TED and Future Stewards announce Countdown, a global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis

Prince WilliamYemi AladeMonica Araya, Xiye Bastida, Jesper BrodinDon CheadleDave ClarkChristiana FigueresAl Gore, António Guterres, Chris HemsworthKara HurstLisa JacksonRose Mutiso, Johan Rockström, Prince RoyceMark Ruffalo, Sigrid, Jaden SmithNigel Topping, and Ursula von der Leyen join scientists, activists, artists, schools and leaders from business and government to accelerate and amplify solutions

Countdown, a global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, will launch on October 10, 2020 with a free five-hour live virtual event featuring leading thinkers and doers. This is the moment to act, and they will outline what a healthy, abundant, zero-emission future can look like—turning ideas into action. The event will combine TED’s signature blend of actionable and research-backed ideas, cutting-edge science, and moments of wonder and inspiration. Countdown is one part of a broader series of actions and events this fall including the Bloomberg Green Festival, Climate Week NYC and others, all with the collective objective of informing and activating millions in the lead-up to a successful UN Climate Change Conference in November 2021.

The Countdown launch will be streamed live on TED’s YouTube channel. This global event will be the first ever TED conference that is free and open to the public. Segments from the event, including the biggest talks and performances, will be made available immediately across all digital platforms. The program includes 50+ pieces of content—talks, performances, animations and more.  Speakers will touch on topics such as:

  • Climate science and the climate crisis: Where are we today?
  • Why climate justice matters
  • Putting climate back on the political and social agenda
  • What businesses can do—and are doing—to transform and transition
  • Rethinking our cities
  • Stepping up at work and at home
  • The path to a safer, cleaner, fairer future for people and the planet

A full agenda and speaker list can be found here.

In addition to the live global event, over 500 TEDx Countdown virtual events in nine languages are planned around the world, encouraging communities and citizens to take action locally while also feeding local solutions and ideas into the global conversation. Countdown has also convened a global Youth Council of recognized activists who will help shape the Countdown agenda throughout the year. Additionally, Countdown is working to engage people through art with ten public art installations in global cities around the 10.10.20 event and open calls for art––illustration and photography––to run throughout the year on the Countdown website.

“The moment to act on climate change has been upon us for too long, and now is the time to unite all levels of society—business leaders, courageous political actors, scientists and individuals—to get to net-zero emissions before 2050,” said Chris Anderson, Countdown founding partner and Head of TED. “Climate is a top priority for TED and members of our community, and we are proud to fully dedicate our organization in the fight for our collective future.”

“Countdown brings together a powerful collaboration of partners from all sectors to act on climate change,” said Lindsay Levin, Countdown founding partner and CEO of Leaders’ Quest. “We need to work together with courage and compassion to deliver a healthy, fair, resilient future for everyone.

With so many people who have already committed to addressing climate change, Countdown is about radical collaboration—convening all stakeholders to build on the critical work already underway and bringing existing, powerful solutions to an even broader audience. Powered by TED and Future Stewards, Countdown aims to answer five fundamental, interconnected questions that inform a blueprint for a better future:

  • ENERGY: How rapidly can we switch to 100% clean power?
  • TRANSPORT: How can we upgrade the way we move people and things?
  • MATERIALS: How can we re-imagine and re-make the stuff around us?
  • FOOD: How can we spark a worldwide shift to healthier food systems?
  • NATURE: How do we better protect and re-green the earth?

Countdown is asking companies and organizations to join the Race to Zero through Business Ambition for 1.5°C, which is a commitment to set science-based targets aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5°C, and through The Climate Pledge, which calls on signatories to be net zero carbon by 2040—a decade ahead of the Paris Agreement goal of 2050.

“We can inspire others through action and example, because there is no hope without action,” said 17-year-old climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, a lead organizer of the Fridays for Future youth climate strike movement. “We are fighting to ensure this planet survives and flourishes for future generations, which requires intergenerational cooperation. Countdown is about coming together across ages and sectors to protect the earth and ensure we leave it better than we found it.”

“Five years after the unanimous signing of the Paris Agreement, many countries, companies and citizens are doing what they can about the climate crisis. But this is not enough,” said Christiana Figueres, former UN climate chief (2010-2016), now co-founder of Global Optimism. “We have this decisive decade to achieve what is necessary—cutting global emissions in half over the next ten years is vital to meeting the goal of net zero by 2050. I am delighted to partner with Countdown to increase the global stock of stubborn optimism that is needed to push every company and country—and engage citizens—in actions that decouple carbon from our economy and way of life in this decade.”

Following the launch, Countdown will facilitate a number of sector leader working groups along with the initiative’s network of partner organizations through November 2021. These will focus on delivering breakthrough progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the lead-up to the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. During next year’s Countdown Summit (October 12-15, 2021Edinburgh, Scotland), the initiative will share an actionable blueprint for a net-zero future and celebrate the progress that’s already been made.

Citizens are the critical component of this initiative and anyone can #JoinTheCountdown by:

Connect at Countdown@ted.com

About TED
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, often in the form of short talks delivered by leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED conferences, intimate TED Salons and thousands of independently organized TEDx events around the world. Videos of these talks are made available, free, on TED.com and other platforms. Audio versions of TED Talks are published to TED Talks Daily, available on all podcast platforms.

Follow TED on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and on LinkedIn.

About Future Stewards
Future Stewards is a coalition of partners (Leaders’ QuestGlobal Optimism, and We Mean Business) working together to build a regenerative future – where we meet the needs of all, within the means of the planet. Founded after the Paris Agreement, Future Stewards equips individuals, businesses and communities with the awareness and tools required to tackle systemic problems, scale what works, and build cross-sector collaboration.

