Can the mind be manipulated to love a food we loathe? The evidence from fruit flies is compelling, and perhaps surprising. Our tag team of neuroscientists attempts to change a fly's preference for fruit over vegetables simply by shining a light on their brain.
Dragonflies can catch prey with near perfect accuracy, the best among all predators. But how does something with so few neurons achieve such prowess? Our intrepid neuroscientists explore how a dragonfly unerringly locks onto its preys and captures it within milliseconds using just sensors and a fake fly.
When facts are false, decisions are wrong, says editor and TED Fellow Olga Yurkova. To stop the spread of fake news, she and a group of journalists launched StopFake.org, which exposes biased or inaccurate reporting in order to rebuild the trust we've lost in our journalists, leaders and institutions. Learn more about the fight against misinformation as well as two critical ways we can ensure we're not reading (or sharing) fake news.
Truth comes from the collision of different ideas, and theater plays an essential role in showing us that truth, says legendary artistic director Oskar Eustis. In this powerful talk, Eustis outlines his plan to reach (and listen to) people in places across the US where the theater, like many other institutions, has turned its back -- like the deindustrialized Rust Belt. "Our job is to try to hold up a vision to America that shows not only who all of us are individually, but that welds us back into the commonality that we need to be," Eustis says. "That's what the theater is supposed to do."
Can a bird that symbolizes death help the living catch criminals? In this informative and accessible talk, forensic anthropologist Lauren Pharr shows us how vultures impact crime scenes -- and the assistance they can provide to detectives investigating murders. (This talk contains graphic images.)
What happens when technology knows more about us than we do? Poppy Crum studies how we express emotions -- and she suggests the end of the poker face is near, as new tech makes it easy to see the signals that give away how we're feeling. In a talk and demo, she shows how "empathetic technology" can read physical signals like body temperature and the chemical composition of our breath to inform on our emotional state. For better or for worse. "If we recognize the power of becoming technological empaths, we get this opportunity where technology can help us bridge the emotional and cognitive divide," Crum says.
Humans will soon have new bodies that forever blur the line between the natural and synthetic worlds, says bionics designer Hugh Herr. In an unforgettable talk, he details "NeuroEmbodied Design," a methodology for creating cyborg function that he's developing at the MIT Media Lab, and shows us a future where we've augmented our bodies in a way that will redefine human potential -- and, maybe, turn us into superheroes. "During the twilight years of this century, I believe humans will be unrecognizable in morphology and dynamics from what we are today," Herr says. "Humanity will take flight and soar."
Can technology make people safer from threats like violent extremism, censorship and persecution? In this illuminating talk, technologist Yasmin Green details programs pioneered at Jigsaw (a unit within Alphabet Inc., the collection of companies that also includes Google) to counter radicalization and online harassment -- including a project that could give commenters real-time feedback about how their words might land, which has already increased spaces for dialogue. "If we ever thought that we could build an internet insulated from the dark side of humanity, we were wrong," Green says. "We have to throw our entire selves into building solutions that are as human as the problems they aim to solve."
Netflix changed the world of entertainment -- first with DVD-by-mail, then with streaming media and then again with sensational original shows like "Orange Is the New Black" and "Stranger Things" -- but not without taking its fair share of risks. In conversation with TED curator Chris Anderson, Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings discusses the company's bold internal culture, the powerful algorithm that fuels their recommendations, the $8 billion worth of content they're investing in this year and his philanthropic pursuits supporting innovative education, among much more.
Jakob Magolan is here to change your perception of organic chemistry. In an accessible talk packed with striking graphics, he teaches us the basics while breaking the stereotype that organic chemistry is something to be afraid of.
Rebeca Hwang has spent a lifetime juggling identities -- Korean heritage, Argentinian upbringing, education in the United States -- and for a long time she had difficulty finding a place in the world to call home. Yet along with these challenges came a pivotal realization: that a diverse background is a distinct advantage in today's globalized world. In this personal talk, Hwang reveals the endless benefits of embracing our complex identities -- and shares her hopes for creating a world where identities aren't used to alienate but to bring people together instead.
In a profound talk about technology and power, author and historian Yuval Noah Harari explains the important difference between fascism and nationalism -- and what the consolidation of our data means for the future of democracy. Appearing as a hologram live from Tel Aviv, Harari warns that the greatest danger that now faces liberal democracy is that the revolution in information technology will make dictatorships more efficient and capable of control. "The enemies of liberal democracy hack our feelings of fear and hate and vanity, and then use these feelings to polarize and destroy," Harari says. "It is the responsibility of all of us to get to know our weaknesses and make sure they don't become weapons." (Followed by a brief conversation with TED curator Chris Anderson)
Is there someone in your life dealing with anxiety, depression or thoughts of suicide -- but is too ashamed to talk about it? Jeremy Forbes saw this happening around him, and now he's on a mission to teach people how to start a conversation about it. In this deeply personal talk, Forbes shares his approach to helping a group of traditionally silent men in his community open up about their struggles. "We can all be life preservers," he says.
Cellist and singer Helen Gillet mixes her classical training, New Orleans-based jazz roots and free improvisational skills to perform her own eclectic music. In a powerful, melodious performance, she plays her song "You Found Me."
Sex educator Emily Nagoski breaks down one of the most dangerous myths about sex and introduces us to the science behind arousal nonconcordance: when there's a disconnect between physical response and the experience of pleasure and desire. Talking about such intimate, private moments can feel awkward or difficult, yet in this straightforward talk Nagoski urges all of us to share this crucial information with someone -- judges, lawyers, partners, kids. "With every brave conversation we have, we make the world that little bit better," says Nagoski. (This talk contains mature content.)
