Lewinsky delivers a talk on cyber bullying and calls for a more compassionate internet at TED 2015 conference.
When my story broke it broke online. It was one of the first times that the traditional news had been usurped by the internet for a major news story. I went from being a private figure to being a publicly humiliated one worldwide. There were mobs of virtual stone-throwers. I was branded a tart, a slut, a whore, a bimbo. I lost my reputation and my dignity and I almost lost my life. Seventeen years ago there was no name for it, but now we call it cyberbullying or online harassment.
Every day online, people – especially young people who are not developmentally equipped to handle this – are so abused and humiliated that they can’t imagine living to the next day. And some don’t.
Jill Shargaa, comedian and designer, presents a talk to challenge her audience to reconsider the usage of the word “awesome”. She points out that we are no longer using it properly in the English language. Shargaa seeks to return the “awe” back into the word.
So when you use the word “awesome” to describe the most mundane of things, you’re taking away the very power of the word. This author says, “Snowy days or finding money in your pants is awesome.”
Dan Barasch gives a talk on a project that he is working on with his partner, James Ramsey. Together they have taken an abandoned trolley terminal in underground New York City and have begun to design a park that will thrive there. With the help of modern technology to bring the sunlight into the underground, this park and its vegetation will be able to live even in winter.
If my grandparents and my parents were really focused on building the city up and out, I think my generation is focused on reclaiming the spaces that we already have, rediscovering our shared history, and reimagining how we can make our communities more interesting, more beautiful and more just.
Ito, head of MIT Media Labs, leads a discussion on the concept of being a “now-ist”. As en entrepreneur and an investor in some of the biggest social media outlets on the internet, Ito tells future entrepreneur-hopefuls to stop looking towards the future and conceptualizing on what it might be and instead choose to focus on the here and now.
The amount of money and the amount of permission that you need to create an idea has decreased dramatically.
Anholt poses the question “Which country does the most good?” In his talk, the policy advisor ranks countries on how much “good” they do in the ever-expanding process of globalization. This is part of an international survey that he calls “The Good Country Index”. It is Anholt’s hope that this will help inspire countries to cease living like their own little island and instead decide to reach out and expand for the good of humanity.
Your reputation is only rented. And if you find ways to keep paying the rent, it helps you to stay where you are.
Barnett presents a talk on creating a semi-intellgent slime mold using Physarum polycephalum. While this single celled organism has no brain nor central nervous system, it shows a primitive form of memory, problem-solving skills and the apparent ability to make decisions.
It is also quite beautiful and makes therefore for a great creative collaborator. Although ultimately I cannot control the final outcome, it is a rather independent organism.
Philosopher Salecl states that in a modern, capitalist driven world, we are trained to take our own personal choices too seriously. She lectures that personal choices can allow us to be lead to feelings of guilt, uncertainty and inadequacy. In a world focused on obtaining perfection, these feelings cause us to become politically immobile and self-centered. Rather than become focused on these negative feelings towards ourselves, Salecl insists that we start focusing more on the choices we are making as a collective society.
Why do we still rely on the idea of the self-made man, which capitalism is based on? As psychoanalysts know, people don’t have a passion for knowledge; they have a passion for ignorance.
Chang, a philosopher, challenges the way we look at and make hard decisions in our lives. She outlines a way to take a new perspective so that we can view these difficult decisions in a more pleasing light.
Far from being sources of agony and dread, hard choices are precious opportunities for us to celebrate what is special about the human condition, that the reasons that govern our choices as correct or incorrect sometimes run out, and it is here, in the space of hard choices, that we have the power to create reasons for ourselves to become the distinctive people that we are. And that’s why hard choices are not a curse but a godsend.
Appiah, philosopher and cultural theorist, asks the question “Is religion good or bad?” He begins by challenging his audience to consider whether religion is even a thing at all.
What I want you to think about next time somebody wants to make some vast generalization about religion is that maybe there isn’t such a thing as a religion, such a thing as religion, and that therefore what they say cannot possibly be true.
Oreskes, a historian of science, presents a talk on why it is that we should trust scientists. She presents the question of Faith vs. Science and then outlines three main problems that can be found in the world of scientific inquiry and how these issues can and should be addressed.
