experience necessary to leverage sophisticated tools. “Organizations are trying harder and harder to get results from AI,” he says, “but we’re handling it in a way that blocks learning on the job.” It’s early days for AI in most fields — though by 2030, half a billion of us will be using it in some way — so Beane’s talk is an important corrective right now. What can be done? He shares a vision that flips the current story into one of distributed, AI-enhanced mentorships that empower everyone to learn and grow wiser. 

Tiana Epps-Johnson shares her work helping local election officials learn the skills and technologies they need to run modern-day elections. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Empowering local election officials. “Voting is one of the most tangible ways that each and every one of us can shape our communities,” says civic engagement champion Tiana Epps-Johnson. And yet, compared to the rest of the world, the United States has one of the lowest voter turnout rates. Why does the US fall so far behind? Epps-Johnson identifies the main issue as outdated technology. But her approach to fixing this problem is more targeted than simply getting newer technologies out there. She focuses on an important but untapped resource for election modernization: local election officials. These are the people on the ground, the ones who are supposed to make voting the best possible experience for the voters in their counties. Currently, many of them lack the basic skills needed to achieve this goal. Epps-Johnson works with local election officials to train these officials in the skills needed for modern-day elections — such as using social media to get the word out, harnessing data to improve the voting process, or creating and maintaining a website for voters in their county. “If you’re ready to help millions, if you’re ready to close the gap between the system that we have and the system that we deserve, we need you,” Epps-Johnson says.

Automation and its discontents. What’s the future of work? That’s the question that Roy Bahat, head of the venture firm Bloomberg Beta, has spent the past two years trying to answer. He helped lead a wide-ranging project to understand how technology will impact work over the next 10 to 20 years — interviewing AI experts, video game designers, educators, truckers, inmates and everyone in between to identify concerns and emerging trends. In a candid conversation with Bryn Freedman, curator of the TED Institute, Bahat shares insights from his findings, discussing two major themes that surfaced: stability and dignity. First and foremost, Bahat says, people want a stable and secure income. Beyond that, people kept bringing up the idea of dignity — of feeling needed and finding self-worth through work. As automation increases, we need to create respect for work like caregiving and educating — jobs that can’t be replaced by robots, Bahat says. If we can do that, we’ll be prepared for the future of work.

Design technologist James Morley-Smith shares how a challenging family experience helped him come up with a new approach to design. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Start by thinking about impairments. When design technologist James Morley-Smith’s son Fintan was five months old, he was diagnosed with an eye cancer that eventually led to a complete loss of vision. Fintan, who is “incredibly resilient,” has learned Braille and excels at school and in playing the piano. This last activity led to Morley-Smith’s epiphany — he saw how Fintan’s piano instructor took his impairments into account and decided to teach him songs on only the black keys first so Fintan could use them as anchors for the white keys. In his work at Zebra, Morley-Smith designs for employees who are often in noisy, poorly lit industrial settings and clad in bulky protective gear. By following the black-keys tactic, he’s factoring in users’ limitations from the get-go. By making small changes — such as increasing type size and ensuring that interfaces can be handled easily with gloved fingers — he has increased productivity by up to 20 percent in some cases. Morley-Smith believes we can apply this thinking to every aspect of our lives. “It doesn’t matter what is impairing you from reaching your goals,” he says. “Reframe them so they are no longer a disability, and they might just be the advantage you need.”

Naia Izumi performs his own song, “Soft Spoken,” the elegantly complex tune that won him the 2018 NPR Tiny Desk Contest, during the TED Salon: The Next Wave. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

An electric, genre-bending performance. Singer and guitarist Naia Izumi has had quite a year — while the Georgia native was busking on the streets of Los Angeles, he submitted to the 2018 NPR Tiny Desk Contest, and he won! He’s now busily on tour along the East Coast, and he swung by the TED office to share his winning song. Encouraging the audience to join in the beat, Izumi played his song “Soft Spoken,” a soulful, genre-hopping tune that draws from his personal story and his musical roots, and features his innovative, percussive guitar style under heavenly vocals.

Ensuring our right to cognitive liberty. Brain reading tech is on the horizon, says bioethicist Nita A. Farahany, and we need to be prepared. The technology to translate thoughts is advancing every day; using electroencephalography (EEG) monitors similar to the fitness wristbands that track heart rate and sleep, we can decode thoughts of shapes and numbers — and even track emotional states. Real-world applications of this tech are already in practice globally in the manufacturing, automotive and entertainment industries. While the potential for this technology is groundbreaking and thrilling, Farahany warns of a darker future, in which the government can surveil and criminalize certain thought patterns, and private interests can capture and sell our brain data. The right to cognitive liberty, she says, is a fundamental human right, alongside self-determination and freedom of speech. We need to demand and secure legal protections for our brain data, she concludes, because our right to thought privacy is too important to risk.



Radical Craft: An electrifying evening of talks from the TED World Theater

Par Brian Greene

TED’s Chee Pearlman (right) and Stephen DeBerry welcome the audience to the TED salon Radical Craft, held on November 8, 2018, at the TED World Theater in New York City. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Craft — in the timeless, universal sense of making — connects us all. We craft our environments, our tools and toys, our transport and communications, our world.

At Radical Craft — an evening of talks curated by TED’s design curator, Chee Pearlman, and co-hosted by Pearlman and Stephen DeBerry — seven designers, inventors, artists, musicians and storytellers took to the stage at the TED World Theater. They explored the world of radical making — and shared the beautiful, strange, puzzling and joyful  experiences they found there.

Stephen Doyle leads a double life: by day, he runs a much-lauded design firm, and after hours, he is the maker of radically inventive art. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

A graphic designer who plays with words. Editors and designers are sometimes seen as belonging to separate tribes: the former speaks in the language of words, while the latter communicates in images. Stephen Doyle, a New York City–based graphic designer, happens to be bilingual — and his home is the spot on the Venn diagram where the two camps overlap. “I lift the words off the page and bring them into the three-dimensional world that we live in,” he says. This could mean making the letters on the cover of a Vladimir Nabokov book look like pinned specimens, slyly alluding to the author’s butterfly-hunting habit. Or, to mark the 75th anniversary of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote, blowing up the letters of one of its sentences to be eight feet high, and pasting them on the floor of Grand Central Station for commuters to walk on and absorb. Doyle also delights in cutting up the words from books and reconfiguring them: a paper tank of text rises from the pages of Machiavelli’s The Prince, while a cloud of contagious prose is emitted from Albert Camus’s The Plague. “I get to build sculptures that ask questions, making monuments to language to focus on the profound power and incredible importance of words,” Doyle says, “because words matter.”

Perspective of the world from an astronaut’s point of view. What job is best for a young man who’s been a tennis ace, a cross-country traveler, a chemistry nerd and an NFL draftee? Why obviously: an astronaut. When he was a kid, Leland Melvin never thought he’d be “one of those moon guys,” but as he was presented new opportunities — each grander than the next — he began to see his world open up in the most magnificent ways. By accepting each challenge with an open mind, passion and curiosity, Melvin has lived a storied life on Earth — and in orbit, among the stars in the International Space Station. Traveling at 17,500 miles per hour (and watching the sunrise and sunset every 45 minutes) brought a holistic point of view to his life, one that he’s looking to share. On the TED stage, Melvin urges others to join him in broadening their horizons and appreciating the ways we’re all connected on Earth. “Perspective is something that we all get, that we all have,” he says. “It’s just how far do we open up our blinders to see that shift and change.”

Crush Club brought their funk-inflicted dance pop, driven by groovy guitar riffs and a chic vibe. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

A fusion of funk, pop and Latin rhythms. On the heels of the Salon’s heady opening half hour, New York City’s Crush Club lay down some earthy, Studio 54-infused funk frosted with soaring falsetto vocals. Playing three songs — “My Man,” their new single “Trust” and “We Dance” — the band noticeably raises the temperature in the TED theater. New York-based DJ Jerome keeps the show moving with some electro-acoustic sampling, spinning tunes over the course of whole evening.

Gabby Rivera, the author of Marvel’s America Chavez series, is redefining the concept of superheroes. “That myth of having to go it alone and be tough is not serving us,” she says. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

The superhero we need right now. With Marvel’s America Chavez, writer Gabby Rivera is penning a new kind of superhero — one that reflects the faces of her community in the Bronx and the idea that “soft is the new super.” Informed by her own childhood as a queer Latina in New York City surrounded by strong Puerto Rican women, Rivera built a narrative that resonates with people on the margins, slipping “love notes to [America] and all the other queer kids of color trying to be magnificent.” Throughout the series, Rivera has intentionally made space for America’s (super)humanity, giving her something she says the women of her family never had: the permission to be soft. So, while America is out punching Nazis and fighting off evil corporations, her mentors encourage her to take time to quiet her mind and teach her that asking for help is not weakness. “That myth of having to go it alone and be tough is not serving us,” Rivera says. “Even America Chavez, a whole entire superhero, needed a team of support to find herself … It’s that space where softness and vulnerability meet strength that we transcend our everyday selves.”

The strange, intellectually masochistic and incredibly joyful world of puzzles. What do a video of a chicken-suit-wearing dancer, crowds of LEGO people looking at LEGO versions of famous artworks, and the replica of a WWII cryptographic device built out of cardboard have in common? They’re all examples of the diabolically difficult puzzles in what Alex Rosenthal calls “the Olympics meets Burning Man” for super-nerds: the MIT Mystery Hunt. A marathon puzzle-solving competition, the MIT Mystery Hunt takes place over dozens of sleepless hours, with teams drawn from more than 2,000 scientists, explorers, composers, cryptographers and other thinkers. The teams gather to extract information buried within a puzzle that is “obtuse enough to make you work for it, but elegant enough so that you can get to the ‘aha’ moment where everything clicks into place,” says Rosenthal. It’s this “aha” moment — an almost physical high inspired by a instant mental clarity — that is the true prize of the competition. Humans love puzzles, but solving a challenging conundrum brings us more than mere satisfaction. According to Rosenthal, successful puzzles help build teams, reveal new perspectives, expand your mind — and just may infuse your world with more joy.

Architect Débora Mesa Molina uses standard elements in nonstandard ways, rethinking how overlooked materials can be made into architecture. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Radical architecture. Architect Débora Mesa Molina and her firm Ensamble Studio transform prosaic, undervalued, overlooked materials into breathtaking bespoke structures. Architecture is a balance between following the rules and making room for experimentation, Mesa Molina says — a mixture that characterizes many of her firm’s projects. A cultural building in Santiago de Compostela, for instance, incorporates scavenged chunks of industrial granite — a material required by the city’s building codes — into a bustling urban park. Mesa Molina employed a similar approach for her family’s home in Madrid, using industrial materials to create a comfortable and cozy feel. When the family moved across the Atlantic to Brookline, Massachusetts, they again became their own clients, building a family home from parts they prefabricated themselves from low-cost materials, transforming a parking structure into a home. Mesa Molina finishes her talk with a stunning look at Ensamble’s recent project for the Tippet Rise Art Center, just completed on a 10,000-acre ranch in Montana. Their vision? To create a constellation of spaces across the land, meant to immerse visitors in the surrounding wilderness. “By using the resources at our disposal in radical ways, by making a space for experimentation, we are able to bring to light architectures that find the beauty latent in the raw and imperfect things that surround us,” she says, “that elevate them and let them speak their own language.”



Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu win Tech in Journalism Award and more TED news

Par Yasmin Belkhyr

It’s been a busy few weeks for the TED community. Below, our favorite highlights.

Meet 2018’s Technology in Journalism Honorees. Journalists Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu received this year’s Technology in Journalism Award from the National Press Foundation for their work on “The House That Spied On Me.” The article details how they transformed Hill’s apartment into a fully operational smart home by installing 18 different internet-connected appliances and devices. They tracked and monitored the data each device collected on Hill’s habits with fascinating, even scary, insights for digital home improvement. A hearty congratulations to the both of them! (Watch Hill and Mattu’s TED Talk.)

10 nights of women-led storytelling. Activist Halima Aden, researcher Brené Brown, comedian Maysoon Zayid, model Geena Rocero, artist Cleo Wade and creator Luvvie Ajayi will be featured at Together Live, a touring storytelling event celebrating women through “raw, hilarious, vulnerable, authentic stories.” This year will feature 30 women across 10 cities; the program is produced in collaboration with hellosunshine, a media company founded by Reese Witherspoon. (Watch Aden’s, Brown’s, Zayid’s, Rocero’s, Wade’s and Ajayi’s TED Talks.)

A new documentary on the extraordinary life of Halima Aden. Al Jazeera has released a 25-minute documentary on Halima Aden, exploring the model’s life, ambitions and her mainstream impact in the face of Islamophobia. Aden was born in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp before relocating to Minnesota; she shot to fame as the first hijab-wearing model in the Miss USA pageant. In an interview with Star Tribune, Halima says, “I also do think being black, being Muslim, being Somali, being American on top of that, a lot of different people relate to different parts of my story.” (Watch Aden’s TED Talk.)

Radical hope and laughter. LitHub’s Daniel Asa Rose interviewed writer Anne Lamott on her 18th book, Almost Everything: Notes on Hope. They discussed how to find resounding happiness despite the world’s many miseries. “We need laughter in our lives. Laughter is carbonated holiness,” she says, “I celebrate that we’re all crazy and damaged and we’re all sort of floundering and flailing, and yet we stick together. We take care of each other the best we can. And that is so touching it fills me with hope.” (Watch Lamott’s TED Talk.)

A new cartoon brand launches. Cartoonist Bob Mankoff retired from the New Yorker in May but he hasn’t slowed down — he’s just launched a new cartoon company, Cartoon Collections. To form Cartoon Collections Mankoff merged Cartoon Bank, the cartoon archive he started in the early ’90s, with another archive called CartoonStock. “When you really want to communicate a point in a meaningful way, I think single-panel cartoons can do that better than anything.” he says in an interview with Folio Mag. (Watch Mankoff’s TED Talk.)


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How to radically craft a stage design

Par Samantha Resnik

It’s Friday afternoon, and TED staffers are cutting and folding strips of white felt, carefully sticking the little strips into grates of chicken wire stapled to wooden frames. On the floor are five large wood panels and some metal pans filled with paint. Just a normal day at TED’s headquarters.

In less than a week, we’re hosting a design salon, Radical Craft, in the TED World Theater at our office in Manhattan. With a theme like Radical Craft, the theater’s usual low-key stage design won’t do. So our design curator Chee Pearlman, working with Rockwell Group and graphic designer Stephen Doyle, collaborated with TED’s theater team to make something entirely new. Their brief: Taking inspiration from the graphic identity that TED’s design team created for the salon (which was, in turn, inspired by a Scott Patt painting), bring something crafty, tactile, and handmade to life on stage. Where the white felt comes in? That’s yet to be seen, but there’s a lot of enthusiasm in the room. Nothing like a craft project on a Friday afternoon.

On Friday afternoon, these TED staffers are cutting, folding and placing strips of felt into a chicken-wire grid.  (Photo: Dian Lofton / TED)

On Monday morning, when I walk into work, it smells just faintly like fresh paint. The five wooden panels, now standing up on the stage, have been finger-painted with streaks of purple on emerald green, finger marks twisting and swirling from top to bottom. The artist behind the panels, Stephen Doyle, tells me he was inspired by Richard Long’s mud paintings: “He puts mud on the wall with his hands and leaves handprints. It’s very physical and it’s very human. There’s a craft-meets-humanism in the imperfections.” Seeing these panels painted literally by hand, I understand exactly what he means.

And where’s the white felt and chicken wire that we crafted on Friday? It’s standing onstage too, alternating between the painted panels like a lovely vertical bouquet. I tell Chee how incredible the stage looks, and she confides that the theater team, including my coworker Stephen Robbins, were here all weekend trying to get the look right. And they haven’t finished yet.

TED theater’s audio-video technician Stephen Robbins and design curator Chee Pearlman brainstorm over the painted panels. Their goal: to create a warm, handcrafted look for the stage that will also look great on video later on. (Photo: Dian Lofton / TED)

Tuesday afternoon. I’m sitting in the theater with Donna Pallotta, Art Director at Rockwell Group, and Laurie House, head of the theater team at TED. Their focus now is on lighting. How can our felt panels be lit and colored to achieve the exact look Donna envisioned? After some trial and error, it’s decided that lighting the felt from behind is the way to go, with Chroma-Q Color Force LED batten range lights that can pulse and change color between each talk.

The jewel-toned light, shining up from the floor, turns the felt into a memorizing, glowing backdrop that creates a sense of depth between the finger-painted flats. Donna examines the scene, hands on hips, her well-trained eye scanning what’s in front of her. When I ask what she’s thinking, she says, “I love the idea that the background can be changeable, and you might have a palimpsest of different lighting.” I watch as the light turns from green to blue to pink. It’s all coming together.

Hot pink lighting turns the swirls of felt into a stunning textured backdrop for the hand-painted panels. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Wednesday midday. It’s the day before the event, and the theater is bustling. Wires are coiled and uncoiled, boxes and carts are moving in and out, and the theater team is running around with the purposeful energy of dress rehearsal day, checking and re-checking every detail. It looks great, but there’s still that minor question hanging in the air: Will all these design choices make sense together when the speakers are on stage and the audience is in their seats?

Thursday night: the design salon. As the audience walks in, they see the stage, with the painted panels, the felt, the lights and the graphics all working together, for the first time as a single cohesive thing. And it looks amazing, a celebration of craft and stagecraft — and also a celebration of what can happen within a week when brilliant minds come together.

As the salon starts, something from David Rockwell (the head of Rockwell Group, whose vision inspired this project) pops into my head. It was his response when I asked what “radical craft” meant to him. “The term ‘craft’ tends to bring to mind a finely wrought object that retains the presence of the maker’s hand. But to us, craft is really a collaborative process,” he said. “Craft is about groups of people solving big challenges on the fly and creating the unexpected out of simplicity.”

During the show, the conference graphic is projected on the side walls of the theater. Inspired by a Scott Patt painting, the graphic in turn inspired the multi-layered stage design — which looks great both live and on video behind the band Crush Club. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)



The art of possibility: The talks of TED@Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Par Brian Greene

For a second year, TED and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, have partnered to explore the art of possibility. (Photo: Richard Hadley / TED)

The possibilities life affords us are endless. We can find them everywhere, at the micro and macro levels and across all fields. Do you see them? Look closer: they are there every time we use our curiosity and imagination to explore and try new things.