Contact press@ted.com

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Want a better night’s sleep? A TED original series explores the science of slumber

Is that afternoon coffee having a major impact on your sleep hours later? Does sleeping longer mean living longer?

In TED’s newest original video series, Sleeping with Science, sleep scientist Matt Walker dives into the latest research on sleep — and explains what you need to know to get a better night’s rest.

While you’re dreaming, your body works overtime to repair your immune system, file your memories and literally clean your brain, so you can wake up ready for the day. But not all sleep is created equal. Walker sheds light on the mysterious mechanics of slumber in eight brief, information-packed episodes featuring colorful illustrations of the wondrous inner workings of your brain on sleep — and what happens when you don’t get enough of it.

Stroll through the stages of sleep with Walker as he finally puts to rest tired misconceptions about sleep and uncovers some surprising findings, including how coffee and alcohol really affect your sleep, how to boost your immune system with sleep, new research into the link between sleep and Alzheimer’s disease and how to hack your memory with sleep. This series was made possible with the support of Beautyrest.

Take a walk through the stages of sleep:

A look at how you might be paying for that nightcap with your sleep:


Studying for a big test? Learn how sleep boosts your memory:


Could better sleep hold the key to lowering your risk of Alzheimer’s disease:


Feeling cranky? Understand how sleep — or the lack of it — changes your feelings during the day:


Explore the connection between rest and your health:


Find out if you’re getting enough sleep:


And finally, try these tips for a better snooze:

https://embed.ted.com/talks/65067

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Remembering Sir Ken Robinson

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Sir Ken Robinson speaks at TED2010 in Long Beach, California. (TED / James Duncan Davidson)

In February 2006, author and educator Sir Ken Robinson stepped on to the TED stage and posed a provocative question: “Do schools kill creativity? What followed was a masterclass in public speaking — 19 minutes that sparkled with wit, deep thinking and a fierceless confidence in human potential. Since then, Sir Ken’s talk has taken on a life of its own. It was among the first six TED Talks to be released online in 2006, and it remains the most-viewed talk of all time, having been seen more than 65 million times.

Sir Ken died Saturday, August 21, 2020, after an extraordinary life as one of the world’s leading thinkers on creativity and innovation. He was critical of contemporary educational systems, which he believed educated students to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. He advocated instead for a personal approach, one that treats kids as unique individuals with a diversity of talents. “We have to move to a model that is based more on principles of agriculture,” he said in the follow-up to his 2006 talk. “We have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process; it’s an organic process. And you cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.”

Sir Ken dedicated his career to nurturing this type of personalized approach to learning, working with governments, educators, corporations and cultural organizations to unlock people’s creativity. A native of Liverpool, UK, he led the British government’s 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education, which looked into the significance of creativity in education and the economy, and was knighted in 2003 for his achievements. He authored or coauthored a wide range of books including the breakthrough The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, a New York Times bestseller that has been translated into 23 languages.

Sir Ken’s work lives on in the minds of millions. At his core, he believed that creativity is the essential act of living, of navigating a fundamentally unpredictable world. As he said to head of TED Chris Anderson in their 2018 interview: “The best evidence of human creativity is our trajectory through life. We create our own lives. And these powers of creativity, manifested in all the ways in which human beings operate, are at the very heart of what it is to be a human being.”

He will be much missed.

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Apply to be a TED Fellow!

In the midst of this global pandemic, the TED Fellows program is more committed than ever to finding and amplifying individuals making a vital impact in their communities and doing the work of future-making. Read on to learn how to apply, and how the TED Fellows program is meeting this moment.

Since launching the TED Fellows program, we’ve gotten to know and support some of the brightest, most ambitious thinkers, change-makers and culture-shakers from nearly every discipline and corner of the world.

Whether it’s discovering new galaxies, leading social movements or making waves in environmental conservation, with the support of TED, Fellows are dedicated to making the world a better place through their innovative work. And you could be one of them.

Apply to be a TED Fellow now through August 24, 2020 — that’s coming up soon, so don’t procrastinate!! We do not accept late submissions!

What happens when I’m chosen as a TED Fellow?

  • You become part of a diverse, collaborative and global community of more than 500 emerging and established experts.
  • You receive professional development through virtual workshops and webinars.
  • You gain valuable feedback from TED’s expert coaches on how to hone, express and communicate your work and your ideas.
  • You will give a TED Talk (at a virtual or live event, depending on the state of the global pandemic).
  • You’ll receive career coaching and mentorship from our team of professional coaches.
  • You’ll get public relations guidance and media training.
  • You’ll participate in virtual programming for TED Fellows.
  • You will have the opportunity to participate in and contribute to a thriving and connected global community.
  • You will get a possible invitation to attend the special TEDMonterey conference in Monterey, California. (Note: while we are currently planning on an in-person conference in Monterey [May 29–June 4, 2021], given the global pandemic this conference may be cancelled and the TED Fellowship may become entirely virtual. This will depend on expert advice and local health safety protocols.)

What are the requirements?

  • An idea worth spreading!
  • A completed online application consisting of general biographical information, short paragraphs on your work and three references. (It’s fun, and it’ll make you think…)
  • You must be at least 18 years old to apply.
  • You must be fluent in English.
  • You must be excited to participate in a collaborative, interdisciplinary global community.
  • You must be available May 29–June 4, 2021.

What do you have to lose?

Nothing! Apply today. The deadline is August 24, 2020 at 11:59pm UTC. We do not accept late applications, so don’t wait until the last minute!

We invite you to find answers to some frequently asked questions and meet all the TED Fellows to learn more about the breadth of this global community.

