Why don’t scientists have more authority in government? | Robert Crease | TEDxCERN

There's a cartoon by Randall Munroe, the xkcd artist, that shows two people speaking and one says to the other, "That person over there believes silly things, like that fossils are fakes, and the world is only 6,000 years old." And the other person goes, "Not a problem, the Universe doesn't care what people believe." And the first person goes, "But that's our congressman." And the second person says, "OK, we have a problem." I love that joke because we do have a problem, we have congressmen who don't believe in things like fossils and evolution. But what's wrong with that? After all, they were elected. I'm going to say what's wrong with that, and what we can do about it, if anything. First of all, this is not what I thought 21st century politics was going to be like.

When I was a graduate student in the Humanities in the 1970s – the late 1970s – my professors thundered against what they called the coming technocratic state. "Politicians," they said, "would soon not care about human values but only about efficiency." "Politicians," they said, "would soon not listen to citizens but only to scientists and engineers. If only! Never before have there been so many issues that required so much scientific input to solve. Issues involving energy, the environment, infectious diseases, pollution, global warming, and so forth. But never before has the required scientific input been so sabotaged, misused, or ignored. Politicians sometimes even view scientists as the enemy. Is that over the top? Few years ago, a US Congressman, Paul Broun of Georgia, declared that evolution, embryology, and the Big Bang theory were lies straight from the pit of hell, and said that he knew the Universe was only a few thousand years old. And what is supposed to happen to him? He not only got reelected but he was put on the House Committee in charge of the United States' Science, [Space] and Technology Program.

How does science denial work? I'm fascinated by stories, both real and fictional, which illustrate the dynamics of the collision between science and social, economic, or religious values. And one of my favorites is in the movie Jaws. Has anyone seen it? Small seaside town that depends for its livelihood on tourism. The day before the first major holiday of the season, a woman's badly mangled body washes up onshore. A scientist from the Oceanographic Institute, played by the nerdy Richard Dreyfuss, says, "It's a shark!" The town's mayor, who is terrified at the prospect of closing the beaches, says, 'We have to be reasonable, we have to act in the town's best interest. It was probably a boating accident." And, by the way, isn't Richard Dreyfuss acting in his own self-interest? Isn't he really interested in getting into the pages of National Geographic? Now, we in the audience, we, watching the film, are in a special position. Unlike anyone in the film at the point, we have actually seen the shark.

So we know what's up, and we know whom to believe. But what about the people on film? What about the people in the town? To them, it seems like just a question of the judgment of one person, Richard Dreyfuss, versus the other, the town's mayor. Now, when science denial happens, it's really easy – whoops, I forgot to show you my picture of the shark – when science denial happens, it's really easy to try to find a villain to blame it on. The press, scientific illiteracy, maybe what sociologists call amoral calculators, or people who know what the right thing to do is but are swayed by political, economic, or religious factors. Or villains, people who know what the good is, but don't do it. But really, it's a question of authority. Why is the authority of science in government so low? Someone who thought about that an awful lot was Jack Marburger, the former US Presidential Science Adviser. And Marburger liked to tell the following story.

Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attack, – you might recall – someone sent letters containing deadly anthrax spores to a number of congressmen and to some news agencies; five people died and more were injured. And mail became piling up that might or might not contain anthrax. And Marburger was asked to come up with a method to neutralize the anthrax so that the letters could be read. He convened a team of scientists, they did some research, consulted the literature, and came up with the recommendation involving electron beam irradiation. He turned the method over to the government, and it looked like a triumph of the use of science for the public good. But a funny thing happened, when the method was first tried, it didn't work. It burned the mail to a crisp. And Marburger looked into it, and found that the government officials had second guessed the scientists.

They had reasoned that if the scientists had said that X was the right dose, wouldn't it be a lot safer to up the dose? To make it 5X or 10X. And when he had the dose scaled back, the method worked just fine. Marbuger called this a relatively benign instance of a potentially disastrous behavior. Namely, the tendency of government officials to ignore, or alter scientific advice. And he had more serious examples, such as the Bush administration's claim in 2002, that the Iraqi government was looking for a certain kind of aluminium tubes because they wanted to produce nuclear weapons, which scientists said was wrong. But after Marburger stepped down as science adviser, he began to investigate why is science such a weak force in government circles? He consulted the writings of Max Weber, a German sociologist and historian, who is well-known for his writings on the nature of authority, or the reasons why we obey commands that were issued by others. And Weber distinguished between three kinds of authority: traditional, legal-rational, and charismatic.

Traditional authority is the authority of age-old practices, it's the authority of the village elders. Legal-rational authority is grounded in the belief and the legitimacy of enacted rules; it is the authority of the law. Charismatic authority is grounded in the perception that certain individuals have exceptional powers or are able to do exceptional things that no one else could. And Weber said charismatic authority was irrational, but it is one of the few means that politicians have to take people on new paths. Think of Martin Luther King, or Mahatma Gandhi, or Winston Churchill. Which of these three is science? Not the first two; no society is traditionally scientific, and no country mandates that its laws be grounded in science. So Marbuger concluded that the authority of science in government circles was charismatic. That is, politicians consider scientists authoritative to the extent they perceive them as having special powers or being able to do special things; create new kinds of bombs that couldn't be done otherwise.

Scientists, and probably many of you, think that this is crazy. Isn't it because science is not grounded in charisma that we can rely on it? And isn't a scientific finding not someone's particular opinion but the product of a huge infrastructure, a collective set of institutions that involve a collective set of procedures like analysis, data, testing, and so forth? True, but Marbuger's point was that's the way it might look from the inside, but from the outside, it may look like one person's judgment against another. Richard Dreyfuss's opinion versus the town mayor's. I know what you're probably all thinking. You're thinking, 'Oh no, I'm about to say that the solution for the problem of the low authority science has in government is to make scientists more charismatic. Make them great performers, maybe bring in scientific star power, maybe we can get Beyoncé or Angelina Jolie to promote science. And doesn't this cheapen science?' I agree with you. Fortunately, there's a fourth kind of authority that Weber doesn't mention, and that is trust. Trust is a powerful force in politics, it's much more powerful than data.

And when we trust science, we aren't trusting one person's viewpoint, one person's opinion, we are trusting the entire scientific infrastructure. So the long range solution for the low authority that science has in government is to increase the trust that politicians have in the scientific infrastructure, and what happens in laboratories like this one. But that is not easy. And there are some very serious problems, one of which is that the infrastructure tends to withdraw into the background, it tends to become invisible. A few years ago, a US congressman said, "Why do we need Landsat satellites for when we have Google Earth?" (Laughter) It's easy to use the products of science, Google Earth, without even seeing the infrastructure the Landsat satellites that make it possible. And it's because the infrastructure tends to withdraw that leaves the vacuum for these other forces: social, political, and religious to come in.

There are other problems, too. Another is that scientific institutions can make mistakes. And people can seize on these mistakes, and exploit them in order to undermine trust in science. I call these people "social lagos," after Shakespeare's character in Othello, who advances his career by sowing distrust. And the third problem is simply time. Trust takes time to develop. And the speed of political decision making moves much quicker than the speed of trust development. OK so are there any little things we can do in the meantime? And there are a few, and they involve exposing how bad decision making tends to be if it doesn't trust the scientific infrastructure. And one method is humor. Here at CERN, you may recall The Daily Show episode a few years ago about the possibility that your accelerator, the LHC would produce a black hole that would destroy the Universe, anybody see that? The amazing thing about that episode was that even though it extensively took the threat seriously, a viewer came away, not only reassured but also with a pretty good idea just what was feeding the hype. Humor is a great way of exposing the magical thinking involved in shark denial.

A second method is to get nasty and aggressive. The next time a politician says they don't believe in evolution, let's demand that that politician take a pledge saying they will refuse, and will insist that their constituents refuse, any medical treatment whose development was based on evolutionary biology. The president of my university, whose specialty is infectious diseases likes to say that microbes and viruses are evolution in motion. In light of the Ebola plague, isn't any legislator who doesn't believe in evolution, and therefore, in the value of doing research into it, an urgent public health threat? Making these pledges, and you can concoct different kinds of pledges for different kinds of science denial, is a way of saying, "Science walks the walk, do you?" How strong are your other commitments? And a final thing we can do is tell parables. Parables are short stories, which are very accessible, with a built-in meaning. And parables tend to circulate and become part of the cultural common sense. Let's multiply the parables we have about how bad decision making is if it doesn't trust the scientific infrastructure.

The relatively benign parables, like the postal service story, or very serious ones, like the aluminium tubes equals the desire to produce nuclear weapons parable. Let's point to episodes like those in Jaws. Let's write and stage more plays like Ibsen's play "Enemy of the people," which is the granddad of the genre. And what these parables do is to point out how silly it is to try and to make the shark go away by magical thinking. If we do all of these things, all of the time, we might not change the mind of the politician in the xkcd cartoon, but I think we will begin to change the climate in which they get elected. And our challenge, in the long run, is to find ways to make more visible the scientific infrastructure, what happens in laboratories like this one, that make very explicit the source of its authority, and therefore, why it can be trusted. Thank you. (Applause).