For a second year, TED and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, have partnered to explore the art of possibility. At this year’s TED@Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, hosted by TED’s international curator Bruno Giussani at Staatstheater Darmstadt on November 26, 2018, a lineup of 13 visionaries, dreamers and changemakers shared the possibilities of past, present and future.

After opening remarks from Stefan Oschmann, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, the talks of Session 1 kick off.

Sharks could be our newest weapons against cancer, says antibody researcher Doreen Koenning. She shares her work at TED@Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. (Photo: Richard Hadley / TED)

Can sharks help us fight cancer? The time-worn cliché, “If you hear hoofbeats, think of horses, not zebras,” is meant to remind us that the most obvious solution is usually the correct ones. Yet antibody researcher Doreen Koenning has dedicated her career to doing exactly the opposite — and in the process, she’s uncovered surprising weapons that may help us fight cancer. Koenning studies sharks — specifically, their antibodies, which are unusually stable and robust, and which interact with a wide variety of complex molecules. What does this have to do with cancer? Medicines made from human antibodies help us battle cancer — but since they blend into our immune system so well, it’s difficult to track their side effects. Shark antibodies, by contrast, stand out like a sore thumb. Because of this, they could become a valuable tool for neglected diseases and clinical drug trials — and potentially create a new breed of cancer medicines. In the end, Koenning reminds us that we can find useful molecules in many other species, each of them having very special traits. So our search for “zebras” shouldn’t stop at the shark tank.

By bridging immunology and biology, we can engineer vaccines that evolve alongside the superbugs, says pharmacist Vikas Jaitely. He speaks at TED@Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. (Photo: Richard Hadley / TED)

We can fight antibiotic-resistant superbugs with a new class of vaccines. We urgently need to revamp our approach to developing solutions for bacterial diseases, says pharmacist Vikas Jaitely. Deadly superbugs like MRSA and Clostridium difficile are quickly evolving to resist antibiotics by continuously mutating their genes and even borrowing stronger DNA from other bacteria. Although medical science is trying to keep up, these strains are progressing at a much faster rate than our antibiotics; by 2050, superbugs could claim up to 10 million lives a year globally. Jaitely proposes a new source of help: learning directly from the bacteria and developing what he calls an “ecosystem of evolving vaccines” that can be rapidly modified to target ever-changing bacteria strains. Jaitely says that by modeling superbug behavior and tracking the most probable adaptations (similar to how we approach the flu virus), we can engineer vaccines that evolve alongside the superbugs, functioning as protective shields in our bodies. By “bridging immunology and biology,” he concludes, “we can remove these bugs’ superpowers through the power of our own immune systems, fully trained by these new vaccines.”

What your breath could reveal about your health. There’s no better way to stop a disease than catching and treating it early, before symptoms show. That’s the whole point of medical screening techniques like radiography, MRIs and blood and tissue tests. But there’s a medium with overlooked potential for medical analysis: your breath. Technologist Julian Burschka shares the latest in the art of breath analysis — the screening of the volatile organic compounds we exhale — and how it can be used to better understand the biochemical processes happening inside a patient’s body. Burschka explains how research on breath analysis has skyrocketed recently, and that there’s substantial data suggesting that diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes and even colon cancer can be detected in our breath. As the technology matures, the decision of whether or not to treat a disease based on early detection will still be debated, Burschka says. But it’s opening up exciting new possibilities like the creation of longitudinal data that could track the same patient over her lifetime, enabling doctors to detect abnormalities based on a patient’s own medical history, not the average population. “Breath analysis should provide us with a powerful tool not only to proactively detect specific diseases, but also to predict and ultimately prevent them,” Burschka says.

The possibilities of dynamic lighting. Light is all around us, yet many of us don’t realize how much of an effect it has on our behavior and productivity. Lighting researcher Sarah Klein believes we can use lighting to improve our daily lives. Lighting is often chosen with installation costs in mind — not designed to help us feel our best. Klein thinks we should change that approach and make it work with our biological needs. She suggests a “dynamic light system” — a network of adjustable, condition-specific LED lights that NASA uses to help their astronauts get the right amount of sleep. This kind of solution isn’t just for astronauts — it can be useful back on Earth, too, Klein says. For example, a dynamic light system could help travelers cope with jetlag on airplanes and enable people to heal faster in hospitals. Now that we know the impact that light has on us, she says, “We can create a healthier environment for our colleagues, our friends, our families — and ultimately ourselves.”

The impact of a TED Talk, one year later. In a personal, eye-opening talk at last year’s TED@Merck, patient advocate Scott Williams highlighted the invaluable role of informal caregivers — those friends and relatives who go the extra mile for their loved ones in need. More than a million views later, Williams is back on the TED stage, discussing the impact of his talk both within Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and on the general public. Since the talk, the company has launched a program called Embracing Carers that supports informal caregivers, and people from around the world have reached out to Williams to share their stories and perspectives. Now, Williams and Embracing Carers are partnering with like-minded organizations, such as Eurocarers and the American Cancer Society (and actor Rob Lowe!), to share tools and resources. “This journey generated interest and brought people together,” Williams says. “It sparked a dynamic conversation about the situation of carers.”

A grassroots healthcare revolution in Africa. The last several decades have brought revolutionary advances in medical technology — and yet, according to the World Health Organization, half of the world’s population still can’t get basic health care. How can we fix this glaring gap? Inclusive health care advocate Boris A. Hesser believes that the answer lies in community pharmacies, and developing them into bonafide centers of care. Throughout Africa, for example, small pharmacies can be logical local service points for basic medical care and long-term patient outcomes — if they can access the tools they need. Hesser’s team has already built five basic, sustainable facilities around Nairobi that provide preventative care, affordable medication and even refrigeration for medicines. It’s one step in bringing affordable health care to everyone, everywhere.

Scientist Li Wei Tan is passionate about bubbles. At TED@Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, she shares the magic of these soapy spheres. (Photo: Richard Hadley / TED)

The wonderful, surprisingly scientific world of bubbles. Ink formulation scientist Li Wei Tan wants to burst your bubble. It’s actually her job to do just that; when you hold a smartphone, it’s her work that helps give the screen such a crisp, clear quality, by removing the micro- and nano-sized bubbles that want to live in the ink beneath the screen. Tan knows all about the secret world of bubbles — how to remove tiny ones and create the giant bubbles that may have fascinated you as a child — and shares the magic of these soapy spheres. Bubbles are mathematical marvels because they’re constantly seeking geometric perfection, which gives them their shape, Tan says. (Did you know six connected bubbles form a cube in the center?) And these spectacular orbs have influenced industries from manufacturing and shipping (where boats are trying to mimic the bubble-producing tendencies of swimming penguins) to medicine — even down to the tiny bubbles in champagne. “As a scientist who is passionate about bubbles,” she says, “I love to see them, I love to play with them, I love study them, and also I love to drink them.”

Why multitasking works — if we slow it down. “To do two things at once is to do neither,” so the saying goes. But economist and journalist Tim Harford thinks that doing two things at once — or three or even four — is exactly what we should be going for, so long as we slow down to do them right. Harford calls this concept “slow-motion multitasking,” and it’s a pattern of behavior common in highly creative people of all stripes — from Einstein and Darwin to Michael Crichton and Twyla Tharp. Slow-motion multitasking is “when we have several projects in progress at the same time, and we move from one to the other and back again as the mood takes us or the situation demands,” he says. The benefits of this approach are manifold. For instance, creativity often comes from moving an idea out of its original situation and into a new context. As Harford puts it: “It’s easier to think outside the box if you spend some time clambering from one box to another.” What’s more, learning to do one thing may help you do something else. Harford gives the example of medical trainees who became significantly better at analyzing and diagnosing images of eye diseases after spending time studying art. And by balancing several fulfilling projects at once, Harford explains, you’re less likely to get stuck: a setback on one project presents itself as an opportunity to work on another. So how do you keep all these creative pursuits straight in your head? Harford suggests storing related information in separate boxes — whether these are actual physical boxes or digital folders — that can be easily accessed when inspiration strikes. “We can make multitasking work for us, unleashing our natural creativity,” Harford says. “We just need to slow it down.”

Breaking down cultural barriers — with cake. Materials scientist Kathy Vinokurov says that when faced with cultural boundaries in unfamiliar environments, we should be bold and take the first step to bridge those gaps. Born in Russia, Vinokurov moved to Israel as a teenager, where she says she built an imaginary wall between her and her classmates. Fast forward to a new job in Germany later in life and Vinokurov realized she had done the same thing at her workplace. While we can’t control the perceptions others have of us, Vinokurov says, we can control how we communicate and share with those around us. She suggests that when we’re in new settings, we can ease cultural barriers by showing up as our full, authentic selves — and, perhaps, bringing sweet treats from home, like cake. “This opens up the possibility to talk about all the bricks that, if not addressed, may build that wall,” Vinokurov says. While not everyone will immediately open up, she encourages us to spark conversation and “cultural barriers will start to melt away.” Though the tensions of a new workplace can be daunting, sometimes it really is as easy as pie.

By combining AI and blockchain, we could enter an era where we render all data — published and unpublished — searchable and shareable, says complexity specialist Gunjan Bhardwaj. He shares his vision of the future at TED@Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. (Photo: Richard Hadley / TED)

Technological tools for mining medical data. Complexity specialist Gunjan Bhardwaj begins his talk with a grim statement: “All of us in this room have a friend or a loved one who has suffered from a life-threatening disease.” When faced with this reality, we find ourselves trying to sort through a mountain of medical data to figure out what therapies are available, pinpoint where we can get them and identify the best experts to help. And this mountain is constantly growing; according to a study by Peter Densen: at the present rate, medical knowledge will double itself every 73 days in the year 2020. Doctors and researchers — let alone patients and their families — will find it impossible to attain a cohesive view of this “deep, dense and diverse” data. Bharwaj identifies two potential technological solutions to this problem: artificial intelligence and blockchain. An AI trained in the specialized language of medical science could crawl data and enable users to answer their most pressing questions. And using blockchain to encrypt siloed, proprietary and otherwise unavailable data could allow researchers to share their unpublished findings more securely, sparking innovation. By combining AI and blockchain, we could enter an era where we render all data — published and unpublished — searchable and shareable. “That era is now,” Bharwaj says.

The self-assembling circuits of the future. We’ve all experienced the frustration of an old computer or smartphone grinding to a halt. It’s the circuits to blame. In time, if we don’t develop better hardware for evolving tech like facial recognition and augmented reality, we could hit a point where the mind-blowing potential of software may be limited, warns developer Karl Skjonnemand. Right now, much of our technology runs thanks to transistors — big, hulking machines that after 50 years of continuous reinvention are now smaller than a red blood cell. But Skjonnemand says that we’re reaching their physical limits, while still needing to go smaller. It’s time for a totally different, robust and cost-effective approach inspired by nature and brought to life by science: designing self-assembling materials after membranes and cell structures in order to continue with the spectacular expansion of computing and the digital revolution. “This could even be the dawn of a new era of molecular manufacturing,” says Skjonnemand. “How cool is that?”

What should electric cars sound like? Renzo Vitale designs an automotive system that few of us consider — the sonic environments cars produce. Electric cars, with their low audio footprints, offer some welcome silence in our cities — as well as new dangers, since they can easily sneak up on unsuspecting pedestrians. So what kind of sounds should they make to keep people safe? Instead of an engine sound, Vitale explores “sonic textures that are able to transmit emotion … connecting feelings and frequencies” that “speak to the character and identity of the car” — or “sound genetics.” In practice, this could mean a car that sounds like a harmonious synthesizer reaching crescendo as it accelerates. Vitale is also an artist and a performer, using his automotive environments as blueprints for mind-boggling installations and musical scores. To close of his talk, he plays selections from his piano albums, Storm and Zerospace.

At TED@Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, Daniel Sherling shares his work bringing the joy of science to American kids who don’t have access to high-tech facilities. (Photo: Richard Hadley / TED)

How a shipping container sparks students’ curiosity. “How can students get excited about science if they don’t have access to the resources that actually make science fun?” asks science education promoter Daniel Sherling. With his team at MilliporeSigma, Sherling transformed a yellow shipping container into a “Curiosity Cube” — a mobile science lab meant to create an engaging, dynamic learning environment. Inside the Curiosity Cube, students can find technology like programmable robots, 3D printers, interactive microscopes, virtual reality and more. The Cube is strapped to a trailer and travels throughout North America, visiting schools that lack the resources for real hands-on science experiments. This way, he says, interactive science can be brought to the students who need it most. And on weekends, families and students can find the Cube in large city centers or public spaces. It’s open to anyone interested in learning more about science — no matter their age. “If we can expose students to the wonders of science, if we can get them just that much more excited for science class the next day, we truly believe we can have a domino effect,” says Sherling. “Because what students need is the opportunity to see and experience how awesome science is. To feel safe to learn, to build their confidence, and most importantly to have their curiosity sparked.”

Deutsche Philharmonie Merck wrapped up the evening with a piece composed by Ben Palmer in 2018 to celebrate the 350th anniversary of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. (Photo: Richard Hadley / TED)

“Part II. The Journey Through Time.” After closing remarks from Belén Garijo, CEO Healthcare, at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, Deutsche Philharmonie Merck wraps up the evening performing a piece composed by its conductor Ben Palmer in 2018 to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the company. This is followed by a second piece by Mikhail Glinka, “Ruslan and Lyudmila,” an overture based on a poem by Pushkin, providing a contemplative melody with toiling bravado, soaring strings and notes of inspiration — which one could imagine as the sounds of a working mind struck by brilliance.

TED@Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany at Staatstheater Darmstadt, November, 26, 2018.


Propelled by possibility: Tarana Burke speaks at TEDWomen 2018

Par Oliver Friedman

“Trauma halts possibility; movement activates it.” The founder of the Me Too movement, Tarana Burke, is the first speaker at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, on November 28, 2018, in Palm Springs, California. (Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED)

Watch Tarana Burke’s TED Talk »

In 2006, Tarana Burke was consumed by a desire to do something about the rampant sexual violence she saw in her community. She took out a piece of paper, wrote “Me Too” across the top and laid out an action plan for a movement centered on the power of empathy between survivors — a movement that could open up the possibility of healing.

Over the next decade, the Me Too movement steadily helped survivors of sexual violence, particularly Black women and girls, find pathways to healing. In 2017, the movement gained a hashtag and sparked a global conversation on social media among survivors and supporters.

Yet as Burke takes the stage at TEDWomen 2018, she admits a hard truth: “I am numb.”

For Burke, numbness is not an absence of feeling — it’s an accumulation of feelings. It’s the memories that creep up in the middle of the night that can’t be fought off, the sense of the magnitude of the task ahead. And she recognizes that this feeling has spread. “For survivors, we often have to hold the truth of our experience,” she says. “But now we are all holding something, whether we want to or not.”

What might we all be holding on to? Burke reflects on the Kavanaugh hearings, the criticism of survivors that’s come out of the White House — and a media backlash that has framed the Me Too movement as a witch hunt, out to destroy due process or start a gender war. “Suddenly, a movement to center survivors of sexual violence is being talked about as a vindictive plot against men,” Burke says. At times, the movement she sees portrayed in the media is almost unrecognizable to the one she started over a decade ago.

So Burke wants to be clear about what the Me Too movement is. “This is a movement about the one in four girls and the one in six boys who are sexually abused every year, and who carry those wounds into adulthood,” she says. It’s about the far-reaching power of empathy and the millions of people who raised their hands a year ago to say “me too” — and still have their hands raised.

Amid the upheaval of this historical moment, it’s understandable that many of us have been left numb, she says. “This accumulation of feelings that so many of us are feeling together across the globe is collective trauma,” Burke says. But it is also the first step toward building the world we need right now. “This is bigger than a moment,” she says. “We are in a movement.”

In Burke’s eyes, the most powerful movements have always been about a bigger shared vision of what’s possible, not just the acknowledgment of what is now. Recalling Dr. King’s famous quoting of Theodore Parker — “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice” — Burke reminds us that someone has to bend it.

“My vision for the Me Too movement is part of a collective vision to see a world free of sexual violence,” she says. “I believe we can build that world. Full stop.”

How can we reach this world? We start by dismantling the building blocks of sexual violence: power and privilege. This starts by shifting our culture away from a focus on individual bad actors or depraved, isolated behavior. Instead, we must recognize that any person sitting in a position of power comes with privilege, rendering those without power vulnerable — whether it’s a boss and employee, coach and athlete, landlord and tenant or another similar dynamic. “We reshape that imbalance [of power] by raising our voices against it in unison, by creating spaces that speak truth to power,” she says. “We have to re-educate ourselves and our children to understand that power and privilege doesn’t always have to destroy and take — it can be used to serve and build,” she says.

At the same time, Burke reminds us that the work of the Me Too movement is to teach survivors it’s OK not to lean in to the trauma. Rather being forced to replay their experiences in public for others’ awareness, Burke says, survivors should be given space to find and create joy in their lives.

Looking back on the origin of the Me Too movement in 2006, Burke returns to the notion of possibility. “I have been propelled by possibility for most of my life,” she says. “Possibility is a gift. It births new worlds and it births vision … Those who came before didn’t win every fight. But it did not kill their vision, it fueled it.”

For that reason, Burke refuses to give up — and asks that we do the same. “We owe future generations nothing less than a world free of sexual violence,” she says. “I believe we can build that world. Do you?”



Showing up: Notes from Session 1 of TEDWomen 2018

Par Brian Greene

Propelled by possibility, Tarana Burke opens TEDWomen 2018 with a powerful call to action: “We owe future generations nothing less than a world free of sexual violence,” she says. (Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED)

Women the world over are no longer accepting the status quo. They’re showing up and pushing boundaries. Whatever their focus and talent — business, technology, art, science, politics — pioneers and their allies are joining forces in an explosion of discovery and ingenuity to drive real, meaningful change.

