It's a standard assumption in the West: As a society progresses, it eventually becomes a capitalist, multi-party democracy. Right? Eric X. Li, a Chinese investor and political scientist, begs to differ. In this provocative, boundary-pushing talk, he asks his audience to consider that there's more than one way to run a successful modern nation.
The gastric brooding frog lays its eggs just like any other frog -- then swallows them whole to incubate. That is, it did until it went extinct 30 years ago. Paleontologist Michael Archer makes a case to bring back the gastric brooding frog and the thylacine, commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger.
The New Yorker receives around 1,000 cartoons each week; it only publishes about 17 of them. In this hilarious, fast-paced, and insightful talk, the magazine's longstanding cartoon editor and self-proclaimed "humor analyst" Bob Mankoff dissects the comedy within just some of the "idea drawings" featured in the magazine, explaining what works, what doesn't, and why.
As a young surgeon, Peter Attia felt contempt for a patient with diabetes. She was overweight, he thought, and thus responsible for the fact that she needed a foot amputation. But years later, Attia received an unpleasant medical surprise that led him to wonder: is our understanding of diabetes right? Could the precursors to diabetes cause obesity, and not the other way around? A look at how assumptions may be leading us to wage the wrong medical war.
Gayla Benefield was just doing her job -- until she uncovered an awful secret about her hometown that meant its mortality rate was 80 times higher than anywhere else in the US. But when she tried to tell people about it, she learned an even more shocking truth: People didn't want to know. In a talk that's part history lesson, part call-to-action, Margaret Heffernan demonstrates the danger of willful blindness, and praises ordinary people like Benefield who are willing to speak up.
When Lesley Hazleton was writing a biography of Muhammad, she was struck by something: The night he received the revelation of the Koran, according to early accounts, his first reaction was doubt, awe, even fear. And yet this experience became the bedrock of his belief. Hazleton calls for a new appreciation of doubt and questioning as the foundation of faith -- and an end to fundamentalism of all kinds.
Tech communities are booming all over Africa, says Nairobi-based Juliana Rotich, cofounder of the open-source software Ushahidi. But it remains challenging to get and stay connected in a region with frequent blackouts and spotty Internet hookups. So Rotich and friends developed BRCK, offering resilient connectivity for the developing world.
In 1985, architect Paul Pholeros was challenged to "stop people getting sick" in a small indigenous community in south Australia. And it meant thinking way beyond medicine. In this sparky, interactive talk, Pholeros shares his work with Healthabitat, which works to reduce poverty through practical design fixes -- in Australia and beyond.
The 2007-2008 financial crisis, you might think, was an unpredictable one-time crash. But Didier Sornette and his Financial Crisis Observatory have plotted a set of early warning signs for unstable, growing systems, tracking the moment when any bubble is about to pop. (And he's seeing it happen again, right now.)
There's no actual law against women driving in Saudi Arabia. But it's forbidden. Two years ago, Manal al-Sharif decided to encourage women to drive by doing so -- and filming herself for YouTube. Hear her story of what happened next.
As a novelist, Daniel Suarez spins dystopian tales of the future. But on the TEDGlobal stage, he talks us through a real-life scenario we all need to know more about: the rise of autonomous robotic weapons of war. Advanced drones, automated weapons and AI-powered intelligence-gathering tools, he suggests, could take the decision to make war out of the hands of humans.
Greece has been the poster child for European economic crisis, but former Prime Minister George Papandreou wonders if it's just a preview of what's to come. “Our democracies," he says, "are trapped by systems that are too big to fail, or more accurately, too big to control” -- while "politicians like me have lost the trust of their peoples." How to solve it? Have citizens re-engage more directly in a new democratic bargain.
In a robot lab at TEDGlobal, Raffaello D'Andrea demos his flying quadcopters: robots that think like athletes, solving physical problems with algorithms that help them learn. In a series of nifty demos, D'Andrea show drones that play catch, balance and make decisions together -- and watch out for an I-want-this-now demo of Kinect-controlled quads.