But it shouldn’t be blind trust any more than we would have blind trust in anything. Our trust in science, like science itself, should be based on evidence, and that means that scientists have to become better communicators. They have to explain to us not just what they know but how they know it, and it means that we have to become better listeners.
Wang, founding director of the Standard Laptop Orchestra and the Standard Mobile Phone Orchestra, shows an example of how computers and programming languages can be used to create music. With his program he is able to take household materials and turn them into instruments that musicians can then make music with.
Young, a disability activist, leads a talk on what she calls “inspiration porn” – society’s habit of making disabled people into inspirational figures. She challenges our culture to raise their expectations of what disabled men and women are capable of doing and to look upon disability as the “norm” and not the exception.
Disability doesn’t make you exceptional, but questioning what you think you know about it does.
Kluwe, a former Minnesota Vikings punter, talks about a new version of augmented reality where the audience watching from home can get a sense that they are actually right there on the field with the players. He states that it is a new way for the fans to participate in the action, however, there are even more important uses for the technology.
But the question I ask you is, is that’s all that we’re content to use augmented reality for? Are we going to use it solely for our panem, our circenses, our entertainment as normal? Because I believe that we can use augmented reality for something more. I believe we can use augmented reality as a way to foster more empathy within the human species itself, by literally showing someone what it looks like to walk a mile in another person’s shoes.
Solomon, a writer on politics, psychology and culture, presents a talk on life’s adversities and how we can experience growth through the most difficult times in our lives.
The gay activist Harvey Milk was once asked by a younger gay man what he could do to help the movement, and Milk said, “Go out and tell someone.” There’s always somebody who wants to confiscate our humanity, and there are always stories that restore it. If we live out loud, we can trounce the hatred and expand everyone’s lives.
Richen, a filmaker that focuses on the feminist, LGBT & African American communities, presents a talk on the similarities between the gay rights and civil rights movements. Despite the tensions that can be found between the two, she argues that they are in fact very similar and that both movements need to work together towards a common cause and continue to push one another forward towards a better future.
So as these movements continue on, and as freedom struggles around the world continue on, let’s remember that not only are they interconnected, but they must support and enhance each other for us to be truly victorious.
Full, UC Berkeley biologist, gives a talk on his studies of various animals including cockroaches, crabs and geckos and how they can help us to engineer more efficient robots in the future.
My engineering colleague at Berkeley designed with his students a novel manufacturing technique where you essentially origami the exoskeleton, you laser cut it, laminate it, and you fold it up into a robot. They even have some of the behaviors of the cockroaches. So they can use their smart, compliant body to transition up a wall in a very simple way.
Gilbert, a Harvard psychologist, presents a talk on what he calls the “end of history illusion”. He believes that much in the same way as humans can be deceived by optical illusions, so too can we be deceived on what will make us happy in our future. He speculates that we are not as capable of predicting what will lead us to our own bliss as we think we are.
Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been. The one constant in our life is change.
Kurzweil tells about the evolution of the neocortex in mammals and how this part of the brain has helped to expand our way of thinking and reasoning beyond the point that our earlier ancestors would have been capable of. Now the neocortex is about to evolve again and he theorizes over what this new growth will bring about.
And so, over the next few decades, we’re going to do it again. We’re going to again expand our neocortex, only this time we won’t be limited by a fixed architecture of enclosure. It’ll be expanded without limit. That additional quantity will again be the enabling factor for another qualitative leap in culture and technology.
Sting gives a presentation on the early life he spent in a shipyard and the way it would eventually come to influence his music as he found inspiration in the lives of his fellow shipyard workers. He also talks about his upcoming Broadway musical and presents several selections from the work.
The fact is, whether you’re a rock star or whether you’re a welder in a shipyard, or a tribesman in the upper Amazon, or the queen of England, at the end of the day, we’re all in the same boat.
Friend, an open science advocate, presents a talk on the reason why some family members will contract certain inherited diseases through genetics while others will remain healthy. He talks about the project he is currently working on – the Resilience Project – which is a massive effort to collect genetic materials that may help decode inherited disorders.