Cherry blossoms and rainbows, bubbles and googly eyes: Why do some things seem to create such universal joy? In this captivating talk, Ingrid Fetell Lee reveals the surprisingly tangible roots of joy and shows how we all can find -- and create -- more of it in the world around us.
With her signature wit and wisdom, Emily Levine meets her ultimate challenge as a comedian/philosopher: she makes dying funny. In this personal talk, she takes us on her journey to make friends with reality -- and peace with death. Life is an enormous gift, Levine says: "You enrich it as best you can, and then you give it back."
Local humanitarians are beacons of light in the darkness of war, says humanitarian aid entrepreneur and TED Fellow Rola Hallam. She's working to help responders on the ground in devastated communities like Syria, where the destruction of health care is being used as a weapon of war. One of her campaigns achieved a global first: a crowdfunded hospital. Since it opened in 2017, the aptly named Hope Hospital has treated thousands of children. "Local humanitarians have the courage to persist, to dust themselves off from the wreckage and to start again, risking their lives to save others," Hallam says. "We can match their courage by not looking away or turning our backs."
What would a sustainable, universally beneficial economy look like? "Like a doughnut," says Oxford economist Kate Raworth. In a stellar, eye-opening talk, she explains how we can move countries out of the hole -- where people are falling short on life's essentials -- and create regenerative, distributive economies that work within the planet's ecological limits.
Working out of her garage, Anushka Naiknaware designed a sensor that tracks wound healing, becoming the youngest winner (at age 13) of the Google Science Fair. Her clever invention addresses the global challenge of chronic wounds, which don't heal properly due to preexisting conditions like diabetes and account for billions in medical costs worldwide. Join Naiknaware as she explains how her "smart bandage" works -- and how she's sharing her story to inspire others to make a difference.
What if we could use the cold darkness of outer space to cool buildings on earth? In this mind-blowing talk, physicist Aaswath Raman details the technology he's developing to harness "night-sky cooling" -- a natural phenomenon where infrared light escapes earth and heads to space, carrying heat along with it -- which could dramatically reduce the energy used by our cooling systems (and the pollution they cause). Learn more about how this approach could lead us towards a future where we intelligently tap into the energy of the universe.
In this joyful, heartfelt talk featuring demos of her wonderfully wacky creations, Simone Giertz shares her craft: making useless robots. Her inventions -- designed to chop vegetables, cut hair, apply lipstick and more -- rarely (if ever) succeed, and that's the point. "The true beauty of making useless things [is] this acknowledgment that you don't always know what the best answer is," Giertz says. "It turns off that voice in your head that tells you that you know exactly how the world works. Maybe a toothbrush helmet isn't the answer, but at least you're asking the question."
Trust is the foundation for everything we do. But what do we do when it's broken? In an eye-opening talk, Harvard Business School professor Frances Frei gives a crash course in trust: how to build it, maintain it and rebuild it -- something she worked on during a recent stint at Uber. "If we can learn to trust one another more, we can have unprecedented human progress," Frei says.
Children who live in rural areas can have a hard time getting to the doctor -- much less to an audiologist's clinic for expensive, complex tests to check their hearing. The result for too many kids is hearing loss caused by ear infections and other curable or preventable problems. That's why ear surgeon and TED Fellow Susan Emmett is working with 15 communities in rural Alaska to create a simple, low-cost test that only requires a cell phone. Learn more about her work and how it could change the lives of children who don't have access to hearing care.
In a poetic, personal talk, TED Fellow Katlego Kolanyane-Kesupile examines the connection between her modern queer lifestyle and her childhood upbringing in a rural village in Botswana. "In a time where being brown, queer, African and seen as worthy of space means being everything but rural, I fear that we're erasing the very struggles that got us to where we are now," she says. "Indigenizing my queerness means bridging the many exceptional parts of myself."
Gardens are mirrors of our lives, says environmental artist tobacco brown, and we must cultivate them with care to harvest their full beauty. Drawing on her experience bringing natural public art installations to cities around the world, brown reveals what gardening can teach us about creating lives of compassion, connection and grace.
In this fascinating look at the "alpha male," primatologist Frans de Waal explores the privileges and costs of power while drawing surprising parallels between how humans and primates choose their leaders. His research reveals some of the unexpected capacities of alpha males -- generosity, empathy, even peacekeeping -- and sheds light on the power struggles of human politicians. "Someone who is big and strong and intimidates and insults everyone is not necessarily an alpha male," de Waal says.
Public libraries have always been about more than just books -- and their mission of community support has taken on new urgency during the current opioid epidemic. After witnessing overdoses at her library in Philadelphia, Chera Kowalski learned how to administer naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of narcotics, and she's put it to use to save patrons' lives. In this personal talk, she shares the day-to-day reality of life on the frontline of the opioid crisis and advocates for each of us to find new ways to keep our communities safe and healthy.
Michael Rain is on a mission to tell the stories of first-generation immigrants, who have strong ties both to the countries they grew up in and their countries of origin. In a personal talk, he breaks down the mischaracterizations and limited narratives of immigrants and shares the stories of the worlds they belong to. "We're walking melting pots of culture," Rain says. "If something in that pot smells new or different to you, don't turn up your nose. Ask us to share."