TED2017: A week to explore the most pressing questions of our time. In these mainstage sessions (including one in Spanish) we'll ask – and try to answer – the big questions of the moment.
C. Jimmy Lin, MD, PhD, MHS is the Chief Scientific Officer (CSO), Oncology at Natera and a TED Fellow. He comes from a long history as a pioneer in cancer genomics. Most recently, he led the clinical genomics program at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Previously, at Johns Hopkins and Washington University in St. Louis, Lin was part of one of the first clinical genomics labs in academia and led the computational analyses of the first ever exome sequencing studies in cancer, including breast, colorectal, pancreatic, glioblastoma, medulloblastoma and melanoma.
Lin has published in top academic journals, such as Science, Nature and Cell, and he has been an expert in national and international media outlets, such as New York Times, Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Washington Post, and the Financial Times.
Current treatments for mood disorders only suppress symptoms without addressing the underlying disease, and there are no known cures. The drugs Rebecca Brachman is developing would be the first to prevent psychiatric disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.
Brachman completed her PhD at Columbia University, prior to which she was a fellow at the National Institutes of Health, where she discovered that immune cells carry a memory of psychological stress and that white blood cells can act as antidepressants and resilience-enhancers. Brachman's research has been featured in The Atlantic, WIRED and Business Insider, and her work was recently described by Dr. George Slavich on NPR as a "moonshot project that is very much needed in the mental health arena."
In addition to conducting ongoing research at Columbia, Brachman is an NYCEDC Entrepreneurship Lab Fellow and cofounder of Paravax -- a biotech startup developing vaccine-like prophylactic drugs ("paravaccines") -- along with her scientific collaborator, Christine Ann Denny. She is also working on a non-profit venture to repurpose existing generic drugs for use as prophylactics, and previously served as the Interim Program Director for Outreach at the Zuckerman Institute at Columbia University.
Brachman is also a playwright and screenwriter. She holds Bachelor's degrees in both neuroscience and creative wWriting, and she is currently working on a tech-focused writing project with her long-time writing partner, Sean Calder ("Grimm," "Damages," "ER"). She served as the director of NeuWrite, a national network of science-writing groups that fosters ongoing collaboration between scientists, writers and artists, and she has been featured as a storyteller at The Story Collider.
(Photo: Kenneth Willardt)
Karim Abouelnaga wants to eliminate summer learning loss in kids and give them a fair chance at realizing their life ambitions. After experiencing the struggle to succeed in under-resourced urban public schools, he was lucky enough to benefit from nonprofits that provided him with great mentors, receiving over $300,000 in scholarships to make his college education possible. Abouelnaga is the founder and CEO of the benefit corporation Practice Makes Perfect, a full-service summer school operator that uses a "near-peer" learning model to drive academic outcomes for thousands of low-income children.
Abouelnaga is a regular contributor for Entrepreneur and Forbes, a co-founder of Gentlemen Ventures, a TED Fellow, Global Shaper and Echoing Green Fellow. He was named to Forbes' 30 under 30 in Education. In 2016 Richtopia ranked him in the top five of most influential entrepreneurs in the world under 25. Abouelnaga graduated from Cornell University with a degree in hotel administration in 2013.
Reach Karim here: email@example.com.
Musician, visual artist and filmmaker working at the intersection of art and activism, exploring the experience of contemporary black Americans. His documentary, Whose Streets?, premiered at Sundance 2017 and tells the story of the protests in Ferguson, Missouri that took place after unarmed teenager Michael Brown was killed by police in 2014.
Prumsodun Ok groundbreaking performances have been described as "radical beauty" by the Bangkok Post and have been staged throughout Cambodia, Thailand, Mexico, Greece and the United States. Ok's 2013 book Moni Mekhala and Ream Eyso was reviewed in the Asian Theatre Journal as “a sampeah kru ritual of a sort: an offering to teachers living and deceased and to Moni Mekhala [the Goddess of the Ocean] herself.”
Ok has brought a diverse group of artists, activists and scholars together for Children of Refugees, a program of talks and performances raising awareness for the Syrian refugee crisis. Among many honors, Ok is a TED Senior Fellow and was named by Tea Uglow, creative director of Google Creative Lab in Sydney, an LGBT+ Creative Leader of Tomorrow for The Dots's and WeTransfer's Championing Diversity Initiative. Ok is based in Phnom Penh where he founded Prumsodun Ok & NATYARASA, Cambodia’s first gay dance company.
Dr. Kristen Marhaver's work combines classic scientific methods with new technologies to help threatened coral species survive their early life stages. She was the first person to rear juveniles of the endangered Caribbean Pillar Coral. Now she's now developing bacterial tools to improve coral survival at all life stages.
Marhaver's research has been covered by NPR, BBC, The Atlantic and Popular Science, among hundreds of outlets. She's earned five fellowships and grants from the US National Science Foundation and multiple awards for science communication. Marhaver is a TED Senior Fellow, a WINGS Fellow, and a World Economic Forum Young Scientist.
Outside the lab, Marhaver advocates for stronger ocean conservation and smarter science communication. Her talks and articles have been featured by Google, Wired UK, Mission Blue and by ocean and scuba festivals around the world.
A scuba diver from the age of 15, Marhaver is a graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology and the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Her lab is based at the CARMABI Research Station on the island of Curaçao.
As half of Backyard Brains, neuroscientist and engineer Greg Gage builds the SpikerBox -- a small rig that helps kids understand the electrical impulses that control the nervous system. He's passionate about helping students understand (viscerally) how our brains and our neurons work, because, as he said onstage at TED2012, we still know very little about how the brain works -- and we need to start inspiring kids early to want to know more.
Before becoming a neuroscientist, Gage worked as an electrical engineer making touchscreens. As he told the Huffington Post: "Scientific equipment in general is pretty expensive, but it's silly because before [getting my PhD in neuroscience] I was an electrical engineer, and you could see that you could make it yourself. So we started as a way to have fun, to show off to our colleagues, but we were also going into classrooms around that time and we thought, wouldn't it be cool if you could bring these gadgets with us so the stuff we were doing in advanced Ph.D. programs in neuroscience, you could also do in fifth grade?" His latest pieces of gear: the Roboroach, a cockroach fitted with an electric backpack that makes it turn on command, and BYB SmartScope, a smartphone-powered microscope.
Anjan Sundaram is the author of Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship (Ingabire prize, PEN America prize finalist, Amazon Best Book of 2016) and Stringer: A Reporter's Journey in the Congo (Royal African Society Book of the Year in 2014, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, BBC Book of the Week). His writing has appeared in Granta, The New York Review of Books, the New York Times, The Guardian and Foreign Policy. His war correspondence won a Frontline Club award in 2015 and a Reuters prize in 2006. Anjan is a TED Fellow. He graduated from Yale University.
Born in Nairobi, TED Fellow Wanuri Kahiu is part of the new generation of African filmmakers. Her films have received international acclaim and have been screened in more than 100 film festivals around the world. To date, Kahiu has written and directed six films and is working on her second feature length film.
Kahiu's first feature film, From a Whisper, based on the real events surrounding the 1998 twin bombings of US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, won Best Narrative Feature in 2010 at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles as well as five awards at the African Movie Academy Award, including Best Director and Best Screenplay.
In 2009 Wanuri produced TV documentary For Our Land about Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai for MNET, a pan-African cable station. In 2010, her short science fiction Pumzi premiered at Sundance and went on to win best short film at Cannes and the silver at Carthage Film Festival in Tunisia. Pumzi also earned Kahiu the Citta di Venezia 2010 award in Venice, Italy. She is currently in post production on her second feature film, Rafiki, as well as a feature length documentary Ger about UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Ger Duany.
An assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford University, Manu Prakash is a physicist working at the molecular scale to try and understand no less than how the world really works. As he told BusinessWeek in 2010, he is humbled and inspired by nature’s own solutions to the world's biggest problems. "I build and design tools to uncover how and why biological systems so often outsmart us. I believe one day we will be able to understand the physical design principles of life on Earth, leading to a new way to look at the world we live in."
Born in Meerut, India, Prakash earned a BTech in computer science and engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur before moving to the United States. He did his master’s and PhD in applied physics at MIT before founding the Prakash Lab at Stanford.
Prakash's ultra-low-cost, "print-and-fold" paper microscope won a $100,000 grant from the Gates Foundaton in 2012.
Uldus Bakhtiozina is an artist and filmmaker who lives and works in Russia. Born in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, into a Muslim-Christian family, Bakhtiozina studied and worked in London in graphic design and photography before settling on her unique style which mixes folklore, history, fashion and challenging stereotypes. Calling her style "Tatar Baroque," in part because she is half Tatar, Bakhtiozina has a passion for irregularity, and she says that her work documents dreams. Bakhtiozina creates everything inside her analogue photography and films, from outfits to stages, to fulfill the story behind each of her creations. None of her works have been digitally manipulated.
Negin Farsad was named one of the Funniest Women of 2015 by Huffington Post, one of the 10 Best Feminist Comedians by Paper magazine and was selected as a TED Fellow for her work in social justice comedy.
Farsad is the author of the recently released How to Make White People Laugh, a memoir-meets-social-justice-comedy manifesto (published by Grand Central, a division of Hachette). She is also the director/writer/star of the rom-com "3RD Street Blackout," starring Janeane Garofalo, Ed Weeks and John Hodgman, set for a summer 2016 release. She has written for/appeared on Comedy Central, MTV, PBS, IFC, Nickelodeon and others. She is director/producer of the feature films The Muslims Are Coming! starring Jon Stewart, David Cross and Lewis Black, and Nerdcore Rising, starring Weird Al Yankovic. She has sued New York State’s MTA over the right to put up funny posters about Muslims and won! She started her comedy career as a Cornell and Columbia-educated policy advisor for the City of New York.
Taiwanese dancer, choreographer, inventor, and videographer Huang Yi’s pioneering work is steeped in his fascination with the partnership between humans and robots. He interweaves continuous movement with mechanical and multimedia elements to create a form of dance which corresponds with the flow of data, effectively making the performer a dancing instrument. Named by Dance Magazine as one of the “25 to Watch,” Huang is one of Asia’s most prolific choreographers.
HUANG YI & KUKA is a poetic work that intertwines modern dance and visual arts with the realm of robotics, revealing humanity through a series of vignettes between live dancers and KUKA, a robot conceptualized and programmed by Huang. "Dancing face to face with a robot is like looking at my own face in a mirror ... I think I have found the key to spin human emotions into robots," Huang asserts.