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All together now: Notes on Session 8 of TED2020

It’s been an unforgettable eight weeks of TED2020, the first-ever virtual TED conference. For the final session: a call to moral leadership, a rethink on what it means to be a citizen, some pointers on how to make a good argument from a Supreme Court litigator and much more. Below, read a recap of the inspiring ideas by amazing speakers (and check out the full coverage of the conference here).

“If you make a good argument, it has the power to outlive you, to stretch beyond your core, to reach future minds,” says Supreme Court litigator Neal Katyal. He speaks at TED2020: Uncharted on July 9, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Neal Katyal, Supreme Court litigator

Big idea: Empathy and long-term drive are key to crafting persuasive and successful arguments.

Why? Winning an argument isn’t just about drowning out an opponent or proving them wrong — it’s about leveraging empathy and human connection to draw a comprehensive understanding of the circumstance and, ultimately, highlight the most just solution. As a Supreme Court litigator, Neal Katyal has argued some of the most impactful cases of recent history, including the case against the 2017 Muslim travel ban and the case against waterboarding and Guantanamo Bay military tribunals. In his experience, he realized that while good courtroom practices include extensive practice and avoiding displays of emotion, crafting a successful argument takes more. Sometimes arguments fail — and it’s at that moment of failure that empathy is most important. Katyal hasn’t won every case he’s argued, but through failure he’s been able to better understand the core of his work and refine his arguments to resonate more deeply. By drawing strength and drive from our personal histories and principles, we can identify why our arguments advance justice and how we can articulate it more clearly to our opponents. “The question is not how to win every argument — it’s how to get back up when we lose,” Katyal says. “In the long run, good arguments will win out. If you make a good argument, it has the power to outlive you, to stretch beyond your core, to reach future minds. Even if you don’t win right now, if you make a good argument, history will prove you right.”


“America is above all an idea, however unrealized and imperfect, one that only exists because the first settlers came here freely without worry of citizenship,” says immigrant rights advocate Jose Antonio Vargas. He speaks at TED2020: Uncharted on July 9, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Jose Antonio Vargas, immigrant rights advocate

Big idea: Americans need to identify their own immigrant narratives — and overturn their preconceived notions of what it means to be a citizen.

How? If you live in the United States and are not a Native American (whose ancestors were already in North America when the first European settlers arrived) or an African American (whose ancestors were brought to the US by force), you are the descendant of an immigrant — and chances are you haven’t thought enough about what American citizenship means, says Jose Antonio Vargas. “What most people don’t understand about immigration is what they don’t understand about themselves — their family’s old migration stories and the processes they had to go through before green cards and walls even existed, or what shaped their understanding of citizenship itself,” he says. By asking yourself three questions — “Where did you come from?” “How did you get here?” and “Who paid?” — Vargas believes that people can come to realize that citizenship doesn’t mean simply being accepted into a society by an accident of birth or a rule of law; it also means participating in and contributing to a community, and educating others. And it demands that we become something greater than ourselves: citizens who are ultimately responsible to each other.


Abena Koomson-Davis performs “People Get Ready” and “Love in Need of Love” at TED2020: Uncharted on July 9, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Performer, educator and wordsmith Abena Koomson Davis keeps the session moving with a capella performances of “People Get Ready” and “Love in Need of Love.”


“Let this be our moment to move forward with the fierce urgency of a new generation, fortified with our most profound and collective wisdom,” says Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of Acumen. She speaks at TED2020: Uncharted on July 9, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of Acumen

Big idea: We must start the hard, long work of moral revolution, putting our shared humanity and the sustainability of the earth at the center of our systems and prioritizing the collective instead of the individual.

How? Our problems are interdependent and entangled. To fix them, we need more than a systems shift — we need a mindshift, says Jacqueline Novogratz. Pulling from her storied career empowering people in underdeveloped communities worldwide, she shares some of the wisdom and knowledge she’s earned in transforming her own unbridled optimism into hard-edged hope and lasting change. For humanity to spark its own moral revolution, we need an entirely new set of operating principles, of which she offers three to start: moral imagination, in seeing people equal to ourselves, neither idealizing or victimizing; holding opposing values in tension, with leaders cultivating trust by making important decisions in service of others, not themselves; and accompaniment, encouraging others to join in and walk along the side of morality. This work may seem tough, but Novogratz reminds us that we don’t change in the easy times, we change in the difficult times. Discomfort can be seen as a proxy for progress. “Let this be our moment to move forward with the fierce urgency of a new generation, fortified with our most profound and collective wisdom” she says. “And ask yourself: What can you do with the rest of today, and the rest of your life, to give back to the world more than you take?”


Eric Whitacre introduces “Sing Gently,” an original composition performed by a virtual choir made up of singers from across the globe. He speaks at TED2020: Uncharted on July 9, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Eric Whitacre, composer and conductor

Big idea: A virtual choir — representing 17,572 singers across 129 countries — can show us how connected we all still are.

How? When the COVID-19 crisis hit, Whitacre felt compelled to create a virtual choir. (Check out his epic performance from TED2013 to hear what that sounds like.) He wanted to make a kind of music to help the world heal, to encourage a gentle way of living with each other. So he composed “Sing Gently,” a piece inspired by the Japanese art form kintsugi — the art of repairing broken pottery with gilded epoxies, thereby illuminating the pottery’s “wounds,” as opposed to hiding them. Whitacre hopes that his staggeringly large virtual choir, spliced together with contributions of singers across the globe, will have the same kind of effect on our torn social fabric. “When we are through all of this, we will be stronger and more beautiful because of it,” he says.


“I truly feel that if all of us took care of the earth as a practice, as a culture, none of us would have to be full-time climate activists,” says Xiye Bastida. She speaks at TED2020: Uncharted on July 9, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Xiye Bastida, climate activist

Big idea: Humanity needs to cultivate the heart and courage to love the world.

