Robots and algorithms are getting good at jobs like building cars, writing articles, translating -- jobs that once required a human. So what will we humans do for work? Andrew McAfee walks through recent labor data to say: We ain't seen nothing yet. But then he steps back to look at big history, and comes up with a surprising view of what comes next.
Mice, bugs and hamsters are no longer the only way to study the brain. Functional MRI (fMRI) allows scientists to map brain activity in living, breathing, decision-making human beings. Read Montague gives an overview of how this technology is helping us understand the complicated ways in which we interact with each other.
There's been an explosion of collaborative consumption -- web-powered sharing of cars, apartments, skills. Rachel Botsman explores the currency that makes systems like Airbnb and Taskrabbit work: trust, influence, and what she calls "reputation capital."
John Maeda, former President of the Rhode Island School of Design, delivers a funny and charming talk that spans a lifetime of work in art, design and technology, concluding with a picture of creative leadership in the future. Watch for demos of Maeda's earliest work -- and even a computer made of people.
Shimon Schocken and Noam Nisan developed a curriculum for their students to build a computer, piece by piece. When they put the course online -- giving away the tools, simulators, chip specifications and other building blocks -- they were surprised that thousands jumped at the opportunity to learn, working independently as well as organizing their own classes in the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). A call to forget about grades and tap into the self-motivation to learn.
Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy argues that "power posing" — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don't feel confident — can boost feelings of confidence, and might have an impact on our chances for success. NOTE: Some of the findings presented in this talk have been referenced in an ongoing debate among social scientists about robustness and reproducibility. Read "Criticisms & updates" below for more details as well as Amy Cuddy's response.
We have personal computing -- why not personal biotech? That's the question biologist Ellen Jorgensen and her colleagues asked themselves before opening Genspace, a nonprofit DIY bio lab in Brooklyn devoted to citizen science, where amateurs can go and tinker with biotechnology. Far from being a sinister Frankenstein's lab (as some imagined it), Genspace offers a long list of fun, creative and practical uses for DIY bio.
Your mobile phone, computer and game console have a bloody past — tied to tantalum mining, which funds the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Drawing on his personal story, activist and refugee Bandi Mbubi gives a stirring call to action.
One day, Ed Gavagan was sitting on the subway, watching two young med students practicing their knots. And a powerful memory washed over him -- of one shocking moment that changed his life forever. An unforgettable story of crime, skill and gratitude.
Western countries throw out nearly half of their food, not because it’s inedible -- but because it doesn’t look appealing. Tristram Stuart delves into the shocking data of wasted food, calling for a more responsible use of global resources.
Because of poor acoustics, students in classrooms miss 50 percent of what their teachers say and patients in hospitals have trouble sleeping because they continually feel stressed. Julian Treasure sounds a call to action for designers to pay attention to the “invisible architecture” of sound.
Why do teenagers seem so much more impulsive, so much less self-aware than grown-ups? Cognitive neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore compares the prefrontal cortex in adolescents to that of adults, to show us how typically "teenage" behavior is caused by the growing and developing brain.
Calling them "our bodies' own repair kits," Susan Solomon advocates research using lab-grown stem cells. By growing individual pluripotent stem cell lines, her team creates testbeds that could accelerate research into curing diseases -- and perhaps lead to individualized treatment, targeted not just to a particular disease but a particular person.
Call it "fuel without fossils": Jonathan Trent is working on a plan to grow new biofuel by farming micro-algae in floating offshore pods that eat wastewater from cities. Hear his team's bold vision for Project OMEGA (Offshore Membrane Enclosures for Growing Algae) and how it might power the future.
Scott Fraser studies how humans remember crimes -- and bear witness to them. In this powerful talk, which focuses on a deadly shooting at sunset, he suggests that even close-up eyewitnesses to a crime can create "memories" they could not have seen. Why? Because the brain abhors a vacuum. Editor's note: In the original version of this talk, Scott Fraser misspoke about available footage of Two World Trade Center (Tower 2). The misstatement has been edited out for clarity.