Scaremongers play on the idea that robots will simply replace people on the job. In fact, they can become our essential collaborators, freeing us up to spend time on less mundane and mechanical challenges. Rodney Brooks points out how valuable this could be as the number of working-age adults drops and the number of retirees swells. He introduces us to Baxter, the robot with eyes that move and arms that react to touch, which could work alongside an aging population -- and learn to help them at home, too.
For some reason, says educator Al Vernacchio, the metaphors for talking about sex in the US all come from baseball -- scoring, getting to first base, etc. The problem is, this frames sex as a competition, with a winner and a loser. Instead, he suggests a new metaphor, one that's more about shared pleasure, discussion and agreement, fulfillment and enjoyment. Let's talk about … pizza.
Canadian filmmaker Martin Villeneuve talks about "Mars et Avril," the sci-fi spectacular he made with virtually no money over a seven-year stretch. In this charming talk, he explains the various ways he overcame financial and logistical constraints to produce his unique and inventive vision of the future.
Economist Andrew McAfee suggests that, yes, probably, droids will take our jobs -- or at least the kinds of jobs we know now. In this far-seeing talk, he thinks through what future jobs might look like, and how to educate coming generations to hold them.
For 28 years, Denise Herzing has spent five months each summer living with a pod of Atlantic spotted dolphins, following three generations of family relationships and behaviors. It's clear they are communicating with one another -- but is it language? Could humans use it too? She shares a fascinating new experiment to test this idea.
Journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas has broken dozens of stories of corruption and organized crime all over Ghana -- without ever revealing his identity. In this talk (in which his face remains hidden) Anas shows grisly footage from some of his investigations and demonstrates the importance of facing injustice.
What is it like to raise a child who's different from you in some fundamental way (like a prodigy, or a differently abled kid, or a criminal)? In this quietly moving talk, writer Andrew Solomon shares what he learned from talking to dozens of parents -- asking them: What's the line between unconditional love and unconditional acceptance?
What happens when a dream you've held since childhood ... doesn't come true? As Lisa Bu adjusted to a new life in the United States, she turned to books to expand her mind and create a new path for herself. She shares her unique approach to reading in this lovely, personal talk about the magic of books.
What's a proven way to lower your energy costs? Would you believe: learning what your neighbor pays. Alex Laskey shows how a quirk of human behavior can make us all better, wiser energy users, with lower bills to prove it.
Domestic violence and sexual abuse are often called "women's issues." But in this bold, blunt talk, Jackson Katz points out that these are intrinsically men's issues -- and shows how these violent behaviors are tied to definitions of manhood. A clarion call for us all -- women and men -- to call out unacceptable behavior and be leaders of change.
When the Museum of Modern Art's senior curator of architecture and design announced the acquisition of 14 video games in 2012, "all hell broke loose." In this far-ranging, entertaining, and deeply insightful talk, Paola Antonelli explains why she's delighted to challenge preconceived ideas about art and galleries, and describes her burning wish to help establish a broader understanding of design.
It’s the dream of kids all around the world to see giant beasts walk the Earth again. Could -- and should -- that dream be realized? Hendrik Poinar talks about the next big thing: the quest to engineer a creature that looks very much like our furry friend, the woolly mammoth. The first step, to sequence the woolly genome, is nearly complete. And it’s huge.
In her quest to become a world-famous violinist, Ji-Hae Park fell into a severe depression. Only music was able to lift her out again -- showing her that her goal needn’t be to play lofty concert halls, but instead to bring the wonder of the instrument to as many people as possible.
Designer Alastair Parvin presents a simple but provocative idea: what if, instead of architects creating buildings for those who can afford to commission them, regular citizens could design and build their own houses? The concept is at the heart of WikiHouse, an open source construction kit that means just about anyone can build a house, anywhere.
In art school, Phil Hansen developed an unruly tremor in his hand that kept him from creating the pointillist drawings he loved. Hansen was devastated, floating without a sense of purpose. Until a neurologist made a simple suggestion: embrace this limitation ... and transcend it.