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 I’m going to go talk by talk and summarize the key points for you. A case study of 20 talks to show you how I think we can change the world :)
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, yes, yes, a thousand times yes! We’re going the wrong way! I love Elon Musk as most do, but I’m also kind of disappointed in him. He’s going after big exciting goals, but they aren’t solving our root problems. He wants a hyperloop and tunnels and rockets to help us get around faster, but if we all hate our jobs, if our health crisis is from sitting too much and being lonely, these things are just going to help us get to our jobs that we hate faster, and spread out where we live even more. I think we need to work on eliminating TGIF! I want our leaders to take a fundamental look at how we do things and why we do things and look for ways to cut out the unnecessary. Do we really all need to be working this hard, do we all need side hustles? I don’t think so.
2 - Heidi M. Sosik - The Discoveries Awaiting us in the Ocean’s Twilight Zone
There is so much we don’t yet know about this planet. There could be more fish in the twilight zone than the rest of the ocean and we don’t even know it. They’ve already found a new photsynthetic cell smaller than anyone thought possible, and now that they found it they realize it’s the most abundant one on the planet. They’ve also just discovered the daily movement of fish in and out of the twilight zone on a daily basis is the largest migration of animals on earth!
The problem is we’re killing this twilight zone with industrial fishing, we’re using these small fish to feed our fish farms. Because we’re more interested in seeing how many salmon and tuna sashimi we can consume at all you can eat sushi restaurants to impress our friends we’re jeopardizing our future on the planet. Talk about the wrong goals!
3 - Olga Yurkova - Inside the Fight Against Russia’s Fake News Empire
“When facts are false, decisions are wrong, says editor and TED Fellow Olga Yurkova. To stop the spread of fake news, she and a group of journalists launched StopFake.org, which exposes biased or inaccurate reporting in order to rebuild the trust we've lost in our journalists, leaders and institutions.”
“A lot of people stop believing anyone at all and this is even more dangerous. They easily become prey to populists in elections, or even take up arms. Fake news is not only bad for journalism. It's a threat for democracy and society.”
“We proved that it's not bad journalism; it's a deliberate act of misinformation.”
“Fake news is a powerful weapon in information warfare, but there is something we can do about it. We all have smartphones. When we see something interesting, it's often automatic. We just click and pass it along. But how can you not be a part of fake news? First, if it's too dramatic, too emotional, too clickbait, then it's very likely that it isn't true. The truth is boring sometimes.”
“Manipulations are always sexy. They are designed to captivate you. Do your research. This is the second point, very simple. Look at other sites. Check out alternative news sources. Google names, addresses, license plates, experts and offers. Don't just believe, check. It's the only way to stop this culture of fake news.”
Building on the theme of having the right goals, we need to have the right information. If we don’t we’re not just going to pick the wrong peanut butter at the grocery store, we’re going to elect the wrong parties, we’re going to fight people that aren’t even our enemies, we’re going to form ideas about cities, countries, religions, and cultures which are totally false, and some of us will take drastic actions against these groups based on misinformation.
We help spread this misinformation and we currently still have the power to help stop the spread. This power can be taken away from us when we let companies like facebook manipulate our news feeds. It’s their website which we use for free, so we need to give our business to sites that don’t manipulate us for the benefit of the advertisers. And right now we’re talking about websites, but many countries have the governments in on the misinformation, and control of information. We need to be aware of this. Again, our goals when going online need to be a little more future oriented than what are friends are eating for dinner tonight.
4 - Enric Sala - Let’s Turn the High Seas into the World’s Largest Nature Reserve
“What if we could save the fishing industry and protect the ocean at the same time? … "When we can align economic needs with conservation, miracles can happen," Sala says.”
This guy isn’t just trying to protect the cute fish at a cost to us. He’s trying to get us to see that we are ‘biting the hand that feeds us’, we are using bad data, or incomplete data to make decisions on how to fish the oceans, and by looking at all of the data there is a better way. A more profitable way, a sustainable way.
So building on the talks so far, having the right goal, having the right data, taking action on the level of the individual.
To be continued … I’ll cover all 20 by the end of July