How? In a letter to her abuela, Xiye Bastida reflects on being a leading voice of youth climate activism and Indigenous and immigrant visibility. Bastida’s days are occupied with mobilizing masses in New York City to join the climate movement, joining Greta Thunberg’s global climate strike and becoming fluent in climate science (all while sacrificing the normal activities of a teenager). “I do this work because you showed me that resilience, love and knowledge are enough to make a difference,” she writes to her abuela. Bastida shows us that, with unwavering commitment rooted in love, we are capable of igniting far more than we can imagine. “People make it so easy for me to talk to them, but they make it so hard for me to teach them,” Bastida says. “I want them to have the confidence to always do their best. I want them to have the heart and the courage to love the world.”

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TED and Qatar Foundation unveil TEDinArabic: A new initiative to identify and amplify ideas in the Arabic language

TED and Qatar Foundation have launched TEDinArabic. The joint two-year initiative, featuring an ideas search, live event and custom digital destination, will provide a global platform for thinkers, researchers, artists and change-makers across the Arabic-speaking world to share their ideas with a global audience.

As part of its mission of “ideas worth spreading,” TED is committed to enabling inspiring ideas to crisscross languages and borders. TEDinArabic is TED’s first initiative to focus on sharing solutions, inventions and stories in the Arabic language. Qatar Foundation — a nonprofit organization supporting Qatar on its journey to becoming a diversified and sustainable economy — believes in unlocking human potential. It is committed to preserving, promoting and celebrating the Arabic language and providing platforms for people to share their knowledge, perspectives and ideas.

TEDinArabic is where these two beliefs meet. Recognizing the value of diverse perspectives, TEDinArabic will spread the ideas of Arabic speakers to new audiences, magnifying their reach and impact.

“We are thrilled to partner with Qatar Foundation to bring ideas from Arabic-speaking regions to the world,” said Chris Anderson, head of TED. “We at TED have always valued the power of delivering talks in one’s native language, and the nuance and richness that comes with doing so. The TEDinArabic initiative is an important step in that journey. As we bring this program to life, together with Qatar Foundation, we are grateful for the support of an organization that shares our passion and dedication to education and ideas.”

Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation, said: “Language is more than just a means of communication: it influences the way we think and how we frame our perceptions on a subconscious level. With TEDinArabic, I hope we can continue the process of amplifying ideas from our region to a global audience in a language that is synonymous with innovation and new thinking. We are proud to be partnering with TED, with whom we share the belief that everyone’s mind and voice can make a difference, as together we aim to build a new culture of idea-generation that stretches across the Arab world and beyond.” 

A foundational part of the initiative’s engagement approach is an ideas search spanning the Middle East, during which selected ideas will be celebrated at regional events throughout 2021. The idea search will result in the selection of 16 speakers to give TED Talks at the partnership’s culminating flagship event in Doha, Qatar, in 2022. This event will offer the TED conference experience in the heart of the Middle East, and showcase the boldest and most inspiring ideas to emerge from the Arabic-speaking world. 

To house the initiative’s content library, TED has built a custom digital destination. Content will focus on topics that matter to the Arabic-speaking world and will include a combination of TED-original and TED-translated content, such as blog articles, TED-Ed video lessons and custom video content. 

The impact of TEDinArabic is intended to endure long after this two-year partnership, with the digital destination and its content remaining live after the culmination of this partnership.

You can find out more at TEDinArabic.ted.com. Or, check out a conversation hosted as part of TED2020: Uncharted, in which TED global curator Bruno Giussani sat down with Dr. Ahmad M. Hasnah of Qatar Foundation’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University to discuss education amid the pandemic.

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Conversations on what’s next in tech, government and activism: Week 8 of TED2020

The final week of TED2020 featured conversations with experts on work, tech, government, activism and more, who shared thoughts on how we can build back better after the pandemic. Below, a recap of insights shared throughout the week.

“We are living through the tech-enabled unraveling of full-time employment itself,” says anthropologist Mary L. Gray. She speaks with TED business curator Corey Hajim at TED2020: Uncharted on July 6, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Mary L. Gray, anthropologist

Big idea: AI-driven, service-on-demand companies like TaskRabbit, Amara and Amazon have built a new, invisible workforce.

How? The COVID-19 pandemic has sharply accelerated the world’s online services economy, and it’s amplifying a transition to a distributed workforce. If the thousands of jobs with no benefits, health care or safety net are any indication, society has yet to figure out how to treat the isolated human service provider, says Mary L. Gray. Over the next five years, we’ll need to fill millions of new tech jobs, most of which are built around solving the problems artificial intelligence can’t handle. How will we safeguard the new, abundant and diverse workforce that will fill these jobs, while ensuring that our changing economy is both equitable and sustainable? We often don’t value the people behind the scenes, but Gray believes it’s in society’s best interest to help workers thrive in a chaotic career landscape by providing the social services that companies don’t. “The marketplace alone can’t make the future of AI-enabled service work equitable or sustainable,” Gray says. “That’s up to us.”


Zoom CEO Eric Yuan discusses the company’s explosive growth in conversation with TED technology curator Simone Ross at TED2020: Uncharted on July 6, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Eric Yuan, CEO, Zoom

Big idea: Although we might be physically separated by distance, we can still create connection.