HUANG YI & KUKA is an original production of Huang Yi Studio +, developed at 3LD Art & Technology Center, in association with Sozo Artists. Commissioned by Quanta Arts Foundation.
Dubbed a “Classical Rock Star” by the press, cellist Joshua Roman has earned a national reputation for performing a wide range of repertoire with an absolute commitment to communicating the essence of the music at its most organic level. Before embarking on a solo career, he was for two seasons principal cellist of the Seattle Symphony, a position he won in 2006 at the age of 22. For his ongoing creative initiatives on behalf of classical music, he has been selected as a 2011 TED Fellow, joining a select group of Next Generation innovators who have shown unusual accomplishments and the potential to positively affect the world.
Roman’s 2009–10 season engagements include debuts as concerto soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, as well as the Albany, Arkansas, and Santa Barbara Symphonies, the New Philharmonic Orchestra in Illinois, Oklahoma’s Signature Symphony, and Kentucky’s Lexington Philharmonic. In recent seasons he has performed with the Seattle Symphony, where he gave the world premiere of David Stock’s Cello Concerto, as well as with the Symphonies of Edmonton, Quad City, Spokane, and Stamford, and the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, among others. In 2008, Roman performed Britten’s third Cello Suite during New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival in a pre-concert recital at Avery Fisher Hall. In April 2009, he was the only guest artist invited to play an unaccompanied solo during the YouTube Symphony Orchestra’s debut concert at Carnegie Hall.
In addition to his solo work, Roman is an avid chamber music performer. He has enjoyed collaborations with veterans like Earl Carlyss and Christian Zacharias, as well as the Seattle Chamber Music Society and the International Festival of Chamber Music in Lima, Peru. He often joins forces with other dynamic young soloists and performers from New York’s contemporary music scene, including Alarm Will Sound, So Percussion, and artists from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS Two. In spring 2007, he was named Artistic Director of TownMusic, an experimental chamber music series at Town Hall in Seattle, where he creates programs that feature new works and reflect the eclectic range of his musical influences and inspirations.
Committed to making music accessible to a wider audience, Roman may be found anywhere from a club to a classroom, whether performing jazz, rock, chamber music, or a solo sonata by Bach or Kodály. His versatility as a performer and his ongoing exploration of new concertos, chamber music, and solo cello works have spawned projects with composers such as Aaron Jay Kernis, Mason Bates, and Dan Visconti. One of Roman’s current undertakings is an online video series calledThe Popper Project—wherever the cellist and his laptop find themselves, he performs an étude from David Popper’s “High School of Cello Playing” and uploads it, unedited, to his YouTube channel. Roman’s outreach endeavors have taken him to Uganda with his violin-playing siblings, where they played chamber music in schools, HIV/AIDS centers, and displacement camps, communicating a message of hope through music.
We live in extraordinary times, concurrently breathtaking and deeply precarious. Anab Jain co-founded the vanguard laboratory, design and film studio Superflux with Jon Ardern to parse uncertainties around our shared futures. She creates tangible, provocative experiences that transport people directly into possible future worlds. Through her work, Jain has discovered a powerful means of affecting change; by confronting and emotionally connecting people with future consequences in the present.
From climate change and growing inequality, to the emergence of artificial intelligence and the future of work, Jain and her team explore some of the biggest challenges of our times -- and investigate the potential and unintended consequences of these challenges.
Superflux is currently developing tools and strategies that can enable us to mitigate the shock of food insecurity and climate change. Recently, they produced a series of civilian drones -- creating a vision of a near-future city where these intelligent machines begin to display increasing autonomy within civic society.
Jain is also Professor of Design at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, where she is currently curating the "How Will We Work" show for the Vienna Biennale, and she is a TED Fellow. Her work has won awards at UNESCO, Apple Inc., Geneva Human Rights Film Festival, Innovate UK, and exhibited at MoMA New York, V&A London, National Museum of China, Vitra Design Museum and Tate Modern.
Garry Kasparov became the youngest world champion ever at 22 in 1985 and spent twenty years as the world's top-rated player. His legendary matches against the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue in 1996 and 1997 made him a central figure in artificial intelligence and the evolution of the human-machine relationship. He retired from chess in 2005 to become a leader of the Russian pro-democracy movement against the rising dictatorship of Vladimir Putin. He is the chairman of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation and has become a powerful voice for individual freedom worldwide. As a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Martin School, Kasparov specializes in interdisciplinary collaboration and, as he puts it, "how our technology can make us more human." He is a member of the executive board of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics.
Kasparov's latest book is Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins, which details his legendary matches against Deep Blue and shares his optimistic insights into our human plus machine future. His 2015 book Winter Is Coming detailed the rise of Putin's Russia as well as Kasparov's persecution and self-exile, and it serves chilling warnings of reactionary forces gathering in the West.
Laura Galante analyzes how states use cyberspace, or more precisely, our information space. She describes a domain where militaries, intelligence services, criminal groups and individuals actively pursue their interests -- with far fewer restraints than in the physical world.
A leading voice on information operations and intelligence analysis, she founded Galante Strategies in spring 2017 to assist governments and corporations in recognizing and responding to cyber and information threats.
Galante previously served as Director of Global Intelligence at FireEye where her teams investigated network activity, profiled advanced cyber threats and portrayed the political, military and financial implications of cyber operations. A founding member of Mandiant Intelligence, her work has included leading strategic analysis, developing intelligence capabilities and offerings and directing intelligence publications including APT28: A Window into Russia's State Cyber Espionage; Red Line Drawn: China Recalculates its Use of Cyber Espionage and Hacking the Street? FIN4 Likely Playing the Market among others.
In November 2016, Galante spoke at the UN Security Council's meeting on cybersecurity and international peace and security. She frequently appears on and provides commentary to CNN, Bloomberg, NPR, BBC, Fox News, the New York Times, the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the Associated Press and other global and industry media.
Prior to her work at FireEye and Mandiant, Galante led a contractor team analyzing cyber capability development and military doctrine at the US Department of Defense. She supported the 2010 US-Russia bilateral information security talks.
Galante holds a J.D. from the Catholic University of America and a BA in Foreign Affairs and Italian from the University of Virginia.
Tim Ferriss has been listed as one of Fast Company's "Most Innovative Business People" and one of Fortune's "40 under 40." He is an early-stage technology investor/advisor (Uber, Facebook, Shopify, Duolingo, Alibaba, and 50+ others) and the author of four #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers, including The 4-Hour Workweek and his latest, Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers. The Observer and other media have called Tim "the Oprah of audio" due to the influence of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast, which is the first business/interview podcast to exceed 100 million downloads.
As Titus Kaphar says of his work: "I’ve always been fascinated by history: art history, American history, world history, individual history -- how history is written, recorded, distorted, exploited, reimagined and understood. In my work I explore the materiality of reconstructive history. I paint and I sculpt, often borrowing from the historical canon, and then alter the work in some way. I cut, crumple, shroud, shred, stitch, tar, twist, bind, erase, break, tear and turn the paintings and sculptures I create, reconfiguring them into works that nod to hidden narratives and begin to reveal unspoken truths about the nature of history."
Kaphar is founder/CEO of the PostMasters Project, a multidisciplinary arts incubator that's being built to train professional artists and to further establish New Haven's growing creative community. His latest works are an investigation into the highest and lowest forms of recording history. From monuments to mug shots, this body of work exhibited at Jack Shainman gallery December-January 2017 seeks to collapse the line of American history to inhabit a fixed point in the present. Historical portraiture, mug shots, and YouTube stills challenge viewers to consider how we document the past, and what we have erased. Rather than explore guilt or innocence, Kaphar engages the narratives of individuals and how we as a society manage and define them over time. As a whole, this exhibition explores the power of rewritten histories to question the presumption of innocence and the mythology of the heroic.
Rabbi Lord Sacks is one of Judaism's spiritual leaders, and he exercises a primary influence on the thought and philosophy of Jews and people of all faiths worldwide. Since stepping down as Chief Rabbi of the UK and Commonwealth in 2013, Rabbi Lord Sacks has become an increasingly well-known speaker, respected moral voice and writer. He has authored more than 30 books, the latest, Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence, was published in 2015.
Granted a seat in the British House of Lords in 2009 and the winner of the 2016 Templeton Prize, Rabbi Lord Sacks is a key Jewish voice for universalism and an embrace of tolerance between religions and cultures. He rejects the "politics of anger" brought about by the way "we have acted as if markets can function without morals, international corporations without social responsibility and economic systems without regard to their effect on the people left stranded by the shifting tide." He also sees, as a key idea for faith in our times, that unity in heaven creates diversity on earth.
Working with his team at Boston Dynamics, Marc Raibert builds some of the world's most advanced robots, such as BigDog, Atlas, Spot and Handle. These robots are inspired by the remarkable ability of animals to move with agility, dexterity, perception and intelligence. A key ingredient of these robots is their dynamic behavior, which contributes to their lifelike qualities and their effectiveness in the real world.
Raibert founded Boston Dynamics as a spinoff from MIT, where he ran the Leg Laboratory, which helped establish the scientific basis for highly dynamic robots. He was a professor of EE&CS at MIT and before that associate professor of CS & Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University. Raibert is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
Noriko Arai is the program director of an AI challenge, Todai Robot Project, which asks the question: Can AI get into the University of Tokyo? The project aims to visualize both the possibilities and the limitation of current AI by setting a concrete goal: a software system that can pass university entrance exams. In 2015 and 2016, Todai Robot achieved top 20 percent in the exams, and passed more than 70 percent of the universities in Japan.
The inventor of Reading Skill Test, in 2017 Arai conducted a large-scale survey on reading skills of high and junior high school students with Japan's Ministry of Education. The results revealed that more than half of junior high school students fail to comprehend sentences sampled from their textbooks. Arai founded the Research Institute of Science for Education to elucidate why so many students fail to read and how she can support them.
Stuart Russell is a professor (and formerly chair) of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at University of California at Berkeley. His book Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (with Peter Norvig) is the standard text in AI; it has been translated into 13 languages and is used in more than 1,300 universities in 118 countries. His research covers a wide range of topics in artificial intelligence including machine learning, probabilistic reasoning, knowledge representation, planning, real-time decision making, multitarget tracking, computer vision, computational physiology, global seismic monitoring and philosophical foundations.