At TEDWomen 2018 — three days of ideas and connections at La Quinta Resort and Club in La Quinta, California — a dynamic and diverse group of leaders, thinkers and people seeking change are facing challenges head-on while empowering us all to shape the future we want to see. The conference kicked off with an electrifying session hosted by TEDWomen curator Pat Mitchell on Wednesday night — with talks and performances by Simona Abdallah, Tarana Burke, Ai-jen Poo, Dolores Huerta, Ashweetha Shetty, Katharine Wilkinson, Marian Wright Edelman and Flor de Toloache.

A rallying beat to show up and be. Percussionist Simona Abdallah opens TEDWomen with a rapturous bang of the darbuka, a drum of Middle Eastern origin traditionally played by men. Beneath a spotlight with eyes closed and face alight with expression, Abdallah fills the room with the crisp, resounding rhythms of her drum. Her passion and talent in percussion has vaulted her over barriers to international success. And as she welcomes the audience to clap along, it feels like an invitation for everyone watching to find the rhythm of their own.

Propelled by possibility. In 2006, Tarana Burke was consumed by a desire to do something about the rampant sexual violence she saw in her community. She took out a piece of paper, wrote “Me Too” across the top and laid out an action plan for a movement centered on the power of empathy between survivors. More than a decade later, she reflects on the state of what has now become a global movement — and makes a powerful call to action to end sexual violence. “We owe future generations nothing less than a world free of sexual violence,” she says. “I believe we can build that world.” Read a full recap of her talk here.

Activist Ai-jen Poo shares her work helping overlooked domestic workers get a chance at a better life — as well as stories from the US-Mexico border, where migrant children are being separated from their families. She speaks at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, on November 28, 2018, in Palm Springs. (Photo: Callie Giovanna / TED)

What domestic workers can teach us about creating a more humane world. What is it like to be both absolutely essential and yet completely invisible? What is it like to care for the world’s most treasured humans but not be seen as possessing value of one’s own? These riddles help capture the painful existence of domestic workers — the nannies, cleaners, elder-care attendants and other low-paid laborers to whom many people entrust their loved ones and their homes. Their lack of status is tied to gender and race, as domestic workers are overwhelmingly women of color, says Ai-jen Poo, executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA). For the past two decades, NDWA has pressed state legislatures to pass laws protecting such employees from discrimination and harassment and granting them basic benefits like paid time off and days of rest. But despite mistreatment and outright abuse, the workers she’s met are unstinting in their devotion to the people they’re hired to nurture, “to care no matter what.” In June 2018, Poo and other allies stood vigil at a border processing center in Texas, where they saw separated migrant children herded onto buses, their hands reaching through the windows for help. She recalls thinking, “If domestic workers were in charge, this never would have happened. Our humanity would never be so disposable that they would be treated this way.” She concludes: “We live in a time of moral choices. Everywhere we turn is full of moral choices, whether it’s at the border, at the ballot box, in our workplaces or in our homes. As you go about your day and you encounter these moral choices … think like a domestic worker who shows up and cares no matter what.”

Can women change the world? “¡Si se puede!” — “Yes we can!” Helen Keller once pointed out that while science has been able to cure many evils, it has found no remedy for the worst human evil of all: apathy. And legendary civil rights activist Dolores Huerta believes that this evil cripples those who should wield the most power: women. Why do so many women become apathetic? Huerta believes that they’re traumatized by aggression, taught to be victims, and are so overwhelmed by their emotive duties that they feel they don’t have the resources to become activists or to make demands of elected officials. But if the world is going to change, women must not only vote, they also must get others to vote — and vote people-centric activists into power. According to Huerta (building on an idea of Coretta Scott King), we will never have peace in the world until feminists take power. “We have power. Poor people have power. Every citizen has power, but in order to achieve the peace that we all yearn for, then we’ve all got to get involved.”

One woman’s story of perseverance. In a powerful personal talk, education advocate Ashweetha Shetty describes how she fought societal assumptions in her rural community in India — and ultimately found purpose creating opportunities for others through her foundation, Bodhi Tree. Throughout her life, Shetty felt boxed into the traditional domestic role assigned to her and other women in her village; she was told that because she was a poor rural girl, she wasn’t worthy of education. But she persisted, defying norms to graduate from college and land a prestigious year-long fellowship in Delhi. Now, she works to empower rural girls to pursue education and reclaim their voices and passions. Through Bodhi Tree, Shetty is determined to help create “a world where a girl like me is no longer a liability or a burden but a person of use, a person of value, a person of worthiness.”

“To address climate change, we must make gender equity a reality,” says Katharine Wilkinson of Project Drawdown. “And in the face of a seemingly impossible challenge, women and girls are a fierce source of possibility.” (Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED)

Women and girls can heal mother earth. Author and environmentalist Katharine Wilkinson believes in the potential of girls and women to fight climate change — that by rising up to fight, emissions can be brought down. As vice president of communication and engagement at Project Drawdown, Wilkinson has spent the past several years studying how we can reverse global warming — and how climate change disproportionately affects women and girls. But if we can gain ground on gender equity, we also gain ground on addressing global warming. She outlines three key areas to tackle in order to fight global warming and empower women. First, we must support women smallholders — women who grow food on small areas of land with little resources. If we give these women access to better resources, their farm yields could increase by as much as 30 percent. Better farming on smaller plots could cause emissions from deforestation to drop. Wilkinson’s second solution is education. When women and girls are educated, they have more control over their health and finances, as well as the ability to succeed in a climate-changing world, she says. Educated women also marry later in life and have fewer children. Finally, Wilkinson calls for access to voluntary and high-quality reproductive healthcare. Giving more women control over the size of their family may mean one billion fewer people inhabiting Earth in 2050. “We need to break the silence around the condition of our planet,” Wilkinson says. “To address climate change, we must make gender equity a reality. And in the face of a seemingly impossible challenge, women and girls are a fierce source of possibility.”

Passion, purpose and advocacy. Marian Wright Edelman started the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) 45 years ago. She’s been on the front lines fighting for children ever since. In conversation with Pat Mitchell, Wright Edelman discusses her upbringing in the segregated American South, the beginning of the CDF and how growing older has made her more radical. “God runs a full-employment economy, and if you just follow the need, you’ll never lack for purpose in life,” Wright Edelman says, echoing the call to action she heard her father repeat growing up. After working with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on the Poor People’s Campaign for two years, Wright Edelman started the CDF, and since then the Fund has taken up causes borne out of the experiences Wright Edelman had growing up — things like immunization against preventable diseases and unequal access to education. Now she sees her purpose as drawing attention to injustice wherever it harms children and building a better world for the next generation. “We are not finished,” she says. “We are not ever going to feel finished until we end child poverty in the richest nation on earth.”

Mariachi band Flor de Toloache wrapped the opening session of TEDWomen 2018 with heartfelt music played from the soul. (Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED)

Mariachi that will put a spell on you. Named after the Mexican medicinal flower (also known for its use in love potions), Latin Grammy-winning mariachi band Flor de Toloache wrapped the opening session of TEDWomen 2018 with heartfelt music played from the soul. Between songs, the all-female group shared the tale of how they came together in New York City, connected by passion and the desire to create a sound that both celebrates and expands the genre and tradition of mariachi. Their soaring, bilingual vocals and masterful playing brought the stage to life with light, sincerity and spell-binding melodies.



Getting started: Notes from Session 2 of TEDWomen 2018

Par Brian Greene

Amanda Williams explores the colors of her hometown neighborhood in Chicago — including the colors of historic redlining — in a bold project called “Color(ed) Theory.” She speaks at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, on November 29, 2018, in Palm Springs. (Photo: Callie Giovanna / TED)

In an early morning session hosted by podcaster and TED2017 speaker Manoush Zomorodi, six speakers — Lucy Cooke, Ayanna Howard, Nivruti Rai, Monique W. Morris, Karissa Sanbonmatsu and Amanda Williams — brought us insights from the worlds of AI, robotics, epigenetics, education, and the wonderfully slow world of the sloth.

Sustainability lessons from the sloth. Sloths have a reputation for being languorous and lazy — they’re named after one of the seven deadly sins, after all. But they are misunderstood, says zoologist Lucy Cooke, who has spent more than a decade documenting the strange lives of the world’s slowest mammal. She’s come away with an important insight: “Learning the truth about the sloth may help save us and the planet we both call home,” she says. Sloths come from an ancient line of mammals that has been around for more than 40 million years (compared to around 300,000 years for humans). The secret to their success lies in their slow, sustainable and, well, slothful existence — which is more mindful than lazy, Cooke says. For instance, sloths have a massive four-chambered stomach and an unbelievably slow metabolism, sometimes taking up to one month to process a single leaf. This pace lets them eat many varieties of leaves, including some that would poison other, faster-digesting animals. They also have more neck bones than any other mammal — even giraffes — allowing them to turn their heads up to 270 degrees to graze without having to waste energy moving their body. Cooke thinks we can take a lesson from the sloth’s playbook: While we might not be able to lower our metabolism, we can slow down, reduce waste, and be more economical with our energy. If we can do this, we just might have a chance to hang around as long as the sloth.

Building robots that are friends, not foes. Robots aren’t perfect — after all, their algorithms are trained by flawed humans. AI can inherit our biases; an AI might recognize a man with a spatula as a woman, or a woman driving a car as a man. Roboticist Ayanna Howard asks: Why do we rely on biased algorithms to run our robots, and how do we fix them? We have an emotional connection to these robotic systems, Howard suggests. They take the chaos that is in our life and make it a little bit manageable — and thus, we treat them as authority figures, and allow them to pressure us to making emotional decisions. But there is hope. We can train robots to be better than us, and we can hold robot creators accountable for their creations. It’s not really the robots that we fear, Howard says — at the end of the day, we fear ourselves. She implores us to create a better future where robots are our friends, not foes.

Building AI “guardian angels.” Imagine an extra brain that knows us better than we know ourselves, that exists “with us, beside us, experiencing our world with us … always connected, always processing, always watching.” Nivruti Rai believes that AI systems could become these kinds of guardian angels. She and her research team have analyzed mountains of traffic data In India, where vehicles of every type and speed compete with humans (and animals) for road space. Machine-learning algorithms thrive on regular, repetitive data, but Indian roadways are loaded with “corner cases” — one-in-a-million incidents that present major obstacles to comprehending complex traffic systems. Rai is using these to her advantage, building an open-source database that includes corner cases to help train safer, more robust autonomous driving algorithms. If AI systems can safely navigate India’s traffic patterns, then they surely can solve other complex problems, she says — as long as we have a sufficiently robust data set.

Education is freedom work. “Around the world, black girls are struggling to be seen, working to be free and fighting to be included in the landscape of promise that a safe educational space provides,” says author and social justice scholar Monique W. Morris. In America, she tells us, black girls are seven times more likely than others to get suspended and three times more likely to be sent to juvenile court; they are overrepresented across the spectrum of disciplinary action in schools. Age compression is partly to blame — studies show that people perceive black girls as older (and less in need of protection) than they actually are — and their very appearance can be targeted for punishment, like the group of high-schoolers in South Africa who were penalized for wearing their hair in its natural state. (“Where can we be black if we can’t be black in Africa?” the girls asked.) Morris advises parents to start conversations with schools so that practices that harm black girls are eliminated. If schools are to be places of healing, she says, they’ll need fewer police officers and more counselors. “If we commit to this notion of education as freedom work, we can shift educational conditions so that no girl — even the most vulnerable among us –will get pushed out of school,” Morris says. “And that’s a win for all of us.”

Karissa Sanbonmatsu is a geneticist who explores what information we store in our genes — including surprising information about gender. She speaks at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, on November 29, 2018, in Palm Springs. (Photo: Callie Giovanna / TED)

What does it mean to be a woman? A scientist’s perspective. Biology researcher Karissa Sanbonmatsu studies DNA and why it gets itself all tied up in knots: the bends and folds that affect our lives on a fundamental level. As a scientist and trans woman, she and several other women across scientific disciplines are using epigenetics to search for the biomarkers that define gender on a molecular level by observing these twisty DNA structures. “One of the stunning things about our cells is that the components inside them are actually biodegradable,” she says. “They dissolve and then they’re rebuilt each day — kind of like a traveling carnival.” It’s this discovery that’s led to several others, specifically insights during pregnancy. Hormones, it turns out, trigger the formation of knots that can alter how we process life events, as well as the biological sex and brain development between trimesters — meaning that gender may develop separately in the womb. Asking what it means to be a woman, when people come in so many shapes and sizes, may not be the right question, says Sanbonmatsu. “Maybe becoming a woman means accepting ourselves for who we really are and acknowledging the same for each other.”

The intersection of color, race and space. Growing up in segregated Chicago, artist Amanda Williams thought that color could not be separated from race. As she puts it: “Racism is my city’s vivid hue.” While studying color theory in college, Williams learned about Josef Albers’ theory of color, which holds that the way we view color is actually subjective, relational, each color affected by its neighbor. Williams used this theory to understand the redlining in her neighborhood: In the 1930s, the federal government created a color-coding system for neighborhoods, and black neighborhoods, marked as “red,” didn’t receive federal housing loans. In response to this unfair characterization, Williams decided to create her own color palette, one that would speak to the people in her neighborhood. The result was “Color(ed) Theory,” a two-year art project that projected her own palette onto her neighborhood. She started by gathering stories and memories to reveal colors uniquely understood by black people. She then went for the biggest canvas she could find: houses, specifically ones that were going to be demolished. The boldly painted houses provoked a fresh reaction from the people around her and beyond. “Color(ed) Theory made unmistakably visible, the uncomfortable questions that institutions and governments have to ask themselves about why they do what they do,” says Williams. “They ask equally difficult questions of myself and my neighborhood counterparts about our value systems and what our path to collective agency needs to be.”



Breaking out: Notes from Session 3 of TEDWomen 2018

Par Brian Greene

“I have seen a world where women are denied, and I have also seen what can happen when you invest in the potential of half of your population,” says activist Shad Begum. She speaks at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, on November 29, 2018, in Palm Springs, California. (Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED)

In session 3 of TEDWomen 2018, hosted by social justice documentarian Jess Search, a lineup of speakers and performers — Eldra Jackson III, Shad Begum, Emily Quinn, Shohini GhoseClimbing PoeTree, Maeve Higgins and Lindy Lou Isonhood — explored toxic masculinity, quantum computing, immigration, the death penalty and much more.

Eldra Jackson III shares his work breaking the cycle of emotional illiteracy that allows men to victimize others. He speaks at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, on November 29, 2018, in Palm Springs, California. (Photo: Callie Giovanna / TED)

An empathetic cure for toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity is a disease that victimizes both its targets and its perpetrators, says educator Eldra Jackson III. Growing up, he had a “chronic case” of it — “so much so that [he] spent 24 years of a life sentence in prison for kidnapping, robbery and attempted murder.” As a teen, Jackson’s heroes were athletes and gangsters. So when sports didn’t work out as a career path, he gravitated toward what seemed the only other option: a life of crime. Jackson landed in jail, “where I didn’t care how I lived or if I died,” he says. He found a cure for this disease through Inside Circle, an organization founded by Patrick Nolan to combat gang violence in the prison yard. Through an exercise called Circle Time — “men sitting with men and cutting through the bullshit and challenging structural ways of thinking” — Jackson learned that “characteristics usually defined as weaknesses are parts of the whole, healthy man.” Today, as a free man, Jackson teaches his own sons what he has learned, and in doing so, he seeks to “eradicate the cycle of emotional illiteracy and groupthink that allows our males to continue to victimize others.”

Strengthening women’s leadership in Pakistan and beyond. Pakistani activist Shad Begum has spent her life working for the right of every woman to live to her full potential. “When women show up, things get better for everyone,” Begum says. “Yet I have found all too often women underestimate their own strength, potential and self-respect.” To counteract this troubling reality, Begum has invested in women’s leadership — first by founding the Association for Behaviour and Knowledge Transformation in 1994 and then by running for public office in Dir, Pakistan, in 2001 — and winning. Her fellow male councilors told her to buy sewing machines for the local women; instead she advocated for what she knew they really wanted: more access to clean drinking water. In the years since, Begum’s seen change happening at the local level as women find their place in the political process. She helped train 300 women and youth candidates for the 2015 local elections: 50 percent of them won and are now sitting in the local councils. And perhaps even more promising: While fewer than one hundred women voted in Dir’s 2013 general elections and 2015 local elections, more than 93,000 women turned out to vote in the 2018 general elections. “I have seen a world where women are denied, and I have also seen what can happen when you invest in the potential of half of your population,” Begum says. Now it’s time to keep making that investment.

“If there are infinite ways for our bodies to look, our minds to think, personalities to act — wouldn’t it make sense that there’s that much variety in biological sex, too?” asks intersex activist Emily Quinn. She speaks at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, on November 29, 2018, in Palm Springs. (Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED)

Let’s talk about (biological) sex. We put people in boxes based on their genitalia, says intersex activist Emily Quinn, as if what’s between somebody’s legs tells you anything about that person — their kindness, generosity, humor. As an intersex individual who was born with both a vagina and and testicles, Quinn has been told since she was a child (and still as an adult) that her biology puts her at risk — despite the fact that a surgery to remove her genitals would most likely do more physical and emotional harm than good. Quinn asks: What constitutes a man, a woman? Does lacking or having certain organs disqualify a person from being who they are? Much like gender, biological sex exists on a spectrum and shouldn’t be boiled down to just male and female, she suggests. There are so many other human traits that have more than two options — think: hair color, eye color, complexion, height, even noses. Globally, intersex people aren’t rare or new; they’ve existed throughout every culture in history and represent about 2 percent of the global population — the same percentage as genetic redheads. (For scale, 2 percent is roughly about 150 million people, more than the entire population of Russia.) “If there are infinite ways for our bodies to look, our minds to think, personalities to act — wouldn’t it make sense that there’s that much variety in biological sex, too?” Quinn asks.