How? When coronavirus hit, Zoom’s business exploded overnight. Originally built for business meetings and remote work, the software is now used by people all over the world to teach school classes, do yoga with friends and even get married. Zoom CEO Eric Yuan discusses how the company met this new demand and their plans to grow quickly, explaining how Zoom created the most popular video chat software by listening to its users and creating a product to suit their needs. He envisions a Zoom of the future that will be even more user-centric, by providing an experience that rivals face-to-face gatherings with things like digital handshakes and real-time language translations. After the pandemic, Yuan doesn’t think all business and events should be conducted over Zoom. Instead, he predicts a hybrid model where people work from home more often but still go into the office for social interaction and connection. Addressing recent security concerns, he explains that the company will design a simplified security package for first-time users to protect their privacy online. “We are going to keep working as hard as we can to make the world a better place,” he says.


“UV is like hitting the RNA of the virus with a sledgehammer,” says radiation scientist David Brenner, discussing how far-UVC light could be used to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2. He speaks with TED science curator David Biello at TED2020: Uncharted on July 7, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

David Brenner, radiation scientist

Big idea: We can use far-UVC light to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.

How? Far-UVC light is a wavelength of ultraviolet light that kills bacteria and, crucially, is safe to use around humans. Over the past five years, Brenner and colleagues have conducted studies showing that far-UVC light doesn’t penetrate human skin or eyes but does have powerful germicidal capacities, killing coronaviruses at a highly effective rate. (He first laid out that idea for us in his talk from TED2017.) His team is now testing far-UVC light against SARS-CoV-2, paving the way for a potentially game-changing tool in the fight against COVID-19 and future coronavirus pandemics. Here’s how it would work: we’d install far-UVC lights in ceilings (just like normal lights) and keep them on continuously throughout the day — in hospital waiting rooms, subways and other indoor spaces — to maintain a sterilization effect. This doesn’t mean we would stop wearing masks or social distancing, Brenner notes, but we would have a powerful new weapon against the novel coronavirus. The primary challenge now lies in ramping up production of far-UVC products, Brenner says, though he’s hopeful a plethora of them will be available by the end of the year — providing a ray of hope in these pandemic times. “UV is like hitting the RNA of the virus with a sledgehammer,” he says.


“if you change your city, you’re changing the world,” says Eric Garcetti, chair of C40 Cities and mayor of City of Los Angeles. He speaks with TED current affairs curator Whitney Pennington Rodgers at TED2020: Uncharted on July 7, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Eric Garcetti, chair of C40 Cities and mayor of City of Los Angeles

Big idea: We need to rebuild our cities to be inclusive, green and sustainable.

How? In this moment of rebuilding, Garcetti shares the tangible ways Los Angeles and other cities around the world are working towards economic and social justice and climate action while battling COVID-19. By focusing on greening infrastructure, transportation and energy production, cities are turning this moment into an opportunity. “If we don’t have a just economy, the social fabric will tear apart … whether that’s based on racial prejudice and racism that’s historic, whether it’s based on economic discrimination caste systems, whether it’s looking at the way that the economy is putting more and more wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people,” Garcetti says. “We really see an opportunity to bring these together because the big mega industries of tomorrow are green industries.” By setting the responsibility of racial and gender equality on the shoulders of leadership, measuring progress and holding them accountable, he thinks we can create a more inclusive and prosperous future.


“There’s never that moment where you feel: ‘OK this the right moment to challenge the system.’ Because you might end up waiting your whole life,” says education activist Malala Yousafzai. She speaks with TED current affairs curator Whitney Pennington Rodgers at TED2020: Uncharted on July 8, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Malala Yousafzai, education activist

Big idea: In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, things won’t be the same. But it’s an important opportunity for change — with Gen Z leading the way.

How? Let’s start with Yousafzai herself: a recent graduate of Oxford University and the youngest person to ever win a Nobel Peace Prize, whose biggest dream and current activism encompasses gender equality. Her activism is grounded in education for girls, with the hope that it transforms the world into a place where women are empowered to positively impact every corner of society. Before COVID-19 and between classes, she traveled on behalf of her organization, the Malala Fund, to help create a platform for girls to speak out and urge leaders to eradicate unfair treatment based on gender. Now she’s concerned about the many girls who will lose their access to education because of the pandemic, and she maintains that we must continue to fight for them as the world changes. She has fears just like everyone else but holds on to hope through examples of Gen Z activists and change-makers taking the lead across the world to fight for a better future for all. A few ways to help now? Support activists and organizations working in your community, organize social media campaigns and start writing letters to your political leaders demanding progress, so that you too can join in fixing what’s broken.

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A smarter future: Notes from Session 7 of TED2020

For the penultimate session of TED2020, an exploration of amazing forces shaping the future — from cancer-fighting venom to spacecraft powered by lazers and much more. Below, a recap of the night’s talks and performances.

Amanda Gorman shares a powerful spoken-word poem about ending the devastation of climate change. She speaks at TED2020: Uncharted on July 2, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Amanda Gorman, poet

Big idea: We all have the power to end the devastation of climate change. Let’s get to work.

How? In a stunning spoken word poem, Gorman calls on us all to recognize the urgency of climate action. She weaves vivid imagery and metaphors to underscore searing insights on the state of global environmental damage, and hope for a sustainable future. Gorman encourages us to use our unique abilities and expertise to reverse the harm of climate change, and says that we all have a place in the movement. “We see the face of a planet anew, we relish the view … which inspires us to ask deeply, wholly, what can we do,” she says.


“Someday, snail venom might just save your life,” says molecular chemist Mandë Holford. She speaks at TED2020: Uncharted on July 2, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Mandë Holford, molecular chemist

Big Idea: Venom can kill … or it can cure. We’re now learning how it can be used as a force for good. 