He also works for the United Nations, developing a new global seismic monitoring system for the nuclear-test-ban treaty. His current concerns include the threat of autonomous weapons and the long-term future of artificial intelligence and its relation to humanity.
Computer scientist Joseph Redmon is working on the YOLO (You Only Look Once) algorithm, which has a simple goal: to deliver image recognition and object detection at a speed that would seem science-fictional only a few years ago. The algorithm looks like the simple face detection of a camera app but with the level complexity of systems like Google's Deep Mind Cloud Vision, using Convolutional Deep Neural Networks to crunch object detection in realtime. It's the kind of technology that will be embedded on all smartphones in the next few years.
Redmon is also internet-famous for his resume.
By connecting humans and machines with AI, designer, inventor and polymath Tom Gruber is opening up new ways to improve our lives and augment human intelligence.
Gruber led the team that revolutionized human-machine interaction with Siri, the intelligent personal assistant that can understand your spoken language and help you get things done. Launched in 2010, Siri is now used billions of times a week in more than 30 countries around the world.
Todd Reichert is co-lead engineer at Kitty Hawk, where he is helping to make the dream of personal flight a reality. In April 2017, Kitty Hawk introduced the prototype of the Kitty Hawk Flyer, a new, electric personal aircraft that is safe, fun, easy to fly and doesn't require a pilot's license.
Prior to joining Kitty Hawk, Reichert was co-founder of Aerovelo. In 2013 he and the team at Aerovelo won the Sikorsky Prize for building the human-powered helicopter Atlas. He earned the title of "World's Fastest Human" by reaching a speed of 89.59 MPH in the Eta speed bike, which he also helped design and build at Aerovolo. Earlier, he was the pilot and a co-engineer of Snowbird, the world's first human-powered ornithopter. Todd earned his PhD in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Toronto.
With a swarm of 1,024 robots inspired by the design of ant colonies, Radhika Nagpal and her colleagues at Harvard’s SSR research group have redefined expectations for self-organizing robotic systems. Guided by algorithms, Nagpal’s shockingly simple robots guide themselves into a variety of shapes -- an ability that, brought to scale, might lead to applications like disaster rescue, space exploration and beyond.
In addition to her work with biologically inspired robots, Nagpal helped create ROOT, a simple robot to teach coding to would-be programmers through a simple user interface suitable for students of all ages.
Rutger Bregman is one of Europe's most prominent young thinkers. The 28-year-old historian and author has published four books on history, philosophy and economics. His book Utopia for Realists -- on universal basic income and other radical ideas -- has been translated in more than 20 languages. His work has been featured in The Washington Post and The Guardian and on the BBC.
Martin Ford was one of the first analysts to write compellingly about the future of work and economies in the face of the growing automation of everything. He sketches a future that's radically reshaped not just by robots but by the loss of the income-distributing power of human jobs. How will our economic systems need to adapt?
He's the author of two books: Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future (winner of the 2015 Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award ) and The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future, and he's the founder of a Silicon Valley-based software development firm. He has written about future technology and its implications for the New York Times, Fortune, Forbes, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Harvard Business Review and The Financial Times.
As a solo artist and member of folk-rock duo Pomplamoose, Jack Conte garnered millions of views for his offbeat "video songs," including his breakout hit "Yeah Yeah Yeah" and "Pedals," a robotic tour-de-force with a set that duplicates the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon.
Despite his success, Conte noted the disconnect between page views and revenue, and he realized that if you’re a widely viewed artist and you aren’t making money, "that's not your fault -- it’s technology's fault." His solution is Patreon: a membership platform built on recurring payments from patrons to support creatives with ongoing projects.
Sara DeWitt's work in the children's digital space was first inspired by Mister Rogers's approach to television. Just as he strove to make every child feel special through that new medium, her vision is to make each interaction with a game, stream and view an opportunity for children, parents, and teachers to learn and delight in new discoveries.
Over the last 18 years, DeWitt has worked at the forefront of new platforms, in an effort to be everywhere kids are: from websites and mobiles apps to streaming video, augmented reality, 3D-rendered experiences, and wearable technologies. She oversees the Kidscreen- and Webby-award winning pbskids.org website, PBS KIDS streaming video services and the PBS KIDS portfolio of educational apps for children. In 2014, she was named one of the top 42 Women Leading in Education by the USC Rossier School of Education and one of the Top Women in Digital by Cynopsis Media in 2016.
Before her career in public media, DeWitt worked as a preschool teacher, a management researcher and studied media habits of children in rural areas of the United States. She is a military spouse who has moved with her husband and two young sons four times in the last five years. They currently live in Alexandria, Virginia.
Dalio started Bridgewater out of his two-bedroom apartment in New York City in 1975 and has grown it into the fifth most important private company in the U.S. (according to Fortune magazine). Because of the firm’s many industry-changing innovations over its 40-year history, he has been called the “Steve Jobs of investing” by aiCIO magazine and named one of TIME magazine’s "100 Most Influential People."
Dalio attributes Bridgewater’s success to its unique culture. He describes it as “a believability-weighted idea meritocracy” in which the people strive for “meaningful work and meaningful relationships through radical truth and radical transparency.” He has explained this approach in his book Principles, which has been downloaded more than three million times and has produced considerable curiosity and controversy.
The ACLU is dedicated to defending liberty and individual freedom in the US -- which is an interesting mandate to have right now. Anthony Romero has headed the organization since 2001, focusing on building capacity in order to defend the laws that protect Americans' freedoms.
Under Romero's watch, the ACLU launched its national "Keep America Safe and Free" campaign to protect basic freedoms during a time of crisis; launched its unique legal challenge to the patents held by a private company on the human genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer; launched litigation and lobbying efforts to win the freedom to marry for same-sex couples; and filed the first lawsuit against President Trump’s Muslim Ban.
T. Morgan Dixon co-leads GirlTrek, the largest public health nonprofit for African-American women and girls in the United States. GirlTrek encourages women to use walking as a practical first step to inspire healthy living, families and communities and knits local advocacy together to lead a civil rights-inspired health movement that seeks to eliminate barriers to physical activity, improve access to safe places to walk, protect and reclaim green spaces and improve the walkability and built environments of 50 high-need communities across the United States.
Prior to GirlTrek, Dixon was on the front lines of education reform. She served as Director of Leadership Development for one of the largest charter school networks in the country, Achievement First, and directed the start-up of six public schools in New York City for St. Hope and the Urban Assembly, two organizations funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She has served a trustee for boards of The National Outdoor Leadership School, Teach for Haiti and The Underground Railroad Historic Byway, a $50 million tourism and preservation project in Maryland.
As the leader of GirlTrek, Dixon received fellowships from Teach for America (2012), Echoing Green (2013), Ashoka (2014) and The Aspen Institute (2015). She has been featured in the New York Times and CNN, was named a "health hero" by Essence Magazine and has appeared on the cover of Outside Magazine's recent "Icons" edition.
Vanessa Garrison is the co-founder and COO of GirlTrek, the largest public health nonprofit for African-American women and girls in the United States. With over 100,000 neighborhood walkers, GirlTrek encourages women to use walking as a practical first step to inspire healthy living, families and communities.
Prior to co-founding GirlTrek, Garrison worked within the criminal justice space, helping formerly incarcerated women access critical services. She began her career working in digital media with Turner Broadcasting System. Inc. in Atlanta, where she managed digital media projects for some the world’s most recognizable news and entertainment brands, including, CNN, TNT and Sports Illustrated.
With GirlTrek, Garrison has been a featured in the Washington Post and the New York Times, and she was named a "Health Hero" by Essence Magazine. She has received social innovations fellowships from Teach For America, Echoing Green and the Aspen Institute.
Jorge Drexler doesn't lay claim to one identity over another. Born to a German-Jewish exile father and a Uruguayan mother, Drexler grew up in Uruguay, traveled widely across Latin America and eventually settled in Spain. Within his music, you can hear touches of milonga and bossa nova and even Bach, as his lyrics wrangle with notions of nationality and belonging, language, identity and love.
Like both of his parents, Drexler started his career as a physician, but at the age of 30, he decided to pursue music full-time. The release of his fifth album, Frontera, caught the attention of Brazilian director Walter Salles, who tapped him to write the closing song for the 2004 film Motorcycle Diaries. Titled "Al Otro Lado del Río" (The Other Side of the River), the song won Drexler an Academy Award for Best Original Song and propelled him into the international spotlight.
Over the course of his 25-year career, Jorge Drexler has produced 12 albums, received 15 Latin Grammy nomination (with two wins in 2014 Record of the Year and Best Singer-Songwriter Album), four US Grammy nominations, 5 ASCAP Latin Awards, and one Academy Award. He has also collaborated with musicians from Shakira to Mercedes Sosa to Neneh Cherry and Jovanotti.
Gabriela González is a physicist working on the discovery of gravitational waves with the LIGO team. She was born in Córdoba, Argentina, studied physics at the University of Córdoba, and pursued her PhD at Syracuse University, which obtained in 1995. She worked as a staff scientist in the LIGO group at MIT until 1997, when she joined the faculty at Penn State. In 2001 she joined the faculty at LSU, where she is a professor of physics and astronomy. She has received awards from the American Physical Society, the American Astronomical Society and the National Academy of Sciences, and she is a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.
González has been a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration since it was funded in 1997, served as the elected LSC spokesperson in 2011-2017, and is known for participating in the announcement of the discovery of gravitational waves in 2016. Her work has focused on LIGO instrument development (especially reducing noise sources and tuning alignment systems) and LIGO data calibration and diagnostics, critical to increasing the astrophysical reach of data analysis methods.
Jorge Ramos immigrated to the United States from Mexico City, on a student visa at the age of 24. What started as a street beat for a local Spanish-language broadcast in Los Angeles in the 1980s has evolved into a career of remarkable distinction and credibility. Today, Ramos co-anchors Univision's flagship Spanish-language broadcast, “Noticiero Univisión," writes a nationally syndicated column, hosts the Sunday Morning show "Al Punto" and now, the English language program, "America with Jorge Ramos." He is the winner of eight Emmys and the author of eleven books, including Take a Stand: Lessons from Rebels, 2016; A Country for All: An Immigrant Manifesto; and Dying to Cross: The Worst Immigrant Tragedy in American History.
In the absence of political representation in the United States, Jorge Ramos gives a face and voice to the millions of Latinos and immigrants living in the United States. He uses his platform to promote open borders and immigrants' rights and demands accountability from the world leaders he interviews. Nearly 1.9 million viewers tune into his program each night, and in 2015, Time named him one of "The World's 100 Most Influential People."