The weird world of quantum computing. What if you read about a computer that could “teleport” data across space and time, was physically impossible to hack and could simulate biological systems down to their subatomic particles? You’d probably think you were reading a science-fiction novel — but in fact, these are just a few of the real-life possibilities of quantum computers. Computer scientist Shohini Ghose works with quantum computers that store data not as binary zeros and ones, but as a spectrum of probabilities that a particular bit of information is true or false. And if you find that confusing, “don’t worry — you’re getting it.” The best way of understanding these strange devices is to realize that a quantum computer “is not just a more powerful version of our current computers,” she says — it’s something else entirely, “just like a light bulb is not a more powerful candle.” And like the light bulb, quantum computers will one day illuminate technological horizons we can barely imagine. As Ghose puts it: “The future is fundamentally uncertain, and to me, that is certainly exciting.”

A dazzling performance of poetry and song. Alixa Garcia and Naima Penniman of Climbing PoeTree mesmerize the audience with their poems “Being Human” and “Awakening.” In “Being Human,” they explore wonder and imagination, pairing awe-inducing spoken word with a flute and beatboxing performance that defies genres. “We believe creativity is the antidote to destruction,” Penniman says in between pieces. Supported by musicians Claudia Cuentas and Tonya Abernathy, they close out with “Awakening,” combining stunning vocals and ukulele in a powerful tribute to humanity’s fight for truth, justice and freedom.

The “good immigrant” trap. Irish comedian, writer and podcaster Maeve Higgins grew up learning about those who left Ireland, fleeing famine, oppression and seeking a new life. In 2014, she left Ireland herself, moving to Brooklyn on an O1 visa, which is designated for “aliens of extraordinary ability,” or those who have achieved in their fields. Since then, she’s travelled around the US, hearing stories of immigrants who have left their old homes behind in search of a new life. She’s found a pattern in these stories: We divide immigrants into good and bad. While people were celebrating the immigrants of the French national football team during their World Cup win this summer, for instance, migrants were drowning in the Mediterranean, while US politicians shut down the borders their ancestors passed through. This year, the US is on track to accept the fewest refugees in its history, Higgins says. Immigrants are being divided up by what they’re worth — some get O1 visas, while others are shut out. “People should not be considered valuable just because they do something of value to us,” Higgins says. “When we dehumanize another, we dehumanize ourselves. People are valuable because they are people. The moment we forget that, or deny it, terrible things happen.”

A new outlook on the death penalty. Human rights activist Lindy Lou Isonhood comes from a conservative Christian family in a conservative US state — but she’s here to tell us that the death penalty has new opponents. A native of Yazoo City, Mississippi, where the death penalty is “an unspoken part of the culture,” Isonhood was selected to be a juror in a murder case, and voted “yes” to giving a man named Bobby Wilcher the death penalty. After the case, the people around her told her to move on, but she couldn’t; it haunted her that she had sentenced a fellow human to die. She became a “silent survivor,” coping with PTSD on her own — until 12 years later, when Wilcher’s execution date was set. Searching for peace, Isonhood visited Wilcher in jail and apologized for her part in his sentencing. Wilcher forgave her, and after he was granted a last-minute stay, the two kept talking; in the months before his eventual execution, they became friends. After his execution, Isonhood sought out her fellow jury members because she had to know: Was she the only one who had been so deeply affected? What she found: “All those years, and I finally realized I was not the only disillusioned juror.” Now she’s found inspiration in her granddaughters, she says: “Because of my experience, they’re now more equipped to stand on their own and think for themselves.” Out of a dark situation, a sense of hope for the next generation.



Gathering together: Notes from Session 4 of TEDWomen 2018

Par Brian Greene

In a searching session of talks hosted by curator and photographer Deborah Willis and her son, artist Hank Willis Thomas (who spoke together at TEDWomen 2017), 12 speakers explored conflict, love, the environment and activism, and more. The session featured duet talks from Paula Stone Williams and Jonathan WilliamsNeha Madhira and Haley Stack, Aja Monet and phillip agnewBeth Mortimer and Tarje Nissen-Meyer, and William Barber and Liz Theoharis, as well as solo talks from Jan Rader and Yvonne Van Amerongen.

Paula Stone Williams and her son Jonathan Williams share their story of personal reckoning. “I could not ask my father to be anything other than her true self,” Jonathan says. They speak at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, November 29, 2018, Palm Springs, California. (Photo: Callie Giovanna / TED)

A story of redemption. Paula Stone Williams and her son Jonathan Williams know that the truth will set you free — but only after it upends your carefully constructed narrative. In a moving, deeply personal talk, they share the story of Paula’s transition from male to female. Her devotion to authenticity caused her to leave her comfort zone as a nationally known religious leader. In the process, Paula lost all of her jobs, most of her friends and was rejected by her church. “I always taught the kids that when the going gets tough, you have to take the road less traveled — the narrow path — but I had no idea how hard it would become,” she says. Jonathan faced a personal reckoning himself, questioning his childhood memories and asking himself: “Had my father even ever existed?” After a long process of reconciliation, Jonathan ultimately shifted his personal and professional outlook, turning his church into an advocate for the LGBTQ community. “I could not ask my father to be anything other than her true self,” he says. Nowadays, Jonathan’s kids lovingly refer to Paula with a new team of endearment: “GramPaula.”

How empathy can catalyze change in the opioid crisis. Compassion and education can save lives in the opioid epidemic, says Huntington, West Virginia, fire chief Jan Rader. As she saw rising levels of drug overdoses and deaths in her city, Rader realized that, unlike rescuing someone from a fire, helping someone suffering from substance abuse disorder requires interwoven, empathy-based solutions — and she realized that first responders have an important role to play in the overdose epidemic. So she developed programs like Quick Response Team, a 72-hour post-overdose response team of recovery coaches and paramedics, and ProAct, a specialty addiction clinic. Rader also established self-care initiatives for her team of first responders, like yoga classes and on-duty massages, to help alleviate PTSD and compassion fatigue. These programs have already had a remarkable impact — Rader reports that overdoses are down 40 percent and deaths are down 50 percent. Stigma remains one of the biggest barriers in tackling the opioid crises, but when a community comes together, change can happen. “In Huntington, we are showing the rest of the country … that there is hope in this epidemic,” Rader says.

When is a free press not really free? The freedom to publish critical journalism is more important than ever. Neha Madhira and Haley Stack remind us that this should apply “to everyone, no matter where you live or how old you are.” Madhira and Stack — who work at the Eagle Nation Online, a high school newspaper in Texas — learned the hard way that student journalists “don’t have the same First Amendment rights” everyone else had. In 2017, their principal pulled three stories, on topics like a book that was removed from a class reading list, and the school’s response to National Walkout Day. He instituted “prior review” and “prior restraint” policies on all stories, banned editorials, and fired the paper’s advisor. They had no choice but to fight. Madhira says, “How were we supposed to write our paper… if we couldn’t keep writing the relevant stories that were impacting our student body?” They received an outpouring of support from around the country, which eventually persuaded the principal to overturn his policy. But this all could happen again — which is why they now lobby for New Voices, a law which would extend First Amendment protections to student journalism, and which has now passed in 14 states. Madhira and Stack hope it will pass nationwide.

Aja Monet and phillip agnew blend art and community organizing into a way to change their community. They speak at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, on November 29, 2018, in Palm Springs, California. (Photo: Callie Giovanna / TED)

Art as organizing. Activists and artists Aja Monet and phillip agnew connected the way many young couples meet today — on Instagram. What started on social media quickly turned into a powerful partnership they call “Love Riott.” Together, they founded Smoke Signals Studio, a space for community-based art and music in Little Haiti, Miami. As they describe it, Smoke Signals is a place “to be loved, to be heard and to be held.” It’s a place where art and organizing become the answer to anger and anxiety. Both Monet and agnew have dedicated their lives to merging arts and culture with community organizing — Monet with the Community Justice Project and agnew with the Dream Defenders. “Great art is not a monologue. Great art is a dialogue between the artist and the people,” Monet says.

Using seismology to study elephants, biologist Beth Mortimer and geophysicist Tarje Nissen-Meyer are helping to fight poaching and protect wildlife. They spoke at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, on November 29, 2018, in Palm Springs, California. (Photo: Callie Giovanna / TED)

The enigmatic language of elephants. To study the language of elephants, one needs a seismometer — a device that measures earthquakes — which is how biologist Beth Mortimer and geophysicist Tarje Nissen-Meyer came to work together. Elephants communicate simultaneously through the land and air over long distances using infrasonic vocalizations, meaning that they make sounds deeper than the human ear can detect. “These vocalizations are as loud as 117 decibels, which is about the same volume as a Coachella rock concert,” says Nissen-Meyer. By using seismology to study wildlife, the pair is developing a noninvasive, real-time and low-cost study method that is practical in developing countries to help them fight poaching. Eventually, they’d like to go beyond elephants, and they have plans to continue eavesdropping on the silent discos of the animal kingdom, keeping an ear to the ground to help protect the world’s most vulnerable societies, precious landscapes and iconic animals.

Living a good life with dementia. How would you prefer to spend the last years of your life: in a sterile, hospital-like institution or in a comfortable home that has a supermarket, pub, theater and park within easy walking distance? The answer seems obvious now, but when the Hogeweyk dementia care center was founded by Yvonne Van Amerongen 25 years ago, it was seen as a risky break from traditional dementia care. Located near Amsterdam, Hogeweyk is a gated community consisting of 27 homes with more than 150 residents who have dementia, all overseen 24/7 by well-trained professional and volunteer staff. (The current physical village opened in 2009.) People live in groups according to shared lifestyles. One home, where Van Amerongen’s mother now lives, contains travel, music and art enthusiasts. Surprisingly, it runs on the same public funds given to other nursing homes in the Netherlands — success, Van Amerongen says, comes from making careful spending decisions. As she puts it, “Red curtains are as expensive as gray ones.” The village has attracted international visitors eager to study the model, and direct offshoots are under construction in Canada and Australia. Whether people have dementia or not, Van Amerongen says, “Everyone wants fun in life and meaning in life.”

“This is a moral uprising … a new and unsettling force of people who are repairing the breach, who refuse to give up, and refuse to settle and surrender to suffering,” says Reverend William Barber, right. Together with Reverend Liz Theoharis, at left, he speaks at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, November 29, 2018, Palm Springs, California. (Photo: Callie Giovanna / TED)

America’s fusion is our story. Reverends William Barber and Liz Theoharis have traveled from the Bronx to the border, from the deep South to the California coast, meeting mothers whose children died because of a lack of healthcare, homeless families whose encampments have been attacked by police and communities where there’s raw sewage in people’s yards. Closing session 4 of TEDWomen 2018, the two make a powerful call to end poverty. “America is beset by deepening poverty, ecological devastation, systemic racism and an economy harnessed to seemingly endless war,” Barber says. In a nation that boasts of being the wealthiest country in world, 51 percent of children live in food-insecure homes, and 250,000 people die every year of poverty and low wealth. “If we have a different moral imagination, if we have policy shifts guided by moral fusion, we can choose a better way,” Theoharis says. This past spring, Barber and Theoharis helped organize the largest, most expansive simultaneous wave of nonviolent civil disobedience in the 21st century and perhaps in history, re-inaugurating the Poor People’s Campaign started by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The campaign is changing the narrative around poor people, refuting the idea that it’s not possible for everyone to survive and thrive. Barber and Theoharis are organizing hearings, holding community BBQs, going door to door registering people for a movement, holding freedom schools and developing public policies that will improve people’s lives. “This is a moral uprising … a new and unsettling force of people who are repairing the breach, who refuse to give up, and refuse to settle and surrender to suffering,” Barber says.



Watch Tarana Burke’s TED Talk: Me Too is a movement, not a moment

Par TED Staff

An inspiring, honest talk: In 2006, Tarana Burke was consumed by a desire to do something about the sexual violence she saw in her community. She took out a piece of paper, wrote “Me Too” across the top and laid out an action plan for a movement centered on the power of empathy between survivors. More than a decade later, she reflects on what has since become a global movement — and makes a powerful call to dismantle the power and privilege that are building blocks of sexual violence. “We owe future generations nothing less than a world free of sexual violence,” she says. “I believe we can build that world.”

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Showing off: Notes from Session 5 of TEDWomen 2018

Par Brian Greene

The term “showing off” gets a bad rap. But for Session 5 of TEDWomen 2018, a lineup of speakers and performers reclaimed the phrase — showing off their talents, skills and whole extraordinary selves. Hosted by TED’s head of conferences, Kelly Stoetzel, and head of curation, Helen Walters, the talks ranged from architecture and the environment to education and grief, taking on the fundamental challenges that we face as humans. The session featured Ane Brun, Kotchakorn Voraakhom, Kate E. Brandt, Danielle R. Moss, Carla Harris, Helen Marriage and Nora McInerny.

Multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer Ane Brun kicks off Session 5 with a poised, intimate performance of “It All Starts With One” and “You Light My Fire.” She performs at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, on November 29, 2018, in Palm Springs, California. (Photo: Callie Giovanna / TED)

It all starts with a dramatic opening. The session starts with an air of anticipation, thanks to multi-instrumentalist Ane Brun‘s opening number, “It All Starts With One.” This cabaret workout for piano and string quartet is based on “the revolution of dreams” of the Arab Spring, written to celebrate “small victories … that little drop that I, as an individual, can add to the flood of change.” Her intimate follow-up number, “You Light My Fire,” is “a statue in the shape of a song” dedicated to the unacknowledged warriors who fight for women’s rights.

Our sinking cities. At this very moment, 48 major cities across the globe are sinking — cities like New York City, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, Shanghai and Bangkok, built on the soft ground alongside their rivers. Landscape architect and TED Fellow Kotchakorn Voraakhom comes from Bangkok herself and was displaced, along with millions of others, by the devastating flood that hit Thailand in 2011. “Our city’s modern infrastructure — especially our notion to fight floods with concrete — has made us extremely vulnerable to climate uncertainty,” she says. In the years since, she’s worked to combine the ingenuity of modern engineering with the reality of rising sea levels to help cities live with climate change. She and her team designed the Chulalongkorn Centenary Park, a big green crack in the heart of Bangkok and the city’s first new public park in more than three decades. The park is not only a site for recreation and beautification; it also helps the city deal with water through some ingenious design. Bangkok is a flat city, so by inclining the whole park, it harnesses the power of gravity to collect every drop of rain — holding and collecting up to a million gallons of water during severe floods. “This park is not about getting rid of flood water,” she says. “It’s about creating a way to live with it.” In a sinking city where every rainfall is a wake-up call, this “amphibious design” provides new hope of making room for water.

“Greening” Google with a circular approach. “What if, like nature, everything was repurposed, reused and reborn for use again?” asks Google’s head of sustainability, Kate E. Brandt, who is in charge of “greening” the tech giant. Every time someone completes a search on Google or uploads a video to YouTube, Google’s data centers are hard at work — filled with servers using a significant amount of energy. And with demand for energy and materials only continuing to grow, Brandt’s work is to figure a sustainable path forward. Her idea? To create a circular economy grounded in three tenets: designing out waste, keeping products and materials in use, and transitioning to renewable energy. In this circular world, all goods would be designed to be easily repaired and remanufactured. She imagines, for instance, that even clothes and shoes could be leased and returned — with old clothes going back to the designer to reuse the materials for a new batch of clothing. “If we each ask ourselves, ‘What can I do to positively impact our economy, our society, our environment?’ — then we will break out of the global challenges that have been created by our take-make-and-waste economy, and we can realize a circular world of abundance,” she says.

Activist Danielle R. Moss advocates for “the forgotten middle”: those students and coworkers who are often overlooked but who, when motivated and empowered to succeed, can reach their full potential. She speaks at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, November 29, 2018, Palm Springs, California. (Photo: Callie Giovanna / TED)

Tapping into the forgotten middle. We all know “the forgotten middle” — “they’re the students, coworkers and plain old regular folks who are often overlooked because they’re seen as neither exceptional nor problematic,” says activist and former educator Danielle R. Moss. But, she says, there is more here. “I think there are some unclaimed winning lottery tickets in the middle,” Moss says. “I think the cure for cancer and the path to world peace might very well reside there.” Moss has spent much of her career trying to help this group reach their full potential. In middle school, she herself was languishing in that strata, until her mother noticed and set her on a different path. Later, in New York City, Moss helped create a program to work with the forgotten middle and identified some of the core elements of a formula to motivate them. These include holding kids to high expectations (instead of asking, “Hey, do you want to go to college?”, ask, “What college would you like to attend?”), giving them “the hidden curriculum” needed to succeed (study skills, leadership development, liberal-arts coursework and adult support), and making them accountable to themselves, each other and their communities (seeing themselves as belonging to a group of young people who came from the same backgrounds and who were all aspiring for more). Moss says, “When I think of my kids, and I think of all the doctors, lawyers, teachers, social workers and artists who came from our little nook in New York City, I hate to think what wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t invested in the kids in the middle.”

In our careers, we all need a sponsor. Corporate America insists it is a meritocracy — a place where those who succeed simply “put their heads down and work really hard.” But former Wall Street banker Carla Harris tells us this simple truth: that’s not the case. To really move forward and be recognized for your work, you need someone else to make a case for you — especially in those pivotal decisions that are often made behind closed doors. This person isn’t a mentor, champion or advocate — but a sponsor, someone who is “carrying your paper into the room … pounding the table on your behalf.” Sponsors need three things: a seat at the table, power in the decision-making process and an investment in you and your work. Harris says you can attract a sponsor by utilizing two forms of social capital: performance currency, which you gain when you perform beyond expectations, and relationship currency, which you gain by engaging meaningfully with the people around you. “You can survive a long time in your career without a mentor,” Harris says, “but you are not going to ascend in any organization without a sponsor.”

Designer Helen Marriage creates moving, ephemeral moments that reveal beauty among ruins, reexamine history and whimsically demonstrate what’s possible. She speaks at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, November 29, 2018, Palm Springs, California. (Photo: Callie Giovanna / TED)

A moment when curiosity triumphs over suspicion, and delight banishes anxiety. Designer Helen Marriage brings people together through larger-than-life art and spectacle. “I want to take you to a different kind of world — a world of the imagination where using this most powerful tool that we have, we can transform our physical surroundings,” she says. With Artichoke, the company she cofounded in 2006, Marriage seeks to create moving, ephemeral moments that reveal beauty among ruins, reexamine history and whimsically demonstrate what’s possible. Why? “In doing so, we can change forever how we feel, and how we feel about the people we share the planet with.” On the TEDWomen stage, Marriage tells the tale of three cities she transformed into spaces of culture and connection. In Salisbury, French actors performed Faust on stilts with handheld pyrotechnics; in London, she conjured magic by shutting down the city streets for four days to tell the story of a little girl and an elephant. And in Derry (also known as Londonderry) — a town still gripped by Northern Ireland’s Protestant/Catholic conflict — she helped address community tribalism in Burning Man fashion, building a wooden temple that housed written hopes, thoughts, loves and losses — then burning it down. Reminiscent of a town ritual that usually deepens rifts, the work brought thousands of people together on both sides to share and experience a deeply profound moment. As she says: “In the end, this is all about love.”