Life is easy. Why do we make it so hard? | Jon Jandai | TEDxDoiSuthep

There is one phrase that I have always wanted to say to everyone in my life. That phrase is "Life is easy." It's so easy and fun. I never thought like that before. When I was in Bangkok, I felt like life is very hard, very complicated. I was born in a poor village on the Northeastern of Thailand And when I was a kid, everything was fun and easy, but when the TV came, many people came to the village, they said, "You are poor, you need to chase success in your life. You need to go to Bangkok to pursue success in your life." So I felt bad, I felt poor. So I needed to go to Bangkok. When I went to Bangkok, it was not very fun. You need to learn, study a lot and work very hard, and then you can get success. I worked very hard, eight hours per day at least, but all I could eat was just a bowl of noodles per meal, or some Tama dish of fried rice or something like that. And where I stayed was very bad, a small room where a lot of people slept.

It was very hot. I started to question a lot. When I work hard, why is my life so hard? It must be something wrong, because I produce a lot of things, but I cannot get enough. And I tried to learn, I tried to study. I tried to study in the university. It's very hard to learn in university, because it's very boring. (Laughter) And when I looked at subjects in the university, in every faculty, most of them had destructive knowledge. There's no productive knowledge in university for me. If you learn to be an architect or engineer, that means you ruin more. The more these people work, the mountain will be destroyed more. And a good land in Chao Praya Basin will be covered with concrete more and more. We destroy more. If we go to agriculture faculty or something like that, that means we learn how to poison, to poison the land, the water, and learn to destroy everything. I feel like everything we do is so complicated, so hard.

We just make everything hard. Life was so hard and I felt disappointed. I started to think about, why did I have to be in Bangkok? I thought about when I was a kid, nobody worked eight hours per day, everybody worked two hours, two months a year, planting rice one month and harvesting the rice another month. The rest is free time, ten months of free time. That's why people have so many festivals in Thailand, every month they have festival. (Laughter) Because they have so much free time. And then in the daytime, everyone even takes a nap. Even now in Laos, go to Laos if you can, people take a nap after lunch. And after they wake up, they just gossip, how's your son-in-law, how's your wife, daughter-in-law. People have a lot of time, but because they have a lot of time, they have time to be with themselves. And when they have time to be with themselves, they have time to understand themselves. When they understand themselves, they can see what they want in their life.

So, many people see that they want happiness, they want love, they want to enjoy their life. So, people see a lot of beauty in their life, so they express that beauty in many ways. Some people by carving the handle of their knife, very beautiful, they weave the baskets very nicely. But, now, nobody does that. Nobody can do something like that. People use plastic everywhere. So, I feel like it's something wrong in there, I cannot live this way I'm living. So, I decided to quit University, and went back home. When I went back home, I started to live like I remember, like when I was a kid. I started to work two months a year. I got four tons of rice. And the whole family, six people, we eat less than half a ton per year. So we can sell some rice. I took two ponds, two fish ponds. We have fish to eat all year round. And I started a small garden.

Less than half an acre. And I spend 15 minutes per day to take care of the garden. I have more than 30 varieties of vegetables in the garden. So, six people cannot eat all of it. We have a surplus to sell in the market. We can make some income, too. So, I feel like, it's easy, why did I have to be in Bangkok for seven years, working hard and then not have enough to eat, but here, only two months a year and 15 minutes per day I can feed six people. That's easy. And before I thought that stupid people like me who never got a good grade at school, cannot have a house. Because people who are cleverer than me, who are number one in the class every year, they get a good job, but they need to work more than 30 years to have a house. But me, who cannot finish university, how could I have a house? Hopeless for people who have low education, like me.

But, then I started to do earthly building, it's so easy. I spend two hours per day, from 5 o'clock in the morning, until 7 o'clock in the morning, two hours per day. And in three months, I got a house. And another friend who's the most clever in the class, he spent three months to build his house, too. But, he had to be in debt. He had to pay for his debt for 30 years. So, compared to him, I have 29 years and 10 months of free time. (Laughter) So, I feel that life is so easy. I never thought I could build a house as easy as that. And I keep building a house every year, at least one house every year. Now, I have no money, but I have many houses. (Laughter) My problem is in which house I will sleep tonight. (Laughter) So, a house is not a problem, anybody can build a house.

The kids, 13 years old, at the school, they make bricks together, they make a house. After one month, they have a library. The kids can make a house, a very old nun can build a hut for herself. Many people can build a house. So, it's easy. If you don't believe me, try it. If somebody wants to have a house. And then, the next thing is clothing. I felt like I'm poor, like I'm not handsome. I tried to dress like somebody else, like a movie star. To make myself look good, look better. I spent one month to save money to buy a pair of jeans. When I wore them, I turned left, I turned right, looked in the mirror. Every time I look, I am the same person. The most expensive pants cannot change my life. I felt like I'm so crazy, why did I have to buy them? Spend one month to have a pair of pants. It doesn't change me. I started to think more about that. Why do we need to follow fashion? Because, when we follow fashion, we never catch up with it, because we follow it.

So, don't follow it, just stay here. (Laughter) Use what you have. So, after that, until now, 20 years, I have never bought any clothes. All the clothes I have are leftovers from people. When people come to visit me, and when they leave, they leave a lot of clothes there. So, I have tons of clothes now. (Laughter) And when people see me wear very old clothes, they give me more clothes. (Laughter) So, my problem is, I need to give clothes to people very often. (Laughter) So, it's so easy. And when I stopped buying clothes, I felt like, it's not only clothes, it's about something else in my life, What I learned is that when I buy something, and I think about, I buy it because I like it, or I buy it because I need it. So, if I buy it because I like it, that means I'm wrong. So, I feel more free when I think like this. And the last thing is, when I get sick, what will I do? I really worried in the beginning, because then I had no money.

But, I started to contemplate more. Normally, sickness is a normal thing, it's not a bad thing. Sickness is something to remind us that we did something wrong in our lives, that's why we got sick. So, when I get sick, I need to stop and come back to myself. And think about it, what I did was wrong. So, I learned how to use water to heal myself, how to use earth to heal myself, I learned how to use basic knowledge to heal myself. So, now that I rely on myself in these four things, I feel like life is very easy, I feel something like freedom, I feel free. I feel like I don't worry about anything much, I have less fear, I can do whatever I want in my life. Before, I had a lot of fear, I could not do anything. But, now I feel very free, like I'm a unique person on this Earth, nobody like me, I don't need to make myself like anybody else. I'm the number one.

So, things like this make it easy, very light. And, after that, I started to think about that when I was in Bangkok, I felt very dark in my life. I started to think that many people maybe thought like me at the time. So, we started a place called "Pun Pun" in Chiang Mai. The main aim is just saving seed. To collect seed, because seed is food, food is life. If there is no seed, no life. No seed, no freedom. No seed, no happiness. Because your life depends on somebody else. Because you have no food. So, it's very important to save seed. That's why we focus on saving seed. That's the main thing in Pun Pun. And the second thing is it is the learning center. We want to have a center for ourselves to learn, learn how to make life easy. Because we were taught to make life complicated and hard all the time. How can we make it easy? It's easy, but we don't know how to make it easy anymore. Because we always make it complicated and now, we start to learn, and learn to be together.

Because, we were taught to disconnect ourselves from everything else, to be independent, so we can rely on the money only. We don't need to rely on each other. But now, to be happy, we need to come back, to connect to ourselves again, to connect to other people, to connect our mind and body together again. So, we can be happy. Life is easy. And from beginning until now, what I learned is the four basic needs: food, house, clothes and medicine must be cheap and easy for everybody, that's the civilization. But, if you make these four things hard and very hard for many people to get, that's uncivilized. So, now when we look at everywhere around us, everything is so hard to get. I feel like now is the most uncivilized era of humans on this Earth. We have so many people who finish university, have so many universities on the Earth, have so many clever people on this Earth. But, life is harder and harder. We make it hard for whom? We work hard for whom right now? I feel like it's wrong, it's not normal.

So, I just want to come back to normal. To be a normal person, to be equal to animals. The birds make a nest in one or two days. The rats dig a hole in one night. But, the clever humans like us spend 30 years to have a house, and many people can't believe that they can have a house in this life. So, that's wrong. Why do we destroy our spirit, why do we destroy our ability that much? So, I feel that it's enough for me, to live in the normal way, in the abnormal way. So, now I try to be normal. But, people look at me as the abnormal one. (Laughter) A crazy person. But, I don't care, because it's not my fault. It's their fault, they think like that. So, my life is easy and light now. That's enough for me. People can think whatever they want. I cannot manage anything outside myself. What I can do is change my mind, manage my mind. Now, my mind is light and easy, that's enough. If anybody wants to have a choice, you can have a choice.

The choice to be easy or to be hard, it depends on you. Thank you. (Applause).

Rodney Brooks: Why we will rely on robots

Well, Arthur C. Clarke, a famous science fiction writer from the 1950s, said that, "We overestimate technology in the short term, and we underestimate it in the long term." And I think that's some of the fear that we see about jobs disappearing from artificial intelligence and robots. That we're overestimating the technology in the short term. But I am worried whether we're going to get the technology we need in the long term. Because the demographics are really going to leave us with lots of jobs that need doing and that we, our society, is going to have to be built on the shoulders of steel of robots in the future. So I'm scared we won't have enough robots. But fear of losing jobs to technology has been around for a long time. Back in 1957, there was a Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn movie. So you know how it ended up, Spencer Tracy brought a computer, a mainframe computer of 1957, in to help the librarians. The librarians in the company would do things like answer for the executives, "What are the names of Santa's reindeer?" And they would look that up. And this mainframe computer was going to help them with that job.

