"Once upon a time in America," says professor Sajay Samuel, "going to college did not mean graduating with debt." Today, higher education has become a consumer product -- costs have skyrocketed, saddling students with a combined debt of over $1 trillion, while universities and loan companies make massive profits. Samuel proposes a radical solution: link tuition costs to a degree's expected earnings, so that students can make informed decisions about their future, restore their love of learning and contribute to the world in a meaningful way.
Half of the world's poorest people have something in common: they're small farmers. In this eye-opening talk, activist Andrew Youn shows how his group, One Acre Fund, is helping these farmers lift themselves out of poverty by delivering to them life-sustaining farm services that are already in use all over the world. Enter this talk believing we'll never be able to solve hunger and extreme poverty, and leave it with a new understanding of the scale of the world's biggest problems.
TED Fellow Negin Farsad weaves comedy and social commentary to cleverly undercut stereotypes of her culture. In this uproarious talk/stand-up hybrid, Farsad speaks on her documentary, The Muslims Are Coming!, narrates her fight with the MTA in New York and offers a detailed breakdown of the different types of haters she's encountered in her work. "Comedy is one of our best weapons," she says. "We've tried a lot of approaches to social justice, like war and competitive ice dancing -- but a lot of things are still kind of awful. I think it's time we try and tell a really good poop joke."
A quarter of the world's population cares a lot about the Chinese zodiac. Even if you don't believe in it, you'd be wise to know how it works, says technologist and entrepreneur ShaoLan Hseuh. In this fun, informative talk, ShaoLan shares some tips for understanding the ancient tradition and describes how it's believed to influence your personality, career, marriage prospects and how you'll do in a given year. What does your sign say about you?
What does a cultural Big Bang look like? For Amit Sood, director of Google's Cultural Institute and Art Project, it's an online platform where anyone can explore the world's greatest collections of art and artifacts in vivid, lifelike detail. Join Sood and Google artist in residence Cyril Diagne in a mind-bending demo of experiments from the Cultural Institute and glimpse the exciting future of accessibility to arts and culture.
Hidden truths permeate our world; they're inaccessible to our senses, but math allows us to go beyond our intuition to uncover their mysteries. In this survey of mathematical breakthroughs, Fields Medal winner Cédric Villani speaks to the thrill of discovery and details the sometimes perplexing life of a mathematician. "Beautiful mathematical explanations are not only for our pleasure," he says. "They change our vision of the world."
Photographer Stephen Wilkes crafts stunning compositions of landscapes as they transition from day to night, exploring the space-time continuum within a two-dimensional still photograph. Journey with him to iconic locations like the Tournelle Bridge in Paris, El Capitan in Yosemite National Park and a life-giving watering hole in heart of the Serengeti in this tour of his art and process.
In the 1970s (and decades following), TV producer Norman Lear touched the lives of millions with culture-altering sitcoms like All in the Family, The Jeffersons and Good Times, pushing the boundaries of the era and giving a primetime voice to underrepresented Americans. In an intimate, smart conversation with Eric Hirshberg, he shares with humility and humor how his early relationship with "the foolishness of the human condition" shaped his life and creative vision.
In some parts of the world, it's easier to get an automatic rifle than a glass of clean drinking water. Is this just the way it is? Samantha Nutt, doctor and founder of the international humanitarian organization War Child, explores the global arms trade -- and suggests a bold, common sense solution for ending the cycle of violence. "War is ours," she says. "We buy it, sell it, spread it and wage it. We are therefore not powerless to solve it."
Sue Desmond-Hellmann is using precision public health -- an approach that incorporates big data, consumer monitoring, gene sequencing and other innovative tools -- to solve the world's most difficult medical problems. It's already helped cut HIV transmission from mothers to babies by nearly half in sub-Saharan Africa, and now it's being used to address alarming infant mortality rates all over the world. The goal: to save lives by bringing the right interventions to the right populations at the right time.
Before he fought in the galactic battles of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Adam Driver was a United States Marine with 1/1 Weapons Company. He tells the story of how and why he became a Marine, the complex transition from soldier to civilian -- and Arts in the Armed Forces, his nonprofit that brings theater to the military. Because, as he says: "Self-expression is just as valuable a tool as a rifle on your shoulder." Followed by a spirited performance of Marco Ramirez's "I am not Batman" by Jesse J. Perez and Matt Johnson. (Adult language)
The barbershop can be a safe haven for black men, a place for honest conversation and trust -- and, as physician Joseph Ravenell suggests, a good place to bring up tough topics about health. He's turning the barbershop into a place to talk about medical problems that statistically affect black men more often and more seriously, like high blood pressure. It's a new approach to problem solving with broad applications. "What is your barbershop?" he asks. "Where is that place for you where people affected by a unique problem can meet a unique solution?"
Zaria Forman's large-scale compositions of melting glaciers, icebergs floating in glassy water and waves cresting with foam explore moments of transition, turbulence and tranquility. Join her as she discusses the meditative process of artistic creation and the motivation behind her work. "My drawings celebrate the beauty of what we all stand to lose," she says. "I hope they can serve as records of sublime landscapes in flux."
Can the way you speak and write today predict your future mental state, even the onset of psychosis? In this fascinating talk, neuroscientist Mariano Sigman reflects on ancient Greece and the origins of introspection to investigate how our words hint at our inner lives and details a word-mapping algorithm that could predict the development of schizophrenia. "We may be seeing in the future a very different form of mental health," Sigman says, "based on objective, quantitative and automated analysis of the words we write, of the words we say."
To those who feel like they don't belong: there is beauty in being a misfit. Author Lidia Yuknavitch shares her own wayward journey in an intimate recollection of patchwork stories about loss, shame and the slow process of self-acceptance. "Even at the moment of your failure, you are beautiful," she says. "You don't know it yet, but you have the ability to reinvent yourself endlessly. That's your beauty."
