How do we find fulfillment in a world that's constantly changing? Raymond Tang struggled with this question until he came across the ancient Chinese philosophy of the Tao Te Ching. In it, he found a passage comparing goodness to water, an idea he's now applying to his everyday life. In this charming talk, he shares three lessons he's learned so far from the "philosophy of water." "What would water do?" Tang asks. "This simple and powerful question ... has changed my life for the better."
Driving in Johannesburg one day, Tapiwa Chiwewe noticed an enormous cloud of air pollution hanging over the city. He was curious and concerned but not an environmental expert -- so he did some research and discovered that nearly 14 percent of all deaths worldwide in 2012 were caused by household and ambient air pollution. With this knowledge and an urge to do something about it, Chiwewe and his colleagues developed a platform that uncovers trends in pollution and helps city planners make better decisions. "Sometimes just one fresh perspective, one new skill set, can make the conditions right for something remarkable to happen," Chiwewe says. "But you need to be bold enough to try."
Shameem Akhtar posed as a boy during her early childhood in Pakistan so she could enjoy the privileges Pakistani girls are rarely afforded: to play outside and attend school. In an eye-opening, personal talk, Akhtar recounts how the opportunity to get an education altered the course of her life -- and ultimately changed the culture of her village, where today every young girl goes to school.
Every three years, more than 30 million Hindu worshippers gather for the Kumbh Mela in India, the world's largest religious gathering, in order to wash away their sins. With massive crowds descending on small cities and towns, stampedes inevitably happen, and in 2003, 39 people were killed during the festival. In 2014, then 15-year-old Nilay Kulkarni decided to put his skills as a self-taught programmer to use by building a tech solution to help prevent stampedes. Learn more about his invention -- and how it helped the 2015 Nashik Kumbh Mela have zero stampedes and casualties.
No one thinks twice about a woman wearing blue jeans in New York City -- but when Nobel laureate Malala wears them, it's a political act. Around the globe, individuality can be a crime, and clothing can be a form of protest. In a talk about the power of what we wear, Kaustav Dey examines how fashion gives us a nonverbal language of dissent and encourages us to embrace our authentic selves.
Poets Felice Belle and Jennifer Murphy perform excerpts from their play "Other Women," which is created and directed by Monica L. Williams. In a captivating journey, they weave together stories full of laughter, loyalty, tragedy and heartbreak, recalling the moments that made them sisters.
From our fear of women's bodies to our sheepishness around the word "nipple," our ideas about sex need an upgrade, say sex educators (and hilarious women) Tiffany Kagure Mugo and Siphumeze Khundayi. For a radical new take on sex positivity, the duo take the TED stage to suggest we look to Africa for erotic wisdom both ancient and modern, showing us how we can shake off problematic ideas about sex we've internalized and re-define pleasure on our own terms. (This talk contains mature content.)
If we hope to heal the racial tensions that threaten to tear the fabric of society apart, we're going to need the skills to openly express ourselves in racially stressful situations. Through racial literacy -- the ability to read, recast and resolve these situations -- psychologist Howard C. Stevenson helps children and parents reduce and manage stress and trauma. In this inspiring, quietly awesome talk, learn more about how this approach to decoding racial threat can help youth build confidence and stand up for themselves in productive ways.
Very few of us hold jobs that line up directly with our past experiences or what we studied in college. Take TED Resident Jason Shen; he studied biology but later became a product manager at a tech company. In this quick, insightful talk about human potential, Shen shares some new thinking on how job seekers can make themselves more attractive -- and why employers should look for ability over credentials.
The prevailing image of where refugees live is of temporary camps in isolated areas -- but in reality, nearly 60 percent of them worldwide end up in urban areas. TED Fellow Robert Hakiza takes us inside the lives of urban refugees -- and shows us how organizations like the one that he started can provide them with the skills they need to ultimately become self-sufficient.
Dixon Chibanda is one of 12 psychiatrists in Zimbabwe -- for a population of more than 16 million. Realizing that his country would never be able to scale traditional methods of treating those with mental health issues, Chibanda helped to develop a beautiful solution powered by a limitless resource: grandmothers. In this extraordinary, inspirational talk, learn more about the friendship bench program, which trains grandmothers in evidence-based talk therapy and brings care, and hope, to those in need.
What's the most transformative thing that you can do for your brain today? Exercise! says neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki. Get inspired to go to the gym as Suzuki discusses the science of how working out boosts your mood and memory -- and protects your brain against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.
Experimental psychologist Petter Johansson researches choice blindness -- a phenomenon where we convince ourselves that we're getting what we want, even when we're not. In an eye-opening talk, he shares experiments (designed in collaboration with magicians!) that aim to answer the question: Why do we do what we do? The findings have big implications for the nature of self-knowledge and how we react in the face of manipulation. You may not know yourself as well as you think you do.