How can we fit more people into cities without overcrowding? Kent Larson shows off folding cars, quick-change apartments and other innovations that could make the city of the future work a lot like a small village of the past.
What can governments learn from the open-data revolution? In this stirring talk, Beth Noveck, the former deputy CTO at the White House, shares a vision of practical openness -- connecting bureaucracies to citizens, sharing data, creating a truly participatory democracy. Imagine the "writable society" ...
Nearly 450 million people are affected by mental illness worldwide. In wealthy nations, just half receive appropriate care, but in developing countries, close to 90 percent go untreated because psychiatrists are in such short supply. Vikram Patel outlines a highly promising approach -- training members of communities to give mental health interventions, empowering ordinary people to care for others.
Brute computing force alone can't solve the world's problems. Data mining innovator Shyam Sankar explains why solving big problems (like catching terrorists or identifying huge hidden trends) is not a question of finding the right algorithm, but rather the right symbiotic relationship between computation and human creativity.
Robert Neuwirth spent four years among the chaotic stalls of street markets, talking to pushcart hawkers and gray marketers, to study the remarkable "System D," the world's unlicensed economic network. Responsible for some 1.8 billion jobs, it's an economy of underappreciated power and scope.
In the ongoing debate about globalization, what's been missing is the voices of workers -- the millions of people who migrate to factories in China and other emerging countries to make goods sold all over the world. Reporter Leslie T. Chang sought out women who work in one of China's booming megacities, and tells their stories.
In her New Orleans neighborhood, artist and TED Fellow Candy Chang turned an abandoned house into a giant chalkboard asking a fill-in-the-blank question: "Before I die I want to ___." Her neighbors' answers -- surprising, poignant, funny -- became an unexpected mirror for the community. (What's your answer?)
David Binder is a major Broadway producer, but last summer he found himself in a small Australian neighborhood, watching locals dance and perform on their lawns -- and loving it. He shows us the new face of arts festivals, which break the boundary between audience and performer and help cities express themselves.
Legendary sculptor Antony Gormley riffs on space and the human form. His works explore the interior space we feel within our own bodies -- and the exterior space we feel around us, knowing that we are just dots in space and time.
Timothy Prestero thought he'd designed the perfect incubator for newborns in the developing world -- he even won awards for it. But he and his team learned a hard lesson when their incubator completely failed to catch on. Hear his hard-earned manifesto on the importance of designing for real-world use, not accolades.
Most politicians choose their words carefully, to shape the reality they hope to create. But does it work? Etymologist Mark Forsyth shares a few entertaining word-origin stories from British and American history (for instance, did you ever wonder how George Washington became "president"?) and draws a surprising conclusion.
It seems the more we know about how democracy works -- through government transparency, better media coverage, even new insights about our brains -- the less we trust democracy itself. Yet it's still, arguably, the best system of government available. As Ivan Krastev says, "What went right is also what went wrong." Can democracy survive?
The open-source world has learned to deal with a flood of new, oftentimes divergent, ideas using hosting services like GitHub -- so why can’t governments? In this rousing talk Clay Shirky shows how democracies can take a lesson from the Internet, to be not just transparent but also to draw on the knowledge of all their citizens.
When a freak tornado hit their hometown, sisters Caitria and Morgan O'Neill -- just 20 and 24 at the time -- realized they had to jump in and help. What they learned is: After a natural disaster, there's only a tiny window before the world turns its sympathy (and its donations) elsewhere -- so it's important to be prepared for every aspect of recovery. Watch this talk to learn how to step up in a timely fashion for your own community.
Is there a definitive line that divides crazy from sane? With a hair-raising delivery, Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test, illuminates the gray areas between the two. (With live-mixed sound by Julian Treasure and animation by Evan Grant.)