Well of course a mainframe computer in 1957 wasn't much use for that job. The librarians were afraid their jobs were going to disappear. But that's not what happened in fact. The number of jobs for librarians increased for a long time after 1957. It wasn't until the Internet came into play, the web came into play and search engines came into play that the need for librarians went down. And I think everyone from 1957 totally underestimated the level of technology we would all carry around in our hands and in our pockets today. And we can just ask: "What are the names of Santa's reindeer?" and be told instantly — or anything else we want to ask. By the way, the wages for librarians went up faster than the wages for other jobs in the U.S.

over that same time period, because librarians became partners of computers. Computers became tools, and they got more tools that they could use and become more effective during that time. Same thing happened in offices. Back in the old days, people used spreadsheets. Spreadsheets were spread sheets of paper, and they calculated by hand. But here was an interesting thing that came along. With the revolution around 1980 of P.C.'s, the spreadsheet programs were tuned for office workers, not to replace office workers, but it respected office workers as being capable of being programmers. So office workers became programmers of spreadsheets. It increased their capabilities. They no longer had to do the mundane computations, but they could do something much more. Now today, we're starting to see robots in our lives. On the left there is the PackBot from iRobot. When soldiers came across roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, instead of putting on a bomb suit and going out and poking with a stick, as they used to do up until about 2002, they now send the robot out.

So the robot takes over the dangerous jobs. On the right are some TUGs from a company called Aethon in Pittsburgh. These are in hundreds of hospitals across the U.S. And they take the dirty sheets down to the laundry. They take the dirty dishes back to the kitchen. They bring the medicines up from the pharmacy. And it frees up the nurses and the nurse's aides from doing that mundane work of just mechanically pushing stuff around to spend more time with patients. In fact, robots have become sort of ubiquitous in our lives in many ways. But I think when it comes to factory robots, people are sort of afraid, because factory robots are dangerous to be around. In order to program them, you have to understand six-dimensional vectors and quaternions. And ordinary people can't interact with them. And I think it's the sort of technology that's gone wrong. It's displaced the worker from the technology. And I think we really have to look at technologies that ordinary workers can interact with. And so I want to tell you today about Baxter, which we've been talking about.

And Baxter, I see, as a way — a first wave of robot that ordinary people can interact with in an industrial setting. So Baxter is up here. This is Chris Harbert from Rethink Robotics. We've got a conveyor there. And if the lighting isn't too extreme — Ah, ah! There it is. It's picked up the object off the conveyor. It's going to come bring it over here and put it down. And then it'll go back, reach for another object. The interesting thing is Baxter has some basic common sense. By the way, what's going on with the eyes? The eyes are on the screen there. The eyes look ahead where the robot's going to move. So a person that's interacting with the robot understands where it's going to reach and isn't surprised by its motions. Here Chris took the object out of its hand, and Baxter didn't go and try to put it down; it went back and realized it had to get another one. It's got a little bit of basic common sense, goes and picks the objects.

And Baxter's safe to interact with. You wouldn't want to do this with a current industrial robot. But with Baxter it doesn't hurt. It feels the force, understands that Chris is there and doesn't push through him and hurt him. But I think the most interesting thing about Baxter is the user interface. And so Chris is going to come and grab the other arm now. And when he grabs an arm, it goes into zero-force gravity-compensated mode and graphics come up on the screen. You can see some icons on the left of the screen there for what was about its right arm. He's going to put something in its hand, he's going to bring it over here, press a button and let go of that thing in the hand. And the robot figures out, ah, he must mean I want to put stuff down. It puts a little icon there. He comes over here, and he gets the fingers to grasp together, and the robot infers, ah, you want an object for me to pick up. That puts the green icon there. He's going to map out an area of where the robot should pick up the object from.

It just moves it around, and the robot figures out that was an area search. He didn't have to select that from a menu. And now he's going to go off and train the visual appearance of that object while we continue talking. So as we continue here, I want to tell you about what this is like in factories. These robots we're shipping every day. They go to factories around the country. This is Mildred. Mildred's a factory worker in Connecticut. She's worked on the line for over 20 years. One hour after she saw her first industrial robot, she had programmed it to do some tasks in the factory. She decided she really liked robots. And it was doing the simple repetitive tasks that she had had to do beforehand. Now she's got the robot doing it. When we first went out to talk to people in factories about how we could get robots to interact with them better, one of the questions we asked them was, "Do you want your children to work in a factory?" The universal answer was "No, I want a better job than that for my children.

" And as a result of that, Mildred is very typical of today's factory workers in the U.S. They're older, and they're getting older and older. There aren't many young people coming into factory work. And as their tasks become more onerous on them, we need to give them tools that they can collaborate with, so that they can be part of the solution, so that they can continue to work and we can continue to produce in the U.S. And so our vision is that Mildred who's the line worker becomes Mildred the robot trainer. She lifts her game, like the office workers of the 1980s lifted their game of what they could do. We're not giving them tools that they have to go and study for years and years in order to use. They're tools that they can just learn how to operate in a few minutes. There's two great forces that are both volitional but inevitable. That's climate change and demographics. Demographics is really going to change our world. This is the percentage of adults who are working age.

And it's gone down slightly over the last 40 years. But over the next 40 years, it's going to change dramatically, even in China. The percentage of adults who are working age drops dramatically. And turned up the other way, the people who are retirement age goes up very, very fast, as the baby boomers get to retirement age. That means there will be more people with fewer social security dollars competing for services. But more than that, as we get older we get more frail and we can't do all the tasks we used to do. If we look at the statistics on the ages of caregivers, before our eyes those caregivers are getting older and older. That's happening statistically right now. And as the number of people who are older, above retirement age and getting older, as they increase, there will be less people to take care of them. And I think we're really going to have to have robots to help us. And I don't mean robots in terms of companions.

I mean robots doing the things that we normally do for ourselves but get harder as we get older. Getting the groceries in from the car, up the stairs, into the kitchen. Or even, as we get very much older, driving our cars to go visit people. And I think robotics gives people a chance to have dignity as they get older by having control of the robotic solution. So they don't have to rely on people that are getting scarcer to help them. And so I really think that we're going to be spending more time with robots like Baxter and working with robots like Baxter in our daily lives. And that we will — Here, Baxter, it's good. And that we will all come to rely on robots over the next 40 years as part of our everyday lives. Thanks very much.


Gary Kovacs: Tracking the trackers

Translator: Timothy Covell Reviewer: Morton Bast I don't know why, but I'm continually amazed to think that two and a half billion of us around the world are connected to each other through the Internet and that at any point in time more than 30 percent of the world's population can go online to learn, to create and to share. And the amount of time each of us is spending doing all of this is also continuing to go grow. A recent study showed that the young generation alone is spending over eight hours a day online. As the parent of a nine-year-old girl, that number seems awfully low. (Laughter) But just as the Internet has opened up the world for each and every one of us, it has also opened up each and every one of us to the world. And increasingly, the price we're being asked to pay for all of this connectedness is our privacy.

Today, what many of us would love to believe is that the Internet is a private place; it's not. And with every click of the mouse and every touch of the screen, we are like Hansel and Gretel leaving breadcrumbs of our personal information everywhere we travel through the digital woods. We are leaving our birthdays, our places of residence, our interests and preferences, our relationships, our financial histories, and on and on it goes. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not for one minute suggesting that sharing data is a bad thing. In fact, when I know the data that's being shared and I'm asked explicitly for my consent, I want some sites to understand my habits. It helps them suggest books for me to read or movies for my family to watch or friends for us to connect with.

But when I don't know and when I haven't been asked, that's when the problem arises. It's a phenomenon on the Internet today called behavioral tracking, and it is very big business. In fact, there's an entire industry formed around following us through the digital woods and compiling a profile on each of us. And when all of that data is held, they can do almost whatever they want with it. This is an area today that has very few regulations and even fewer rules. Except for some of the recent announcements here in the United States and in Europe, it's an area of consumer protection that's almost entirely naked. So let me expose this lurking industry a little bit further. The visualization you see forming behind me is called Collusion and it's an experimental browser add-on that you can install in your Firefox browser that helps you see where your Web data is going and who's tracking you. The red dots you see up there are sites that are behavioral tracking that I have not navigated to, but are following me. The blue dots are the sites that I've actually navigated directly to.

And the gray dots are sites that are also tracking me, but I have no idea who they are. All of them are connected, as you can see, to form a picture of me on the Web. And this is my profile. So let me go from an example to something very specific and personal. I installed Collusion in my own laptop two weeks ago and I let it follow me around for what was a pretty typical day. Now like most of you, I actually start my day going online and checking email. I then go to a news site, look for some headlines. And in this particular case I happened to like one of them on the merits of music literacy in schools and I shared it over a social network. Our daughter then joined us at the breakfast table, and I asked her, "Is there an emphasis on music literacy in your school?" And she, of course, naturally as a nine-year-old, looked at me and said quizzically, "What's literacy?" So I sent her online, of course, to look it up. Now let me stop here. We are not even two bites into breakfast and there are already nearly 25 sites that are tracking me.