How: Chemist Mandë Holford is investigating the power of venom to treat diseases and disorders, like certain cancers. Beyond common venomous snakes and spiders, Holford introduces us to the underbelly of the animal kingdom: killer snails, deadly platypuses and assassin Gila monsters. But she sees these creatures as both the supervillain and superhero, and she’s harnessing their venom to transform lives. She explains that venom’s power lies in its complex mixture of deadly peptides — a “cluster bomb” that attacks specific physiological targets like the blood, brains or membranes of the victim. Holford’s research focuses on discovering and utilizing these peptides to create therapeutics that disrupt cancer cells communications, particularly liver cancer. Venomics, or the study of venom, is an especially attractive area of research because poison has been honed and tested by nature over millennia, making for particularly potent, successful concoctions. “Someday, snail venom might just save your life,” Holford says.


Physicist Philip Lubin investigates how to use concentrated light as a propellant for spacecraft. He speaks at TED2020: Uncharted on July 2, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Phillip Lubin, physicist

Big idea: By using massive quantities of concentrated light as a propellant, we can fuel spacecraft to journey to explore solar systems beyond our own.

How? We’re making huge strides in the field of laser technology that will enable us to transform how we launch and fuel spacecraft. Much like wind in a sailboat, light can be concentrated as energy to push spacecraft towards new and farther destinations. This would work by synchronizing enormous numbers of lasers into “phased arrays”, which may be as large as a city, to build up the power necessary for inter-solar system flight. Though spacecraft may initially only be as big as a human hand, the discoveries this technology could reveal are awe-inspiring. Traveling to another solar system could alter our fundamental understanding of life itself — and breakthroughs in this technology could revolutionize how we live on Earth as well. “Everything is profound in life. The same is true of the lowly photon which we use to see every day,” says Lubin, “But when we look outside and imagine something vastly greater, we can imagine things which are extraordinary. The ability to go to another star is one of those extraordinary capabilities.”


Antonio Muñoz Fernández plays “Taranta” and “Calblanque” at TED2020: Uncharted on July 2, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Guitarist and composer Antonio Muñoz Fernández keeps the session moving and lively with performances of plays “Taranta” and “Calblanque.”


“What would America look like if everyone had a seat at the table?” asks Shari Davis, executive director of the Participatory Budgeting Project. She speaks at TED2020: Uncharted on July 2, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Shari Davis, executive director, Participatory Budgeting Project

Big idea: We have to throw out the top-down processes that have hobbled democracy, and throw the doors of government open so wide that all kinds of people will be inspired to claim the reins.

How? For most of US history, government has overwhelmingly consisted of rich white men, who installed systems rewarding people like themselves, says Davis. “What would America look like if everyone had a seat at the table?” she asks. Participatory budgeting is a grassroots democratic initiative that empowers marginalized voices from young queer communities, communities of color and the economically disenfranchised, by giving them chunks of city budgets to solve problems close to their hearts. In Boston, this came about via Youth Lead the Change, an initiative to increase education, expand technology access to students and give graffiti artists a space to legally practice their art. By nurturing new political leaders drawn from those historically denied governmental access, participatory budgeting has become a global phenomenon with the potential to transform democracy. “Participatory budgeting is actually about collective radical imagination,” Davis says. Everyone has a role to play in PB, and it works because it allows community members to craft real solutions to real problems. It provides the infrastructure for the promise of government.”


“If machines can learn, or process memories, can they also dream, hallucinate, involuntarily remember or make connections between multiple people’s dreams?” asks media artist Refik Anadol. He speaks at TED2020: Uncharted on July 2, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Refik Anadol, media artist

Big idea: What does it mean to be an AI in the 21st century?

How? The year is simultaneously 1991 and 2019, media artist Refik Anadol having just seen Blade Runner and its sci-fi future for the first time — an experience which sets in motion his inspired career of using architectural spaces as canvases to make buildings dream and hallucinate via AI. Anadol brings us on a journey from that formative childhood moment to his studio’s collaborations with architects, data scientists, neuroscientists, musicians and storytellers in experimenting with ways of augmenting our perceptions to collide the virtual and physical worlds. Each project showcases the poetic, ethereal and dynamic power of data — such as “Archive Dreaming,” conceptualizing vast knowledge in the age of AI; “Machine Hallucination,” an exploration of time and space; and “Melting Memories,” which visualizes the moment of remembering — evoking a meditative experience beyond human imagination while simultaneously enveloping you into the mind of the machine. “If machines can learn, or process memories, can they also dream, hallucinate, involuntarily remember or make connections between multiple people’s dreams?” Anadol asks.


“Most people think technology and they think that’s going to lead to unethical behavior. I think it’s exactly the opposite: I think new technologies lead to more ethical behaviors,” says futurist Juan Enriquez. He speaks at TED2020: Uncharted on July 2, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Juan Enriquez, futurist

Big idea: Tech doesn’t always lead to unethical behavior. 

How? By making problematic systems obsolete, technology is actually a powerful force for ethical change. If we embrace these changes, we’ll put ourselves on the right side of history for issues like civil rights, climate change and economic justice. As ethics continue to evolve over time, technology’s explosive growth will lead to an exponential transformation of culture. Some examples: our tolerance of wasteful meat production will soon change with lab-created, cruelty-free beef, and as tech revolutionizes renewable energy, we will naturally leave behind coal and oil. “Technology is moving at exponential rates,” Enriquez says. “Technology is changing ethics, and therefore one might expect ethics could change exponentially, and that means your notion of right and wrong changes exponentially.”

from TED Blog https://ift.tt/3iJsYSy

Conversations on building back better: Week 7 of TED2020

Week 7 of TED2020 featured conversations on where the coronavirus pandemic is heading, the case for reparations, how we can better connect with each other and how capitalism must change to build a more equitable society. Below, a recap of insights shared throughout the week.

Bill Gates discusses where the coronavirus pandemic is heading, in conversation with head of TED Chris Anderson at TED2020: Uncharted on June 29, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Bill Gates, technologist, philanthropist

Big idea: The coronavirus pandemic isn’t close to being over, but we’re making scientific progress to mitigate its impact.