Tomás Saraceno’s oeuvre could be seen as an ongoing research informed by the worlds of art, architecture, natural sciences, astrophysics and engineering. His floating sculptures, community projects and interactive installations propose and explore new, sustainable ways of inhabiting and sensing the environment.
Aerocene, an open-source community project for artistic and scientific exploration initiated from Saraceno's vision, becomes buoyant only by the heat of the sun and infrared radiation from the surface of earth. In 2015, Saraceno achieved the world record for the first and longest certified fully-solar manned flight. During the past decade, he has initiated collaborations with renowned scientific institutions including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Max Planck Institute, the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore, and institutions of the Exhibition Road Cultural Group, among them Imperial College and the Natural History Museum London.
Saraceno lectures in institutions worldwide and directed the Institute of Architecture-related Art (IAK) at Braunschweig University of Technology, Germany (2014–2016). He was the first person to scan, reconstruct and re-imagine spiders' weaved spatial habitats, and he possesses the only three-dimensional spider web collection to existence. He has held residencies at Centre National d’Études Spatiales (2014–2015), MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (2012–ongoing) and Atelier Calder (2010), among others. In 2009, Saraceno attended the International Space Studies Program at NASA Ames. The same year he presented a major installation at the 53rd Venice Biennale, and was later awarded the prestigious Calder Prize. Saraceno's work is included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; SFMOMA, San Francisco; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin; among others.
Born December 25, 1961, in Colombia, Ingrid Betancourt is a French-Colombian activist in the cause of freedom. She was a politician and presidential candidate in Colombia, celebrated for her determination to combat widespread corruption. In February 2002 she was taken hostage by the FARC, a communist guerrilla organization. For six and a half years, the FARC held her hostage in the Amazonian jungle. She was rescued on July 2, 2008.
Since her release, Betancourt has become a memoirist and fiction writer. Her first book, Even Silence Has Its End, which lyrically recounts her six years in the impenetrable jungle, was published in 2010. In 2016, she published a second work -- this time of fiction -- called The Blue Line, about the disappearances in Argentina during the Dirty War from 1976 to 1983.
Betancourt has received multiple international awards, including the French National Order of the Légion d’Honneur, the Spanish Prince of Asturias Prize of Concord, the Italian Prize Grinzane Cavour, and was nominated to the Nobel Peace Prize for her commitment to democratic values, freedom and tolerance.
Isabel Behncke (MSc University College London, MPhil, Cambridge University; PhD, Oxford University) is a New York- and Oxford-based behavioural and evolutionary scientist working on the nature of social animals … including humans. She’s from the mountains of Chile and loves wild things.
After walking 3000+ km in the jungles of Congo observing the social behaviour of bonobo apes -- our closest living relatives -- in field research, Dr. Behncke now applies an evolutionary lens to questions that lie at the core of social life and creativity: Why do we go to festivals? Why does trust require risk taking? Why do adults need to play in order to not just feel alive, but also maintain health, creativity and social bonds? Why do cities need to be not just ‘smart’ but also enjoyable? And crucially why is it that the more digital we get, the more understanding of evolution we need?
She enjoys consulting and engagement in different forms, has spoken at WIRED, the G20, House of Lords, United Nations, twice at the main TED event, and around the fire in Patagonia. She also has been part of numerous radio programmes, including NPR and BBC Radio 4. She has been featured in a number of television documentaries (BBC and National Geographic) and independent cinema (e.g., ‘Bounce: How the Ball taught the World to Play’).
Serena Williams sits at the top of the tennis world; she's won 23 career Grand Slams, which is the most Grand Slam singles titles in history, with her most recent win at the 2017 Australian Open. In some analysts' eyes, she's quite simply the greatest athlete of all time.
But Williams has extended her influence far beyond the tennis court. Through her activism, high-profile endorsements, TV and film appearances and writing (including a guide to life written with her sister, Venus), Williams inspires millions of fans worldwide.
An award-winning journalist who has worked across television, radio and print, Gayle King is a co-host of CBS This Morning and Editor-at-Large of O, the Oprah Magazine.
King previously hosted The Gayle King Show, a live, weekday television interview program on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. The program, which featured a discussion of a broad variety of topics that include politics, cultural developments, was also broadcast on XM Satellite Radio, where it premiered in 2006.
Before moving into print and radio, King worked for 18 years (1982–2000) as a television news anchor for CBS affiliate WFSB-TV in Hartford, Conn., during which period, she also hosted her own syndicated daytime program. Prior to joining WFSB, King worked at several other television stations, including WDAF-TV in Kansas City, Mo. (1978-1981), WJZ-TV in Baltimore, Md. (1976), and WTOP-TV in Washington, D.C. (1975).
King has received numerous awards for her extensive work as a journalist. In addition to three Emmys, she was honored in 2008 with the American Women in Radio & Television Gracie Award for Outstanding Radio Talk Show and in 2010 with both the Individual Achievement Award for Host-Entertainment/Information and the New York Women in Communications' Matrix Award.
Atul Gawande is author of several best-selling books, including Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End and The Checklist Manifesto.
He is also a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a staff writer for The New Yorker and a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. He has won the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science, a MacArthur Fellowship and two National Magazine Awards. In his work in public health, he is Executive Director of Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation and chair of Lifebox, a nonprofit organization making surgery safer globally.
Photo: Aubrey Calo
Always with the end consumer at heart, Anna Rosling Rônnlund spends her days making sure everything at Gapminder -- a site she cofounded with Hans and Ola Rosling -- is easy to use and easy to understand. On Gapminder, users can explore data and statistics about the world -- and, just maybe, upend their worldview.
Passionate about the visual side of data, she invented the project Dollar Street, where she uses photos as data to examine stereotypes about countries, incomes and families around the world -- like, for instancee the wide range of things that people use as toothbrushes.
Pope Francis was elected in March 2013, becoming the first Pope from the Americas and from the Southern hemisphere. He was born in 1936 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, in a family of Italian immigrants. A Jesuit, he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires and then a Cardinal leading the Argentinian church. Upon election as the 266th Pope, he chose Francis as his papal name in reference to Saint Francis of Assisi.
A very popular figure who has taken it upon himself to reform the Catholic Church, Pope Francis's worldview is solidly anchored in humility, simplicity, mercy, social justice, attention to the poor and the dispossessed -- those he says "our culture disposes of like waste" -- and in a critical attitude towards unbridled capitalism and consumerism. He is a strong advocate of global action against climate change, to which he has devoted his powerful 2015 encyclical, Laudato sì ("Praise be to you"). He invites us to practice "tenderness," putting ourselves "at the level of the other," to listen and care. He is committed to interfaith dialogue and is seen as a moral and spiritual authority across the world by many people who aren't Catholics.
As a movement artist and creator, Jon Boogz seeks to share with audiences of all backgrounds an appreciation of the melding of art forms while inspiring and bringing awareness to social issues. Boogz recently wrote, choreographed, directed and danced in Color of Reality, a short film in collaboration with visual artist Alexa Meade and fellow dancer Lil Buck, and AM i A MAN in conjunction with Brian Stevenson, the Equal Justice Initiative, and DAIS.
First motivated to dance by the work of Michael Jackson, Boogz has choreographed for icons including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Naomi Campbell, Gloria Estefan and for Pharrell’s Adidas Originals campaign, and he to creative directed, choreographed and performed a tribute to Standing Rock at ComplexCon. He has also worked as a creative consultant for ads launching campaigns for Apple and Lexus. Boogz’s collaborators include TriBeCa Film Festival, DAIS, Lil Buck, and Flying Lotus; his choreography is used in FOX's "So You Think You Can Dance" and Cirque du Soleils "MJ ONE;" and he was featured at the Geffen Playhouse's "Backstage at the Geffen" with his dance company Control Freakz, Lil Buc, and spoken-word artist Robin Sanders to honor Morgan Freeman and Jeff Skoll. He co-founded Movement Art Is with Lil Buck in 2016. Boogz's forthcoming works seek to merge movement with fine art, film, technology and the stage.
International phenomenon Lil Buck began jookin' -- a street dance that originated in Memphis -- at age 13 alongside mentors Marico Flake and Daniel Price. After receiving early hip-hop training from Teran Garry and ballet training on scholarship at the New Ballet Ensemble, he performed and choreographed until relocating to Los Angeles in 2009.
Named one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch," his collaboration with Spike Jonze and Yo-Yo Ma performing The Swan went viral in 2011. Since then, he has collaborated with a broad spectrum of artists including JR, Damian Woetzel, the New York City Ballet, Madonna, Benjamin Millepied and Spike Lee. Buck is an avid arts education advocate, a recipient of the WSJ Innovator Award and recently launched a capsule collection with Versace.
In 2016 he co-founded with Jon Boogz Movement Art Is, an organization which seeks to inspire and change the world while elevating artistic, educational and social impact of dance.
Robin Sanders is a captivating communicator and her energy and passion are infectious. Her credentials include more than 13 years of professional experience in teaching, performing and public speaking. She has traveled throughout the United States, Canada, Jamaica, and England as choreographer and performer for Nicole C. Mullen Tours (Nashville, TN) and CIY’s Believe Tour (Joplin, MO). Sanders's body of work includes speaking, teaching and choreographing at a host of dance schools and notable organizations such as Bates College in Lewiston, Bowdoin College, Colby College, University of Memphis, Vanderbilt University, Seattle's Velocity Dance Center, Collage Dance Collective, New Ballet Ensemble and School and many more. Her latest spoken word works include: An Ode to Hip Hop featured on So You Think You Can Dance, At the Geffen featured at Backstage At The Geffen and See What I'm Saying, both commissioned pieces written for Los Angeles' ControlFreakz.
Sanders currently serves as founder and director of Out Loud Artistry, a performing arts training and mentorship program with a mission to develop skilled performing artists that leverage their artistry to positively impact and transform their communities and world around them.
Jason Yang has become one of the most popular sensations on the acoustic and electric violin circuits in the US and abroad. With more than 197,000 subscribers and 35 million views on his YouTube channel, he reaches extremely diverse audiences through multiple genres of music.
Yang has performed all over the world with Madonna as her violinist. In 2012, he completed the MDNA Tour, which consisted of 88 sold-out shows throughout Europe, North America, South America and the Middle East. He also performed alongside Madonna and Stevie Wonder in the memorial tribute to Prince at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards.