I have navigated to a total of four. So let me fast-forward through the rest of my day. I go to work, I check email, I log onto a few more social sites, I blog, I check more news reports, I share some of those news reports, I go look at some videos, pretty typical day — in this case, actually fairly pedantic — and at the end of the day, as my day winds down, look at my profile. The red dots have exploded. The gray dots have grown exponentially. All in all, there's over 150 sites that are now tracking my personal information, most all of them without my consent. I look at this picture and it freaks me out. This is nothing. I am being stalked across the Web. And why is this happening? Pretty simple — it's huge business. The revenue of the top handful of companies in this space is over 39 billion dollars today. And as adults, we're certainly not alone. At the same time I installed my own Collusion profile, I installed one for my daughter. And on one single Saturday morning, over two hours on the Internet, here's her Collusion profile.

This is a nine-year-old girl navigating to principally children's sites. I move from this, from freaked out to enraged. This is no longer me being a tech pioneer or a privacy advocate; this is me being a parent. Imagine in the physical world if somebody followed our children around with a camera and a notebook and recorded their every movement. I can tell you, there isn't a person in this room that would sit idly by. We'd take action. It may not be good action, but we would take action. (Laughter) We can't sit idly by here either. This is happening today. Privacy is not an option, and it shouldn't be the price we accept for just getting on the Internet. Our voices matter and our actions matter even more. Today we've launched Collusion. You can download it, install it in Firefox, to see who is tracking you across the Web and following you through the digital woods.

Going forward, all of our voices need to be heard. Because what we don't know can actually hurt us. Because the memory of the Internet is forever. We are being watched. It's now time for us to watch the watchers. Thank you. (Applause).

Art made of the air we breathe | Emily Parsons-Lord

Translator: Camille Martínez Reviewer: Krystian Aparta If I asked you to picture the air, what do you imagine? Most people think about either empty space or clear blue sky or sometimes trees dancing in the wind. And then I remember my high school chemistry teacher with really long socks at the blackboard, drawing diagrams of bubbles connected to other bubbles, and describing how they vibrate and collide in a kind of frantic soup. But really, we tend not to think about the air that much at all. We notice it mostly when there's some kind of unpleasant sensory intrusion upon it, like a terrible smell or something visible like smoke or mist. But it's always there. It's touching all of us right now. It's even inside us. Our air is immediate, vital and intimate. And yet, it's so easily forgotten. So what is the air? It's the combination of the invisible gases that envelop the Earth, attracted by the Earth's gravitational pull. And even though I'm a visual artist, I'm interested in the invisibility of the air.

I'm interested in how we imagine it, how we experience it and how we all have an innate understanding of its materiality through breathing. All life on Earth changes the air through gas exchange, and we're all doing it right now. Actually, why don't we all right now together take one big, collective, deep breath in. Ready? In. (Inhales) And out. (Exhales) That air that you just exhaled, you enriched a hundred times in carbon dioxide. So roughly five liters of air per breath, 17 breaths per minute of the 525,600 minutes per year, comes to approximately 45 million liters of air, enriched 100 times in carbon dioxide, just for you. Now, that's equivalent to about 18 Olympic-sized swimming pools. For me, air is plural. It's simultaneously as small as our breathing and as big as the planet. And it's kind of hard to picture.

Maybe it's impossible, and maybe it doesn't matter. Through my visual arts practice, I try to make air, not so much picture it, but to make it visceral and tactile and haptic. I try to expand this notion of the aesthetic, how things look, so that it can include things like how it feels on your skin and in your lungs, and how your voice sounds as it passes through it. I explore the weight, density and smell, but most importantly, I think a lot about the stories we attach to different kinds of air. This is a work I made in 2014. It's called "Different Kinds of Air: A Plant's Diary," where I was recreating the air from different eras in Earth's evolution, and inviting the audience to come in and breathe them with me. And it's really surprising, so drastically different.

Now, I'm not a scientist, but atmospheric scientists will look for traces in the air chemistry in geology, a bit like how rocks can oxidize, and they'll extrapolate that information and aggregate it, such that they can pretty much form a recipe for the air at different times. Then I come in as the artist and take that recipe and recreate it using the component gases. I was particularly interested in moments of time that are examples of life changing the air, but also the air that can influence how life will evolve, like Carboniferous air. It's from about 300 to 350 million years ago. It's an era known as the time of the giants. So for the first time in the history of life, lignin evolves. That's the hard stuff that trees are made of. So trees effectively invent their own trunks at this time, and they get really big, bigger and bigger, and pepper the Earth, releasing oxygen, releasing oxygen, releasing oxygen, such that the oxygen levels are about twice as high as what they are today.

And this rich air supports massive insects — huge spiders and dragonflies with a wingspan of about 65 centimeters. To breathe, this air is really clean and really fresh. It doesn't so much have a flavor, but it does give your body a really subtle kind of boost of energy. It's really good for hangovers. (Laughter) Or there's the air of the Great Dying — that's about 252.5 million years ago, just before the dinosaurs evolve. It's a really short time period, geologically speaking, from about 20- to 200,000 years. Really quick. This is the greatest extinction event in Earth's history, even bigger than when the dinosaurs died out. Eighty-five to 95 percent of species at this time die out, and simultaneous to that is a huge, dramatic spike in carbon dioxide, that a lot of scientists agree comes from a simultaneous eruption of volcanoes and a runaway greenhouse effect. Oxygen levels at this time go to below half of what they are today, so about 10 percent.

So this air would definitely not support human life, but it's OK to just have a breath. And to breathe, it's oddly comforting. It's really calming, it's quite warm and it has a flavor a little bit like soda water. It has that kind of spritz, quite pleasant. So with all this thinking about air of the past, it's quite natural to start thinking about the air of the future. And instead of being speculative with air and just making up what I think might be the future air, I discovered this human-synthesized air. That means that it doesn't occur anywhere in nature, but it's made by humans in a laboratory for application in different industrial settings. Why is it future air? Well, this air is a really stable molecule that will literally be part of the air once it's released, for the next 300 to 400 years, before it's broken down. So that's about 12 to 16 generations.

And this future air has some very sensual qualities. It's very heavy. It's about eight times heavier than the air we're used to breathing. It's so heavy, in fact, that when you breathe it in, whatever words you speak are kind of literally heavy as well, so they dribble down your chin and drop to the floor and soak into the cracks. It's an air that operates quite a lot like a liquid. Now, this air comes with an ethical dimension as well. Humans made this air, but it's also the most potent greenhouse gas that has ever been tested. Its warming potential is 24,000 times that of carbon dioxide, and it has that longevity of 12 to 16 generations. So this ethical confrontation is really central to my work. (In a lowered voice) It has another quite surprising quality. It changes the sound of your voice quite dramatically. (Laughter) So when we start to think — ooh! It's still there a bit.

(Laughter) When we think about climate change, we probably don't think about giant insects and erupting volcanoes or funny voices. The images that more readily come to mind are things like retreating glaciers and polar bears adrift on icebergs. We think about pie charts and column graphs and endless politicians talking to scientists wearing cardigans. But perhaps it's time we start thinking about climate change on the same visceral level that we experience the air. Like air, climate change is simultaneously at the scale of the molecule, the breath and the planet. It's immediate, vital and intimate, as well as being amorphous and cumbersome. And yet, it's so easily forgotten. Climate change is the collective self-portrait of humanity. It reflects our decisions as individuals, as governments and as industries. And if there's anything I've learned from looking at air, it's that even though it's changing, it persists.

It may not support the kind of life that we'd recognize, but it will support something. And if we humans are such a vital part of that change, I think it's important that we can feel the discussion. Because even though it's invisible, humans are leaving a very vibrant trace in the air. Thank you. (Applause).

How megacities are changing the map of the world | Parag Khanna

I want you to reimagine how life is organized on earth. Think of the planet like a human body that we inhabit. The skeleton is the transportation system of roads and railways, bridges and tunnels, air and seaports that enable our mobility across the continents. The vascular system that powers the body are the oil and gas pipelines and electricity grids. that distribute energy. And the nervous system of communications is the Internet cables, satellites, cellular networks and data centers that allow us to share information. This ever-expanding infrastructural matrix already consists of 64 million kilometers of roads, four million kilometers of railways, two million kilometers of pipelines and one million kilometers of Internet cables. What about international borders? We have less than 500,000 kilometers of borders. Let's build a better map of the world. And we can start by overcoming some ancient mythology.

There's a saying with which all students of history are familiar: "Geography is destiny." Sounds so grave, doesn't it? It's such a fatalistic adage. It tells us that landlocked countries are condemned to be poor, that small countries cannot escape their larger neighbors, that vast distances are insurmountable. But every journey I take around the world, I see an even greater force sweeping the planet: connectivity. The global connectivity revolution, in all of its forms — transportation, energy and communications — has enabled such a quantum leap in the mobility of people, of goods, of resources, of knowledge, such that we can no longer even think of geography as distinct from it. In fact, I view the two forces as fusing together into what I call "connectography." Connectography represents a quantum leap in the mobility of people, resources and ideas, but it is an evolution, an evolution of the world from political geography, which is how we legally divide the world, to functional geography, which is how we actually use the world, from nations and borders, to infrastructure and supply chains. Our global system is evolving from the vertically integrated empires of the 19th century, through the horizontally interdependent nations of the 20th century, into a global network civilization in the 21st century.

