When the son of the president of a desperately poor country starts buying mansions and sportscars on an official monthly salary of $7,000, Charmian Gooch suggests, corruption is probably somewhere in the picture. In a blistering, eye-opening talk (with several specific examples), she details how global corruption trackers follow the money -- to some surprisingly familiar faces.
There's a farming crisis no one is talking about: The world is running out of phosphorus, an essential element that's a key component of DNA and the basis of cellular communication. As biologist Mohamed Hijri shows, all roads of this crisis lead back to how we farm -- with chemical fertilizers chock-full of the element, which plants are not efficient at absorbing. One solution? A microscopic mushroom ...
All under the age of 16, brothers Jonny, Robbie and Tommy Mizzone are from New Jersey, a US state that's better known for the rock of Bruce Springsteen than the bluegrass of Earl Scruggs. Nonetheless, the siblings began performing bluegrass covers, as well as their own compositions, at a young age. Here, they play three dazzling songs in three different keys, passing the lead back and forth from fiddle to banjo to guitar.
The border between our physical world and the digital information surrounding us has been getting thinner and thinner. Designer and engineer Jinha Lee wants to dissolve it altogether. As he demonstrates in this short, gasp-inducing talk, his ideas include a pen that penetrates into a screen to draw 3D models and SpaceTop, a computer desktop prototype that lets you reach through the screen to manipulate digital objects.
You don't need to plan an exotic trip to find creative inspiration. Just look up, says Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. As he shares charming photos of nature's finest aerial architecture, Pretor-Pinney calls for us all to take a step off the digital treadmill, lie back and admire the beauty in the sky above.
Collecting global health data is an imperfect science: Workers tramp through villages to knock on doors and ask questions, write the answers on paper forms, then input the data -- and from this messy, gappy information, countries and NGOs need to make huge decisions. Data geek Joel Selanikio talks through the sea change in collecting health data in the past decade -- starting with the PalmPilot and Hotmail, and now moving into the cloud.
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.