Yang enjoys engaging in performances and projects in a wide spectrum, from playing a violin-soloing Joker in full prosthetic makeup for Warner Bros.' "Batman: Arkham City" to delivering an emotional rendition of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" on Glee. In 2013, he was contracted by HBO to score an arrangement from the "Game of Thrones" soundtrack to be performed by himself with a chamber orchestra at the official Season 2 release event in New York City. A few days later, he performed on The Colbert Report with fellow MDNA dancer, Lil Buck.
In the corporate world, Yang has performed for clients such as Panasonic, Mazda, Adidas, Ford, Paul Mitchell, Hilton, Skechers, Frito-Lay, Wendy’s, Telemundo, La Prairie and Amway Global.
The New Jersey native is currently based in Los Angeles, where he graduated from the University of Southern California with a major in international relations and a minor in music industry.
There may be hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of undiscovered ancient sites across the globe. Sarah Parcak wants to locate them. As a space archaeologist, she analyzes high-resolution imagery collected by satellites in order to identify subtle changes to the Earth’s surface that might signal man-made features hidden from view. A TED Senior Fellow and a National Geographic Explorer, Parcak wrote the textbook on satellite archaeology and founded the Laboratory for Global Observation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her goal: to make the world's invisible history visible once again.
In Egypt, Parcak's techniques have helped locate 17 potential pyramids, and more than 3,100 potential forgotten settlements. She's also made discoveries in the Viking world (as seen in the PBS Nova special, Vikings Unearthed) and across the Roman Empire (as shown in the BBC documentary, Rome’s Lost Empire). Her methods also offer a new way to understand how ancient sites are being affected by looting and urban development. By satellite-mapping Egypt and comparing sites over time, Parcak has noted a 1,000 percent increase in looting since 2009. It’s likely that millions of dollars worth of artifacts are stolen each year. Parcak hopes that, through her work, unknown sites can be protected to preserve our rich, vibrant history.
As the winner of the 2016 TED Prize, Parcak asked the world to help in this important work. By building a citizen science platform for archaeology, GlobalXplorer.org, Parcak invites anyone with an internet connection to help find the next potential looting pit or unknown tomb. GlobalXplorer launched on January 30, 2017, with volunteers working together to map Peru. Other countries will follow, as the platform democratizes discovery and makes satellite-mapping rapid and cost-effective.
Raj Panjabi was nine years old when civil war broke out in his native country of Liberia. His family fled, eventually resettling in High Point, North Carolina. As a medical student in 2005, he returned to Liberia. He was shocked to find a health care system in total devastation. Only 50 doctors remained to treat a population of four million.
With a small team of Liberian civil war survivors, American health workers and $6,000 he'd received as a wedding gift, Panjabi co-founded Last Mile Health in 2007. Initially focused on care for HIV patients, Last Mile Health has grown into a robust organization that partners with the government of Liberia to recruit, train, equip and employ community health workers who provide a wide range of services to their neighbors in Liberia's most remote regions. In 2016, Last Mile Health workers treated 50,000 patients, including nearly 22,000 cases of malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea in children. While the organization focuses on integrated primary care, its network can be leveraged in a crisis. In the fight against Ebola, Last Mile Health supported government response by training 1,300 health workers in southeastern Liberia.
Panjabi is a physician in the Division of Global Health Equity at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital and an advisor to the Clinton Global Initiative. He was ranked as one of "The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders" by Fortune in 2015 and named to TIME's list of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" in 2016. As the winner of the 2017 TED Prize, Raj is creating the Community Health Academy, a global platform to train, connect and empower community health workers. The academy will be prototyped in Liberia and a handful of key countries, and will go global from there.
What is truth and why does it matter? Does information technology help or hinder its pursuit? And how do we encourage more productive public discourse? These are some of the questions that animate Michael Lynch's work as a philosopher.
Lynch is a writer and professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut, where he directs the Humanities Institute. His work concerns truth, democracy, public discourse and the ethics of technology. Lynch is the author or editor of seven books, including The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data, In Praise of Reason: Why Rationality Matters for Democracy, Truth as One and Many and the New York Times Sunday Book Review Editor’s pick, True to Life.
The recipient of the Medal for Research Excellence from the University of Connecticut’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, he is The Principal Investigator for Humility & Conviction in Public Life, a $7 million project aimed at understanding and encouraging meaningful public discourse funded by the John Templeton Foundation and the University of Connecticut. He's a frequent contributor to the New York Times "The Stone" blog.
Dan Ariely is a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University and a founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight. He is the author of the bestsellers Predictably Irrational, The Upside of Irrationality, and The Honest Truth About Dishonesty -- as well as the TED Book Payoff: The Hidden Logic that Shapes Our Motivations.
Through his research and his (often amusing and unorthodox) experiments, he questions the forces that influence human behavior and the irrational ways in which we often all behave.
Mariano Sigman, a physicist by training, is a leading figure in the cognitive neuroscience of learning and decision making. He is the founder of the Integrative Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Buenos Aires. Sigman was awarded a Human Frontiers Career Development Award, the National Prize of Physics, the Young Investigator Prize of "College de France," the IBM Scalable Data Analytics Award and is a scholar of the James S. McDonnell Foundation. In 2016 he was made a Laureate of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
In The Secret Life of the Mind, Sigman’s ambition is to explain the mind so that we can understand ourselves and others more deeply. He shows how we form ideas during our first days of life, how we give shape to our fundamental decisions, how we dream and imagine, why we feel certain emotions, how the brain transforms and how who we are changes with it. Spanning biology, physics, mathematics, psychology, anthropology, linguistics, philosophy and medicine, as well as gastronomy, magic, music, chess, literature and art, The Secret Life of the Mind revolutionizes how neuroscience serves us in our lives, revealing how the infinity of neurons inside our brains manufacture how we perceive, reason, feel, dream and communicate.
Anika Paulson's escape is always music. A self-proclaimed nervous Minnesotan, music is the measure of her life's tempo. There's no doubt that whatever Paulson decides to do, she will use the power and metaphor of music to guide her future. After all, according to Paulson, whether it's friendships or string theory, everything is music.
Paulson studies biology at the University of Minnesota Morris. In December 2016, she was one of 18 students from around the world selected to speak at the first-ever TED-Ed Weekend at TED's headquarters in New York City. She then had the honor of presenting her talk at TED 2017 in Vancouver.
Lisa Genova wields her ability to tell a story and her knowledge of the human brain to talk about medical conditions like Alzheimer’s in warmly human terms. Her writing, often focusing on those who are misunderstood, explores the lives of people living with neurological diseases and disorders. A bestselling author, her work has been transformed into an Oscar-winning film, Still Alice, but the real triumph is Genova’s ability to help us empathize with a person’s journey we otherwise couldn’t even begin to understand.
Her newest book, Inside the O’Briens, is about Huntington’s disease.
In his book, The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life When Robots Rule the Earth, Robin Hanson re-imagines humanity's role as our tech becomes smarter. A pioneer in prediction markets, also known as information markets and idea futures, Hanson has been known since the 1980s for taking the very very long view on topics as varied as (a selected list) spatial product competition, health incentive contracts, group insurance, product bans, evolutionary psychology and bioethics of health care, voter information incentives, incentives to fake expertise, Bayesian classification, agreeing to disagree, self-deception in disagreement, probability elicitation, wiretaps, image reconstruction, the history of science prizes, reversible computation, the origin of life, the survival of humanity, very long term economic growth, growth given machine intelligence and interstellar colonization.
Meanwhile, he has developed new technologies for conditional, combinatorial and intermediated trading, and he studied insider trading, manipulation and other foul play. Hanson is associate professor of economics at George Mason University and a research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University. His next book is The Elephant in the Brain, co-authored with Kevin Simler, due in 2018.
In his groundbreaking research, Anil Seth seeks to understand consciousness in health and in disease. As founding co-director of the University of Sussex’s Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, his research bridges neuroscience, mathematics, artificial intelligence, computer science, psychology, philosophy and psychiatry. He has also worked extensively with playwrights, dancers and other artists to shape a truly humanistic view of consciousness and self.
Seth is the editor and co-author of the best-selling 30-Second Brain, a collection of brief and engaging neuroscience vignettes. His forthcoming book The Presence Chamber develops his unique theories of conscious selfhood within the rich historical context of the mind and brain sciences.
Follow Seth on Twitter at @anilkseth, and visit his website at anilseth.com and neurobanter.com. The Sackler Centre, at the University of Sussex, is at sussex.ac.uk/sackler. Seth's work is supported by the Dr. Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation.
Hidden under many meters of ice, a pool of meltwater lies under the Greenland Ice Sheet. Kristin Poinar studies how the meltwater forms and flows in this dynamic glacial system. She asks: How did this water get there, and where does it go? How much water is in there? And how is climate change affecting this system?
Using data from Operation IceBridge flights and from field instruments, she's building a numerical model of how crevasses form and channel water. In fact, a NASA report released in February 2017 revealed a new pathway her team discovered for meltwater to reach the ocean. Using physically based models to constrain the bounds of what is realistic has shaped Poinar's interest in glaciology.
Poinar is currently a postdoctoral researcher at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. She will be moving to the University at Buffalo in winter 2017 to be a professor in the Geology Department and the RENEW Institute.
Kate Marvel is a scientist at Columbia University and the NASA Goddard Institute of Space studies. She uses computer models and satellite observations to monitor and explain the changes happening around us. Her work has suggested that human activities are already affecting global rainfall and cloud patterns. Marvel is committed to sharing the joy and beauty of science with wider audiences.
She has advised journalists, artists and policymakers, written a popular science blog and given frequent public talks. Her writing has appeared in Nautilus Magazine.
Danny Hillis is an inventor, scientist, author and engineer. While completing his doctorate at MIT, he pioneered the concept of parallel computers that is now the basis for most supercomputers, as well as the RAID array. He holds over 100 US patents, covering parallel computers, disk arrays, forgery prevention methods and various electronic and mechanical devices, and he has recently been working on problems in medicine as well. He is also the designer of a 10,000-year mechanical clock, and he gave a TED Talk in 1994 that is practically prophetic. Throughout his career, Hillis has worked at places like Disney and now Applied Minds, always looking for the next fascinating problem.
While our first priority should be to reduce global carbon emissions, research into geoengineering could prove vital in the fight to protect our planet. At the Oxford Geoengineering Programme, Tim Kruger aims to assess the range of proposed geoengineering techniques to determine which, if any, could be both technically feasible and benign environmentally, socially and ethically.