Moving forward doesn’t mean moving on. In a heartbreaking, hilarious talk, writer and podcaster Nora McInerny shares her hard-earned wisdom about life and death. In 2014, soon after losing her second pregnancy and her father, McInerny’s husband Aaron died after three years fighting brain cancer. Since then, McInerny has made a career of talking about life’s hardest moments — not just her own, but also the losses and tragedies that others have experienced. She started the Hot Young Widows Club, a series of small gatherings where men and women can talk about their partners who have died and say the things that other people in their lives aren’t yet willing to hear. “The people who we’ve lost are still so present for us,” she says. Now remarried, McInerny says that we need to change how we think about grief — that it’s possible to grieve and love in the same year and week, even the same breath. She invites us to stop talking about “moving on” after the death of a loved one: “I haven’t moved on from Aaron, I’ve moved forward with him,” she says. And she encourages us to remind one another that some things can’t be fixed, and not all wounds are meant to heal.



Be aggressive about your ambition: Stacey Abrams speaks at TEDWomen 2018

Par Brian Greene

“I am moving forward knowing what is in my past. I know the obstacles they have for me. I’m fairly certain they’re energizing and creating new obstacles now,” says Stacey Abrams. “They’ve got four years to figure it out. Maybe two.” She speaks at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, November 30, 2018, in Palm Springs, California. (Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED)

Stacey Abrams’s 2018 campaign for governor of Georgia was watched across the world. The first black woman to be nominated by a major party for governor, she lost after a hard-fought race. Now she’s the surprise speaker onstage at TEDWomen 2018, where, in an electrifying talk, she shares the lessons she learned from her campaign, advice on how to move forward through setbacks — and some hints at what her future might be.

Back when Abrams was 17 and the valedictorian of her high school, she was invited to meet the governor of Georgia with her parents. They took the bus, and as they walked up past the lines of other students’ arriving cars, the guard outside stopped them. Judging them by the bus they’d arrived on, he told her and her parents that they didn’t belong there that day. Abrams doesn’t remember actually meeting the governor or her fellow valedictorians. “The only clear memory I have from that day was a man standing in front of the most powerful place in Georgia, looking at me and telling me I don’t belong,” Abrams says. “And so I decided to be the person who got to open the gates.”

It didn’t work out that way this time, Abrams says, and now she’s tasked with figuring out what to do next. “I’m going to do what I’ve always done,” she says. “I’m going to move forward, because going backwards isn’t an option and standing still is not enough.”

We should ask ourselves three questions about everything we do, Abrams says: What do I want? Why do I want it? And how do I get it?

“I know what I want, and that is justice, because poverty is immoral and a stain on our nation,” Abrams says.

Once you know what you want, you have understand why you want it. Make sure you want it not because it’s something you should do, but because it’s something you must do, she says: “It should be something that doesn’t allow you to sleep at night unless you’re dreaming about it.” (And revenge, she says, is not a good reason.)

Finally, understand how you’re going to do it. For Abrams, that meant turning out 1.2 million African American voters in Georgia — more voters than the entire amount who voted on the Democratic side of the ticket in 2014. And it meant tripling the number of Asian and Hispanic Americans who stood up and said: “This is our state, too.”

The obstacles — the debt, the fear, the fatigue — aren’t insurmountable, Abrams says, but there’s more work to be done.

“I am moving forward knowing what is in my past. I know the obstacles they have for me. I’m fairly certain they’re energizing and creating new obstacles now,” Abrams says. “They’ve got four years to figure it out. Maybe two.”



Moving forward: Notes from Session 6 of TEDWomen 2018

Par Brian Greene

Ariana Curtis is a museum curator who imagines how museums can honor the lives of people both extraordinary and everyday, prominent and hidden. She speaks at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, on November 30, 2018, in Palm Springs, California. Photo: Callie Giovanna / TED

After three days of astonishing speakers and bold ideas, you may be asking yourself: Where do we go now? The answer: forward.

The final session of TEDWomen 2018, hosted by TEDWomen curator Pat Mitchell, featured a dynamic lineup of forward thinkers: Ariana Curtis, Galit Ariel, Majd Mashharawi, Soraya Chemaly, Katharine Hayhoe, Cecile Richards, Kakenya Ntaiya, Farida Nabourema and surprise speaker Stacey Abrams. All together, they helped us look at how things are now — and imagine how they could be.

The stories of everyday women are essential, too. Public representations of women are too often enveloped in the language of the extraordinary, says museum curator Ariana Curtis. The stories of extraordinary women are seductive, but they are limited — by definition, to be extraordinary is to be non-representative, atypical. Curtis is dedicated to women’s history that reflects both the remarkable and the quotidian. “If we can collectively apply the radical notion that women are people, it becomes easier to show women as people are — familiar, diverse, present,” she says. As the curator for Latinx Studies at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, she’s empowered to change the current narrative where, she says, “respectability politics and idealized femininity influence how we display women and which women we choose to display.” This in turn leads to the exclusion “of the everyday, the regular, the underrepresented and usually the non-white.” As she says: “I will continue to collect from extraordinary history-makers. Their stories are important. But what drives me to show up today and every day is the simple passion to write our names in history, display them publicly for millions to see, and,” as she quotes poet Sonia Sanchez, to “walk in the ever-present light that is women.”

Exploring new worlds, right here on Earth. Technologist Galit Ariel believes that space is humanity’s final frontier — but she’s not talking about the dark, cold expanse between the planets and stars. She’s talking about the mind-blowing, space-bending technology known as augmented reality or AR. “While similar immersive technologies such as virtual reality aspire to transport you into a completely parallel world, augmented reality adds a digital layer directly onto or within our existing physical environment,” she says. AR can map, understand and react to physical spaces; imagine your entire living room transformed into a lush jungle, for instance, as a jaguar hunts for prey between your sofa and the door. Since our bodies and minds are wired for rich physical interactions, Ariel says, it’s crucial that we create technologies that help us be more present and connected to the world — instead of inside our phones. “Technology will no longer be something that happens elsewhere, but a powerful tool to explore and extend the world, society and ourselves,” she says. In the near future, expect to see more and better platforms — things like wearables and maybe even devices directly embedded into our bodies (Black Mirror, anyone?). “Amazing journeys await us right here on planet Earth,” Ariel says. “Bon voyage.”

After more than 150 failed experiments, Majd Mashharawi helped create a building block out of the ashes and rubble of demolished houses in Gaza. Now she’s helping bring solar energy to the area too. She speaks at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, on November 30, 2018, in Palm Springs, California. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

Rebuilding Gaza, one brick and one solar cell at a time. “For more than ten years, I and two million people back home have been living in darkness, locked between two borders that are nearly impossible to leave,” says Majd Mashharawi. She lives in Gaza, and she reflects on growing up with “a whole lot of nothing” in the conflict-ridden region — and deciding that she would create something from that nothing. She gravitated toward two urgent needs: for building materials and for electric power, both in short supply in Gaza. After months of research and more than 150 failed experiments, Mashharawi has created a building block that’s made out of the ashes and rubble of demolished houses. The block is light, cheap and strong, and with it, Mashharawi launched the Gaza-based startup GreenCake — which has trained both women and men graduates in manufacturing. “This block is not just a building block,” she says. “It changed the stereotype about women in Gaza, which stated: ‘This type of work is just for men.'” Now Mashharawi has turned her attention to electricity, helping to create a smart solar kit for energy and light. With a business model centered on sharing the solar units among several families, the device is catching on — returning electric power to the hands of people, one solar cell at a time.

Changing the cultural conversation about women and anger. Even though we live in an age where unisex bathrooms and unisex clothing exist, some emotions still get assigned to a single sex. “In culture after culture, anger is reserved as the moral property of boys and men,” says journalist Soraya Chemaly, author of Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger. In contrast, angry women are seen as unhinged, irrational or shrill, and they’re often mocked, penalized or punished if they let out their rage (with women of color facing the most severe consequences). Instructions to use one’s “nice” voice and keep smiling start early on, says Chemaly: “As a girl, I learnt that anger is better left entirely unvoiced.” Instead, it emerges in the form of tears, headaches, stomach-churning discontent or teeth-grinding frustration. Turning anger into a no-go zone for women is not only damaging to psyches and bodies, it also prevents real gender equity, Chemaly says: “Societies that don’t respect women’s anger don’t respect women.” As she notes of anger, “If it’s poison, it is also the antidote. We have an anger of hope.” She calls for people of all genders to accept — and not reject — women’s rage, and for women to turn their rage into a seismic force for compassion, justice, accountability and creativity. (Read an excerpt from her book on TED Ideas.)

The best way to make progress on climate change? Keeping talking about it, says climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe. “To care about a changing climate, we don’t have to be a liberal or a political activist,” she says at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, on November 30, 2018, in Palm Springs, California. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

Let’s talk about climate change — from the heart. Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe is a professor at Texas Tech University, which is in Lubbock, Texas, a place once named the second most conservative town in America. When it comes to talking about climate change there, people immediately see it as political. And that’s not specific to Texas, Hayhoe says — across the US, climate change is viewed as a partisan issue. But in her mind, “to care about a changing climate, we don’t have to be a liberal or a political activist,” she says. “We just have to be a human who wants this planet to be a safe home for all of us.” So, how can we speak about climate change without making it political? Hayhoe suggests an approach less focused on the science and more focused on the heart — by starting the conversation from a place of agreement and mutual respect, and then connecting the dots to why climate change matters personally to you. For instance, maybe climate change affects the places you live, your grandchildren or your favorite outdoor hobbies. It’s not a good idea to paralyze people with fear, Hayhoe says. After all, solutions aren’t that far out of reach. Even in Hayhoe’s home state of Texas, almost 20 percent of the state’s electricity comes from renewable sources. “Working together, we can fix it,” she says. “We can’t give in to despair. We have to go out and look for the hope we need to inspire us to act — and that hope begins with a conversation, today.”

We need to build a sustained global movement for women’s equality, says Cecile Richards — one that’s intersectional and inter-generational. And we can do this without waiting for instructions or permission. She speaks at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, on November 30, 2018, in Palm Springs, California. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

The next political revolution: women. The former president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards has been fighting for women’s rights her entire life. On the TEDWomen stage, she has an urgent message — if women are not at the table, then they are on the menu. What does this mean? Well, though women have made great strides in the last 100 years, they still lack real political power. She offers another way of looking at things: “If half of Congress could get pregnant, we would finally quit fighting about birth control and Planned Parenthood.” So just how do women go about building this political revolution? Richards says that it’s already started and proven by events like the 2017 Women’s March in DC and the unprecedented amount of women who ran for office and won in the 2018 US elections. Now we need to build a sustained global movement for women’s equality — one that’s intersectional and inter-generational. We can do this without waiting for instructions or permission to make a difference, she says, by being vocal about what we stand for, realizing nobody is free until everybody’s free and voting in every election. “One of us can be ignored, two of us can be dismissed — but together, we’re a movement,” she says. “And we’re unstoppable.”

How one girl’s dream transformed a communityKakenya Ntaiya dreamed of getting an education. But in her village of Enoosaen, Kenya, Maasai girls were expected to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) at puberty, get married and give up school. So Ntaiya negotiated with her father: she would undergo FGM, but in return, she would stay in school. Eventually, she left for college in the United States, vowing to return to repay her community for their support. Ntaiya returned, founded the education NGO Kakenya’s Dream, and built the Kakenya Center for Excellence, a school where girls can live and study safely. Believing that empowering a community must extend beyond the girls themselves, Ntaiya works with parents, grandmothers and community leaders to make sure they know how well their girls are doing. And realizing that nothing will truly change if boys grow up “with the same mindset as their fathers before them,” she helped launch a program to teach children about gender equality, health and human rights. Kakenya’s Dream shows that “it truly does take a village to make this kind of a dream come true.”

Everything you know about autocracy is wrong. There’s a certain naiveté in the way the press covers dictatorship, activist Farida Nabourema tells us. During interviews about her struggle against Togolese dictator Faure Gnassingbé, her interviewers often emphasize his abuses, “because they believe that will gain attention and sympathy” for activists. “But in reality, it serves the purpose of dictators — it helps them advertise their cruelty,” and consolidates their grip on power. Instead, why not focus on “the stories of resistance, the stories of defiance, the stories of resilience,” and inspire people to fight back? That naiveté extends to citizens of democratic countries, who often assume that oppressed countries are less “morally advanced,” that the world is moving towards freedom, and that very soon, dictatorships will disappear. The reality is much different, Nabourema warns us. “No country is actually destined to be oppressed, but at the same time, no country or no people are immune to oppression or dictatorship.” Any country with a large concentration of power, a reliance on propaganda, excessive militarization, and a disdain for human rights risks falling into autocracy — and we should all be vigilant.

After a highly contested 2018 campaign for governor of Georgia, Stacey Abrams offers insights on how to move forward — and some hints at what her future might hold. She was the surprise final speaker at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up, on November 30, 2018, in Palm Springs, California. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

Be aggressive about your ambition. Stacey Abrams‘s 2018 campaign for governor of Georgia was watched across the world. The first black woman to be nominated by a major party for governor, she lost after a hard-fought race. Now she’s the surprise speaker onstage at TEDWomen 2018, where, in an electrifying talk, she shares the lessons she learned from her campaign, advice on how to move forward through setbacks — and some hints at what her future might be. Read a full recap of her talk here.



José Andrés is nominated for 2019 Nobel Peace Prize and other updates from TED

Par Yasmin Belkhyr

Below, we’ve highlighted a few of our favorite news stories from the TED community.

Congratulations to Nobel Peace Prize nominee José Andrés! For his work in food and hunger humanitarianism, acclaimed chef José Andrés has been nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico, Andrés was compelled to help feed those impacted by the storm; he traveled to the island with a team of dedicated chefs and served meals to over 3 million people. This wasn’t Andrés’ first time (or last time) responding to disaster with empathy and aid — he leads World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that provides solutions to global health and food challenges, which Andres founded following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Though Nobel Peace Prize adjudications are famously secretive, U.S. Representative John Dulaney confirmed that he submitted Andrés’ nomination, according to the Washington Post. In February, Andres was also named the James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year. (Watch Andres’ TED Talk.)

A new exposé on Shell and Eni’s shady oil deal in Nigeria. Global Witness, the international investigative NGO co-founded by 2014 TED Prize winner Charmian Gooch, has released a striking new report exposing new details of an agreement in 2011 between oil giants Shell and Eni. The report reveals that Shell and Eni’s deal with the Nigerian government included suspiciously generous terms for the oil companies at the expense of the country’s public. Experts commissioned by Global Witness estimate that nearly $6 billion in potential government revenue was lost — double Nigeria’s annual health and education budget. In Italy, the deal is also at the center of a landmark corruption trial; prosecutors allege that $525 million in bribes were paid out to Nigerian officials by Shell and Eni, including then-president Goodluck Jonathan. “The money Nigeria is set to lose could educate the next generation and pay for key infrastructure the country needs,” the report states. (Watch Gooch’s TED Talk.)

Meet 2018’s Berkeley-Rupp Prize winner. Architect and activist Deanna Van Buren has been awarded UC Berkeley’s biennial Architecture Prize & Professorship, which awards $100,000 to a design practitioner who has made “a significant contribution to advancing gender equity in architecture, and whose work emphasizes a commitment to sustainability and community.” Van Buren leads Oakland-based design and development firm Designing Justice + Designing Spaces and is widely known for her work developing restorative justice centers and advocating for marginalized communities, particularly those affected by mass incarceration. Congratulations! (Watch Van Buren’s TED Talk.)

Economic empowerment of rural women. In an interview with Roshni Nadar Malhotra for Vogue India, Chetna Gala Sinha shares her work process and details the urgency of economic empowerment of women. At this year’s World Economic Forum, which Sinha co-led alongside six other women, she launched the first Securities and Exchange Board of India-registered fund for women micro-entrepreneurs. “Policy makers have to make the change happen and it has to be a collaborative effort with the community … the corporate sector has to also bring the business in—big corporations need to go that extra mile and realise the social value of what they do,” she says. (Watch Sinha’s TED Talk.)

24 years later, Tony Hicks has been granted parole. At TEDWomen 2017, Ples Felix and Azim Khamisa shared their intertwined story of grief, forgiveness and grace: in 1995, Felix’s 14-year-old grandson Tony Hicks shot and killed Khamisa’s son Tariq as part of a gang initiation. Following his son’s death, Khamisa reached out and connected with Felix in hopes to heal from their shared trauma. Since then, they have traveled the country advocating for a safer world free of youth violence through the Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TFK). 24 years after Hicks’ imprisonment, he has been granted parole and will likely be released from prison in early 2019. In a statement from TKF, Khamisa says: “We are thrilled. Tony has worked hard for this … Because he can tell his powerful story firsthand, he will save the lives of thousands of children.” (Watch Felix and Khamisa’s TED Talk.)

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“Ideas That Matter”: A new partnership with CBS This Morning and popular TED speakers

Par TED Staff

CBS This Morning anchors (from left) Bianna Golodryga, John Dickerson and Norah O’Donnell chat with the head of TED, Chris Anderson, to announce the new “Ideas That Matter” monthly series on CBS.

The American news show CBS This Morning and TED announced today that they will collaborate on an ongoing series called “Ideas That Matter.” The monthly series, which launches in January, will invite a TED speaker onto the broadcast to talk with the anchors. The series aims to highlight the individuals and ideas shaping our world and lives.

As Chris Anderson, curator and head of TED, said about the partnership: “Today’s all-consuming political headlines risk distracting us from the exciting and potentially world-changing ideas all around us. This segment will take the ideas we believe could change our world and give them a better shot at being heard, understood—and perhaps even acted on.”