In the US, the press has a right to publish secret information the public needs to know, protected by the First Amendment. Government surveillance has made it increasingly more dangerous for whistleblowers, the source of virtually every important story about national security since 9/11, to share information. In this concise, informative talk, Freedom of the Press Foundation co-founder and TED Fellow Trevor Timm traces the recent history of government action against individuals who expose crime and injustice and advocates for technology that can help them do it safely and anonymously.
Everyone has an opinion about how to legislate sex work (whether to legalize it, ban it or even tax it) ... but what do workers themselves think would work best? Activist Juno Mac explains four legal models that are being used around the world and shows us the model that she believes will work best to keep sex workers safe and offer greater self-determination. "If you care about gender equality or poverty or migration or public health, then sex worker rights matter to you," she says. "Make space for us in your movements." (Adult themes)
Sebastian Junger has seen war up close, and he knows the impact that battlefield trauma has on soldiers. But he suggests there's another major cause of pain for veterans when they come home: the experience of leaving the tribal closeness of the military and returning to an alienating and bitterly divided modern society. "Sometimes, we ask ourselves if we can save the vets," Junger says. "I think the real question is if we can save ourselves." (This talk comes from the PBS special "TED Talks: War & Peace," which premieres Monday, May 30 at 9 p.m. EST.)
Anyone who has lost a loved one to pancreatic cancer knows the devastating speed with which it can affect an otherwise healthy person. TED Fellow and biomedical entrepreneur Laura Indolfi is developing a revolutionary way to treat this complex and lethal disease: a drug delivery device that acts as a cage at the site of a tumor, preventing it from spreading and delivering medicine only where it's needed. "We are hoping that one day we can make pancreatic cancer a curable disease," she says.
What if we could peek inside our brains and see our dreams -- or even shape them? Studying memory-specific brain cells, neuroscientist (and ex-hacker) Moran Cerf found that our sleeping brains retain some of the content we encounter when we're awake and that our dreams can influence our waking actions. Where could this lead us? "Neuroscientists are now giving us a new tool to control our dreams," Cerf says, "a new canvas that flickers to life when we fall asleep."
TED Fellow Andrew Pelling is a biohacker, and nature is his hardware. His favorite materials are the simplest ones (and oftentimes he finds them in the garbage). Building on the cellulose structure that gives an apple its shape, he "grows" lifelike human ears, pioneering a process that might someday be used to repair body parts safely and cheaply. And he has some even wilder ideas to share ... "What I'm really curious about is if one day it will be possible to repair, rebuild and augment our own bodies with stuff we make in the kitchen," he says.
Are children poor liars? Do you think you can easily detect their lies? Developmental researcher Kang Lee studies what happens physiologically to children when they lie. They do it a lot, starting as young as two years old, and they're actually really good at it. Lee explains why we should celebrate when kids start to lie and presents new lie-detection technology that could someday reveal our hidden emotions.
Virtual reality is no longer part of some distant future, and it's not just for gaming and entertainment anymore. Michael Bodekaer wants to use it to make quality education more accessible. In this refreshing talk, he demos an idea that could revolutionize the way we teach science in schools.
Science fiction writer Monica Byrne imagines rich worlds populated with characters who defy our racial, social and gender stereotypes. In this performance, Byrne appears as a hologram named Pilar, transmitting a story of love and loss back to us from a near future when humans have colonized the universe. "It's always funny what you think the future is going to be like versus what it turns out to be," she says.
What if we could find cancerous tumors years before they can harm us -- without expensive screening facilities or even steady electricity? Physician, bioengineer and entrepreneur Sangeeta Bhatia leads a multidisciplinary lab that searches for novel ways to understand, diagnose and treat human disease. Her target: the two-thirds of deaths due to cancer that she says are fully preventable. With remarkable clarity, she breaks down complex nanoparticle science and shares her dream for a radical new cancer test that could save millions of lives.
What are your dreams? Better yet, what are your broken dreams? Dan Pallotta dreams of a time when we are as excited, curious and scientific about the development of our humanity as we are about the development of our technology. "What we fear most is that we will be denied the opportunity to fulfill our true potential," Pallotta says. "Imagine living in a world where we simply recognize that deep, existential fear in one another -- and love one another boldly because we know that to be human is to live with that fear."
Conceptual artist and TED Fellow Sanford Biggers uses painting, sculpture, video and performance to spark challenging conversations about the history and trauma of black America. Join him as he details two compelling works and shares the motivation behind his art. "Only through more thoughtful dialogue about history and race can we evolve as individuals and society," Biggers says.
Neuroscientist Uri Hasson researches the basis of human communication, and experiments from his lab reveal that even across different languages, our brains show similar activity, or become "aligned," when we hear the same idea or story. This amazing neural mechanism allows us to transmit brain patterns, sharing memories and knowledge. "We can communicate because we have a common code that presents meaning," Hasson says.
CRISPR gene drives allow scientists to change sequences of DNA and guarantee that the resulting edited genetic trait is inherited by future generations, opening up the possibility of altering entire species forever. More than anything, the technology has led to questions: How will this new power affect humanity? What are we going to use it to change? Are we gods now? Join journalist Jennifer Kahn as she ponders these questions and shares a potentially powerful application of gene drives: the development of disease-resistant mosquitoes that could knock out malaria and Zika.
In this ode to design renegades, Alice Rawsthorn highlights the work of unlikely heroes, from Blackbeard to Florence Nightingale. Drawing a line from these bold thinkers to some early modern visionaries like Buckminster Fuller, Rawsthorn shows how the greatest designers are often the most rebellious.