How? Bill Gates talks best (and worst) case scenarios for the coronavirus pandemic in the months ahead. This fall could be quite bad in the United States, he admits, as there is speculation among researchers that COVID-19 may be seasonal and its force of infection will increase as the weather cools. But there’s also good progress on the innovation track, he says: the steroid dexamethasone was found to have benefits for critically ill patients, and monoclonal antibodies seem promising, as well. In short: we’ll have some additional support for the fall if things do indeed get worse. Gates also explains the challenges of reducing virus transmission (namely, the difficulty of identifying “superspreaders”); provides an update on promising vaccine candidates; offers his thoughts on reopening; takes a moment to address conspiracy theories circulating about himself; and issues a critical call to fellow philanthropists to ramp up their action, ambition and awareness to create a better world for all.


“When we think about the case for reparations, we are thinking about a case that is not exclusively centered on the harms and injustices and atrocities associated with slavery itself, but we have to view slavery as a crucible that created a subsequent array of atrocities that are associated with white supremacy in the United States,” says economist and author William “Sandy” Darity. He speaks with TED current affairs curator Whitney Pennington Rodgers at TED2020: Uncharted on June 30, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

William “Sandy” Darity, economist, author

Big Idea: The time has come to seriously talk about reparations: direct financial payments to the descendants of slaves for hundreds of years of injustice.

How? A growing consciousness of America’s systemic white supremacy (built on mass incarceration, police violence, discrimination in markets and the immense wealth gap between black and white) has brought contemporary politics to a boil. How does the country dismantle the intertwined legacies of slavery and the unequal, trans-generational wealth distribution that has overwhelmingly benefitted whites? Reparations are not only a practical means to address the harm visited upon Black Americans by centuries of economic exclusion but also a chance for white America to acknowledge the damage that has been done — a crucial step to reconciliation and true equality. To truly redress the harm done to descendants of slavery, reparations must seek to eliminate the racial wealth gap. Darity believes that, for the first time since Reconstruction promised ex-slaves “40 acres and a mule,” reparations are entering the mainstream political discussion, and a once wildly speculative idea seems to lie within the realm of possibility. “It’s always an urgent time to adopt reparations,” Darity says. “It has been an urgent time for the 155 years since the end of American slavery, where no restitution has been provided. It’s time for the nation to pay the debt; it’s time for racial justice.”


Chloé Valdary shares the thinking behind the “theory of enchantment,” the process by which you delight someone with a concept, idea, personality or thing. She speaks with TED business curator Corey Hajim at TED2020: Uncharted on June 30, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Chloé Valdary, writer, entrepreneur

Big Idea: Pop culture can show us how to love ourselves and one another, the first step in creating systemic change.

How? Chloé Valdary developed the “theory of enchantment,” a social-emotional learning program that applies pop culture to teach people how to meet the hardships of life by developing tools for resilience, including learning to love oneself. This love for oneself, she believes, is foundational to loving others. Built on the idea of “enchantment” — the process by which you delight someone with a concept, idea, personality or thing — the program uses beloved characters like Disney’s Moana, lyrics from Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé and even trusted brands like Nike to teach three principles: treat people like human beings not like political abstractions; never criticize to tear down a person down, only to uplift and empower; and root everything you do in love and compassion. The program aims to engender love and ultimately advance social change. “If you don’t understand the importance of loving yourself and loving others, you’re more prone to descend into rage and to map into madness and become that bad actor and to treat people unfairly, unkindly,” she says. “As a result that will, of course, contribute to a lot of the systemic injustice that we’re seeing today.”


“Hope is the oxygen of democracy and we, through inequality and the economic injustice, we see far too much of an America are literally asphyxiating hope,” says Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. He speaks with head of TED Chris Anderson at TED2020: Uncharted on July 1st, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation

Big idea: We need to consider a new kind of philanthropy and capitalism rooted in accountability and equity.

Why? “The question for the wealthy, the privileged philanthropists is not ‘what do I do to give back’ but ‘what am I willing to give up?’” says Darren Walker, discussing how comfort and privilege are interlinked and how their relationship contributes to injustice. Walker explains that for true progress to be made, tax policies must be changed for wealthier citizens and entitlement cast aside. In a country full of exhaustion, grief and anger, Walker calls for nuance in handling complex ideas like defunding the police. “I believe there’s going to need to be a reckoning in corporate America that is aligned with the reckoning in the rest of America. That we have built into our mechanisms of promotion, of recognition and success, barriers,” says Walker. In order for change to be long-lasting, Walker believes we need to hold corporations accountable far beyond how long the media is talking about them and eliminate tokenism. “I believe that we no longer can wait for that ‘someday’, that this generation should not have to say ‘someday in the future, America will be America,’” Walker says, quoting Langston Hughes. “The time for America to be America is today.”

Quote of the talk: “Hope is the oxygen of democracy and we, through inequality and the economic injustice, we see far too much of an America are literally asphyxiating hope. Just as we saw the murder of George Floyd, the breath was taken out of his body by a man who was there to protect and promote. It’s a metaphor for what is happening in our society, where people who are Black and Brown, queer, marginalized are literally being asphyxiated by a system that does not recognize their humanity if we are to build back better, that must change.”

from TED Blog https://ift.tt/38yZzFC

Beauty everywhere: The talks of Session 6 of TED2020

We’re six weeks into TED2020! For this special Session 6, we celebrate beauty on every level, from planet-trekking feats of engineering to art that deeply examines our past, present, future — and so much more.

