Saturday, April 18, 2009

Meet TED

For the last week or two I've been obsessed with watching the lectures presented by TED, the Technology, Entertainment, and Design Conference. TED has been hosting lectures by some of the western world's finest minds for the last 25 years. Past speakers have included the likes of such luminaries as Bill Gates, Jill Tartar, Craig Venter, and Al Gore. TED even has an iPhone App that I've been using to view lectures during downtimes at school, where I have access to WiFi.

The thing I really love about TED is that it reflects a convergence of intellect which, if these people are given the chance, could alter the course of humanity's future for the better. For instance, during a lecture from Venter, the founder of The Institute for Genomic Research, revealed that his newest endeavor, Synthetic Genomics, was working on developing artificial microorganisms which have the potential to convert carbon pollutants into biofuel for cars. Imagine the potential benefit to society if Venter's group could be successful. His bioengineered lifeforms could clean our air and solve our energy problems at the same time!

And while Ray Kurzweil, who has invented a host of systems for information input, probably won't be single-handedly responsible for altering mankind, I nonetheless found his lecture on the coming convergence of man and machine incredibly fascinating. For years I have dreamed of a day when I will be able to extend my life by an extra century by downloading into a cybernetic body. (Yes, I'm completely serious! Stop laughing! Why do people always do that?) I don't want to live forever, but an extra century would be nice. I have a slight fear that something really cool is going to happen a couple of years after I die and that I'm going to miss it. So, I'm all for anything that has the potential to extend my life span.

TED has helped bring to light the work of so many brilliant people, such as Nicholas Negroponte whose One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program is helping third world children leap frog into the modern world by giving them a window beyond their impoverished existence. Well over a million low cost laptops have now been distributed to places as far away as Iraq and as nearby as Birmingham, Alabama (I won't editorialize about the level of impoverishment endemic to Alabama!).

I like TED because it helps confirm my optimism about humanity. While some of these visionaries are certainly working for fame and fortune, most are working for the intrinsic good that comes from the search for answers and the quest for solutions to the problems of the world. If that doesn't describe the communist ideal I don't know what does.

Have fun and keep living life... and don't stop thinking about tomorrow!

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...