Most of us spend our lives, when it comes to health and disease, acting as if we’re voyeurs. We delegate the responsibility for the understanding of our disease, for the treatment of our disease, to anointed experts. In order for us to get this project to work, we need individuals to step up in a different role and to be engaged, to realize this dream, this open crowd-sourced project.
Cahana, a photojournalist and self-proclaimed vagabond, presents a brief look into her life on the road where she uses her art to show the lifestyle of nomads, hitchhikers, vagrants and tramps.Through her eyes and her camera she gives her audience a small idea of what it is like to live a wandering existence.
Until we live in a society where every human is assured dignity in their labor so that they can work to live well, not only work to survive, there will always be an element of those who seek the open road as a means of escape, of liberation and, of course, of rebellion.
Mooallem tells the story of how Theodore Roosevelt spared the life of a black bear and thus inspired the creation of what is now called the “teddy bear”. The author explains how stories like this effect the existence and survival of various animals around the world.
In a world of conservation reliance, those stories have very real consequences, because now, how we feel about an animal affects its survival more than anything that you read about in ecology textbooks. Storytelling matters now. Emotion matters. Our imagination has become an ecological force.
Cranor discusses her time spent studying online security and user passwords. She talks about a study that she conducted wherein she discovered a common pattern and habit among password-creators that could easily threaten their internet security.
So I know a lot of these TED Talks are inspirational and they make you think about nice, happy things, but when you’re creating your password, try to think about something else.
Senghor, an ex-drug dealer out of Detroit, tells a story of being imprisoned for second-degree murder and the redemption that he found while he was in jail through the teachings of Malcolm X and his own writings. He speaks about living a life that is not defined by his past and how we too can come to accept our past and that of others.
My journey is a unique journey, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Anybody can have a transformation if we create the space for that to happen. So what I’m asking today is that you envision a world where men and women aren’t held hostage to their pasts, where misdeeds and mistakes don’t define you for the rest of your life. I think collectively, we can create that reality, and I hope you do too.
Collins presents two very different poems inspired by what he believes a dog might be thinking.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s been a spate of books that have come out lately contemplating or speculating on the cognition and emotional life of dogs. Do they think, do they feel and, if so, how? So this afternoon, in my limited time, I wanted to take the guesswork out of a lot of that by introducing you to two dogs, both of whom have taken the command “speak” quite literally.
Curzan, a professor of English at the University of Michigan and a historian of the English language, gives a talk on what makes a word “real” and who has the authority to make modern slang words “real” in the English language. As the language continues to evolve, Curzan explains how modern words are taken and placed into the dictionary as a “real” word.
Dictionaries are a wonderful guide and resource, but there is no objective dictionary authority out there that is the final arbiter about what words mean. If a community of speakers is using a word and knows what it means, it’s real. That word might be slangy, that word might be informal, that word might be a word that you think is illogical or unnecessary, but that word that we’re using, that word is real.
Jacobs gives a humorous talk on discovering his ancestry through various genealogy sites and finding that we are all linked – no matter how distantly. He invites his audience to the biggest family reunion ever as he discusses the relations he has found along the way.
And my cousin, of course, the actor Kevin Bacon who is my first cousin’s twice removed’s wife’s niece’s husband’s first cousin once removed’s niece’s husband. So six degrees of Kevin Bacon, plus or minus several degrees.
Frank, an online comedian and web artist, presents a talk on the question “Are you human?” In it he asks his audience to raise their hands to a series of personal questions to judge whether they can indeed consider themselves “human”.
Have you ever lost the ability to imagine a future without a person that no longer was in your life? Have you ever looked back on that event with the sad smile of autumn and the realization that futures will happen regardless? Congratulations. You have now completed the test. You are all human.
Will Potter, an investigative journalist, tells of the day he decided to take part in a peaceful protest against animal testing only to find himself arrested and how that day inspired him to delve deeper into a world where peaceful protest is considered terrorism.
Dostoevsky wrote that the whole work of man is to prove he’s a man and not a piano key. Over and over throughout history, people in power have used fear to silence the truth and to silence dissent. It’s time we strike a new note.