Planetary scientist Elizabeth “Zibi” Turtle shows off the work behind Dragonfly: a rotorcraft being developed to explore Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, by air. She speaks at TED2020: Uncharted on June 25, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Elizabeth “Zibi” Turtle, planetary scientist 

Big idea: The Dragonfly Mission, set to launch in 2026, will study Titan, the largest moon orbiting Saturn. Through this mission, scientists may discover the secrets of the solar system’s origin, the history of life on Earth — and even the potential for life beyond our planet.

How? Launched in 1997, the Cassini-Huygens Mission provided scientists with incredible information about Titan, a water-based moon with remarkable similarities to Earth. We learned that Titan’s geography includes sand dunes, craters and mountains, and that vast oceans of water — perhaps 10 times as large as Earth’s total supply — lie deep underneath Titan’s surface. In many ways, Titan is the closest parallel to pre-life, early Earth, Elizabeth Turtle explains. The Cassini-Huygens Mission ended in 2004, and now hundreds of scientists across the world are working on the Dragonfly Mission, which will dramatically expand our knowledge of Titan. Unlike the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, Dragonfly will live within Titan’s atmosphere, flying across the moon to gather samples and study its chemical makeup, weather and geography. The data Dragonfly sends back may bring us closer to thrilling discoveries on the makeup of the solar system, the habitability of other planets and the beginnings of life itself. “Dragonfly is a search for greater understanding — not just of Titan and the mysteries of our solar system, but of our own origins,” Turtle says.


“Do you think human creativity matters?” asks actor, writer and director Ethan Hawke. He gives us his compelling answer at TED2020: Uncharted on June 25, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Ethan Hawke, actor, writer, director

Big idea: Creativity isn’t a luxury; it’s vital to the human experience.

How? We often struggle to give ourselves permission to be creative because we’re all a little suspect of our own talent, says Ethan Hawke. Recounting his own journey of creative discovery over a 30-year career in acting — along with the beauty he sees in everyday moments with his family — Hawke encourages us to reframe this counterproductive definition of human creativity. Creative expression has nothing to do with talent, he says, but rather is a process of learning who you are and how you connect to other people. Instead of giving in to the pull of old habits and avoiding new experiences — maybe you’re hesitant to enroll in that poetry course or cook that complicated 20-step recipe — Hawke urges us to engage in a rich variety of creative outlets and, most importantly, embrace feeling foolish along the way. “I think most of us really want to offer the world something of quality, something that the world will consider good or important — and that’s really the enemy,” Hawke says. “Because it’s not up to us whether what we do is any good. And if history has taught us anything, the world is an extremely unreliable critic. So, you have to ask yourself, do you think human creativity matters?”


Singer-songwriter and multiinstrumentalist Bob Schneider performs for TED2020: Uncharted on June 25, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Keeping the beauty of the session flowing, singer-songwriter Bob Schneider performs “Joey’s Song,” “The Other Side” and “Lorena.”


“We have thousands of years of ancient knowledge that we just need to listen to and allow it to expand our thinking about designing symbiotically with nature,” says architect Julia Watson. “By listening, we’ll only become wiser and ready for those 21st-century challenges that we know will endanger our people and our planet.” She speaks at TED2020: Uncharted on June 25, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Julia Watson, architect, landscape designer, author

Big idea: Ancient Indigenous technology can teach us how to design with nature, instead of against it, when facing challenges. We just need to look and listen. 

How? In her global search for ancient design systems and solutions, Julia Watson has encountered wondrous innovations to counter climate challenges that we all can learn from. “High-tech solutions are definitely going to help us solve some of these problems, but in our rush towards the future, we tend to forget about the past in other parts of the world,” she says. Watson takes us to the villages of Khasi, India, where people have built living bridges woven from ancient roots that strengthen over time to enable travel when monsoon season hits. She introduces us to a water-based civilization in the Mesopotamian Marshlands, where for 6,000 years, the Maʻdān people have lived on manmade islands built from harvested reeds. And she shows us a floating African city in Benin, where buildings are stilted above flooded land. “I’m an architect, and I’ve been trained to seek solutions in permanence, concrete, steel, glass. These are all used to build a fortress against nature,” Watson says. “But my search for ancient systems and Indigenous technologies has been different. It’s been inspired by an idea that we can seed creativity in crisis.”


TED Fellow and theater artist Daniel Alexander Jones lights up the stage at TED2020: Uncharted on June 25, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

TED Fellow and theater artist Daniel Alexander Jones lights up the (virtual) stage by channeling Jomama Jones, a mystical alter ego who shares some much-needed wisdom. “What if I told you, ‘You will surprise yourself’?” Jomama asks. “What if I told you, ‘You will be brave enough’?”


“It takes creativity to be able to imagine a future that is so different from the one before you,” says artist Titus Kaphar. He speaks at TED2020: Uncharted on June 25, 2020. (Photo courtesy of TED)

Titus Kaphar, artist

Big idea: Beauty can open our hearts to difficult conversations.

How? A painting’s color, form or composition pulls you in, functioning as a kind of Trojan horse out of which difficult conversations can emerge, says artist Titus Kaphar. (See for yourself in his unforgettable live workshop from TED2017.) Two weeks after George Floyd’s death and the Movement for Black Lives protests that followed, Kaphar reflects on his evolution as an artist and takes us on a tour of his work — from The Jerome Project, which examines the US criminal justice system through the lens of 18th- and 19th-century American portraiture, to his newest series, From a Tropical Space, a haunting body of work about Black mothers whose children have disappeared. In addition to painting, Kaphar shares the work and idea behind NXTHVN, an arts incubator and creative community for young people in his hometown of Dixwell, Connecticut. “It takes creativity to be able to imagine a future that is so different from the one before you,” he says.

from TED Blog https://ift.tt/31tJUpE