Connectivity, not sovereignty, has become the organizing principle of the human species. (Applause) We are becoming this global network civilization because we are literally building it. All of the world's defense budgets and military spending taken together total just under two trillion dollars per year. Meanwhile, our global infrastructure spending is projected to rise to nine trillion dollars per year within the coming decade. And, well, it should. We have been living off an infrastructure stock meant for a world population of three billion, as our population has crossed seven billion to eight billion and eventually nine billion and more. As a rule of thumb, we should spend about one trillion dollars on the basic infrastructure needs of every billion people in the world.

Not surprisingly, Asia is in the lead. In 2015, China announced the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which together with a network of other organizations aims to construct a network of iron and silk roads, stretching from Shanghai to Lisbon. And as all of this topographical engineering unfolds, we will likely spend more on infrastructure in the next 40 years, we will build more infrastructure in the next 40 years, than we have in the past 4,000 years. Now let's stop and think about it for a minute. Spending so much more on building the foundations of global society rather than on the tools to destroy it can have profound consequences. Connectivity is how we optimize the distribution of people and resources around the world. It is how mankind comes to be more than just the sum of its parts. I believe that is what is happening. Connectivity has a twin megatrend in the 21st century: planetary urbanization. Cities are the infrastructures that most define us. By 2030, more than two thirds of the world's population will live in cities. And these are not mere little dots on the map, but they are vast archipelagos stretching hundreds of kilometers.

Here we are in Vancouver, at the head of the Cascadia Corridor that stretches south across the US border to Seattle. The technology powerhouse of Silicon Valley begins north of San Francisco down to San Jose and across the bay to Oakland. The sprawl of Los Angeles now passes San Diego across the Mexican border to Tijuana. San Diego and Tijuana now share an airport terminal where you can exit into either country. Eventually, a high-speed rail network may connect the entire Pacific spine. America's northeastern megalopolis begins in Boston through New York and Philadelphia to Washington. It contains more than 50 million people and also has plans for a high-speed rail network. But Asia is where we really see the megacities coming together. This continuous strip of light from Tokyo through Nagoya to Osaka contains more than 80 million people and most of Japan's economy.

It is the world's largest megacity. For now. But in China, megacity clusters are coming together with populations reaching 100 million people. The Bohai Rim around Beijing, The Yangtze River Delta around Shanghai and the Pearl River Delta, stretching from Hong Kong north to Guangzhou. And in the middle, the Chongqing-Chengdu megacity cluster, whose geographic footprint is almost the same size as the country of Austria. And any number of these megacity clusters has a GDP approaching two trillion dollars — that's almost the same as all of India today. So imagine if our global diplomatic institutions, such as the G20, were to base their membership on economic size rather than national representation. Some Chinese megacities may be in and have a seat at the table, while entire countries, like Argentina or Indonesia would be out. Moving to India, whose population will soon exceed that of China, it too has a number of megacity clusters, such as the Delhi Capital Region and Mumbai.

In the Middle East, Greater Tehran is absorbing one third of Iran's population. Most of Egypt's 80 million people live in the corridor between Cairo and Alexandria. And in the gulf, a necklace of city-states is forming, from Bahrain and Qatar, through the United Arab Emirates to Muscat in Oman. And then there's Lagos, Africa's largest city and Nigeria's commercial hub. It has plans for a rail network that will make it the anchor of a vast Atlantic coastal corridor, stretching across Benin, Togo and Ghana, to Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast. But these countries are suburbs of Lagos. In a megacity world, countries can be suburbs of cities. By 2030, we will have as many as 50 such megacity clusters in the world. So which map tells you more? Our traditional map of 200 discrete nations that hang on most of our walls, or this map of the 50 megacity clusters? And yet, even this is incomplete because you cannot understand any individual megacity without understanding its connections to the others. People move to cities to be connected, and connectivity is why these cities thrive.

Any number of them, such as Sao Paulo or Istanbul or Moscow, has a GDP approaching or exceeding one third of one half of their entire national GDP. But equally importantly, you cannot calculate any of their individual value without understanding the role of the flows of people, of finance, of technology that enable them to thrive. Take the Gauteng province of South Africa, which contains Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria. It too represents just over a third of South Africa's GDP. But equally importantly, it is home to the offices of almost every single multinational corporation that invests directly into South Africa and indeed, into the entire African continent. Cities want to be part of global value chains. They want to be part of this global division of labor. That is how cities think. I've never met a mayor who said to me, "I want my city to be cut off." They know that their cities belong as much to the global network civilization as to their home countries. Now, for many people, urbanization causes great dismay.

They think cities are wrecking the planet. But right now, there are more than 200 intercity learning networks thriving. That is as many as the number of intergovernmental organizations that we have. And all of these intercity networks are devoted to one purpose, mankind's number one priority in the 21st century: sustainable urbanization. Is it working? Let's take climate change. We know that summit after summit in New York and Paris is not going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But what we can see is that transferring technology and knowledge and policies between cities is how we've actually begun to reduce the carbon intensity of our economies. Cities are learning from each other. How to install zero-emissions buildings, how to deploy electric car-sharing systems.

In major Chinese cities, they're imposing quotas on the number of cars on the streets. In many Western cities, young people don't even want to drive anymore. Cities have been part of the problem, now they are part of the solution. Inequality is the other great challenge to achieving sustainable urbanization. When I travel through megacities from end to end — it takes hours and days — I experience the tragedy of extreme disparity within the same geography. And yet, our global stock of financial assets has never been larger, approaching 300 trillion dollars. That's almost four times the actual GDP of the world. We have taken on such enormous debts since the financial crisis, but have we invested them in inclusive growth? No, not yet. Only when we build sufficient, affordable public housing, when we invest in robust transportation networks to allow people to connect to each other both physically and digitally, that's when our divided cities and societies will come to feel whole again. (Applause) And that is why infrastructure has just been included in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, because it enables all the others.

Our political and economic leaders are learning that connectivity is not charity, it's opportunity. And that's why our financial community needs to understand that connectivity is the most important asset class of the 21st century. Now, cities can make the world more sustainable, they can make the world more equitable, I also believe that connectivity between cities can make the world more peaceful. If we look at regions of the world with dense relations across borders, we see more trade, more investment and more stability. We all know the story of Europe after World War II, where industrial integration kicked off a process that gave rise to today's peaceful European Union. And you can see that Russia, by the way, is the least connected of major powers in the international system. And that goes a long way towards explaining the tensions today.

Countries that have less stake in the system also have less to lose in disturbing it. In North America, the lines that matter most on the map are not the US-Canada border or the US-Mexico border, but the dense network of roads and railways and pipelines and electricity grids and even water canals that are forming an integrated North American union. North America does not need more walls, it needs more connections. (Applause) But the real promise of connectivity is in the postcolonial world. All of those regions where borders have historically been the most arbitrary and where generations of leaders have had hostile relations with each other. But now a new group of leaders has come into power and is burying the hatchet. Let's take Southeast Asia, where high-speed rail networks are planned to connect Bangkok to Singapore and trade corridors from Vietnam to Myanmar. Now this region of 600 million people coordinates its agricultural resources and its industrial output.

It is evolving into what I call a Pax Asiana, a peace among Southeast Asian nations. A similar phenomenon is underway in East Africa, where a half dozen countries are investing in railways and multimodal corridors so that landlocked countries can get their goods to market. Now these countries coordinate their utilities and their investment policies. They, too, are evolving into a Pax Africana. One region we know could especially use this kind of thinking is the Middle East. As Arab states tragically collapse, what is left behind but the ancient cities, such as Cairo, Beirut and Baghdad? In fact, the nearly 400 million people of the Arab world are almost entirely urbanized. As societies, as cities, they are either water rich or water poor, energy rich or energy poor. And the only way to correct these mismatches is not through more wars and more borders, but through more connectivity of pipelines and water canals. Sadly, this is not yet the map of the Middle East. But it should be, a connected Pax Arabia, internally integrated and productively connected to its neighbors: Europe, Asia and Africa.

Now, it may not seem like connectivity is what we want right now towards the world's most turbulent region. But we know from history that more connectivity is the only way to bring about stability in the long run. Because we know that in region after region, connectivity is the new reality. Cities and countries are learning to aggregate into more peaceful and prosperous wholes. But the real test is going to be Asia. Can connectivity overcome the patterns of rivalry among the great powers of the Far East? After all, this is where World War III is supposed to break out. Since the end of the Cold War, a quarter century ago, at least six major wars have been predicted for this region. But none have broken out. Take China and Taiwan. In the 1990s, this was everyone's leading World War III scenario. But since that time, the trade and investment volumes across the straits have become so intense that last November, leaders from both sides held a historic summit to discuss eventual peaceful reunification.

