What if you could know exactly how food or medication would impact your health -- before you put it in your body? Genomics researcher Jun Wang is working to develop digital doppelgangers for real people; they start with genetic code, but they'll also factor in other kinds of data as well, from food intake to sleep to data collected by a "smart toilet." With all of this valuable information, Wang hopes to create an engine that will change the way we think about health, both on an individual level and as a collective.
Science fiction visions of the future show us AI built to replicate our way of thinking -- but what if we modeled it instead on the other kinds of intelligence found in nature? Robotics engineer Radhika Nagpal studies the collective intelligence displayed by insects and fish schools, seeking to understand their rules of engagement. In a visionary talk, she presents her work creating artificial collective power and previews a future where swarms of robots work together to build flood barriers, pollinate crops, monitor coral reefs and form constellations of satellites.
How can you study Mars without a spaceship? Head to the most Martian place on Earth -- the Atacama Desert in Chile. Astrobiologist Armando Azua-Bustos grew up in this vast, arid landscape and now studies the rare life forms that have adapted to survive there, some in areas with no reported rainfall for the past 400 years. Explore the possibility of finding life elsewhere in the universe without leaving the planet with this quick, funny talk.
What makes our bodies age ... our skin wrinkle, our hair turn white, our immune systems weaken? Biologist Elizabeth Blackburn shares a Nobel Prize for her work finding out the answer, with the discovery of telomerase: an enzyme that replenishes the caps at the end of chromosomes, which break down when cells divide. Learn more about Blackburn's groundbreaking research -- including how we might have more control over aging than we think.
We've heard a lot of rhetoric lately suggesting that countries like the US are losing valuable manufacturing jobs to lower-cost markets like China, Mexico and Vietnam -- and that protectionism is the best way forward. But those jobs haven't disappeared for the reasons you may think, says border and logistics specialist Augie Picado. He gives us a reality check about what global trade really looks like and how shared production and open borders help us make higher quality products at lower costs.
What's stopping the American government from recording your phone calls, reading your emails and monitoring your location? Very little, says surveillance and cybersecurity counsel Jennifer Granick. The government collects all kinds of information about you easily, cheaply and without a warrant -- and if you've ever participated in a protest or attended a gun show, you're likely a person of interest. Learn more about your rights, your risks and how to protect yourself in the golden age of surveillance.
In a mind-bending talk that blurs the line between science and art, Tomás Saraceno exhibits a series of air-inspired sculptures and installations designed to usher in a new era of sustainability, the "Aerocene." From giant, cloud-like playgrounds suspended 22 meters in the air to a balloon sculpture that travels the world without burning a single drop of fossil fuel, Saraceno's work invites us to explore the bounds of our fragile human and terrestrial ecosystems. (In Spanish with English subtitles)
We all have origin stories and identity myths, our tribal narratives that give us a sense of security and belonging. But sometimes our small-group identities can keep us from connecting with humanity as a whole -- and even keep us from seeing others as human. In a powerful talk about how we understand who we are, Chetan Bhatt challenges us to think creatively about each other and our future. As he puts it: it's time to change the question from "Where are you from?" to "Where are you going?"
Every artist has a name, and every artist has a story. Laolu Senbanjo's story started in Nigeria, where he was surrounded by the culture and mythology of the Yoruba, and brought him to law school, to New York and eventually to work on Beyoncé's "Lemonade." He shares what he calls "The Sacred Art of the Ori," art that uses skin as canvas and connects artist and muse through mind, body and soul.
Physics doesn't just happen in a fancy lab -- it happens when you push a piece of buttered toast off the table or drop a couple of raisins in a fizzy drink or watch a coffee spill dry. Become a more interesting dinner guest as physicist Helen Czerski presents various concepts in physics you can become familiar with using everyday things found in your kitchen.
Our culture is obsessed with happiness, but what if there's a more fulfilling path? Happiness comes and goes, says writer Emily Esfahani Smith, but having meaning in life -- serving something beyond yourself and developing the best within you -- gives you something to hold onto. Learn more about the difference between being happy and having meaning as Smith offers four pillars of a meaningful life.
The treatment of HIV has significantly advanced over the past three decades -- why hasn't our perception of people with the disease advanced along with it? After being diagnosed with HIV, Arik Hartmann chose to live transparently, being open about his status, in an effort to educate people. In this candid, personal talk, he shares what it's like to live with HIV -- and calls on us to dismiss our misconceptions about the disease.
What if you knew what your coworkers really thought about you and what they were really like? Ray Dalio makes the business case for using radical transparency and algorithmic decision-making to create an idea meritocracy where people can speak up and say what they really think -- even calling out the boss is fair game. Learn more about how these strategies helped Dalio create one of the world's most successful hedge funds and how you might harness the power of data-driven group decision-making.
Meet the "ems" -- machines that emulate human brains and can think, feel and work just like the brains they're copied from. Futurist and social scientist Robin Hanson describes a possible future when ems take over the global economy, running on superfast computers and copying themselves to multitask, leaving humans with only one choice: to retire, forever. Glimpse a strange future as Hanson describes what could happen if robots ruled the earth.