The first guest in the series will be Jan Rader, the fire chief of Huntington, West Virginia,  who has been on the front lines of dealing with her town’s opioid epidemic. Her recent TED talk shared her unique solutions to dealing with this challenge. Rader will appear on CBS This Morning on January 2, and her TED Talk will be released the same day. Additional speakers will be announced.

The “Ideas That Matter” partnership was featured on CBS This Morning today by Chris Anderson, curator and head of TED. You can watch the announcement here or on Facebook.

More about CBS This Morning: Each weekday morning, Gayle King, Norah O’Donnell, John Dickerson and Bianna Golodryga deliver two hours of original reporting, breaking news and newsmaker interviews in an engaging and informative format that challenges the norm in network morning news programs. Like TED Talks themselves, the broadcast has earned a prestigious Peabody Award; CBS This Morning has also earned a Polk Award, three News & Documentary Emmys, three Daytime Emmys and the 2017 Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast.



Belonging: Talks on family, love and loss from the TED World Theater

Par Brian Greene

What does it mean to belong? For many, belonging provides the foundation of all comfort, a sense of conviction that others have your back, that all will be well. But sometimes belonging can be less tangible, more illusory or fleeting — it can disappear without warning.

At TED Salon: Belonging — an evening of talks curated and co-hosted by TED’s head of curation, Helen Walters, and curation coordinator Lorena Aviles — six speakers explored what belonging is really all about. They shared personal meditations on where they find hope for a more welcoming world and shone a light on the breakthroughs and ideas that might get us there. After an effusive, joyful performance of “Woke Up This Morning (With My Mind Stayed on Freedom)” by the Resistance Revival Chorus, the session kicked off with attorney Mónica Ramírez.

TED’s Lorena Aviles (left) and Helen Walters co-host the TED Salon: Belonging, held on December 11, 2018, at the TED World Theater in New York City. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Elevate those who pick, pack and plant the food we eat every day. Marginalized people are not looking for saviors, says attorney Mónica Ramírez: “They’re looking for individuals who will support them, as day by day they get up and do the best they can to save themselves.” As the daughter and granddaughter of migrant farm workers, Ramírez knows firsthand the problem that affect these often-unseen and isolated groups — from wage theft and sexual harassment to dangerous working conditions. She has been an advocate for these communities nearly her entire life, and what she’s learned is both simple and profound: “If we want to solve problems, we need to call on the very best experts who can bring the very best solutions.” The experts she has in mind? The people directly impacted by some of society’s worst problems, who are best suited to share their truths with the world. Advocates like Ramírez, and citizens in solidarity, must make space for the voices not commonly heard.

Chitra Aiyar encourages her students to see each other as teammates working toward the same goals — and grow together along the way. She speaks at TED Salon: Belonging, held on December 11, 2018, at the TED World Theater in New York City. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Build community when you feel isolated. As the executive director of the Sadie Nash Leadership Project, Chitra Aiyar works to help low-income youth of color develop the skills they need to thrive in college. When some of the college students Aiyar works with described feeling alienated on campus, she realized they would need to find real community if they were going to succeed. The research backs this up: only 11 percent of low-income first-generation students graduate from college after six years, and 45 percent drop out after their first year. “If you are spending energy thinking about whether you belong, you can’t concentrate on school … and every challenge, every hardship is a reinforcement [of that],” Aiyar says. To combat this, she encourages her students to cultivate spaces for other marginalized students to connect and help each other grow. She was inspired by the pre-med program at Xavier University — where, instead of pitting students against each other by warning of high dropout rates, professors encourage students to see each other as teammates working toward the same goals. Aiyar details three steps to move toward this new kind of community: first, imagine your goal and broaden it beyond yourself; then, start an activity that connects you to others with similar goals — like offering feedback on a classmate’s paper; and finally, take the opportunity to redefine your relationship to your community. Instead of feeling outcast, Aiyar says, her students could see themselves as actively engaged in a larger community that supports them. “We all have times that we don’t feel like we belong,” she says. “If we take the time to make sure that other people belong, in that process, we’ll find belonging as well.”

Reimagining the US-Mexico border wall. What is a border? It’s a line on a map, a place where cultures, languages and beliefs mix and merge. And it’s a place of beautiful, sometimes violent and occasionally ridiculous complexity, says architectural researcher Ronald Rael. Rael studies the US-Mexico border, where nearly 700 miles of wall divide the two countries — “an arcane, medieval architecture … an overly simplistic response to a complex set of issues,” he says. It’s estimated that the wall approved in 2006 will cost $49 billion to construct and maintain over the next 25 years — not including the additional $70 billion estimated for the walls currently proposed. Beyond that, there’s the human toll: more than 7,000 people have died trying to cross the border. To communicate the financial and human cost of the wall, Rael designs moving, sometimes satirical souvenirs — things like postcards, “bordergames” and snow globes that reimagine the social and economic realities of the border. They nod to activities like “wall y ball,” a borderland version of volleyball played across the wall, or patrol agents purchasing treats from vendors through the divide — activities that question the meaning of a “wall.” “There are not two sides defined by a wall — it is one landscape divided,” he says. “We should be designing a ‘Reunited States,’ not a ‘Divided States.'”

We belong to the living world. What do poetry and astrophysics have in common? More than you would expect, says poet Marie Howe. Howe is a professor of “ecopoetry,” which asks the human ego to step outside the picture — “to let the whole living world move into the poem, instead of the human, I, I, I, I.” Reading her poem “The Singularity,” which is inspired by the physics that created the earth, she plays on a big idea: that more than 13 million years ago everything that existed was incredibly small — tiny, compacted density. Physicist Stephen Hawking called this tiny dense material “the singularity,” giving birth to the title of her poem. Howe reads with passion, the final line reverberating through the room: “No I, no we, no one. No was. No verb. No noun. Only a tiny tiny dot brimming with is is is is is. All. Everything. Home.”

Too often, we reduce our lives to untrue, uncomplicated stories just to fit in, says Casey Gerald. Speaking at TED Salon: Belonging, Gerald encourages us to embrace vulnerability and embody “the raw strange magic of ourselves.” (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

The price of perfection. “The way we’re taught to live has got to change,” says Casey Gerald. By his late 20s, Gerald was on top of the world, or so it seemed: he had earned degrees from Yale and Harvard, worked on Wall Street and in Washington, started a nonprofit, and yes, given a TED Talk. Still, he recalls, “I was real cracked up — not exactly having a nervous breakdown, but not too far off.” While he’d attained success, he had done so while buffing away the raw edges of his life — his homosexuality, his pain, his very human messiness — and reducing it to an uncomplicated, untrue story of a poor kid “from the other side of the river” who made it. Many of us engage in similar acts of revision just so we can be accepted by the right people, schools and jobs, Gerald says — but he’s come to realize this revision is equivalent to self-erasure. He says it’s time for us to show courage, to embody what he calls “the raw strange magic of ourselves,” and to stand with others in their vulnerability.

Resistance Revival Chorus sing protest songs in tribute to the historical importance of music in movements. They perform at TED Salon: Belonging, December 11, 2018 at the TED World Theater, New York, NY. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Let’s get the country singing! A collective of more than 60 women, the Resistance Revival Chorus gathers in sisterhood to sing and show how joy can be an act of resistance. To close out the night, the chorus fills the TED World Theater with the music of the labor movement, performing a rousing performance of “The Rich Man’s House.”

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TEDWomen 2018 Film Festival: Our program of conference shorts

Par TED Guest Author

Between the amazing speakers of TEDWomen, there’s a carefully programmed mini film festival — brilliant short films, curated by Jonathan Wells and Anyssa Samari, that set (or re-set) the mood in the theater, and celebrate the creativity of women and men around the world. Here’s what played, session by session:

Session 1: Showing Up

The short: “Ama”
“Ama” is a short film written, performed and directed by French deep-sea diver, dancer and filmmaker Julie Gautier. Shot in Venice, Italy, in the world’s deepest pool, Gautier dedicated her film “to all the women of the world.”
Creator: Julie Gautier

The short:Campaign to End Loneliness – Be More Us”
Everyone knows that that it’s easy to make friends and strike up conversations when you’re a kid. With this film, Campaign to End Loneliness takes children as their inspiration.
Creatives: Alex Mawby, Ben Lambert for BMB Agency

The short: Natalie Prass: “Sisters
Funky feminist anthem “Sisters” is an empowering rallying cry for women everywhere.
Directed by Jordan Bruner

Session 2, “Getting Started”

The short:Finansforbundet / Equal Pay”
The film is a simple yet powerful reminder of how spontaneously boys and girls alike react to obvious unfairness, and raises the question if our sensitivity to unequal treatment grows weaker as we grow older.
Creator: Directed by Emilie Norenberg

The short: Bomba Estéreo: “Soy Yo”
Eleven-year-old Sarai Gonzalez became an overnight sensation after appearing in Bomba Estero’s “Soy Yo,” a music video about embracing yourself and loving your flaws. The video garnered over 30 million views, and the New York Times called Sarai a Latina icon.
Directed by Torben Kjelstrup

Session 3, “Breaking Out”

The short:Les machines impossibles: Musique
“Les machines impossible” series (Impossible Machines), a tribute to Rube Goldberg, explores and reinvents what’s inside complex mechanisms. The fourth episode in the series, commissioned by Centre Pompidou, answers the prompt: “What could be inside a street organ?”
Directed by Florent Porta

The short:Unstereotype Alliance: The Problem Is Not Seeing the Problem
This film serves as a stark reminder that the advertising industry has a long way to go to remove sexist, racist and false stereotypes from its output. The film was created for Unstereotype Alliance, the industry-led initiative convened by UN Women, the lead UN agency on gender equality and women’s rights.
Creator: MullenLowe London and directed by Joanna Bailey

The short: Tom Rosenthal: “It Won’t Be Me”
Bristol-based motion designer and illustrator created a beautiful retro dreamland for this music video for singer/songwriter Tom Rosenthal.
Directed by Chloe Jackson

Session 4, “Gathering Together”

The short:disillusionment of 10 point font
Condon created this clever animated film with his Smith Corona Galaxie Deluxe typewriter and sound design with his friends at One Thousand Birds.
Directed and animated by Greg Condon

The short: Jain: “Alright”
This music video features Jain and five women breaking free from the chains of their daily lives to live out their passions in another special-effects tour-de-force from French filmmakers Greg & Lio. Their previous collaboration for Jain’s “Makeba” was featured at TED2017.
Directed by Greg & Lio

Session 5, “Showing Off”

The short:ALEXA! Play Baby Shark
This adorable viral video captures 2-year-old Zoe Turner’s frustration with her virtual assistant.
Captured by Cryssy Turner

The short: Sisterhood Anthem: “Ooh Child”
This video is the centerpiece for “Sisterh>>d,” a visual album project from Girls Who Code to celebrate young women everywhere driving change in their communities.
Directed by Kathryn Ferguson

Session 6, “Moving Forward”

The short:One Minute Art History
In under a minute, filmmaker and educator Cao Shu takes us on an epic journey through centuries of artistic styles and movements.
Directed by Cao Shu



Pattie Maes develops a plant-robot hybrid and other news from the TED community

Par Yasmin Belkhyr

As the year comes to a close, the TED community is busy as ever. Below, a few highlights.

Plant-robot hybrids are here. At the MIT Media Lab, researchers Pattie Maes and Harpreet Sareen have developed a new kind of “cybernetic lifeform”: a cyborg plant called Elowan that marries organic and digital technologies. Elowan’s robotic half tracks natural electronic pulses from its plant half that respond to light and other stimuli, and uses these signals to drive it toward light sources. Described as “a plant in direct dialogue with a machine,” Elowan illustrates a future where the organic and the machine work together more closely than ever. The methodology and testing behind Elowan is further explained in this video published by Sareen. (Watch Maes’ TED Talk.)

A night of philosophy and ideas. In January, author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will join Judith Revel and Marquis Revlon at The Night of Ideas, a global philosophy and art festival hosted by Institut Français. Founded in France, the festival has expanded globally and will produce “marathon” events in five US cities next year, which will be free and open to the public. The 2019 theme is “Facing Our Time,” which will focus on technological, social and environment advances. The festival offers space for attendees to “celebrate the stream of ideas between countries, cultures, topics and generations.”  (Watch Adichie’s TED Talk.)

Love is not a permanent state of enthusiasm. In a new profile by The New Yorker, psychotherapist Esther Perel discusses how she helps couples through the hard work of sustaining romantic relationships. The interview was conducted in front of a live audience at the New Yorker Festival in October. Perel played clips from her podcast “Where Should We Begin?” and offered audience members eye masks to better focus on the voices and stories of the couples she worked with. When asked to define love, Perel says, “It’s a verb. That’s the first thing. It’s an active engagement with all kinds of feelings—positive ones and primitive ones and loathsome ones.” (Watch Perel’s TED Talk.)

A more mindful New Year health challenge. Headspace, the mindfulness app founded by Andy Puddicombe, is collaborating with fitness company Barre3 on a January health challenge that they hope will help participants kick-start their New Year. The challenge is designed to help participants center themselves and seek strength from within. In a statement, Barre3 said, “We all deserve to feel at home in our bodies, just as they are in this moment, and this month of daily guided movement and mindfulness will help us do that.” (Watch Puddicombe’s TED Talk.)

Reengineering “spy” viruses to fight disease. Biologist Bonnie Bassler and Princeton graduate student Justin Silpe have discovered that some viruses can listen in on “conversations” that bacteria are having in a host body — and use that to formulate an attack. At their lab at Princeton University, Bassler and Silpe are working to reengineer these viruses to specifically target bacterial diseases like cholera and salmonella. “These are inanimate, non-living viruses… There’s something beautiful about how ancient communication is,” said Bassler. (Watch Bassler’s TED Talk.)



Ideas into action: Highlights from our year-end newsletter, in partnership with Brightline Initiative

Par TED Staff

As this calendar year draws to a close, many of us are making resolutions about personal growth and change. It’s a great time, too, for making changes in our working lives. Most of us spend a good portion of our days doing some kind of work — learning or teaching, making or planning, following or leading — and it’s worth thinking deeply on how to use our working time. Over the past month, we’ve been collecting essays about exactly that.

In partnership with the Brightline Initiative, we’ve pulled together a series of talks to inspire you and help you think about what you might explore at work in 2019.

You can read the whole archive of talks and essays here. Below, find some key excerpts. May they inspire you to a brighter New Year!

Time flies at supersonic speed
Ricardo Viana Vargas, Executive Director, Brightline Initiative

As we near the end of 2018, you may recall this same time last year with a mixture of disbelief and panic. One more year is over; it’s time to plan what’s next.

We tend to think a lot, and as a result we have many great ideas. But transforming them into reality is a tough job. Did the ideas you put on your to-do list last year become reality this year?

Brightline has partnered with TED on this series of curated talk recommendations to help you think about what you’ll bring to life in 2019. To kick-off this aspiration, I want to recommend one of my favorite TED Talks: “Inside the mind of the master procrastinator” presented by Tim Urban. In this powerful and fun talk, Tim goes through our everlasting battle with procrastination — trying to balance instant gratification and the rising panic of trying to get through daily life with the need to reach our goals and deadlines.

Procrastination is in the DNA of human beings, but to get things done, we need to understand that we’re in the driver’s seat of our own lives. Transforming your ideas into reality is what will make your life bright and fulfilled. I always tell people: “What feeds people is food. Not the grocery list.”

My wish for you is that the ideas you include in your to-do list become reality in the coming year.

Just one second can focus your day — and center your life
Yasmin Belkhyr, Editorial team, TED

Everyone touts the transformative benefits of mindfulness. Intrigued, I’ve tried meditation apps — but instead of clarity and peace, I felt mostly distracted and restless. That is until I watched Cesar Kuriyama’s TED Talk, “One second every day.”

For Cesar, exhaustion from work made time seem to blur and blend. So he started recording one second of his day, every day, to document how he spends his life (which eventually resulted in an app, as things do).

Though Cesar doesn’t speak directly to the concept of mindfulness, his philosophy inspired me to use technology to live more immediately in my day, without fear of forgetting or losing time. After watching his talk, I downloaded his app and started recording. Though it only took a few moments, making the time to document a snippet of my day helps me focus and reflect.

Just that one second of video really is enough to bring back memories I’m sure I would have forgotten otherwise. These videos act as a highly concentrated collage of my life — both the good and the not-so-good — which helps me remember all of my year, not just the Instagram-ready parts.

“Record just a small snippet of your life every day,” Kuriyama says at the end of his talk. “So you can never forget that that day you lived.”

Transforming courage into capital
Ama Y Adi-Dako, TED TV team

One of my big dreams is to create financial tools and educational resources that help women realize their power and potential across Africa. Chetna Gala Sinha’s TED Talk, which is focused on rural India, renews my faith in the power of economic freedom to help attain gender equality, safety and dignity for women.

“[Women] continue to inspire me, teach me, guide me in my journey of my life,” she says. “Incredible women [who] never had an opportunity to go to school … no degrees, no travel, no exposure. Ordinary women who did extraordinary things with the greatest of their courage, wisdom and humility. These are my teachers.”

I am revitalized by Chetna’s story of opening a bank of her own — the first ever for and by women in her country — after she was denied a loan. It’s a story of grit and perseverance, and it jostles me out of my self-doubt. What’s possible when we stop assuming we know what’s best for those who are less privileged? Everything.

As Chetna says: “Courage is my capital. And if you want, it can be yours also.”

Building teamwork on the fly
Murat Bicak, Senior Vice President, Strategy at Project Management Institute (PMI)

I want to recommend one of my favorite TED Talks: “How to turn a group of strangers into a team” by Amy Edmondson.

Amy researches “teaming,” which she defines as teamwork on the fly. It’s what happens when we coordinate and collaborate with people across boundaries of all kinds to get work done.

I would expect that we’ve all experienced how difficult it is to work with strangers, and that’s why I believe we should pay attention to Amy’s talk. Because more and more, work is being completed via project teams that don’t know each other.

