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Christiana Wyly

Christiana Wyly

Posted February 6, 2009 | 12:14 PM (EST)

The TED Conference: Day One: Highlights


I'm wrapping up day one at the TED conference. This is the 25th anniversary of an annual event bringing together the greatest minds in the fields of Technology, Entertainment, and Design. The stage is graced by those who are considered the greatest global innovators, here to share with the world ideas that are worth spreading.

TED records all their presenters and makes their presentations available on their website TED.COM and on youtube. I have been an avid watcher of the TEDtalks for a couple years now, and a number of my friends have had "life-changing" experiences here. So I decided to venture out into the world of TED to experience it for myself.

I'm a day and a half it, and while I'm not sure that I've had any "life-changing" moments yet, I've definitely been exposed to some "world-changing" ideas and have had some phenomenal encounters.

So I decided to do a series of highlights to share some reflections from the experience. The range and depth of the unveilings in the fields of art, music, and technology have been astonishing.

- HOMO-EVOLUTIS- Homonids that take direct and deliberate control over the evolution of their species and others. -- Juan Enriquez, Futurist, suggests that innovations we are making and will make will forge a leap in the evolution of our species.

- Unlock Raw Data Now! Tim Berners Lee says we need to open our data so that it can all be linked. This is the next evolution of the web. It promises to tap our collective intelligence, reduce redundancy, and expedite innovation, providing solutions in areas such as Cancer research. Who's Tim? Oh -- he invented the
Internet.
Really. Look him up.

- It takes a diversity of perspectives to reach solutions. I'm paraphrasing what I gleaned from Bill Gates who said a lot of things, both funny and profound- but that viewpoint was my take-away. His funding of research allows for mathematicians, biologists, social scientists, economists, etc. to all be involved in problem solving. He also said

- "Overpopulation crisis can be directly resolved through improving health." In other words, the radical health improvement in developing countries enables people to have fewer children. This was in response to the question from the audience "If you save millions of lives, are you going to contribute to the overpopulation problem?" It works in the reverse. And it frees people to lend their productivity to economic growth, rather than survival and procreation.

- "We must move from thinking of people as a burden to thinking of
people as engines of growth - Nandan Nilekani

- "There is no such thing as clean coal."- Al Gore. Gore suggests that Clean coal is not currently a reality. And we should not spend an ounce of energy on it considering that facts that even if "clean coal" does solve for carbon in the atmosphere, it does not solve for waste from the process. (He showed images of a river of coal sludge in his home state of Tennessee.) Nor does clean coal technology take into account the habitat destruction of blowing off mountaintops.

- "The way we make change is not by money or power for leverage, but leadership," says Seth Godin, author of Tribes, We Need You to Lead Us. His call to action: "Find something worth changing and then tap the power of tribes." (to catalyze the change.) "If you have a good idea do it, if you don't do it, it doesn't exist."

- Oceans The unveiling of this incredible film, which will be released by Disney on Earth Day 2009. This demonstrated for me -- the power of images to deeply move people. No words. Just immersion in the wonder and awe of a world beneath the surface of our perception. The producer, Jake Eberts, reminded us that we have the same ratio of salt in our blood as the ocean has salt in the sea.

I guess one thing all of these folks have in common is something Jacqueline Novogratz, (founder of Acumen Fund, a non-profit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty) calls Moralmagination -- the ability to imagine the world as a better place.

Lets see what day two will bring!