I was listening to TED talks on my commute as I usually do, and there was a particularly good string of them. It was weird, they kept reinforcing, reaffirming what I’m trying to do with this website. It seemed like this playlist of 20 talks summed up all that is wrong in how we approach our global issues, and how to fix it. How our actions as individuals really matter and can have impacts bigger than we imagine by being role models, by being leaders.
These 20 talks are 3 hours and 48 minutes long, not everyone is going to sit down and commit to that so was going to go talk by talk and summarize the key points for you. A case study of 20 talks to fix the world! However this was getting way too long, so I cut most down to a very very short summary below with a link to each video.
Here is an even shorter executive summary:
So that’s what this site is trying to do, connect people with the solutions and help them refine their goals and improve their mental models of how their brain works and how the world works, so we can make the most of our tech, for goals that make sense, long term.
Here’s the bigger list.
1 - John Doerr - The Secret to Success is setting the right goals
“Our leaders and institutions are failing us, but it's not always because they're bad or unethical, says venture capitalist John Doerr -- often, it's simply because they're leading us toward the wrong objectives.”
Yes! If we all hate our jobs do we really need a hyperloop to get us there faster? Let’s eradicate TGIF?
From 1 - Bad goals lead to bad outcomes, not thinking broad enough or long term enough
2 - Heidi M. Sosik - The Discoveries Awaiting us in the Ocean’s Twilight Zone
We’re killing a huge part of the ocean we barely know about just to feed our taste for salmon and tuna with industrial fishing.
From 2 - Making short sighted decisions based on bad information is common and can have global consequences.
3 - Olga Yurkova - Inside the Fight Against Russia’s Fake News Empire
Fake news doesn’t sound as bad as propaganda, but I think it’s worse. The takeaways from this are that it is not just annoying, or just something we have to accept this day and age. “It is a threat for democracy and society … but there is something we can do about it.”
From 3 - We can do something about fake news, identify it, stop spreading it, correct it. The big takeaway is that individuals can have a big impact, … that’s You!
4 - Enric Sala - Let’s Turn the High Seas into the World’s Largest Nature Reserve
From 4 - When you look big picture you’ll see better ways of doing things. They could save the oceans and save the fishing industry by using data to fish smarter
5- Yasmin Green - How technology can fight extremism and harassment online
From 5 - The bad guys are winning because they are reaching out to people who are frustrated and want to make the world better, but then treat the terribly and force them to commit acts of terrorism. Why don’t big NGO’s reach out like this to recruit to actual organizations that help people do this? Why only extremists? Yasmin isn’t do this, she is working to help people get the real facts before joining extremists, which is great, I just wonder about creating alternative groups for these people to join too.
6 - Brett Hennig - What if we replaced politicians with randomly selected people?
From 6 - Our systems are flawed, so flawed that we’d be better off with the opposite. We need new systems that acknowledge and design for conflicts of interest not ignore them or ask people to promise they won’t succumb to them.
Actually it’s already happening. Look up Internet-Based Political Parties.
7 - Chera Kowalski - The critical role librarians play in the opioid crisis
From 7 - Things are spiraling out of control. It looks like our drive for money at any cost has ended up drugging the nation. Some pharma companies and doctors have let this get out of control. Now the people we hire to look after our shared book collection are spending more of their time trying to help people overdosing on a daily basis.
8 - Oskar Eustis - Why theater is essential to democracy
From 8 - A way to bring us back together is through theater. We knew this and forgot this. Let’s remember.
9 - Aaswath Raman - How we can turn the cold of outer space into a renewable resource
From 9 - We have technology you won’t even believe, let’s stop fighting and try to use it to bring the whole world up in terms of standard of living.
10 - Lauren Pharr - How vultures can help solve crimes
From 10 - We model things so poorly in order to simplify it, children would know better, and do, they will call you on this. This TED talk shows how stupid we are in terms of crime scene analysis, and it shows how these stupid models are spread far and wide, and need to be challenged. I think the biggest blunder is Homo economicus. Our whole economy is built on an ‘ideal person’ that doesn’t come close to reflecting humans.
11 - Tobacco Brown - What gardening taught me about life
From 11 - Gardening is a metaphor for our lives. We are all connected and when we garden we can see that. Gardening can help us see the big picture.
12 - Hugh Herr - How we’ll become cyborgs and extend human potential
From 12 - Tech is moving fast, we better have our goals and priorities straight.