And even the election of a nationalist party in Taiwan that's pro-independence earlier this year does not undermine this fundamental dynamic. China and Japan have an even longer history of rivalry and have been deploying their air forces and navies to show their strength in island disputes. But in recent years, Japan has been making its largest foreign investments in China. Japanese cars are selling in record numbers there. And guess where the largest number of foreigners residing in Japan today comes from? You guessed it: China. China and India have fought a major war and have three outstanding border disputes, but today India is the second largest shareholder in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. They're building a trade corridor stretching from Northeast India through Myanmar and Bangladesh to Southern China. Their trade volume has grown from 20 billion dollars a decade ago to 80 billion dollars today. Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have fought three wars and continue to dispute Kashmir, but they're also negotiating a most-favored-nation trade agreement and want to complete a pipeline stretching from Iran through Pakistan to India.

And let's talk about Iran. Wasn't it just two years ago that war with Iran seemed inevitable? Then why is every single major power rushing to do business there today? Ladies and gentlemen, I cannot guarantee that World War III will not break out. But we can definitely see why it hasn't happened yet. Even though Asia is home to the world's fastest growing militaries, these same countries are also investing billions of dollars in each other's infrastructure and supply chains. They are more interested in each other's functional geography than in their political geography. And that is why their leaders think twice, step back from the brink, and decide to focus on economic ties over territorial tensions. So often it seems like the world is falling apart, but building more connectivity is how we put Humpty Dumpty back together again, much better than before. And by wrapping the world in such seamless physical and digital connectivity, we evolve towards a world in which people can rise above their geographic constraints. We are the cells and vessels pulsing through these global connectivity networks.

Everyday, hundreds of millions of people go online and work with people they've never met. More than one billion people cross borders every year, and that's expected to rise to three billion in the coming decade. We don't just build connectivity, we embody it. We are the global network civilization, and this is our map. A map of the world in which geography is no longer destiny. Instead, the future has a new and more hopeful motto: connectivity is destiny. Thank you. (Applause).

A more feminine, global and sustainable vision to work: Kristin Engvig at TEDxGenevaWomen 2013

So it's wonderful to be here and I will share with you some of the thoughts and the work that I'm doing on inspiring womеn leaders, or leaders in general, or anyone actually, to create a world in which we can flourish, with more beauty, with more trust, and more passion. So I'm going to tell you a little bit about my roots, the journey, and then, how we can expand more possibilities together. So, the journey. I grew up in Norway, on the wild west coast. My hometown is surrounded by mountains and the open sea. As a little girl my parents brought me and my brothers to all the mountains, climbing them, visiting islands, fjords. It was always nature, and with and sometimes against our will, we learned to respect nature and understand how we were also part of all of that. My hometown, Kristiansund, is built on islands, four islands, with bridges between. And the city is filled with colorful houses. So I grew up in this very creative environment with colorful houses, bridges and very unpredictable weather.

So I learned quite quickly to be prepared for change, sometimes sudden change. The wind and the rain always came from the side. However, all of this also made me understand that we have to respect nature, we have to respect the weather, because it is, after all, a lot stronger than us. One of the things that I liked to do when I was in Kristiansund was to go around to family parties. My mother drove us, or the whole family, we went around on family gatherings, birthday parties and I belonged to actually quite a nice network, where all of us could grow and feel accepted and be ourselves. And I must credit my mother for always working very hard on making sure we all felt included. On my father's side of the family, they've been photographers, we've been photographers back since 1872. And when you grow up in a family with lots of photographers it's kind of a special environment. It's not only laughing, and cheese, and these types of things; It's more, move a little here, stop. It's a constant search фор putting people in the right light.

So I grew up into the world and I learned to make sure people are included, put people in the right light, nature, we'd better respect it, and let's put bridges if there are islands on their own. And as a young woman I also looked out at the sea, and I thought I would like to understand and explore what's out there. So as fast as I could, I went on and I traveled. And my journey began. I went to Australia to live, I went back to Oslo to study, I went to Japan to work. And I traveled, I studied research, I studied marketing, I studied advertisement, PR. And I landed for more than 12 years in Milano. I learned quite quickly that what you know matters, but who you know and who knows you matter, if not more, at least just as much. I also learned that how you do everything you do is very important.

People remember you very much for how you make them feel. So, when I worked in a multinational I learned also that politics was just as important as marriage. Being young was not exactly an advantage. Mini skirts sometimes could be. I left. I traveled around the world working as a consultant, I worked as a teacher, or teaching. And I also saw that knowing someone in some of these places I went to would have been a great advantage. I triple locked my door in Sofia and in Moscow. I also saw when I traveled that not everyone was as lucky as I was, that grew up in a peaceful country, with a female prime minister, during my youth. So I thought, what can we do? You know, to put everyone up. Back in Milan, I also joined associations, I was very active in the women's network. I organized, I coordinated, I thought this was a lot of fun, and it helped me a lot, and it helped others a lot.

So one day I thought we have to do more. What if we can gather all the women? We can prepare ourselves for the future. Everything is changing anyway, and we can see, we can do things together. And this was a very strong motivation. I got together a lot of women around my kitchen table and we said, "Let's look at how we can build companies in a more conscious way" How we can get our awareness into how we build our careers. Perhaps we can build communities, there's so many things we can do. So, I started to look at this and said, "Hey, we can build a gathering, we can get people together, we can do all of this. But I needed the structure. So I started to look at how to build a structure for all our women. I thought, first of all, if we're going to do something that can be really global, that can be whole, include family values, and that can be authentic, that can be something where we can put all of us into. We need to have a structure.

I thought the best way we can do this is if everything we do is international. So I was determined that on my team I had to have someone from every continent. Amongst the speakers, they needed to come from different countries. And amongst participants too, they have to be from everywhere. We also decided that everything we do has to be practical. It has to be possible to put our dreams and ideas into action. So let's inspire each other to do something also. We also decided it has to be innovative, let's do creative things, the new way. Everything is changing anyway. So, let's be part of doing the new way. And more than anything also, let's bring in wholeness. The world today has not been in balance, it's been too much based on the masculine values of competition, of over production, and so on. So let's try also bringing a lot of the caring and sharing, and taking care of each other. Listening to our emotions as well as to the Excel spreadsheet. Follow our intuition. If you get goosebumps, maybe it's the right decision.

There is something to listen to. So all of these aspects, we thought let's put it into the formula. Also, as I did this, it grew. >From the kitchen operation, it became something тхат we could see on the global stage. And this comes to the third point. Now we are in 2013, women are leading, men are with us. We can do many things together, both women amongst women, and women and men. Young and older generation. It's an exciting time. And it's an exciting time if we work together. And there are some of my last points today. How can we expand and create more possibilities for each other? By working together. And working together for me means creating a network also. And a network isn't a place where you're going to necessarily go to use it, to take things. No, it's a place where we're going to give and we're going to receive.

It's a nurturing environment in which we can grow, in which we can feel included and feel accepted. And each and everyone of us can create such a network, by how we network, how we communicate with each other. It's a way of being, a way of trying to uplift the person that you are with. And also search for purpose, what do I have in common? What can we expand? What can we work more with? How can we make sure we are helping each other when we are in difficult situations? Because everyone has a bad day. And if you have a hand to hold we can raise each other up. So, how do we do this? How do we network? I have created a few principles that I know have been guiding principles for me in building up my organization. And I have shown it to family members that didn't really know exactly what I do, and they said, "Kristin, this is you." So it's quite exciting, so I want to share them with you too here today.

The first principle is that of being open. On all occasions, in all situations when you are with someone, be open. In fact, be opening, become conscious about your thoughts, if you're about to judge, kick yourself in doing so. So principle number one, be open. Principle number two, be ready to connect. Share with people, not only what's in your mind, of course, what's stimulating your intellect is interesting, but what's warming your heart and what makes you excited is also very important. And I think at work too, yes, we have to be professional, but we are human beings, so share at all levels. Also, be quick to contribute, you can at many times have a solution to someone else's problems. Or maybe you know someone else who can.

And also you yourself, don't sit in with things, share, people value what you have to offer. Also, take some risks. Take risks. Little by little. Life actually sometimes starts at the end of your comfort zone. So there is a lot that can happen if you take a little bit of a risk. And certainly commit. I've met so many successful women at our events over these past 18 years. And I see the key ingredient that brings these successful people to success is their committing. They make decisions and stand by them. That's a very important thing. At the same time if you're in a situation where you come across something that's not acceptable, you don't accept it. It's very important in work life, and in everyone's life, you come across a situation that is not acceptable, you never accept it. And then ultimately, we have to have fun and be light. And there is always something exciting about to happen. So my advice is also to expect magic.

My last slide, I want to go back to my roots. So this is my mother and my son. There is my mother including my son in a little piece of nature of Norway. And my dad behind the camera, putting them in the right light. Thank you very much. (Applause).

Allan Adams: The discovery that could rewrite physics

If you look deep into the night sky, you see stars, and if you look further, you see more stars, and further, galaxies, and further, more galaxies. But if you keep looking further and further, eventually you see nothing for a long while, and then finally you see a faint, fading afterglow, and it's the afterglow of the Big Bang. Now, the Big Bang was an era in the early universe when everything we see in the night sky was condensed into an incredibly small, incredibly hot, incredibly roiling mass, and from it sprung everything we see. Now, we've mapped that afterglow with great precision, and when I say we, I mean people who aren't me. We've mapped the afterglow with spectacular precision, and one of the shocks about it is that it's almost completely uniform. Fourteen billion light years that way and 14 billion light years that way, it's the same temperature. Now it's been 14 billion years since that Big Bang, and so it's got faint and cold. It's now 2.