As a research scientist at Google, Margaret Mitchell helps develop computers that can communicate about what they see and understand. She tells a cautionary tale about the gaps, blind spots and biases we subconsciously encode into AI -- and asks us to consider what the technology we create today will mean for tomorrow. "All that we see now is a snapshot in the evolution of artificial intelligence," Mitchell says. "If we want AI to evolve in a way that helps humans, then we need to define the goals and strategies that enable that path now."
We often find ourselves stuck in narrow social circles with similar people. What habits confine us, and how can we break them? Organizational psychologist Tanya Menon considers how we can be more intentional about expanding our social universes -- and how it can lead to new ideas and opportunities.
Sometimes, a single decision can change the course of history. Join journalist and author Isabel Wilkerson as she tells the story of the Great Migration, the outpouring of six million African Americans from the Jim Crow South to cities in the North and West between World War I and the 1970s. This was the first time in American history that the lowest caste people signaled they had options and were willing to take them -- and the first time they had a chance to choose for themselves what they would do with their innate talents, Wilkerson explains. "These people, by their actions, were able to do what the powers that be, North and South, could not or would not do," she says. "They freed themselves."
Something strange and deadly is happening inside the brains of top athletes -- a degenerative condition, possibly linked to concussions, that causes dementia, psychosis and far-too-early death. It's called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, and it's the medical mystery that Chris Nowinski wants to solve by analyzing brains after death. It's also why, when Nowinski meets a pro athlete, his first question is: "Can I have your brain?" Hear more from this ground-breaking effort to protect athletes' brains -- and yours, too.
What happens to the clothes we don't buy? You might think that last season's coats, trousers and turtlenecks end up being put to use, but most of it (nearly 13 million tons each year in the United States alone) ends up in landfills. Fashion has a waste problem, and Amit Kalra wants to fix it. He shares some creative ways the industry can evolve to be more conscientious about the environment -- and gain a competitive advantage at the same time.
Social justice belongs in our schools, says educator Sydney Chaffee. In a bold talk, she shows how teaching students to engage in activism helps them build important academic and life skills -- and asks us to rethink how we can use education to help kids find their voices. "Teaching will always be a political act," Chaffee says. "We can't be afraid of our students' power. Their power will help them make tomorrow better."
Bhu Srinivasan researches the intersection of capitalism and technological progress. Instead of thinking about capitalism as a firm, unchanging ideology, he suggests that we should think of it as an operating system -- one that needs upgrades to keep up with innovation, like the impending take-off of drone delivery services. Learn more about the past and future of the free market (and a potential coming identity crisis for the United States' version of capitalism) with this quick, forward-thinking talk.
"To be African is to be inspired by culture and to be filled with undying hope for the future," says designer and TED Fellow Walé Oyéjidé. With his label Ikiré Jones (you'll see their work in Marvel's "Black Panther"), he uses classic design to showcase the elegance and grace of often-marginalized groups, in beautifully cut clothing that tells a story.
What is it about unfairness? Whether it's not being invited to a friend's wedding or getting penalized for bad luck or an honest mistake, unfairness often makes us so upset that we can't think straight. And it's not just a personal issue -- it's also bad for business, says Marco Alverà. He explains how his company works to create a culture of fairness -- and how tapping into our innate sense of what's right and wrong makes for happier employees and better results.
At some point in our lives, almost every one of us will have our heart broken. Imagine how different things would be if we paid more attention to this unique emotional pain. Psychologist Guy Winch reveals how recovering from heartbreak starts with a determination to fight our instincts to idealize and search for answers that aren't there -- and offers a toolkit on how to, eventually, move on. Our hearts might sometimes be broken, but we don't have to break with them.
Mohamad Jebara loves mathematics -- but he's concerned that too many students grow up thinking that this beautiful, rewarding subject is difficult and boring. His company is experimenting with a bold idea: paying students for completing weekly math homework. He explores the ethics of this model and how it's helping students -- and why learning math is crucial in the era of fake news.
Blues musician Tito Deler combines the sounds of his New York upbringing with the style of pre-war Mississippi Delta blues. He takes the stage, singing and strumming a stirring rendition of his song, "My Fine Reward."
Irina Kareva translates biology into mathematics and vice versa. She writes mathematical models that describe the dynamics of cancer, with the goal of developing new drugs that target tumors. "The power and beauty of mathematical modeling lies in the fact that it makes you formalize, in a very rigorous way, what we think we know," Kareva says. "It can help guide us to where we should keep looking, and where there may be a dead end." It all comes down to asking the right question and translating it to the right equation, and back.
Unlike the solar cells you're used to seeing, organic photovoltaics are made of compounds that are dissolved in ink and can be printed and molded using simple techniques. The result is a low-weight, flexible, semi-transparent film that turns the energy of the sun into electricity. Hannah Bürckstümmer shows us how they're made -- and how they could change the way we power the world.
What if we incentivized doctors to keep us healthy instead of paying them only when we're already sick? Matthias Müllenbeck explains how this radical shift from a sick care system to a true health care system could save us from unnecessary costs and risky procedures -- and keep us healthier for longer.