Kruger, an Oxford Martin Fellow, is a co-author of the Oxford Principles, a draft code of conduct for geoengineering. It calls for geoengineering to be regulated as a public good, for public participation in decision-making and for disclosure of research and open publication of results. He is involved in developing a process that uses natural gas to generate electricity in a way that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Daan Roosegaarde builds jaw-dropping artworks that redefine humanity's relationship to city spaces. Along with his team at Studio Roosegaarde, Roosegaarde is devoted to "landscapes of the future," city prototypes and urban adornments that fuse aesthetics with sustainability.
From Smog Free Project in Beijing -- a tower that purifies its surrounding atmosphere and harvests pollutants to preserve as jewelry -- to an interactive dance floor that generates electricity from dancers, Roosegaarde's designs revolutionize the role of technology in the built environment.
Peter Calthorpe’s 30-year design practice is informed by the idea that successful places -- whether neighborhoods, towns, urban districts or metropolitan regions -- must be diverse in uses and users, must be scaled to the pedestrian and human interaction, and must be environmentally sustainable.
In the early 1990s, Calthorpe developed the concept of Transit Oriented Development (described in his book The Next American Metropolis: Ecology, Community and the American Dream) -- an idea that is now the foundation of many regional policies and city plans around the world. His 2010 book is Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change. Calthorpe Associates' work in Europe, Asia and the Middle East has demonstrated that community design with a focus on sustainability and scale can be adapted throughout the globe. His current work throughout China is focused on developing standards and examples of Low Carbon Cities in Beijing, Chongqing, Kunming, Zhuhai, Jinan and other major cities.
David Titley is a Professor of Practice in Meteorology and a Professor of International Affairs at the Pennsylvania State University. He is the founding director of Penn State’s Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk. He served as a naval officer for 32 years and rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. Titley’s career included duties as commander of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command; oceanographer and navigator of the Navy; and deputy assistant chief of naval operations for information dominance. He also served as senior military assistant for the director, Office of Net Assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
While serving in the Pentagon, Titley initiated and led the U.S. Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change. After retiring from the Navy, Titley served as the Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for Operations, the chief operating officer position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Titley serves on numerous advisory boards and National Academies of Science committees, including the CNA Military Advisory Board, the Center for Climate and Security and the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Titley is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
Ted Halstead is the founder and CEO of the Climate Leadership Council, whose mission is to convene global opinion leaders around the most cost-effective, popular and equitable climate solutions. With offices in Washington and London, the Council will expand to Berlin, Beijing and New Delhi next.
Previously, Halstead founded and led two other successful think tanks. His first, which he launched at 25, introduced new measures of progress and coordinated the Economists’ Statement on Climate Change, signed by 18 Nobel laureate economists. His second, New America, has become one of the most influential think tanks in Washington.
Halstead has published numerous articles in the New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, Fortune, The Atlantic, National Review, Bloomberg, Los Angeles Times and Harvard Business Review. He also published two books, including The Radical Center: The Future of American Politics (co-authored with Michael Lind).
From 2008 to 2012, he and his wife sailed around the world on a catamaran, with only their dog as crew. Halstead graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College, and received his Master's degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where he was a Montgomery Fellow. He was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
Jacob Collier is nothing short of prodigious. A two-time Grammy-winning singer, arranger, composer, and multi-instrumentalist, he combines everything from jazz and a cappella to classical and Brazilian music. In 2014, he was discovered by the legendary producer Quincy Jone. Shortly after, Collier began working on his audio-visual live performance vehicle designed and built at MIT.
Since his first video in 2011, Collier has amassed more than 250K international followers and 10 million YouTube views, including on his astounding cover of Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing." In July 2016, Collier released his chart-topping debut album, In My Room. Most recently, he's been touring the world with his unique one-man show, helping to score the newest Dreamworks film, The Boss Baby, with Hans Zimmer, collaborating on Herbie Hancock's upcoming record and holding masterclasses at universities across the globe.
As the son of refugees, David Miliband has first-hand experience with those fleeing conflict and disaster. In 2013, he abandoned a long political career to take the helm of the International Rescue Committee, an NGO committed to emergency and long-term assistance to refugees (and founded at the call of Albert Einstein in 1933).
As a former UK Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Miliband is no stranger to cross-border politics. He is a leading voice against recent anti-refugee and immigration measures in the US, where the IRC currently runs resettlement programs in 29 cities.
Luma Mufleh is the CEO and Founding Director of Fugees Family, Inc., a nonprofit organization that uses the power of soccer, education and community to empower refugee children to successfully integrate into the United States. Now, she's part principal, part tutor, the head of the first accredited private school dedicated to refugee education in the country, which encompases a summer camp and a college prep program -- and she’s building a community and support network that could be the national model the United States needs.
The Fugees' story began in 2004, when Luma took a wrong turn while driving through the town of Clarkston, Georgia and noticed a group of boys playing soccer in the street. She learned that these children were refugees from war-town countries including Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Burma, Somalia and Sudan. That summer, Luma made fliers announcing tryouts for the Fugees soccer team. In the years that followed, the soccer team grew into something much larger -- a school, a tutoring program, a summer camp, a college prep program, and, most importantly, a community and support network.
A lifelong social entrepreneur, Luma has created several programs and initiatives that have gainfully employed, educated and empowered refugees and immigrants in her community and beyond, with the Fugees Academy serving as a national model for refugee education. While only 20 percent of refugee students graduate from high school in Georgia's DeKalb County, the Fugees Academy has a 90 percent graduation rate. These types of results helped earn Luma the 2016 Cournelle Award for Social Entrepreneurship from the Manhattan Institute.
A Jordanian immigrant and Muslim of Syrian descent, Luma received her U.S. citizenship in 2011. Her story -- and the story of the Fugees -- illustrates both the American dream and the very real challenges of integration and discrimination that so many face today. Luma received her B.A. in Anthropology from Smith College and recently completed the Executive Program in Social Entrepreneurship at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Before she became an architect, a visit to a small village in Bangladesh immediately hooked Anna Heringer on an ancient and yet neglected building material -- earth. With its easy availability, durability and endless recyclability, she realized, there was a reason its use has persisted for thousands of years.
Since then, Heringer’s love affair with sustainable materials has deepened, resulting in acclaimed projects like woven bamboo hostels in China and the METI Handmade School in Rudrapur, where, along with local workers and schoolchildren, she created a building that drew on locally abundant materials and fostered modern, sustainable building skills in local craftsmen. In the 2014 book, The Future of Architecture, she and her coauthors argue for a future that is low-impact and adaptable.
Grace H. Kim is an architect and co-founding principal of Schemata Workshop, an award-winning, 16-person architectural practice with a keen focus on building community and social equity. She brings innovative ideas to her projects that merge client goals and sustainability measures -- such as urban agriculture, modular construction, and a focus on building community.
Kim is also the founder of Capitol Hill Urban Cohousing, a collaborative residential community that includes her street-level office and a rooftop urban farm. She walks the talk of sustainability -- leaving a small ecological footprint while incorporating holistic ideals of social and economic resilience into her daily life.
Developed by gaming upstarts Colossal Order and guided by Korppoo as lead designer, Cities: Skylines has become the gold standard for city simulation games -- an honor previously held by the genre-defining Sim City.
At the core of Colossal Order’s rejuvenated game designs is their dedication to creating an accessible experience for all users, whether through ease of use or by allowing users to suggest their own modifications. As a result, Colossal Order doesn’t shy away from game projects that touch on the problems of urbanization, gentrification or the possibilities of servicing a city with nothing but gravel roads.
In 2008, as a hedge-fund quant, mathematician Cathy O’Neil saw firsthand how really really bad math could lead to financial disaster. Disillusioned, O’Neil became a data scientist and eventually joined Occupy Wall Street’s Alternative Banking Group.
With her popular blog mathbabe.org, O’Neil emerged as an investigative journalist. Her acclaimed book Weapons of Math Destruction details how opaque, black-box algorithms rely on biased historical data to do everything from sentence defendants to hire workers. In 2017, O’Neil founded consulting firm ORCAA to audit algorithms for racial, gender and economic inequality.
Detroit is a legendary food town, and it's thanks to small, locally owned businesses that range from streetside barbecue tents to neighborhood bakeries, shops and delis -- even small farms. At FoodLab Detroit, Devita Davison helps locals with ideas for a food business to take their dreams into delicious reality, by connecting them with business advice, help with compliance and licensing, space in professional kitchens, marketing ideas and more. The nonprofit focuses on entrepreneurs and communities who have been traditionally under-resourced, aiming to build power and resilience for people around the city.
FoodLab's vision is to cultivate, connect and catalyze, to use food as an economic engine, to form a supportive community of entrepreneurs and to make good food a reality for all Detroiters.
We all have some measure of stress, and Robert Sapolsky explores its causes as well as its effects on our bodies (his lab was among the first to document the damage that stress can do to our hippocampus). In his research, he follows a population of wild baboons in Kenya, who experience stress very similarly to the way humans do. By measuring hormone levels and stress-related diseases in each primate, he determines their relative stress, looking for patterns in personality and social behavior that might contribute. These exercises have given Sapolsky amazing insight into all primate social behavior, including our own.
He has been called "one of the best scientist-writers of our time" by Oliver Sacks. Sapolsky has produced, in addition to numerous scientific papers, books for broader audiences, including A Primate’s Memoir: A Neuroscientist’s Unconventional Life Among the Baboons, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: Stress Disease and Coping, and The Trouble with Testosterone.
His latest book, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst, examines human behavior in search of an answer to the question: Why do we do the things we do?
In 1999, Jun Wang founded the Bioinformatics Department of Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI, now known as BGI Shenzhen), one of China’s premier research facilities. Until July 2015, Wang led the institution of 5,000+ people engaged in studies of genomics and its informatics, including genome assembly, annotation, expression, comparative genomics, molecular evolution, transcriptional regulation, genome variation analysis, database construction as well as methodology development such as the sequence assembler and alignment tools. He also focuses on interpretation of the definition of "gene" by expression and conservation study. In 2003, Wang was also involved in the SARS genome analysis and the silkworm genome assembly and analysis in cooperation with Chinese Southeast Agricultural University. The Pig Genome Project was completed at BGI under his leadership, as well as the chicken genome variation map and the TreeFam in collaboration with the Sanger Institute. In 2007, he and his group finished the first Asian diploid genome, the 1000 genome project, and many more projects. He initiated the "million genomes project" which seeks to better understand health based on human, plant, animal and micro-ecosystem genomes.