Elazari, a cybersecurity expert, talks about the growth of hackers from being cyberpunk protagonists to being a kind of anonymous vigilante. She talks about the unintentional good that hackers are causing by pointing out the weaknesses in internet security so that a stronger, healthier deterrent can be built.
They just can’t see something broken in the world and leave it be. They are compelled to either exploit it or try and change it, and so they find the vulnerable aspects in our rapidly changing world. They make us, they force us to fix things or demand something better, and I think we need them to do just that, because after all, it is not information that wants to be free, it’s us.
Negroponte, founder of MIT Media Lab, leads a talk on the last 30 years of technology. He also introduces his newest project – “One Laptop per Child”. Negroponte states that he has a desire to create wireless laptop computers that cost around $100 and see that they are given out to children in developing countries.
We aim to provide each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop. To this end, we have designed hardware, content and software for collaborative, joyful, and self-empowered learning. With access to this type of tool, children are engaged in their own education, and learn, share, and create together. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future.
Lewis, a scientist and professor at Tufts University, gives her audience a glimpse into the lives of fireflies. In her lecture she discusses the strange nature of firefly behavior: including elaborate flash dances, predatory eavesdropping and deceit, and the female “firefly vampire”.
The luminous displays are actually the silent love songs of male fireflies. They’re flying and flashing their hearts out. I still find it very romantic.
Huang speaks on his various forms of art and his goal of giving people an experience to explore. In his talk he shows a helmet that records the movement of the eye, and then uses the blinks to turn on and off a nightlight. He also shows a large bioluminescent sculpture made from bottles, tupperware and garbage bags that moves and acts like a giant, bioluminescent sea creature.
The objects are dissected and disassembled as needed and reconstructed into experimental primitive organisms that reside on the fringes of evolutionary transformation: computer cooling fans are repurposed for locomotion. Tupperware serves as a skeletal framework; guitar tuner rewired to detect sound; and automatic night lights become a sensory input.
Chalmers, explores the state of human consciousness and attempts to explain it as a movie that takes place in one’s mind. He states that he believes there is not a physical, scientific explanation for the human consciousness but rather argues that the mind is not confined to skin or skull, but plausibly may extend beyond them.
Kwong, a New York Times crossword puzzle creator and “illusion designer” specializing in film and television, presents a lecture on the human’s primal instinct to “solve”, discussing the relationship between puzzles and magic, the need to create order out of chaos.
I believe that magic and puzzles are the same thing, so I am trying to create this new breed of illusion and enigmas.
Bennoune, the daughter of an outspoken Algerian professor that fought death threats for standing up against terrorism, presents four stories of men and women fighting against fundamentalism. People that are standing up for their faith and not allowing it to be used as a tool for violence and crime.
Shubhendu Sharma, a reforestation expert, presents a lecture on a method that he has devised that has allowed for the process of the regrowth of forests to take place ten times faster than would be seen in the natural world. Because of this he says that he is hopeful that there might be hope for the destroyed forests to thrive once again.
This methodology, I believe, has a potential. By sharing, we can actually bring back our native forests.
Allende presents a challenge to her audience – that they live a life of passion, no matter what they’re age. Allende talks about some of the fears that she has faced herself as she’s aged and about the choice that she made to make sure that her life was lived fully and without regrets for what might have been.
And, on a final note, retirement in Spanish is jubilación. Jubilation. Celebration. We have paid our dues. We have contributed to society. Now it’s our time, and it’s a great time.Unless you are ill or very poor, you have choices. I have chosen to stay passionate,engaged with an open heart. I am working on it every day. Want to join me?
Writer and philosopher, Jim Holt, talks about the origins of the question “Why does the universe exist?” and the path that has been taken by theorists to answer it.
So I’m going to talk about the mystery of existence, the puzzle of existence, where we are now in addressing it, and why you should care, and I hope you do care.
Photographer and artist, Uldus Bakhtiozina, presents a lighthearted talk on her native home in Russia. Using photography, she pokes fun and shows the audience how we should never take ourselves too seriously.