7 degrees. But it's not exactly 2.7 degrees. It's only 2.7 degrees to about 10 parts in a million. Over here, it's a little hotter, and over there, it's a little cooler, and that's incredibly important to everyone in this room, because where it was a little hotter, there was a little more stuff, and where there was a little more stuff, we have galaxies and clusters of galaxies and superclusters and all the structure you see in the cosmos. And those small, little, inhomogeneities, 20 parts in a million, those were formed by quantum mechanical wiggles in that early universe that were stretched across the size of the entire cosmos. That is spectacular, and that's not what they found on Monday; what they found on Monday is cooler. So here's what they found on Monday: Imagine you take a bell, and you whack the bell with a hammer.

What happens? It rings. But if you wait, that ringing fades and fades and fades until you don't notice it anymore. Now, that early universe was incredibly dense, like a metal, way denser, and if you hit it, it would ring, but the thing ringing would be the structure of space-time itself, and the hammer would be quantum mechanics. What they found on Monday was evidence of the ringing of the space-time of the early universe, what we call gravitational waves from the fundamental era, and here's how they found it. Those waves have long since faded. If you go for a walk, you don't wiggle. Those gravitational waves in the structure of space are totally invisible for all practical purposes. But early on, when the universe was making that last afterglow, the gravitational waves put little twists in the structure of the light that we see. So by looking at the night sky deeper and deeper — in fact, these guys spent three years on the South Pole looking straight up through the coldest, clearest, cleanest air they possibly could find looking deep into the night sky and studying that glow and looking for the faint twists which are the symbol, the signal, of gravitational waves, the ringing of the early universe. And on Monday, they announced that they had found it.

And the thing that's so spectacular about that to me is not just the ringing, though that is awesome. The thing that's totally amazing, the reason I'm on this stage, is because what that tells us is something deep about the early universe. It tells us that we and everything we see around us are basically one large bubble — and this is the idea of inflation— one large bubble surrounded by something else. This isn't conclusive evidence for inflation, but anything that isn't inflation that explains this will look the same. This is a theory, an idea, that has been around for a while, and we never thought we we'd really see it. For good reasons, we thought we'd never see killer evidence, and this is killer evidence. But the really crazy idea is that our bubble is just one bubble in a much larger, roiling pot of universal stuff. We're never going to see the stuff outside, but by going to the South Pole and spending three years looking at the detailed structure of the night sky, we can figure out that we're probably in a universe that looks kind of like that.

And that amazes me. Thanks a lot. (Applause).

Climate change is simple: David Roberts at TEDxTheEvergreenStateCollege

Hi, this talk started out of a Twitter conversation. I haven’t decided whether to be embarrassed about that or not. But I was on Twitter one day and a relatively prominent left of centre pundit, piped up and said “You know, climate change seems like a really big deal, why are so few people talking about it? Why have so few thought leaders made it their signature issue?” And another reasonably prominent left of centre pundit piped up and said “Well, for my part, the reason I don’t talk about it is it seems really complicated, I don’t feel like I have a good grasp on all the science and so I just don’t feel qualified to go out and assert things publicly about it.” You know, anybody who has ever so much as mentioned climate change on television or on the internet will understand why this person thinks the way they do.

Any time you mention it, the hordes descend, bearing complicated stories about the medieval ice age, or sunspots, or water vapour, and, you know, there is a lot of myths about climate change borne by these climate sceptics but to debunk those myths you have to know, you know, you have to go online, and research, and read, and be able to respond to them in detail, and a lot of people just find that prospect dreary, and so they don’t bother. And this, of course, drives me crazy, so I piped up on Twitter and said “You know, climate change is not actually that complicated. What you need to know to be able to speak out publicly about it, just about the basic structure of the problem, is really not that complicated, I could explain it to you in 15 minutes” so, let this be a lesson to you: don’t go talk smack on Twitter, unless you are willing to back it up. So, one thing led to another, and here I am with 15 minutes to explain climate change to you.

So, let’s get started. Why is the Earth not a cold dead rock floating in space? The reason is that it is enveloped by this tiny, tiny thin layer of gases and chemicals that we call our atmosphere. So, the Sun’s energy, rather than just coming down and bouncing right back off, it comes down and is held close to the surface of the Earth for a while and then bounces off, and then this simple process is why we have evaporation, and precipitation, and photosynthesis, and life on our planet. So, scientists discovered, well over a hundred years ago, that the atmosphere and the systems on Earth are in this dynamic relationship and you can change the chemical composition of the atmosphere and hold more of the Sun’s energy for longer. The energy still has to escape, of course, but in the meantime it will cause changes in these biophysical systems of the Earth. And, you know, you often hear people say, “The Earth has always changed, the climate has always changed”, and that’s true, it has. This relationship between the atmosphere and the systems, they go through cycles, but these cycles have typically taken hundreds of thousand of years, millions of years.

The key thing to know first is that for the last 10,000 years on Earth, the climate has been relatively stable, unusually stable, and by stable I mean temperature has varied, it’s gone up and down, but it’s stayed on a fairly narrow band of about plus or minus 1 degree Celsius, and all of advanced human civilisation has taken place during these 10,000 years, the development of agriculture, the written word, the wheel, the iPhone, everything we know, everything we have built, we have done in this period of relative climate stability. So, what we have been doing for the last couple of hundred years is digging up carbon out of the earth, and throwing it up into the atmosphere, and changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere, like has happened in the past except for extremely faster. In geological time, the blink of an eye, we are substantially changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere and all of climate science has been about, “What’s going to happen? What is the Earth going to do in response to this?” And so, we’ve already seen that the process is underway, we have measured, we have witnessed, observed with our eyes and our thermometers about a 0.

8ºC rise in global average temperature since before the industrial age, since before we started digging all this carbon up. And this may not seem like a lot — less than 1ºC — but the thing to know about it is these greenhouse gases we throw up stay in the atmosphere for a very long time, there are very long time lags involved here so this 0.8º temperature rise is a response to what we were doing 50-100 years ago, and what we see in the first half of this century will be a response to what we’ve done in the last 50 years and what we’ll see in the latter half of this century will be a response to decisions we make today. So the question is, “Temperature’s rising, how high does it have to rise before we need to worry, before we’re in danger, before bad things start happening?” The typical answer to this question has been “2ºC.” Anyone who has followed climate change discussions knows that this 2º number has taken on a kind of iconic quality.

Typically, climate scientists who model impacts of what’s going to happen, model 2ºC rise, typically economists who try to model what it would cost to do something about climate change or what it’s worth or what various policies would cost, model 2º centigrade. So obviously, what counts as not dangerous vs dangerous, is not a hard scientific question, it’s a political question, and this was a political decision to take this 2C number, mainly made by European climate negotiators well over 10 years ago, and it’s just sort of stuck since then. All the countries involved in climate negotiations have basically signed on saying “Yes, this is what we want to avoid, 2ºC temperature rise.” The bad news on this 2C number is twofold: first of all, all the latest science done in the last 10-15 years has pointed to the conclusion that those impacts we thought were going to happen around 2ºC are in fact going to happen much earlier than that, the climate is more sensitive to these added greenhouse gases than we thought. So, if those were the impacts we were worried about, then the real threshold of safety ought to be something like 1.

5ºC. James Hansen is the climate scientist most famously known for raising these warnings, but it’s a growing scientific consensus that 2º is, in fact, dangerously high, which is bad, because we are almost certainly going to blow past 2ºC. There’s some reason to believe a recent study said that even if we stopped our carbon emissions tomorrow, we’re still going to get more than 3º this century just from momentum from the previous emissions. But stopping at 2º now would take a level of global coordination and ambition that is nowhere in evidence. So, a lot of climate scientists don’t really want to tell you this because they don’t want to depress you, but I am just a blogger, so I am happy to depress you: 2ºC is probably off the table. So, then the question becomes “Well, what would it look like if temperature goes higher than that? What would, say, 4ºC look like?” Oddly, there hadn’t really been a lot of concerted scientific attention to that question because climate scientists honestly thought we wouldn’t do that to ourselves, but we are doing it to ourselves.

So, in 2009, several climate change research groups in England drew together a group of scientists, commissioned some papers and had them really take a hard look for the first time. What would 4ºC look like? There are a lot of papers, a lot of equations, a lot of talk and complexity I have hopefully paraphrased here for you, to make it easier to grasp. 4ºC temperature rise would look ugly. Among other things, that would be the hottest the Earth has been in 30 million years. Sea-levels would rise at least 3-6 feet, and this excludes some really tail end possibilities, but 3-6 feet at least. And persistent drought would cover about 40% of the currently occupied land on Earth, which would wreak havoc on agriculture in East Asia, Africa, South America, Western US. Well this combined will produce hundreds of millions of people who have been driven from their homes either by their cities being swamped by sea-level rise or by hunger or by all the attended ills that come along with those things.