Amy lists three must-haves for a workplace: situational humility, curiosity and psychological safety. If these characteristics exist, she says, then teaming might work — but a perspective shift is also required for success. Amy suggests that the mindset we need to build a sustainable future requires us to recognize that we can’t do it alone, that we need each other.

I hope you can work with new teams to test these ideas. And I hope that you can create an environment for teams where situational humility, curiosity and psychological safety coexist and support delivering results.

The path to becoming better people
Helen Walters, Head of curation, TED

Right after I watched Dolly Chugh’s extraordinary talk, I had a moment. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say, it did not make me look or feel like a good person. Essentially, I misread a situation, handled it poorly, and then, a few minutes later when I realized that I’d handled it poorly, I was flooded with bad feelings.

“Wow, did I mess up!”

“Coo, I’m some kind of terrible.”

Etc., etc.

All need for a good therapist aside, if this had happened before Dolly’s talk, it might well have been where I’d left it. I’d have languished for a little while and then moved on, never quite shaking that feeling of messing up, of not being good enough.

But because I had just seen Dolly’s talk, I now had a new technique at my disposal — and the knowledge that my attachment to being a “good” person could be holding me back from actually becoming a better person. That meant that as soon as I realized that I’d messed up, and when I got an opportunity to come clean and confess my mess … I took it. I didn’t hem or haw or try to justify myself. I just apologized, made a mental note not to repeat said error — you know, ever again — and then moved on with a clear head and heart.

Honestly. It was weird. It was also life-changing.

I’m so, so grateful to get to experiment with this new technique for the rest of time. Because, as Dolly says, “The path to being better people just begins with letting go of being a good person.”


Business insights from Brightline

Interpersonal relationships

People form the links of everything, especially the links between ideas and action. And relationships are essential for people to form such links. We build relationships with family, with neighbors, with friends, with teams and people in our organizations. Growth of relationships is a key success factor of one’s life. When cultivating relationships, don’t forget to look outside! Look for people who are outside of your usual social circles, who have a different set of skills or talents than you or your friends. In the business setting, be sure to look outside of your own organization and understand the needs of competitors, customers and the market landscape. Advantage in the market flows to those who excel at gaining new insights from an ever-changing business environment and quickly responding with the right decisions and adjustments to new ideas and actions.

Learn more about the Brightline Initiative



A new year, and new progress from The Audacious Project

Par Kate Torgovnick May

Blandina Herman of Tanzania sits with her granddaughter amid part of the maize she harvested in 2018. Before enrolling with One Acre Fund, she harvested seven bags a year. She now harvests more than double that. Photo: Courtesy of One Acre Fund

In 2018, TED launched The Audacious Project — a new model with the goal of changing the way that change is made. By surfacing big, bold, ambitious ideas with the possibility to change systems and affect millions of lives, and then bringing together groups of donors and the public to support them, the program is already having incredible impact. Read on for updates on the first Audacious projects and their progress last year.

Celebrating 11 sites for The Bail Project

Over the course of last year, The Bail Project opened sites in nine new locations beyond its initial two — with its latest in Spokane, Washington, and Indianapolis, Indiana. With local teams of bail disruptors at each of these sites working hard to make sure that each person bailed out has what they need to return it to court — and to ease back into their lives with dignity — the organization has freed 3,300 people, reuniting them with their families and restoring the presumption of innocence so they can make decisions about their cases from a place of freedom rather than desperation. But beyond that, founder Robin Steinberg has helmed a sea change, making more and more people recognize that cash bail creates a two-tier criminal justice system — one for the rich and one for everyone else — and sharing The Bail Project’s vision of a more equitable alternative. Check out The Bail Project on Dateline. In addition, listen to Robin’s in-depth conversation with TED curator Chris Anderson on The TED Interview, or watch her recent Q&A at TEDxKCWomen about how cash bail affects women specifically.

Bail Project volunteers in Louisville, Kentucky, put together care bags to send home with clients. They include water, snacks and basic toiletries. Photo: Courtesy of The Bail Fund

As climate outlook darkens, EDF takes action

In the fall of 2018, a special report from climate experts across the globe stressed that, to avoid a crisis by 2040, humanity must take action now. MethaneSAT is poised to be a key player, and last year, EDF made big progress toward launching this satellite to map and measure global methane emissions. In addition to building their leadership team and validating the satellite’s design, they secured commitments from oil and gas companies to reduce their methane leaks. And since the start of this year, they’ve announced that two leading aerospace industry companies are now under competitive contract to refine the design and decide which will actually build MethaneSAT. 2018 was a year that brought a lot of attention to methane as a key environmental issue — California committed to reducing its methane emissions, and both Canada and Mexico issued ambitious regulations to limit emissions from oil and gas companies. Check out EDF’s 2018 year in review to see how MethaneSAT fits into the organization’s larger strategy and how it will enable even more action on this front, with a goal of reducing global methane emissions from the oil and gas industry 45% by 2025.

Major new funding for trachoma elimination

Sightsavers spent 2018 building on the momentum generated by the launch of The Audacious Project. In December, they announced their Accelerate Trachoma Elimination Programme, a now-$105 million fund dedicated to their idea of ending blinding trachoma, and they shared this news onstage at the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100. This new program is unprecedented in scope, and will help eliminate trachoma in at least 10 countries while speeding up progress in others. Read about it in The Chronicle of Philanthropy. And check out these inspiring stories from Sightsavers’ network: Caroline Harper’s account of how taking a midlife gap year helped her find her calling, and the story of ophthalmic nurse Givemore Mafukidze, who lives in northern Zimbabwe and carries out eye health screenings.

Givemore Mafukidze has been an ophthalmic nurse for a decade, and each day travels to villages in his district to give eye screenings. “It makes me very happy to see a child with trachoma being treated,” he says. Photo: Courtesy of Sightsavers

Toward the Summer of Selma

In 2018, T. Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison of GirlTrek were named Game Changers by Women’s Health magazine, had The Root applaud them for their “literal movement for Black Women,” and were featured in a NowThis video that took more than 8 million viewers along the way for their 100-mile retracing of Harriet Tubman’s path of the Underground Railroad. In every month of last year’s walking season, GirlTrek registered more than 5,000 new trekkers. At the same time, the organization kicked off a 12-month, 50-city tour called the #RoadtoSelma, holding teach-ins across the US in anticipation of 2019’s Summer of Selma. The big event will be held in late May. It will begin with a trek along the historic 54-mile path from Selma to Montgomery taken by Civil Rights Movement leaders in 1965, and will end with a three-day festival — from May 24 to 27, 2019 — that promises to be the “Woodstock of Black Girl Healing.”

New views of the ocean’s twilight zone

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) kicked off its unprecedented exploration of the ocean’s twilight zone in 2018. Its first expedition launched a new vehicle, the Deep-See, and brought back more than 22 terabytes of data plus a haul of specimens and a wealth of new information from this largely unexplored part of the ocean. Check out The New York Times’ look at some of the most interesting findings. Meanwhile, a second expedition — NASA EXPORTS — is bringing new insights into the role that the twilight zone plays in Earth’s climate system by helping transport carbon from the ocean surface, where it can contribute to global warming, to long-term storage in the deep ocean. And WHOI has lots more planned for 2019.

The Deep-See is a new tool that’s already giving scientists unprecedented data from the ocean’s twilight zone. Photo: Courtesy of WHOI

800,000 farmers served, and counting

In 2018, One Acre Fund worked with more than 800,000 client families, helping them achieve food security and build better livelihoods. At the same time, they made it possible for smallholder farmers to adopt 200,000 solar lights and plant 15 million trees — a big win, as trees increase in value over time, require little labor, return vital nutrients to the land and sequester carbon. In addition, One Acre Fund was featured in Forbes and called a bottom-up model of development that works by South Africa’s IOL Business Report. At the heart of their efforts: technology that meets small-scale farmers where they are, enabling them to pay for services on mobile phones and receive receipts and advice via SMS. Read more about their approach on their blog.

Big wins for community health worker programs

At the close of 2018, Living Goods and Last Mile Health were on track to digitally empowered 14,000community health workers (CHWs) in East and West Africa, which would mean more than 7.6 million people reached. Together, their community health workers delivered close to a million lifesaving treatments for children and supported more than 200,000 women through pregnancies. In addition to securing a new partnership with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to explore how CHWs can close the immunization gap in hard-to-reach areas across the globe, the two organizations also launched an advocacy campaign, called Communities at the Heart of Universal Health Coverage, that highlights the importance of investing in community heath programs to achieve universal health coverage. And in 2019, Last Mile Health will launch the first course of its Community Health Academy.

one acre fund - blandina


Jim Yong Kim steps down from the World Bank and other news from the TED community

Par Yasmin Belkhyr

2019 is starting off big for the TED community — below, some highlights.

Jim Yong Kim resigns from the World Bank. In an unexpected move, Jim Yong Kim announced that he will be stepping down from his position as President of the World Bank by the end of the month. According to The New York Times, he will be joining a development-focused private investment fund, and plans to rejoin the board of Partners in Health, the nonprofit he co-founded in 1987. In a statement, Kim said, “It has been a great honor to serve as president of this remarkable institution, full of passionate individuals dedicated to the mission of ending extreme poverty in our lifetime.” (Watch Kim’s TED Talk.)

Feminist icon considered for BBC Wales statue. TV writer Elaine Morgan is one of five women being considered for the BBC’s Hidden Heroines statue project. Known for her blockbuster 30-year television writing career and for her book The Descent of Woman, which foregrounded women in the story of human evolution, Morgan disrupted male-dominated fields to forge her path in media. (She is also known for promoting a controversial theory that humans evolved from aquatic apes.) The statue would be the first of a real woman in Wales; the BBC has produced a learning resource kit on Morgan and the four other heroines. The decision will be made by public vote toward the end of January 2019. (Watch Morgan’s TED Talk.)

BAFTA nomination for a daring documentary. Free Solo, a film that documented rock climber Alex Honnold’s death-defying 2017 summit of El Capitan in Yosemite Park, was nominated for a BAFTA. Produced by National Geographic and Image Nation Abu Dhabi, the film follows Hannold over two years of zealous preparation, which culminated in his successful rope-free climb of the 3,200-foot El Capitan Wall. The trailer is available here; the award winners will be announced in February. (Watch Honnold’s TED Talk.)

A new study on Earth’s only walking fish. Ichthyologist Prosanta Chakrabarty is co-leading a new study at Louisiana State University on Cryptotora thamicola, the blind cavefish that can walk on land. The study, in collaboration with New Jersey Institute of Technology and the University of Florida, seeks to better understand how these fish have evolved. Chakrabarty’s team at LSU will perform genomic sequencing in order to discover more about the molecular makeup and history of the cavefish. In a statement, Chakrabarty said, “Combining robotics, genomics and CT morphological examinations, this collaboration could help us visualize evolution in a brand new light.” (Watch Chakrabarty’s TED Talk.)

A new interview on being brave. Girls Who Code founder and CEO Reshma Saujani spoke to the American Booksellers Association this week on her forthcoming book Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder. “My hope is that by sharing my story, and the lessons and stories I have learned from women across the country, booksellers will leave my talk empowered and excited to go flex their own bravery muscles.” she said. Saujani will also give a keynote speech at the ABA’s Winter Institute later this month. (Watch Saujani’s TED Talk.)

Seeking answers in an untimely death. Alongside producer Lina Misitzis, journalist Jon Ronson launched The Last Days of August, a new podcast investigating the death of adult entertainment star August Ames. In 2017, Ames faced severe backlash to a tweet perceived by many as homophobic; the following day, she committed suicide. Ames’ death sparked dialogue in the entertainment industry around cyberbullying, homophobia, and the impacts of social media. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Ronson said, “We had stumbled into a story where what we had to do was figure out the truth of why August died. We look at the huge things and the very small, subtle, nuanced, psychological things that contributed to her death. I can hope that people can see the humanness of that.” The full podcast can be streamed on Audible. (Watch Ronson’s TED Talk here.)

An advice column that “prescribes” poetry. Sarah Kay — alongside fellow resident poets Kaveh Akbar and Claire Schwartz — has begun Poetry Rx, a poetry-focused column for The Paris Review. Each week, the poets take turns suggesting the perfect poems to match specific emotions that readers write in about (such as commemorating a bittersweet accomplishment, exploring vulnerability, or other moments in the human condition). Read the full column here. (Watch Kay’s TED Talk.)



Up for Debate: Talks from TED and Doha Debates

Par Oliver Friedman

At TED Salon: Up for Debate, held January 16, 2019, at the TED World Theater in New York, NY, five speakers shared ideas for tackling society’s thorniest issues, joined via video by people worldwide. (Photo: Dian Lofton / TED)

The world is more interconnected than ever before — and the need to bridge political and ideological divides has never been more urgent. Now is the time to examine the rules of genuine human engagement, to find common ground for respectful, passionate discourse and to celebrate civility.

That’s the idea behind TED Salon: Up for Debate, a session of talks hosted by TED Residency director Cyndi Stivers and presented in partnership with Doha Debates — a newly revitalized media venture that seeks to inspire action and collaborative solutions to global challenges through debate. On Wednesday, January 16, five speakers took the stage of the TED World Theater in New York City; meanwhile, five groups of people from around the world joined the session live via Shared_Studios‘s “Portals” project. In reclaimed shipping containers outfitted with AV equipment, the groups in Doha, Qatar; Kigali, Rwanda; Herat, Afghanistan; Hardy County, West Virginia; and Mexico City were invited to share their thoughts on hot topics in their parts of the world and respond to the talks in New York in real time.

After an opening song performed by the Brooklyn Nomads, the session kicked off with journalist Steven Petrow.

Civility shouldn’t be a dirty word. What does it mean to be a “civilist” — an archaic title describing an “individual who tries to live by a moral code” — in a world where “civility” is a dirty word? Voices on the right conflate civility with political correctness, believing it to be a tool for the left to demonize their opposition. On the left, civility is considered immoral if it allows for the acquiescence to injustice — think of Martin Luther King Jr. or the Suffragists, who made changes by speaking out. But does civility actually stifle debate? As Petrow sees it, civility doesn’t mean appeasement or avoiding important differences; it means listening and talking about those differences with respect. Reasonable discussions are crucial to a healthy democracy, he says, while hate speech, cyberbullying and threats are not; in fact, they suppress conversation by telling us, “Shut up or else.” What we need now are rules of engagement — “a Geneva Convention of civility to become better citizens.” He offers three ways citizens can work toward the greater good: de-escalate language; challenge policies and positions, not character; and don’t mistake decorum for civility.

Rana Abdelhamid shares three ingredients to starting an international movement and her story of starting a self-defense class in her community. She speaks at TEDSalon: Up for Debate, January 16, 2019, at the TED World Theater in New York, NY. (Photo: Dian Lofton / TED)

The secret recipe to starting a movement. According to human rights organizer Rana Abdelhamid, there are three ingredients to creating an international movement: Start with what you know, start with who you know and, most important, start with joy. After a stranger aggressively tried to remove her hijab, the 16-year-old Abdelhamid (who happens to be a first-degree black belt) began teaching self-defense to women and girls in a community center basement. But she realized that she didn’t want the class to focus on fear — instead, she wanted her students to experience the class as an exercise in mental and physical well-being. That one class has evolved into Malikah, a grassroots organization spanning 17 cities in 12 countries that offers security and self-defense training that’s specific to wherever a person may live and how they walk through the world.

Audience members in a “Portal” in Doha, Qatar, speak live with salon host Cyndi Stivers, sharing their experiences with the media in their home country. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Next up, coming to us live from Doha, Qatar, a group of students who’ve gathered in a Shared_Studios Portal explains how the media has shaped their world — from employment to health to education and beyond. Some outlets have started promoting hate speech and fake news, they say, manipulating people in dangerous ways and sparking a debate about the role the media should play. We turn to the Portal in Mexico City, where students explain how, on the heels of their country’s recent transformative election, it’s becoming more important than ever to work together and understand that humanity is part of one force: “Now, kindness is the ultimate intelligence.”

Real dialogue is possible. Journalist Eve Pearlman is on a mission to bridge the political divide in the United States. With the help of her friend and fellow journalist Jeremy Hay, she founded Spaceship Media, dedicated to bringing together people on different sides of a political spectrum to create “dialogue journalism.” Their first dialogue asked Trump supporters from Alabama how they think Clinton voters in California perceive them — and vice versa. “By identifying stereotypes at the start of each project, we find that people begin to see the simplistic and often mean-spirited caricatures they carry,” Pearlman says, “and after that, we can move into the process of real conversation.” Pearlman and Hay want to bring trust back into journalism — moving away from clickbait reporting and toward transparency and care for the communities these journalists serve. When journalists and citizens come together in discussion, people that otherwise would have never met end up speaking with each other — and feeling grateful to know first-hand that the other side isn’t crazy, Pearlman says: “Real engagement across difference: this is the salve that our democracy sorely needs.”

Are all millennials lazy, entitled avocado-toast lovers? Author Reniqua Allen calls on us to take a broader, more nuanced view — and specifically, to listen to the 43 percent of millennials who are non-white. She speaks at TEDSalon: Up for Debate, January 16, 2019, at the TED World Theater in New York, NY. (Photo: Ryan Lash / TED)

Why we need to listen to millennials — all of them. Millennials aren’t a monolith, says author Reniqua Allen, but too often, we treat them like they are. By simplifying millennials to a worn-out stereotype of lazy, entitled avocado-toast lovers, Allen warns that we erase the vast multitude of millennial backgrounds and experiences, particularly the unique experiences of black millennials. Millennials are the largest, most diverse adult population in the country, she says, and 43 percent are non-white. While researching her book It Was All a Dream, Allen heard from black millennials like Joelle, who couldn’t attend her dream school because it was too expensive; AB, an actor who fears racial bias is limiting his success in Hollywood; and Simon, a tech company CFO who gave up a passion for photography because he didn’t have the financial safety net to take the risk. “These kind of stories — the quieter, more subtle ones — reveal the unique and often untold story of black millennials, show how even dreaming may differ between communities,” Allen says. Though black creatives, politicians and athletes are thriving, racist structures and ideologies haven’t gone away — and they affect the everyday experiences of millennials across the country. 

