Friday, April 28, 2017

TED 2017 finishes in grand style

Today's extra-long single session began with a group of 13 attendees who had one minute each to critique, praise, or even rebut a previous talk. Quite a few of these folks made very good points. My favorite was the man who suggested that David Miliband should re-enter politics and stand for PM in the UK. I obviously can't vote there, but if I could, I would certainly think quite seriously about supporting Miliband.

The first talk of the day was an unannounced presentation by Tristan Harris on persuasive technologies and how the online "race to the bottom of the brain stem" was ultimately doing a lot of damage to us all. Harris delivered a powerful, persuasive, and rather disturbing talk. I definitely plan to investigate this area further, for I know way too little about it.

The next talk, though, was my favorite of the day. Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank Group, proved to be a charismatic speaker with a huge heart and an incredibly sharp mind. As he told his story, past and present, I found myself wishing I could work with him.

Jeremy Thal of the Found Sound Nation spoke briefly about that group's work and played a video showing some of the results of the pop-up music studio they had set up at TED.

Anne Lamott, a novelist and essayist, wandered over a lot of territory that ultimately converged on her list of true things, which included one I particularly liked: "Everyone is screwed up. Don't compare your insides to anyone's outsides."

In what Chris Anderson said might be the longest single presentation in TED history, he interviewed Elon Musk for a bit over half an hour. The conversation ranged over everything from The Boring Company to Tesla's new semi truck to SpaceX and its missions. Musk came across, as usual, as both intelligent and completely willing to dream and act on an extraordinarily large scale. My favorite line of his was, "I'm not trying to be anyone's savior. I'm just trying to think about the future and not be sad."

In the spirit of hopefulness, constitutional law scholar Noah Feldman argued that contrary to what many believe, America has been this divided before, and it'll all be fine, because the constitution will ultimately take care of us. I'm not sure I share his optimism, but I certainly welcomed it.

As has been customary for multiple years, Julia Sweeney wrapped up the conference with a bit in which she poked good-natured fun at the presenters and the show itself.

Lunch was a party that filled the floor above us, and then it was back to my room to work as I re-entered my regular world. As always after TED, I'm finding that difficult to do, because living in this pampered bubble of great talks and lively conversations and a huge staff taking care of feeding us and cleaning up after us is an amazing treat.

Tomorrow, I fly home. Perhaps along the way I will figure out what new things I want to implement as a result of this TED.

Yup, I'm definitely coming back next year.


Mark P said...

David Miliband is not so highly regarded in the UK, guilty of association with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Anyone closely associated with Tony Blair will have problem becoming PM due to the second Iraq war.

However he might stand a chance of becoming a future leader of the Labour party as the current incumbent, Jeremy Corbin is leading his party so far to the unrealistic left that they'll get a complete drubbing in the forthcoming election.

Mark said...

I did not know that about Miliband. I heard entirely support from the UK folks here at TED, but they are probably not a representative sample.

I have heard that same comment about Corbin in every single conversation I've heard about him.

Take care.


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