We're so used to narratives out of Africa being about war, poverty and devastation, says TED Fellow Wanuri Kahiu. Where's the fun? Introducing "AfroBubbleGum" -- African art that's vibrant, lighthearted and without a political agenda. Rethink the value of all that is unserious as Kahiu explains why we need art that captures the full range of human experiences to tell the stories of Africa.
Terrorists and extremists aren't all naturally violent sociopaths -- they're deliberately recruited and radicalized in a process that doesn't fit into a neat pattern. Erin Marie Saltman discusses the push and pull factors that cause people to join extremist groups and explains innovative ways of preventing and countering radicalization.
Daan Roosegaarde uses technology and creative thinking to produce imaginative, earth-friendly designs. He presents his latest projects -- from a bike path in Eindhoven, where he reinterpreted "The Starry Night" to get people thinking about green energy, to Beijing, where he developed a smog vacuum cleaner to purify the air in local parks, to a dance floor that generates electricity to power a DJ booth. Check out Roosegaarde's vision for a future where creativity is our true capital.
Digital archaeologist Chance Coughenour is using pictures -- your pictures -- to reclaim antiquities that have been lost to conflict and disaster. After crowdsourcing photographs of destroyed monuments, museums and artifacts, Coughenour uses advanced technology called photogrammetry to create 3D reconstructions, preserving the memory of our global, shared, human heritage. Find out more about how you can help celebrate and safeguard history that's being lost.
What the astronauts felt when they saw Earth from space changed them forever. Author and artist Benjamin Grant aims to provoke this same feeling of overwhelming scale and beauty in each of us through a series of stunning satellite images that show the effects human beings are having on the planet. "If we can adopt a more expansive perspective, embrace the truth of what is going on and contemplate the long-term health of our planet, we will create a better, safer and smarter future for our one and only home," Grant says.
Meet Todai Robot, an AI project that performed in the top 20 percent of students on the entrance exam for the University of Tokyo -- without actually understanding a thing. While it's not matriculating anytime soon, Todai Robot's success raises alarming questions for the future of human education. How can we help kids excel at the things that humans will always do better than AI?
Movement artists Jon Boogz and Lil Buck debut "Honor thy mother," a delicate, powerful performance of spoken word, violin and dance that draws on the tormented relationship between nature and humanity.
Your cells are coated with sugars that store information and speak a secret language. What are they trying to tell us? Your blood type, for one -- and, potentially, that you have cancer. Chemical biologist Carolyn Bertozzi researches how sugars on cancerous cells interact with (and sometimes trick) your immune system. Learn more about how your body detects cancer and how the latest cancer-fighting medicines could help your immune system beat the disease.
On August 21, 2017, the moon's shadow raced from Oregon to South Carolina in what some consider to be the most awe-inspiring spectacle in all of nature: a total solar eclipse. Umbraphile David Baron chases these rare events across the globe, and in this ode to the bliss of seeing the solar corona, he explains why you owe it to yourself to witness one, too.
Could it be wrong to help children in need by starting an orphanage? In this eye-opening talk about the bad consequences of good intentions, Tara Winkler speaks out against the spread of orphanages in developing countries, caused in part by foreign donors, and details the harm done to children when they are separated from their families and left to grow up in institutions.
Another economic reality is possible -- one that values community, sustainability and resiliency instead of profit by any means necessary. Niki Okuk shares her case for cooperative economics and a vision for how working-class people can organize and own the businesses they work for, making decisions for themselves and enjoying the fruits of their labor.
With his signature charm and searching insight, David Whyte meditates on the frontiers of the past, present and future, sharing two poems inspired by his niece's hike along El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
Algorithms decide who gets a loan, who gets a job interview, who gets insurance and much more -- but they don't automatically make things fair. Mathematician and data scientist Cathy O'Neil coined a term for algorithms that are secret, important and harmful: "weapons of math destruction." Learn more about the hidden agendas behind the formulas.
"Music is everywhere, and it is in everything," says musician, student and TED-Ed Clubs star Anika Paulson. Guitar in hand, she plays through the beats of her life in an exploration of how music connects us and makes us what we are.
It's not the passage of time that makes it so hard to get older. It's ageism, a prejudice that pits us against our future selves -- and each other. Ashton Applewhite urges us to dismantle the dread and mobilize against the last socially acceptable prejudice. "Aging is not a problem to be fixed or a disease to be cured," she says. "It is a natural, powerful, lifelong process that unites us all."
The Italian island of Sardinia has more than six times as many centenarians as the mainland and ten times as many as North America. Why? According to psychologist Susan Pinker, it's not a sunny disposition or a low-fat, gluten-free diet that keeps the islanders healthy -- it's their emphasis on close personal relationships and face-to-face interactions. Learn more about super longevity as Pinker explains what it takes to live to 100 and beyond.