Next up, we check in with Kigali, Rwanda. The Rwandans in the Portal say that their most pressing issue is the trade war between Rwanda and the US. In 2016, the Rwandan government increased import duties on used clothing from the US in order to encourage domestic clothing production. Since then, the US has suspended certain trade benefits Rwanda receives under the African Growth and Opportunity Act — namely, those allowing Rwanda to export goods to the US without tariffs. They remind us that Rwanda is a young country; what’s on their mind is the need to build up self-dependence, in large part through the economic ability to dictate the prices of the goods they trade with the world. Meanwhile, in Herat, Afghanistan, participants in the Portal share how their community is trying to adapt to the international attitude. They’re eager for technology and social media to help meet and connect with people from other countries; they say that social media, in particular, has opened a gateway for women in Afghanistan.

Tweeting at a terrorist. Twitter is frequently “where you go to get yelled at by people you don’t know,” says counterterrorism expert and blogger Clint Watts. But it can also be a great place to interact with someone who’d otherwise be difficult to talk with — someone like Omar Hammami, a rapping terrorist who traded tweets with Watts in 2013. Hammami grew up in Mobile, Alabama, and Watts notes that had they ever met, “We probably would’ve shared a box of Krispy Kreme donuts.” Instead, Hammami joined the notorious terror group al Shabaab, where his Western background was exploited as propaganda — especially when he became a viral celebrity for his pro-jihad YouTube raps. Hammami eventually fell out with al Shabaab and, hunted by both counterterrorists and the mujahideen, hid in Somalia, where, bored and craving attention, he began obsessively tweeting. Using his training as a negotiator, Watts kept him talking, asking pointed questions about Hammami’s beliefs and goals in between banter about Chinese food and Reading Rainbow. Watts is clear to note, though, that they were never friends. Still, as Hammami’s murderous ex-comrades closed in to assassinate him, Watts wondered: “Did his thoughts reach for jihad and his faith, or did he reach for his family, his friends, his life back in Alabama, and the path he didn’t choose?”

The salon comes to a close with a Portal appearance from students in Hardy County, West Virginia. The most contentious topic in their area? Resistance to change. As one of the participants says: “People hold so tight to their family traditions and what they learned growing up.” Yet hope remains. The students see themselves as activists, looking to help those in their community who are brought down by discrimination and lack of acceptance.



Meet the 2019 TED Fellows and Senior Fellows

Par TED Staff

The TED Fellows program turns 10 in 2019 — and to mark this important milestone, we’re excited to kick off the year of celebration by announcing the impressive new group of TED2019 Fellows and Senior Fellows! This year’s TED Fellows class represents 12 countries across four continents; they’re leaders in their fields — ranging from astrodynamics to policing to conservation and beyond — and they’re looking for new ways to collaborate and address today’s most complex challenges.

The TED Fellows program supports extraordinary, iconoclastic individuals at work on world-changing projects, providing them with access to the global TED platform and community, as well as new tools and resources to amplify their remarkable vision. The TED Fellows program now includes 472 Fellows who work across 96 countries, forming a powerful, far-reaching network of artists, scientists, doctors, activists, entrepreneurs, inventors, journalists and beyond, each dedicated to making our world better and more equitable. Read more about their visionary work on the TED Fellows blog.

Below, meet the group of Fellows and Senior Fellows who will join us at TED2019, April 15-19, in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Alexis Gambis
Alexis Gambis (USA | France)
Filmmaker + biologist
Filmmaker and biologist creating films that merge scientific data with narrative in an effort to make stories of science more human and accessible.

Ali Al-Ibrahim
Ali Al-Ibrahim (Syria | Sweden)
Investigative journalist
Journalist reporting on the front lines of the Syrian conflict and creating films about the daily struggles of Syrians.

Amma Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin
Amma Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin (USA)
Scholar + artist
Scholar and artist working across academia and the entertainment industry to transform archival material about black identity into theatrical performances.

Arnav Kapur
Arnav Kapur (USA | India)
Inventor creating wearable AI devices that augment human cognition and give voice to those who have lost their ability to speak.

Wild fishing cats live in the Mangrove forests of southeast Asia, feeding on fish and mangrove crab in the surrounding waters. Not much is known about this rare species. Conservationist Ashwin Naidu and his organization, Fishing Cat Conservancy, are working to protect these cats and their endangered habitat. (Photo: Anjani Kumar/Fishing Cat Conservancy)

Ashwin Naidu
Ashwin Naidu (USA | India)
Fishing cat conservationist
Conservationist and co-founder of Fishing Cat Conservancy, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting fishing cats and their endangered mangrove habitat.

Brandon Anderson
Brandon Anderson (USA)
Data entrepreneur
Human rights activist and founder of Raheem AI, a tech nonprofit working to end police violence through data collection, storytelling and community organizing.

Brandon Clifford
Brandon Clifford (USA)
Ancient technology architect
Architectural designer and co-founder of Matter Design, an interdisciplinary design studio that uses the technology of ancient civilizations to solve contemporary problems.

Bruce Friedrich
Bruce Friedrich (USA)
Food innovator
Founder of the Good Food Institute, an organization supporting the creation of plant and cell-based meat for a more healthy and sustainable food system.

Christopher Bahl
Christopher Bahl (USA)
Protein designer
Molecular engineer using computational design to develop new protein drugs that combat infectious disease.

Erika Hamden
Erika Hamden (USA)
Astrophysicist developing telescopes and new ultraviolet detection technologies to improve our ability to observe distant galaxies.

Federica Bianco
Federica Bianco (USA | Italy)
Urban astrophysicist
Astrophysicist using an interdisciplinary approach to study stellar explosions and help build resilient cities by applying astronomical data processing techniques to urban science.

Gangadhar Patil
Gangadhar Patil (India)
Journalism entrepreneur
Journalist and founder of 101Reporters, an innovative platform connecting grassroots journalists with international publishers to spotlight rural reporting.

In Tokyo Medical University for Rejected Women, multimedia artist Hiromi Ozaki explores the systematic discrimination of female applicants to medical school in Japan. (Photo: Hiromi Ozaki)

Hiromi Ozaki
Hiromi Ozaki (Japan | UK)
Artist creating music, film and multimedia installations that explore the social and ethical implications of emerging technologies.

Ivonne Roman
Ivonne Roman (USA)
Police captain
Police captain and co-founder of the Women’s Leadership Academy, an organization working to increase the recruitment and retention of women in policing.

Jess Kutch
Jess Kutch (USA)
Labor entrepreneur
Co-founder of, a labor organization for the 21st century helping workers solve problems and advance change through an open online platform.

Leila Pirhaji
Leila Pirhaji (Iran | USA)
Biotech entrepreneur
Computational biologist and founder of ReviveMed, a biotech company pioneering the use of artificial intelligence for drug discovery and treatment of metabolic diseases.

Morangels Mbizah
Moreangels Mbizah (Zimbabwe)
Lion conservationist
Conservation biologist developing innovative community-based conservation methods to protect lions and their habitat.

Moriba Jah
Moriba Jah (USA)
Space environmentalist
Astrodynamicist tracking and monitoring satellites and space garbage to make outer space safe, secure and sustainable for future generations.

Muthoni Ndonga
Muthoni Drummer Queen (Kenya)
Musician and cultural entrepreneur fusing traditional drum patterns and modern styles such as hip-hop and reggae to create the sound of “African cool.”

Nanfu Wang
Nanfu Wang (China | USA)
Documentary filmmaker
Documentary filmmaker uncovering stories of human rights and untold histories in China through a characteristic immersive approach.

TED2019 Senior Fellows

Senior Fellows embody the spirit of the TED Fellows program. They attend four additional TED events, mentor new Fellows and continue to share their remarkable work with the TED community.

Adital Ela
Adital Ela (Israel)
Sustainable materials designer
Entrepreneur developing sustainable materials and construction methods that mimic natural processes and minimize environmental impact.

Anita Doron
Anita Doron (Canada | Hungary)
Filmmaker who wrote The Breadwinner, an Oscar-nominated coming-of-age story set in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

Jessica Ladd
Constance Hockaday (USA)
Artist creating experiential performances on public waterways that examine issues surrounding public space, political voice and belonging.

Jorge Mañes Rubio
Eman Mohammed (USA | Palestine)
Photojournalist documenting contemporary issues, including race relations and immigration, often through a characteristic long-form approach.

Erine Gray
Erine Gray (USA)
Social services entrepreneur
Software developer and founder of Aunt Bertha, a platform helping people access social services such as food banks, health care, housing and educational programs.

In one of her projects, documentary photographer Kiana Hayeri took a rare, intimate look at the lives of single mothers in Afghanistan, capturing their struggles and strengths. Here, two children hang a picture of their father. (Photo: Kiana Hayeri)

Kiana Hayeri
Kiana Hayeri (Canada | Iran)
Documentary photographer
Documentary photographer exploring complex topics such as migration, adolescence and sexuality in marginalized communities.

An illustration of Tungsenia, an early relative of lungfish. Paleobiologist Lauren Sallan studies the vast fossil records to explore how extinctions of fish like this have affected biodiversity in the earth’s oceans. (Photo: Nobu Tamura)

Lauren Sallan (USA)
Paleobiologist using the vast fossil record as a deep time database to explore how mass extinctions, environmental change and shifting ecologies impact biodiversity.

David Sengeh
Pratik Shah (USA | India)
Health technologist
Scientist developing new artificial intelligence technologies for antibiotic discovery, faster clinical trials and tools to help doctors better diagnose patients.

Premesh Chandran
Premesh Chandran (Malaysia)
Journalism entrepreneur
Cofounder and CEO of, the most popular independent online news organization in Malaysia, which is working to create meaningful political change.

Samuel “Blitz the Ambassador” Bazawule
Samuel “Blitz the Ambassador” Bazawule (USA | Ghana)
Musician + filmmaker
Hip-hop artist and filmmaker telling stories of the polyphonic African diaspora.



Alexis Gambis

Ali Al-Ibrahim

Amma Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin

Arnav Kapur

Ashwin Naidu

Brandon Anderson

Brandon Clifford

Bruce Friedrich

Christopher Bahl

Erika Hamden

Federica Bianco

Gangadhar Patil

Hiromi Ozaki

Ivonne Roman

Jess Kutch

Leila Pirhaji

Morangels Mbizah

Moriba Jah

Muthoni Ndonga

Nanfu Wang

Adital Ela

Anita Doron

Jessica Ladd

Jorge Mañes Rubio

Erine Gray

Kiana Hayeri


David Sengeh

Premesh Chandran

Samuel “Blitz the Ambassador” Bazawule

Education Everywhere: A night of talks about the future of learning, in partnership with TED-Ed

Par Brian Greene

TED-Ed’s Stephanie Lo (left) and TED’s own Cloe Shasha co-host the salon Education Everywhere, on January 24, 2019, at the TED World Theater in New York City. (Photo: Dian Lofton / TED)

The event: TED Salon: Education Everywhere, curated by Cloe Shasha, TED’s director of speaker development; Stephanie Lo, director of programs for TED-Ed; and Logan Smalley, director of TED-Ed

The partner: Bezos Family Foundation and ENDLESS

When and where: Thursday, January 24, 2019, at the TED World Theater in New York City

Music: Nora Brown fingerpicking the banjo

The big idea: We’re relying on educators to teach more skills than ever before — for a future we can’t quite predict.

Awesome animations: Courtesy of TED-Ed, whose videos are watched by more than two million learners around the world every day

New idea (to us anyway)Poverty is associated with a smaller cortical surface of the brain. 

Good to be reminded: Education doesn’t just happen in the classroom. It happens online, in our businesses, our social systems and beyond.

Nora Brown, who picked up the ukulele at age six, brings her old-time banjo sound to the TED stage. (Photo: Dian Lofton / TED)

The talks in brief:

Kimberly Noble, a neuroscientist and director of the Neurocognition, Early Experience and Development Lab at Columbia University

  • Big idea: We’ve learned that poverty has a measurable effect on the cortical surface of the brain, an area associated with intelligence. What could we do about that?
  • How: Experience can change children’s brains, and the brain is very sensitive to experience in early childhood. Noble’s lab wants to know if giving impoverished families more money might change brain function in their preschool kids.
  • Quote of the talk: “The brain is not destiny, and if a child’s brain can be changed, then anything is possible.”

Olympia Della Flora, associate superintendent for school development for Stamford Public Schools in Connecticut, and the former principal at Ohio Avenue Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio

  • Big idea: Healthy emotional hygiene means higher academic scores and happier kids.
  • How: With help from local colleges and experts, the teachers at Ohio Avenue Elementary learned new ways to improve kids’ behavior (which in turn helped with learning). Rather than just reacting to kids when they acted out, teachers built healthy coping strategies into the day — simple things like stopping for brain breaks, singing songs and even doing yoga poses — to help kids navigate their emotions in and out of the classroom.
  • Quote of the talk: “Small changes make huge differences, and it’s possible to start right now. You don’t need bigger budgets or grand, strategic plans. You simply need smarter ways to think about using what you have, where you have it.”

Marcos Silva, a TED-Ed Innovative Educator and public school teacher in McAllen, Texas; and Ana Rodriguez, a student who commutes three hours every day to school from Mexico

  • Big idea: Understanding what’s going on with students outside of school is important, too.
  • How: Silva grew up bringing the things he learned at school about American culture and the English language back to his parents, who were immigrants from Mexico. Now a teacher, he’s helping students like Ana Rodriquez to explore their culture, community and identity.
  • Quote of the talk: “Good grades are important, but it’s also important to feel confident and empowered.”

Joel Levin, a technology teacher and the cofounder of MinecraftEdu

  • Big idea: Educators can use games to teach any subject — and actually get kids excited to be in school.
  • How: Levin is a big fan of Minecraft, the game that lets players build digital worlds out of blocks with near-endless variety. In the classroom, Minecraft and similar games can be used to spark creativity, celebrate ingenuity and get kids to debate complex topics like government, poverty and power.
  • Quote of the talk: “One of my daughters even learned to spell because she wanted to communicate within the game. She spelled ‘home.'”

Jarrell E. Daniels offers a new vision for the criminal justice system centered on education and growth. (Photo: Dian Lofton / TED)

Jarrell E. Daniels, criminal justice activist and Columbia University Justice-In-Education Scholar

  • Big idea: Collaborative education can help us create more justice.
  • How: A few weeks before his release from state prison, Daniels took a unique course called Inside Criminal Justice, where he learned in a classroom alongside prosecutors and police officers, people he couldn’t imagine having anything in common with. In class, Daniels connected with and told his story to those in power — and has since found a way to make an impact on the criminal justice system through the power of conversation.
  • Quote of the talk: “It is through education that we will arrive at a truth that is inclusive and unites us all in a pursuit of justice.”

Liz Kleinrock, third-grade teacher and diversity coordinator at a charter school in Los Angeles

  • Big idea: It’s not easy to talk with kids about taboo subjects like race and equity, but having these conversations early prevents bigger problems in the future.
  • How: Like teaching students to read, speaking about tough topics requires breaking down concepts and words until they make sense. It doesn’t mean starting with an incredibly complex idea, like why mass incarceration exists — it means starting with the basics, like what’s fair and what isn’t. It requires practice, doing it every day until it’s easier to do.
  • Quote of the talk: “Teaching kids about equity is not about teaching them what to think. It’s about giving them the tools, strategies and opportunities to practice how to think.”



Reggie Watts’ virtual reality dance party and more TED news

Par Yasmin Belkhyr

The TED community is busy with new projects and news — below, some highlights.

A virtual reality dance party at Sundance. Musician and comedian Reggie Watts and artist Kiira Benzing debuted their new project “Runnin’” at the Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier exhibit. “Runnin’” is an “immersive, interactive music video” backed with a hypnotic techno beat by Wajatta (the musical duo of Watts and composer John Tejada). The project welcomes players into a “retro-future world,” coupling VR technology and the magic of dance into an experience of pure creativity. In an interview with the Sundance Institute, Watts said, “I always wanted Wajatta to be able to create videos that really embody the music in a fun way.” Check out the artist feature for a sneak peek at the visuals for the project and listen to a live performance of “Runnin’.” At the New Frontier exhibit, Nonny de la Peña also premiered a virtual reality photo booth and data artists Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin contributed to a project called “Emergence”. (Watch Watts’ TED Talk, de la Peña’s TED Talk, Milk’s TED Talk and Kobin’s TED Talk.)

Global science commission urges radical, planet-wide diet. The EAT-Lancet Commission, co-chaired by sustainability expert Johan Rockström and scientist Walter Willett, released a new report on the state of food production, environmental degradation and global sustainability. The commission, which is composed of 37 leading scientists from around the world, warns of serious consequences to current consumption patterns and offers a newly designed “planetary health diet” to help accelerate a “radical transformation of the global food system.” According to the report summary, the dietary shift will require doubling the consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts globally — and reducing sugar and red meat consumption by more than half. “To have any chance of feeding 10 billion people in 2050 within planetary boundaries, we must adopt a healthy diet, slash food waste and invest in technologies that reduce environmental impacts,” said Rockström in an interview with AFP. (Watch Rockström’s TED Talk.)

#WeKnowYouCare campaign launches. Advocacy organization Caring Across Generations, co-directed by activist Ai-jen Poo, launched its latest campaign, #WeKnowYouCare, which celebrates the 16 million men who act as caregivers for their families in America. By sharing video narratives from male caregivers, the campaign aims to highlight nuanced stories of masculinity and address why men who caregive are particularly vulnerable to isolation and lack of support. “Men were actually really quite harmed by the gender norms related to caregiving, in that it’s harder for them to ask for help, it’s harder for them to actually get the support that they need to do what is a very emotionally challenging — and otherwise [difficult] — thing to do,” said Poo in an interview with Bustle. (Watch Poo’s TED Talk.)

The hidden meanings of laughter. Neuroscientist Sophie Scott dives deep into the wonder of laughter on an episode of NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast; alongside host Shankar Vedantam, Scott discusses the animal kingdom, social bonds and the bizarre and beautiful science behind laughter. “Wherever you go in the world, you’ll encounter laughter. It has at its heart the same meaning. It’s very truthful, and it’s telling you something very positive. And that’s always a sort of wonderful thing to encounter,” she said. (Listen to the full episode.) (Watch Scott’s TED Talk.)

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