And, to boot, probably somewhere around half of the known species on Earth would go extinct. This question of pinning down the exact number of species is very difficult, this is very much an approximation, but some substantial chunk of life on Earth would be wiped out. The final bit of bad news… that’s not true, there’s more bad news to come, a middle bit of bad news is that, according to a recent paper by the International Energy Agency, we are currently on track — if we keep doing what we are now doing, if we go on with business as usual, as it’s called — we are now on track for 6ºC temperature rise this century; something, 5-7, these are obviously estimations. So, if 4º is hell on Earth, I’ll let your imaginations filling the blanks on 6º but, one danger that comes up when we contemplate going this high with our temperature is the possibility that climate change will become irreversable.

I think when people typically think about climate change, they think, “Oh, temperature is going to rise X amount, circumstances will change, some places will get warmer, some places will get wetter, we’ll adjust, we’ll move our farms around, people will migrate from one city to another, we’ll get resettled and we’ll go on with life. The really dangerous possibility is that what are called — the Earth has several of what are called positive feedback systems, so, for instance, in Siberia there is this permanent ice, the permafrost and it contains a bunch of methane in it. As it melts, it releases that methane, the methane causes more warming, which melts more ice, which releases more methane, it’s a self-sustaining process; or sea ice melts, ice is white, it reflects energy, when it melts becomes dark blue and absorbs more energy, which heats the oceans, which melts more ice, which creates more dark surfaces.

You see, there’s a number of these systems that are self-perpetuating, and the danger, the great danger of climate change, that towers above all these other more specific dangers, is that these positive feedback systems will take on a momentum of their own that becomes unstoppable, and human beings will lose any ability to control it at all, even if we’d stop all our climate emissions on a dime. Will that happen at 2º? Probably not though there is a real chance of it and there is a lot of debate about that; will it happen at 4º? Well, it looks a lot more likely at 4º. Will it happen at 6º? Almost certainly. So, if we continue on our present course, climate change will probably take on a life of its own, spiral out of control and, according to a recent paper, by 2300, we could see temperature rise of up to 12ºC.

Now if that happened, something like half the Earth’s currently inhabited land would become too hot to survive on; and when I say too hot to survive on I don’t mean it’s difficult to grow beans or air conditioning bills are inconveniently high, I mean if you go outside you die of hotness. I mean, places that were an average of 80ºF would be now an average of 170-180ºF, literally too hot for human beings to go outside and survive. So, will there still be human civilization under those circumstances? Who knows, I mean, maybe we’ll live in underground climate controlled caves, maybe we’ll grow food in test tubes, but that wouldn’t look anything like Earth as we now know it, it would look a lot more like Newt Gingrich’s moon colony, assuming any human beings, or at least enough to make a civilization survived in those circumstances. So, when I say “Climate change is simple.” — I know this has been bugging you, you are not used to thinking in Celsius, those strange European metric temperatures, so here is good American Fahrenheit, it’s just as ugly. So this is what I mean by climate change being simple: There are many complicated and fascinating discussions to be had about what to do about it, or about what effect our actions might have on the climate and when, or which policies are best based on cost benefit analyses.

There is complexity, plenty of complexity, for those of you who like complexity, but we now know to a fair degree of certainty that if we keep doing what we are now doing, we will face unthinkable catastrophe; that’s the bumper sticker, that’s the take home message, and that, you know, saying “I don’t want to talk about that because I don’t know the ins and outs” is like saying, “I don’t want to raise alarms about Hitler’s army being a hundred miles out, because I don’t know the thread count of their uniforms, or, I don’t know the average calorie intake of a German soldier.” You don’t need to know those things to be scared that the army’s on the march and to raise alarms about it.

Similarly, if we keep doing what we are now doing, we are screwed, this we know now. To stabilize temperature, and I don’t mean stabilize temperature at 2º, or 4º, or 6º, I mean to ever have a hope of ever again having a stable temperature, of any kind, global climate change emissions need to peak, stop growing, peak and start falling rapidly in the next 5-10 years. Every year we do not get started on this, we add, according to the International Energy Agency, an extra 500 billion, with a B, dollars to the price tag of what it is going to cost us to do this, eventually, every year we wait. That’s $500 billion down the drain. Now, you and I look around at current politics, particularly US politics, and massive coordinated intelligent ambitious action does not strike us as particularly plausible. In fact, it might strike us as impossible, but that is where we are, stuck between the impossible and the unthinkable.

So, your job, anyone who hears this, for the rest of your life, your job is to make the impossible possible. Thank you! (Applause).

From Japan to the World: Seiichi Kondo at TEDxKyoto 2013

This year has been a significant year for me. I had a very sad event and very wonderful news. The sad event is that my father passed away. The wonderful-happy event is that Mt. Fuji was inscribed on the UNESCO's World Heritage list. My father was brought up in the city of Numazu in Shizuoka prefecture, which is the host to Mt. Fuji. And he spent all his school days worshiping and admiring Mt. Fuji. So it is quite natural that he had been dreaming of the day when Mt. Fuji is designated as a World Heritage. He resigned many years ago and moved to Atami, another city in Shizuoka prefecture which is known to be a wonderful resort town and lived there until the age of 94. Early May, when I learned that ICOMOS, which is the advisory body of UNESCO, made a recommendation that Fuji-san should be inscribed on the World Heritage list. So I immediately went to see my father in the hospital in Atami to share this wonderful news with my father.

He, who was already unable to speak opened his eyes, gave me a big smile and took my hand. And that was my last conversation with my father. He passed away a few hours later, before dawn. 6 weeks later Mt. Fuji was officially designated as a World Cultural Heritage. What is significant here is that Mt. Fuji was designated as a World Cultural Heritage and not World Natural Heritage. It is not its beautiful landscape but its role as a source of artistic inspiration that was appreciated by UNESCO. Mt. Fuji inspired many Japanese artists ranging from the poets who appear in Manyosyu the oldest anthology of Japanese short poem, Waka to Katsushika Hokusai and other woodblock print artists in Edo period. The essence of traditional Japanese aesthetic comes from Japanese unique views of nature, I believe. The Western civilization places humans above nature because humans have reason whereas in Japan people tend to think that even humans are no more than part of nature and seek a lifestyle which unites with nature and never challenge it head on. These unique views of nature developed by the Japanese are best represented in the making of Japanese gardens.

Japanese gardens are made in full harmony with natural landscape Sakuteiki, which is an instruction book on garden making published in the 11th century tells that if you want to make the best Japanese garden you have to follow what nature tells you. This is in a sharp contrast with the Western gardens. The garden of the Palais de Versaille outside of Paris in France is geometrically designed, composed of straight lines complete circles and total symmetry asserting human superiority over nature. However there are no either straight lines or complete circles no perfect symmetry in the real world. They only exist in human brain. The similar difference exists in the world of ceramic wear. Royal Copenhagen tea cup is very assertive in trying to make as a perfect round as possible whereas Japanese Raku-Yaki the tea ceremony bowl is intentionally distorted. Japanese feel it is very comfortable because it is natural.

The Japanese respectful nature places animals as equal partners of the humans. In Yuzuru, one of the most famous and the widely-loved Opera in Japan a crane, Tsuru, transforms itself into a human lady to help the man who saved its life. This may never happen in the Western civilization because in the Western civilization people are supposed to be superior to nature. So maybe a demon transforms a man into a swan but animals do not transform themselves to express their emotions. Japanese believe that people or humans are only part of nature goes on to accept that even furniture has emotion. This is Otogi-zoshi scroll of the medieval ages. This tells a story about a group of furniture which were thrown out into this corner of a garden, got angry about it and tried to threaten humans as a revenge by transforming themselves into monsters and demons. So this is scientifically impossible therefore sounds totally absurd to most of the people in the West but Japanese, more or less accept it without much difficulty.

Now these Japanese unique views of nature are based on the mixture of awe for and love of nature developed over the centuries. You may wonder why the Japanese have developed such ideas, such unique views of nature. The answer is the wonderful scenic views natural beauties with distinct 4 seasons. And the disasters beyond human control such as volcano eruptions or earthquakes. And rich natural resources such as blossoms, fruits, vegetables, fish that embrace the people immediately after disaster. So I think these unique views of nature developed and held by the Japanese should be better appreciated by contemporary Japanese and also should be shared by the rest of the world for the following reasons. One, this approach will help us develop high level of respect for nature which is significantly important to deal with environmental issues to protect the environment of the planet including our fight against global warming.

Second, this will help us develop sympathy, compassion for others which is vitally again important to enhance mutual understanding amongst the people of different cultural backgrounds. And third, this will lead us to the acceptance of diversity which will let us avoid unnecessary conflicts and will help us build true world peace. So I hope the designation of Mt. Fuji as a World Cultural Heritage will highlight the importance of these traditional views of nature held by the Japanese and demonstrate the relevance in the 21st century civilizatoin. Ladies and gentlemen let me invite you to go back to the life of a diplomat. They say, when a diplomat says "Yes" he means "Perhaps". When he says "Perhaps", he means "No". And if he says "No" he is no diplomat. (Laughter) And when I said "Yes" to the invitation from TEDxKyoto, I really meant it because this will provide me with a wonderful opportunity to get this message across.

And this is exactly what my father wanted me to do after the official inscription of Mt. Fuji on the World Heritage list. Thank you very much. (Applause).