13 - Anushka Naiknaware - A teen scientist’s invention to help wounds heal
From 13 - Adults are so focused on the wrong goals that kids routinely show them up and invent something amazing, but when they go through how they did it you wonder why adults weren’t already working on this. Not to say kids are dumb, but to say, just imagine all the breakthroughs we may have if people young and old were more like these kids that just find a problem and try to solve it, and if we all collaborated better
14 - Susan Emmett - This simple test can help kids hear better
From 14 - Here are some adults showing they can be as smart as the teen from number 13. They are on track to help half the people in the world with hearing problems. #We have the tech!
15 - Jeremy Forbes - How to start a conversation about suicide
From 15 - We are approaching mental health all wrong, we need to meet people where they are in situations they are comfortable. And … why are we all so stressed and suicidal?
16 - Amy Edmondson - How to turn a group of strangers into a team
From 16 - This lady has figured out how to bring diverse groups together to work effectively on big important projects
17 - Kate Raworth - A health economy should be designed to thrive, not grow
From 17 - This lady knows has a solution to bad goals, she made a very clear new measuring tool. Like the lady from 10 who figured out how to predict the age of dead bodies better this lady has figured it out for just about all of our transactions. We can rank companies or products very easily against the global issues we all care about.
18 - Sarah Murray - A playful solution to the housing crisis
From 18 - This lady seems to have cracked the code on housing!! Cutting cost, protecting the environment, saving resources … an example of how things can dramatically change for the better when thinking big picture. Getting more with less. And housing is one of the biggest drains on our global resources, this is huge!
19 - Robert Neuwirth - The age-old sharing economies of Africa -- and why we should scale them
From 19 - This guy has a new model for collaborating, a new model based on a very old model. I don’t think he has the answer, but he’s starting the question, how can capitalism be better.
20 - Yuval Noah Harari - Why fascism is so tempting -- and how your data could power it
This one seems to have the least enticing title but of all of them maybe the most important so I've written a bit longer about it and included excerpts.
From 20 - He’s clarifying fascism vs nationalism. Says nationalism is great, people have a sense of community and obligation to the community along with their other obligations. Fascism is a simplified mental model of obligations, it puts country above all else, and in turn can destroy the other things in your life, you think for the good of your country.
His example where he says John Lennon’s song imagines a world with no nationalism would be great, but he thinks it would be wild and tribal. I think John is looking at it like having a globalism rather than nationalism, like treat the world as one nation not divided, definitely not tribal.
He says most of us don’t get how fascism works because we on the outside see it as ugly, but it’s actually selling the biggest ‘promise of reward’ ever, … you get to be part of something great, greater than anything before … who wouldn’t want to get in on the ground floor of that?
Here are some excerpts from his talk.
“Another technological danger that threatens the future of democracy is the merger of information technology with biotechnology, which might result in the creation of algorithms that know me better than I know myself. And once you have such algorithms, an external system, like the government, cannot just predict my decisions, it can also manipulate my feelings, my emotions. A dictator may not be able to provide me with good health care, but he will be able to make me love him and to make me hate the opposition. Democracy will find it difficult to survive such a development because, in the end, democracy is not based on human rationality; it's based on human feelings. During elections and referendums, you're not being asked, "What do you think?" You're actually being asked, "How do you feel?" And if somebody can manipulate your emotions effectively, democracy will become an emotional puppet show. So what can we do to prevent the return of fascism and the rise of new dictatorships? The number one question that we face is: Who controls the data? If you are an engineer, then find ways to prevent too much data from being concentrated in too few hands. And find ways to make sure the distributed data processing is at least as efficient as centralized data processing. This will be the best safeguard for democracy. As for the rest of us who are not engineers, the number one question facing us is how not to allow ourselves to be manipulated by those who control the data.”
“The enemies of liberal democracy, they have a method. They hack our feelings. Not our emails, not our bank accounts -- they hack our feelings of fear and hate and vanity, and then use these feelings to polarize and destroy democracy from within. This is actually a method that Silicon Valley pioneered in order to sell us products. But now, the enemies of democracy are using this very method to sell us fear and hate and vanity. They cannot create these feelings out of nothing. So they get to know our own pre-existing weaknesses. And then use them against us. And it is therefore the responsibility of all of us to get to know our weaknesses and make sure that they do not become a weapon in the hands of the enemies of democracy. Getting to know our own weaknesses will also help us to avoid the trap of the fascist mirror. As we explained earlier, fascism exploits our vanity. It makes us see ourselves as far more beautiful than we really are. This is the seduction. But if you really know yourself, you will not fall for this kind of flattery. If somebody puts a mirror in front of your eyes that hides all your ugly bits and makes you see yourself as far more beautiful and far more important than you really are, just break that mirror.”
I think these 20 TED talks show we've got what it takes to make the world work for 100% of humanity if we change the way we approach the problems. Think bigger and longer term, and approach people where they are. What do you think, ... do you see the connections?