Libraries have the power to create a better world; they connect communities, promote literacy and spark lifelong learners. But there's one thing that keeps people away: the fear of overdue book fines. In this thought-provoking talk, librarian Dawn Wacek makes the case that fines don't actually do what we think they do. What if your library just ... stopped asking for them altogether?
What exactly is civility, and what does it require? In a talk packed with historical insights, political theorist Teresa Bejan explains how civility has been used as both the foundation of tolerant societies and as a way for political partisans to silence and dismiss opposing views. Bejan suggests that we should instead try for "mere civility": the virtue of being able to disagree fundamentally with others without destroying the possibility of a common life tomorrow. (This talk contains mature language.)
Seemingly pointless scientific research can lead to extraordinary discoveries, says physicist Suzie Sheehy. In a talk and tech demo, she shows how many of our modern technologies are tied to centuries-old, curiosity-driven experiments -- and makes the case for investing in more to arrive at a deeper understanding of the world.
Author AJ Jacobs embarked on a quest with a deceptively simple idea at its heart: to personally thank every person who helped make his morning cup of coffee. More than one thousand "thank yous" later, Jacobs reflects on the globe-trotting journey that ensued -- and shares the life-altering wisdom he picked up along the way. "I discovered that my coffee would not be possible without hundreds of people I take for granted," Jacobs says.
Viruses have a bad reputation -- but some of them could one day save your life, says biotech entrepreneur Alexander Belcredi. In this fascinating talk, he introduces us to phages, naturally-occurring viruses that hunt and kill harmful bacteria with deadly precision, and shows how these once-forgotten organisms could provide new hope against the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
"We are living in a world that is tantalizingly close to ensuring that no one need die of hunger or malaria or diarrhea," says economist Michael Green. To help spur progress, back in 2015 the United Nations drew up a set of 17 goals around important factors like health, education and equality. In this data-packed talk, Green shares his analysis on the steps each country has (or hasn't) made toward these Sustainable Development Goals -- and offers new ideas on what needs to change so we can achieve them.
How does Hollywood choose what stories get told on-screen? Too often, it's groupthink informed by a narrow set of ideas about what sells at the box office. As a producer, Franklin Leonard saw too many great screenplays never get made because they didn't fit the mold. So he started the Black List, an anonymous email that shared his favorite screenplays and asked: Why aren't we making these movies? Learn the origin story of some of your favorite films with this fascinating insider view of the movie business.
Have you ever actually read the terms and conditions for the apps you use? Finn Lützow-Holm Myrstad and his team at the Norwegian Consumer Council have, and it took them nearly a day and a half to read the terms of all the apps on an average phone. In a talk about the alarming ways tech companies deceive their users, Myrstad shares insights about the personal information you've agreed to let companies collect -- and how they use your data at a scale you could never imagine.
What if your attachment to being a "good" person is holding you back from actually becoming a better person? In this accessible talk, social psychologist Dolly Chugh explains the puzzling psychology of ethical behavior -- like why it's hard to spot your biases and acknowledge mistakes -- and shows how the path to becoming better starts with owning your mistakes. "In every other part of our lives, we give ourselves room to grow -- except in this one, where it matters most," Chugh says.
Who controls the internet? Increasingly, the answer is large corporations and governments -- a trend that's threatening digital privacy and access to information online, says web developer Tamas Kocsis. In this informative talk, Kocsis breaks down the different threats to internet freedom and shares his plan to build an alternative, decentralized network that returns power to everyday users.
Adults tend to think of kids as "future citizens" -- their ideas and opinions will matter someday, just not today. But kids make up a quarter of the population, so shouldn't they have a say in what the world they'll inherit will look like? Urban planner Mara Mintzer shares what happened when she and her team asked kids to help design a park in Boulder, Colorado -- and how it revealed an important blind spot in how we construct the built environment. "If we aren't including children in our planning, who else aren't we including?" Mintzer asks.
Özlem Cekic's email inbox has been full of hate mail since 2007, when she won a seat in the Danish Parliament -- becoming the first female Muslim to do so. At first she just deleted the emails, dismissing them as the work of fanatics, until one day a friend made an unexpected suggestion: to reach out to the hate mail writers and invite them to meet for coffee. Hundreds of "dialogue coffee" meetings later, Cekic shares how face-to-face conversation can be one of the most powerful forces to disarm hate -- and challenges us all to engage with people we disagree with.
Taking lessons from a historical pattern called "Thucydides's Trap," political scientist Graham Allison shows why a rising China and a dominant United States could be headed towards a violent collision no one wants -- and how we can summon the common sense and courage to avoid it.
Technology architect Fadi Chehadé helped set up the infrastructure that makes the internet work -- essential things like the domain name system and IP address standards. Today he's focused on finding ways for society to benefit from technology. In a crisp conversation with Bryn Freedman, curator of the TED Institute, Chehadé discusses 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.