In late 2015, Wang founded a new institute/company, iCarbonX, aiming to develop an artificial intelligence engine to interpret and mine multiple health-related data and help people better manage their health and defeat disease.
Dr. Anne Madden studies the ways that our dimly understood microbial neighbors can yield surprising discoveries, including solutions to many of our human problems. Alongside her colleagues at North Carolina State University and the University of Colorado, she discovers what life exists around us, and how it can be employed to make our lives better, from new medications to new food and beverage flavors. She's helped create novel brewing technology (see more in her 2016 TEDx Charlotte talk), discovered a new fungus species living inside wasp nests and cataloged the astonishing diversity of some of the microscopic and macroscopic life in our homes by investigating the DNA in our dust.
In addition to her research work at North Carolina State University, Madden is chief strategist and partner at the brewing yeast company Lachancea LLC and consults for a variety of industries from biotechnology and lifestyle companies to textile and food companies. Her work has been featured on numerous media platforms, including National Geographic, Newsweek, Scientific American and PBS NewsHour.
Radiation is very much a two-edged sword -- used in the right way it has revolutionized modern medicine -- such as through CT scans and as a cure for many cancers. But radiation used in the wrong way can be harmful. To maximize the benefits of the many different types of radiation, we need to understand exactly how they affect us -- from our DNA to the whole person.
Brenner directs the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Medical Center. He started his career in theoretical physics --applying quantum mechanics to radiation therapy. While he has no doubt forgotten everything he knew about quantum mechanics, he has retained his love for applying hard-core physics concepts to solve biological problems. David has designed new “patient friendly” approaches for prostate cancer radiation therapy that are now in common use worldwide, and he is currently very excited about the prospects of beating pancreatic cancer with new types of radiation.
Over the past 6 years, Brenner has also been working towards a safe way to kill drug-resistant bacteria such as MRSA, as well as airborne viruses such as influenza, using a unique type of ultra-violet light.
Levon Biss is a British photographer who works across many genres, including reportage, sport and portraiture. His passion for nature and photography have come together to create Microsculpture. For the project, a unique photographic process composites thousands of images using multiple lighting setups to create the final insect portraits. Each specimen was mounted on an adapted microscope stage, allowing close control over the position of the specimen in front of the camera lens. Most insects were photographed in about 30 sections, each section lit differently with strobe lights to accentuate the microsculpture of that particular area of the body. Each insect portrait is created from more than 8,000 separate images. In between his insect projects, Biss continues to photograph humans.
Mehdi Ordikhani-Seyedlar is a research scientist interested in brain-wave patterns generated by neural activities in the brain. Since embarking on his research on neuroscience, Ordikhani-Seyedlar has been working on different brain functions such as learning, memory, pain and, more recently, visual attention in humans. He also conducted a part of his research on monkeys when he was in Dr. Miguel Nicolelis' lab at Duke University. His findings help implement more accurate brain-machine interfaces to treat people who are suffering from attention deficiency.
After receiving his Ph.D in Biomedical Engineering, Ordikhani-Seyedlar was offered a postdoctoral position by Duke University to develop algorithms to process large-scale neuronal activity and brain-machine interfaces. However, due to political complications in the United States, Ordikhani-Seyedlar -- an Iranian citizen -- changed his plan to continue his brain research outside the US for some time.
As a passionate neuroscientist and neuroengineer, Ordikhani-Seyedlar's aim is to improve brain pattern detectability in computers. This enhances the ability of brain-machine interfaces substantially to better target the defected brain function which in turn enhances the sustainability of treatment effect.
Richard Browning is an ultra-marathon runner, an ex-Royal Marine reservist, former City commodity trader and a pioneering inventor. He's the founder of Gravity, launched in March 2017 with a dream to reimagine an entirely new form of human flight, leaning on an elegant collaboration of mind and body augmented by leading-edge technology.
Gravity has to date been experienced by over a billion people globally with video views alone running at more than 60m within seven days of launch. Browning's vision is to build Gravity into a world-class aeronautical engineering business, challenge perceived boundaries in human aviation, and inspire a generation to dare ask ‘what if…’
Dr. Blackburn is the president of the Salk Institute and a pioneering molecular biologist. She received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for discovering the molecular nature of telomeres, the ends of chromosomes that serve as protective caps essential for preserving genetic information, and for co-discovering telomerase, an enzyme that maintains telomere ends. Both telomeres and telomerase are thought to play central roles in aging and diseases such as cancer, and her work helped launch entire new fields of research in these areas.
In addition to the Nobel Prize, Blackburn has received nearly every major scientific award including the Lasker, Gruber, and Gairdner prizes. She has served as president of the American Association of Cancer Research and the American Society for Cell Biology, and on editorial boards of scientific journals including Cell and Science. She coauthored the best-selling book The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer.
In March 1946, scientists began tracking almost every British baby born in a single week. What they discovered would change how we are born, grow up, raise children, live and die. Helen Pearson's 2016 book, The Life Project, is the story of this incredible project and the remarkable discoveries that have come from it. It was named best science book of the year by The Observer and was a book of the year for The Economist.
As Chief Magazine Editor for the world’s leading science journal, Nature, Pearson oversees all its journalism and opinion content. Her own stories have won accolades including the 2010 Wistar Institute Science Journalism Award and two best feature awards from the Association of British Science Writers.
In her award-winning book The Sexual Paradox, psychologist Susan Pinker argued that biological differences could play an unexpectedly large role in creating classroom, lifespan and workplace gender gaps. With The Village Effect, she tracks another current: how social, face-to-face interactions are critical not only for our happiness but also for our survival, and how technology can isolate us from these life-saving bonds. As she writes: "Neglecting to keep in close contact with people who are important to you is at least as dangerous to your health as a pack-a-day cigarette habit, hypertension or obesity."
In addition to her books, Pinker writes a column for the Wall Street Journal, "Mind and Matter," which illuminates surprising advances in human behavior research. Pinker’s numerous writings (including her weekly columns "Problem Solving" and "The Business Brain") have appeared in the Guardian, the New York Times and Financial Times, among many others.
Adam Alter's academic research focuses on judgment, decision-making and social psychology, with a particular interest in the sometimes surprising effects of subtle cues in the environment on human cognition and behavior.
He is the bestselling author of two books: Irresistible, which considers why so many people today are addicted to so many behaviors, from incessant smart phone and internet use to video game playing and online shopping, and Drunk Tank Pink, which investigates how hidden forces in the world around us shape our thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
Jeffrey Schnapp is the founder/faculty director of metaLAB (at) Harvard and faculty co-director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. Trained as a medievalist, his recent books and work concern the deeply modern, including The Library Beyond the Book, co-authored with Matthew Battles, on scenarios for libraries in the digital age, and FuturPiaggio: Six Italian Lessons on Mobility and Modern Life.
His pioneering work in media, design, digital arts and humanities as well as his curatorial practice includes collaborations with the Triennale di Milano, the Cantor Center for the Visual Arts, the Wolfsonian-FIU and the Canadian Center for Architecture. He is CEO and co-founder of Piaggio Fast Forward, developing imaginative solutions to the light mobility and transportation challenges.
Chuck Nice is an 18-year veteran of stand-up comedy with a rich history in television and radio. Currently, he co-hosts StarTalk with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson on Nat Geo, and is the host of Playing with Science, a podcast he created under the StarTalk Radio umbrella. In addition, Chuck is the writer and producer of Like A Damn Adult for Newsy. He has also hosted his own shows, Buy It Like a Mega Millionaire and Home Strange Home, on HGTV, and co-hosted ABC’s The View. His other familiar works include TRU TV’s World’s Dumbest, VH-1’s Best Week Ever, and Guys Tell All on NBC’s Today. Most weekends, he can be found on stage at one of New York’s comedy clubs.
Guy Winch is a licensed psychologist who works with individuals, couples and families. As an advocate for psychological health, he has spent the last two decades adapting the findings of scientific studies into tools his patients, readers and audience members can use to enhance and maintain their mental health. As an identical twin with a keen eye for any signs of favoritism, he believes we need to practice emotional hygiene with the same diligence with which we practice personal and dental hygiene.
His recent book, Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts, has been translated in 21 languages. He writes the popular "Squeaky Wheel Blog" on PsychologyToday.com, and he is the author of The Squeaky Wheel: Complaining the Right Way to Get Results, Improve Your Relationships and Enhance Self-Esteem. His new book, How to Fix a Broken Heart, will be published by TED Books/Simon & Schuster in 2017. He has also dabbled in stand-up comedy.
Emily Esfahani Smith is the author of The Power of Meaning: Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed With Happiness. In her book and TED Talk, she argues that we're chasing the wrong goal -- a life of meaning, not happiness, should be our aim.
Our culture is obsessed with happiness. Even though we devote vast amounts of time and resources trying to be happier, many of us feel aimless and alienated nonetheless. With depression and loneliness trending upward for decades and the suicide rate rising around the world -- recently reaching a 30-year high in the United States -- it's clear that something is wrong. In recent years, social scientists have been trying to understand what exactly the problem is. What they've found is striking. What predicts the rising tide of despair sweeping across society is not a lack of happiness. It's a lack of something else -- a lack of having meaning in life. In fact, chasing and valuing happiness, the way our culture encourages us to do, can actually make people unhappy.
For Smith, realizing that a meaningful life and a happy life are different was eye-opening. It set her on a journey to understand what constitutes a meaningful life. After extensive research and reporting, she came to see that there are four pillars of a meaningful life -- and she lays them out in this inspiring talk. Ultimately, she discovered that the search for meaning is far more fulfilling than the pursuit of personal happiness -- and we all have the power to build more meaning in our lives.
Smith draws on psychology, philosophy and literature -- as well as her own reporting -- to write about the human experience. Her articles "There's More to Life than Being Happy" and "Masters of Love," originally published in The Atlantic, have received more than 30 million hits online. Her writing has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and The New Criterion. She is an instructor in positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania as well as an editor at the Stanford University's Hoover Institution, where she advises the Ben Franklin Circles project, a collaboration with the 92nd Street Y and Citizen University to build meaning in local communities.
Cynthia Erivo made her Broadway debut as Celie in The Color Purple -- a role that earned her Tony, Grammy and Emmy Awards. Erivo has performed for the annual Kennedy Center Honors and been featured on stage in Sister Act as well as A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Most recently, Erivo teamed up with John Legend at the 2017 Grammy Awards to perform the Beach Boys’ song, “God Only Knows.”