I’m 27 years old. For Russian society, I’m an old maid and hopeless to ever get married. That’s why you see me in a Mexican fighter mask, in the wedding dress, all desperate in my garden. But remember, irony is the key, and this is actually to motivate girls to fight for goals, for dreams, and change stereotypes.
Zak Ebrahim, the son of one of the terrorists that planned the attack on the World Trade Centers, presents a talk on how a person that is brought up in a world of violence and dogma can choose another path. Despite being groomed for a life of hatred, he talks about how he chose another direction for his life and how others can do the same.
For the victims of terrorism, I will speak out against these senseless acts and condemn my father’s actions. And with that simple fact, I stand here as proof that violence isn’t inherent in one’s religion or race, and the son does not have to follow the ways of his father. I am not my father.
Lysicott presents a smash-poetry style look at what it means to be “articulate” and the three differents languages that she speaks – at home, in the classroom and with her friends. In her speech she challenges her audience to look at those with broken English not as “ignorant” but as speaking with a tongue or their own and to consider the past that has shaped and brought that language into being.
Yes, I have decided to treat all three of my languages as equals because I’m “articulate”.
Moore, an Army paratrooper and captain, recounts the difficulties he experienced upon returning from Afghanistan to the United States. He talks to his audience about how to speak to veterans about their experiences abroad and encourages them to ask veterans for their stories and to take the time to listen to what they have to say.
We signed up because we love this country we represent. We signed up because we believe in the idea and we believe in the people to our left and to our right. And the only thing we then ask is that “thank you for your service” needs to be more than just a quote break, that “thank you for your service” means honestly digging in to the people who have stepped up simply because they were asked to.
Junger speaks about the experiences he has had alongside of American soldiers in Restrepo and the observations that he has made when war creates a strong connection amongst them. The author poses that many soldiers end up missing war due to the isolation that they experience upon returning home.
Compared to that, war, psychologically, in some ways, is easy, compared to that kind of alienation. That’s why they miss it, and that’s what we have to understand and in some ways fix in our society.
Bloom, a psychologist and professor at Yale, poses the question “Can prejudice ever be a good thing?” In his talk he states that prejudice is often natural, rational and even moral. He argues that it is only be acknowledging this and then taking control of it when our bias goes wrong that we can use it to work to our benefit.
A growing body of evidence suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life.
Begg, a PhD candidate in mechanical engineering, gives a talk on his work updating commonly used medical devices. Using physics, he has taken the trocar and improved upon it to the lower the risk of surgeons puncturing any vital organs when placing an opening in the skin.
Savitz, a marine biologist and ocean advocate, gives a talk on the most important ways that we can go about cleaning up and healing our oceans so that fisheries can begin to produce more heavily. In doing so she believes that we will not only help to preserve our oceans and its wildlife but will also be able to look towards fixing the hunger problems all across our world.
We know that we can manage our fisheries sustainably. We know that we can produce healthy meals for hundreds of millions of people that don’t use the land, that don’t use much water, have a low carbon footprint, and are cost-effective. We know that saving the oceans can feed the world, and we need to start now.
Domas, a cybersecurity researcher, gives a talk on the rising “cyber warfare”. In this lecture he reveals some of the methods that researchers are using to break apart binary code and receive a better understanding of the potential threats that await on the cyber field.
Burt, a literary critic, gives a talk on the importance of poetry and how it can help us handle and explore various emotions and issues in life. For example, having to deal with the fact that we will all someday die. He reads from various poets that have guided him along the way in his life.
Poems can help you say, help you show how you’re feeling, but they can also introduce you to feelings, ways of being in the world, people, very much unlike you, maybe even people from long, long ago.
Alon, a systems biologist, gives a talk on his struggles as a scientist trying to find direct paths from a postulated question to a scientific answer. However, an evening out at improv theatre and the usage of the “yes, and” technique gives him a new way of looking at the scientific process which he now challenges all of his audience to consider.
And you can go through the cloud not alone but together with someone who is your source of support to say “Yes, and” to your ideas, to help you say “Yes, and” to your own ideas, to increase the chance that, through the wisps of the cloud, you’ll find that moment of calmness where you get your first glimpse of your unexpected discovery.