How do you turn a memory, especially one of a traumatic event, into hard evidence of a crime? Julia Shaw is working on this challenge, combining tools from memory science and artificial intelligence to change how we report workplace harassment and bias. She shares three lessons to apply if you've been harassed or discriminated against -- and introduces Spot: a free, anonymous, online reporting tool that helps empower victims.
In a talk that's equal parts funny and urgent, consultant Vinay Shandal shares stories of the world's top activist investors, showing how individuals and institutions can take a page from their playbook and put pressure on companies to drive positive change. "It's your right to have your money managed in line with your values," Shandal says. "Use your voice, and trust that it matters."
A Tribe Called Red creates music that acts as a gateway into urban, contemporary indigenous culture, celebrating all of its layers and complexity. In a set that blends traditional powwow drums and vocals with hip-hop and electronic music, the DJ collective tells stories of the First Nations in beats and images -- expanding on the concept of the "Halluci Nation," inspired by the poet, musician and activist John Trudell.
A massive generation of young people is about to inherit the world, and it's the duty of everyone to give them a fighting chance for their futures, says UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore. In this forward-looking talk, she explores the crises facing them and details an ambitious new global initiative, Generation Unlimited, which aims to ensure every young person is in school, training or employed by 2030.
Only if you are truly open to the possibility of being wrong can you ever learn, says researcher Alex Edmans. In an insightful talk, he explores how confirmation bias -- the tendency to only accept information that supports your personal beliefs -- can lead you astray on social media, in politics and beyond, and offers three practical tools for finding evidence you can actually trust. (Hint: appoint someone to be the devil's advocate in your life.)
What do Tourette syndrome, heroin addiction and social media obsession all have in common? They converge in an area of the brain called the striatum, says neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman -- and this critical discovery could reshape our understanding of the opioid crisis. Sharing insights from her research, Wurzman shows how social isolation contributes to relapse and overdose rates and reveals how meaningful human connection could offer a potentially powerful source of recovery.
Is outer space really the silent and lifeless place it's often depicted to be? Perhaps not. Astrophysicist and musician Matt Russo takes us on a journey through the cosmos, revealing the hidden rhythms and harmonies of planetary orbits. The universe is full of music, he says -- we just need to learn how to hear it.
We're far from developing robots that feel emotions, but we already have feelings towards them, says robot ethicist Kate Darling, and an instinct like that can have consequences. Learn more about how we're biologically hardwired to project intent and life onto machines -- and how it might help us better understand ourselves.
In a talk about how we can build a robust future without wrecking the planet, sustainability expert Johan Rockström debuts the Earth3 model -- a new methodology that combines the UN Sustainable Development Goals with the nine planetary boundaries, beyond which earth's vital systems could become unstable. Learn more about five transformational policies that could help us achieve inclusive and prosperous world development while keeping the earth stable and resilient.
What can you do if you're the victim of revenge porn or cyberbullying? Shockingly little, says journalist and activist Darieth Chisolm, who found herself living the nightmare scenario of having explicit photos taken without her knowledge or consent posted online. She describes how she's working to help victims and outlines the current state of legislation aimed at punishing perpetrators.
Imagine being by yourself in the dead center of a 3,000-foot vertical cliff -- without a rope to catch you if you fall. For professional rock climber Alex Honnold, this dizzying scene marked the culmination of a decade-long dream. In a hair-raising talk, he tells the story of how he summited Yosemite's El Capitan, completing one of the most dangerous free solo climbs ever.
For the first time ever, we have five generations in the workplace at the same time, says entrepreneur Chip Conley. What would happen if we got intentional about how we all work together? In this accessible talk, Conley shows how age diversity makes companies stronger and calls for different generations to mentor each other at work, with wisdom flowing from old to young and young to old alike.
Looking to get ahead in your career? Start by being respectful to your coworkers, says leadership researcher Christine Porath. In this science-backed talk, she shares surprising insights about the costs of rudeness and shows how little acts of respect can boost your professional success -- and your company's bottom line.
We're taught to believe that hard work and dedication will lead to success, but that's not always the case. Gender, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation are among the many factors that affect our chances, says writer and advocate Melinda Epler, and it's up to each of us to be allies for those who face discrimination. In this actionable talk, Epler shares three ways to support people who are underrepresented in the workplace. "There's no magic wand for correcting diversity and inclusion," she says. "Change happens one person at a time, one act at a time, one word at a time."
Why do we have to choose between nationalism and globalism, between loving our countries and caring for the world? In a talk with lessons for avowed nationalists and globalists alike, Wanis Kabbaj explains how we can challenge this polarizing, binary thinking -- and simultaneously be proud citizens of both our countries and the world.
We need to change how we prescribe drugs, says physician Daniel Kraft: too often, medications are dosed incorrectly, cause toxic side effects or just don't work. In a talk and concept demo, Kraft shares his vision for a future of personalized medication, unveiling a prototype 3D printer that could design pills that adapt to our individual needs.