The actress stars with Viola Davis in the upcoming Steve McQueen film Widows, and as Harriet Tubman in the biopic Harriet.
Manoush Zomorodi is the host and managing editor of Note to Self, “the tech show about being human,” from WNYC Studios. Through experiments and conversations with listeners and experts, she examines the new questions tech has brought into our lives. Topics include information overload, digital clutter, sexting “scandals" and the eavesdropping capabilities of our gadgets.
In January 2017, Manoush and Note to Self launched "The Privacy Paradox," a 5-part plan to help people take back control over their digital identity. Tens of thousands of listeners have completed the 5-part plan so far, which Fast Company calls Manoush's "challenge to us to stick up for our internet rights." Her book exploring how boredom can ignite original thinking, Bored and Brilliant: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Spacing Out, comes out in September 2017.
In 2007, Helen Zaltzman sat down with collaborator Olly Mann in a suburban London living room and launched Answer Me This! (AMT), an infectiously funny podcast based on listener questions. AMT became a sensation and vaulted her to early celebrity in the comedy podcast pantheon -- it went on to garner a bouquet of awards, land a BBC5 radio show, and spawn a companion book.
Zaltzman podcast, The Allusionist, is a humorous look at linguistics, part of the podcast network Radiotopia.
One of the world's biggest movie stars, Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan is also an entrepreneur and inspired philanthropist. He heads the film production company Red Chillies Entertainments, whose Chennai Express was the highest-grossing film of 2013, and his recent film Raees also topped the box office in India. He's also the proud co-owner of two cricket franchises, the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Trinbago Knight Riders.
In the fall, he will host TED's brand-new TV series in Hindi for Star Plus, titled TED Talks India: Nayi Soch, which translates to "new thinking."
As a philanthropist and spokesperson, Khan stands up for causes ranging from the environment and water-supply issues to rural solar power. Khan's nonprofit Meer Foundation, named for his father, focuses on supporting victims of acid attacks through a 360-degree approach that helps with medical treatment, legal aid, rehabilitation and livelihood support.
A visual artist, musician, human rights lawyer and activist, Laolu Senbanjo puts his mark on everything from canvas, to shoes, to walls and buildings, to clothing and even the body with his Sacred Art of the Ori. Born and raised in Ilorin, Nigeria, his Yoruba heritage is ever-present in his work, which marries modern detail and ornate style to create a vision of Afrofuturism.
His preferred medium is charcoal, "because it’s something as natural as life and death," he writes, and he also works in acrylics, inks and even wood. Senbanjo created work for the astonishing "Sorry" video from Beyoncé's Lemonade, and he has worked with Angelique Kidjo, Kenneth Cole, Alicia Keys, Usher and many more.
Ashton Applewhite would like us to think differently about growing older. As she writes: "Aging is a natural, lifelong, powerful process that unites us all. So how come so many of us unthinkingly assume that depression, diapers, and dementia lie ahead? Because of ageism -- the last socially sanctioned prejudice."
She's the author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism and is the voice of the Yo, Is This Ageist? blog. She is also the author of Cutting Loose: Why Women Who End Their Marriages Do So Well -- and was a clue on Jeopardy! as the author of the mega bestseller series, Truly Tasteless Jokes. (Who is Blanche Knott?)
From his debut at the age of 13, at UCLA’s Royce Hall, Paul Cantelon commenced a successful career as a concert pianist, until some years later he was abruptly stopped by a life-altering bicycle accident whilst at the Paris Conservatory.
Out of this crisis, Cantelon reinvented his musical career, which would come to encompass such extremes from playing with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, to his eventual status as a Bafta-nominated film composer known for such scores as Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’ and Oliver Stone’s W.
David Whyte grew up amid the grounded practicalities of Yorkshire, England, of a very imaginative, storytelling Irish mother. Not choosing between these two sides is what perhaps gave him his first insight into the complexities of human identity. He is quoted as saying that all of his poetry and philosophy is based on what he calls "the conversational nature of reality." His time as a scientist and naturalist fuide in the Galapagos Islands led him to explore what he calls the frontier nature of human identity. Whyte draws from this diverse background and a deep philosophical curiosity to craft poetry and prose that is at once highly relatable, yet altogether new. His work spans the worlds of literature, philosophy and organizational leadership, making him a clear, wise voice in an increasingly complex world.
His books include The Sea in You: Twenty Poems of Requited and Unrequited Love; The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship; River Flow: New & Selected Poems; Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words and Pilgrim.
Tristan Harris co-founded the movement for Time Well Spent to spark an important conversation to about the kind of future we want from the technology industry. Instead of a "time spent" economy where apps and websites compete for how much time they take from us, it aims to create an ecosystem competing to help us live by our values and spend time well.
Harris was a design ethicist and product philosopher at Google until 2016, where he studied how technology influences a billion users'attention, well-being and behavior. He led design sprints with product teams, including a meeting between Google's lead product designers and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, international spokesperson for Mindfulness.
Previously, Harris was CEO and co-founder of Apture, which Google bought in 2011. Apture enabled millions of users to get instant, on-the-fly explanations without leaving their place, across a publisher network of a billion page views per month.
Harris holds several patents from his previous career at Apple, Wikia, Apture and Google. He graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Computer Science, focused on Human Computer Interaction, while dabbling in behavioral economics, social psychology, behavior change and habit formation in Professor BJ Fogg's Stanford Persuasive Technology lab.
Jim Yong Kim is the 12th president of the World Bank Group. Soon after he assumed his position in July 2012, the organization established two goals to guide its work: to end extreme poverty by 2030 and to boost shared prosperity, focusing on the bottom 40 percent of the population in developing countries. In September 2016, the World Bank Group Board unanimously reappointed Kim to a second five-year term as president.
During his first term, the World Bank Group supported the development priorities of countries at levels never seen outside a financial crisis and, with its partners, achieved two successive, record replenishments of the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest. The institution also launched several innovative financial instruments, including facilities to address infrastructure needs, prevent pandemics and help the millions of people forcibly displaced from their homes by climate shocks, conflict, and violence.
Kim's career has revolved around health, education and delivering services to the poor. In 1987, he co-founded Partners In Health, a nonprofit medical organization that works in poor communities on four continents. He has received a MacArthur "genius" grant, was recognized as one of America's "25 Best Leaders" by U.S. News & World Report and was named one of TIME magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World.
FSN believes that collaborative music creation is a deeply effective way to become aware of the beauty, trauma and hidden potential in our communities. Their process gives voice to the underrepresented, unlocks the creative potential of youth and supports movements for social justice.
Founded by Christopher Marianetti and Jeremy Thal in 2010, FSN began its work as part of the groundbreaking new music organization, Bang on a Can. Over the years, FSN has led audio production workshops for Cine Institute in Haiti, worked extensively with Carnegie Hall in New York, Indonesia and Mexico, and developed music composition workshops with incarcerated youth in theBronx and Brooklyn.
In the field of cultural diplomacy, FSN developed the Dosti Music Project with US Embassies in Pakistan and India to bring together politically divided artists to create and tour original work. Since 2012 FSN has partnered with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Bang on a Can to produce OneBeat, to convene young professional musicians from around the globe each fall to use music as a tool for the betterment of our communities, forming a growing web of interconnected musical change-makers from around the globe.
Anne Lamott hooks into our common experience and guides us to an understanding infused with openness. An activist, former alcoholic and Sunday School teacher, Lamott uses humor to weave through loss, parenthood, faith and the cancer diagnosis given to her best friend, in beloved books like Bird by Bird and Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. She says, "Hope begins in the dark ... if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up."
Her next book, Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy, was released in April 2017.
At SpaceX, Musk oversees the development of rockets and spacecraft for missions to Earth orbit and ultimately to other planets. In 2008, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft won the NASA contract to provide cargo transport to space. In 2012, SpaceX became the first commercial company to dock with the International Space Station and return cargo to Earth with the Dragon.
At Tesla, Musk has overseen product development and design from the beginning, including the all-electric Tesla Roadster, Model S and Model X, and the rollout of Supercharger stations to keep the cars juiced up. (Some of the charging stations use solar energy systems from SolarCity, of which Musk is the non-executive chair.) Transitioning to a sustainable energy economy, in which electric vehicles play a pivotal role, has been one of his central interests for almost two decades. He co-founded PayPal and served as the company's chair and CEO.
Noah Feldman is a professor and writer who tries to figure out how to make the government follow the rules; what the rules are that the government has to follow; and what to do if the rules are being broken. In his work, he asks questions like: How can a 225-year-old constitutional blueprint still work? Can you design a new and better constitution from scratch in places like Iraq and Tunisia? What rights do we have, really?
Feldman is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and a contributing writer for Bloomberg View. He served as senior constitutional advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, and advised members of the Iraqi Governing Council on the drafting of the Transitional Administrative Law or interim constitution. He is writing a biography on James Madison, principal author of the Constitution and fourth president of the US; it's forthcoming in 2017.
Feldman is the author of six other books: Cool War: The Future of Global Competition (Random House, 2013); Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Supreme Court Justices (Twelve Publishing, 2010); The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State (Princeton University Press, 2008); Divided By God: America's Church-State Problem and What We Should Do About It (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2005); What We Owe Iraq: War and the Ethics of Nation-building (Princeton University Press 2004) and After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2003. He most recently co-authored two textbooks: Constitutional Law, Eighteenth Edition (Foundation Press, 2013) and First Amendment Law, Fifth Edition (Foundation Press, 2013).
Julia Sweeney is a writer, director, actress, comedian and monologist. She is known for being a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1990 to 1995, where she created and popularized the androgynous character, Pat. She is also well known for her comedic and dramatic monologues. God Said Ha! is a monologue about serious illness, her brother's lymphoma and her own cancer, and her family's crazy reactions to this crisis as they soldiered their way through struggle, confusion and death. This play was performed all over the U.S. and on Broadway at the Lyceum Theater. It was made into a film produced by Quentin Tarantino, and the comedy album from the show was nominated for a Grammy.
Sweeney's second monologue, In the Family Way, played in theatrical runs in New York and Los Angeles. It was ultimately fashioned into a book, a memoir titled If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother. Sweeney's third monologue, Letting Go of God, chronicled her journey from Catholicism to atheism. It was made into a film that played on Showtime.