Regina Saphier TED Long Beach 2013 Day 3

Thursday, February 28, 2013

11:00 – 12:45

Session 8: Coded Meaning

Well, right in the middle of this Session the stream again started to break down… very very very annoying. It spoils your experience, it kicks you out of your flow.


TED2013 Saki Mafundikwa   (Photo credit: TED Conference)

We are introduced to written African languages and symbols. The first alphabet was created in Africa.

Texting is not writing, not formal. No. It is more like speaking. Speaking liberally with our hands.

Sign language in the age of computing and mobile technologies. Text can be translated into sign language animation… directions can be also displayed by sign language on a smart phone. It is very important to people who are deaf. The problem is not the disability, the problem is that many technologies are not yet accessible to people with disabilities.

How to teach autistic kids abstraction? Ajit tells us how he developed a visual educational tool for tablets. As an outcome, he arrived at free speech that is independent of language. He created a language engine, containing the possibility of universal translation… and language learning that is more like native language learning, not foreign language learning (these two happen in different parts of the brain, after I think age 12…).


TED2013 Ajit Narayanan (Photo credit: TED Conference)


Raghava… promoting his liberal art…

Names of dolphins… sounds of dolphins… communicating with dolphins… The web stream is terrible… My computer has issues communicating with the TED technology… I am sure I would be more fluent with dolphins…

  • Adam Spencer
  • Science communicator

    Adam Spencer | Mathematics Enthusiast | TED@Sydney

    Adam Spencer | Mathematics Enthusiast | TED@Sydney (Photo credit: TED Conference)

This was a fantastic talk, by a geek wrapping prime numbers and his love for the Higgs boson into humor. Me too, I love the Higgs boson and science and technology (and art and writing), so I think I am a geek too who feels lucky to live during this era. I am not into math because I had terrible math teachers, but those teachers did not manage to destroy my interest in science, so I kind of understood what Adam was saying. However, I am not sure if I could talk about his topic the same way… he really has a skill that makes him perfect for communicating the story of mathematics and science.

And for some reason the stream was fine now… it fluctuates all the time.

2:15 – 4:00

Session 9: Indelicate Conversation

We hear all about human digestion, toilets, digestive illnesses, sanitation.

Nano coating, waterproofing.

Winner of the IG Nobel. This was the most creepy yet fascinating talk… about homosexual necrophilia among ducks and other animals. Who knew…

It is a Victorian, outdated idea that sex and economic power should go together (not sure why he says that… it originated from earlier cultures). He says we need to become more tolerant because everyone has a closet to come out of… due to the social stigma that is forced on people unnecessarily… think of cultures where people are not stigmatized for who they are. And men should stop trying to define women’s freedoms. In addition, men are not from Mars and women are not from Venus. Both are from Africa.

She had a hip replacement and after that decided to learn hip hop.

Demonstrated how cyber attacks impact people and asked everyone to use the basic security measures while using smart phones, tablets, other kinds of computers. He is a really good speaker.

He is definitely under cover, because he can not show his face while on stage… He has a very dangerous job in Africa… but he is very determined and also successful at what he is doing.

5:00 – 6:45

Session 10: Secret Voices

Surprise guest: Ben Géza Affleck talking about his work in the Congo… he introduces the Orchestra Symphony Kimbanguis from Congo. (The second one played was: Brahms: V. Magyar Tánc, V. Hungarian Dance… Did you know that Ben got his Hungarian middle name “Géza” because his parents really loved their Hungarian neighbor?)

Artistic camouflage. Blending in with the ruins of China’s planned market in transition to becoming a free market, or with party propaganda posters, with toxic supermarket food, with news rooms, with Venice, with lamps, with newsstands, with ruins of actual buildings. Very interesting images.

Dolphins playing with symbols in water, a Bonobo playing with a keyboard and making music. These four speakers pointing into a future where other species will be connected by the internet too. The most magical moment was when the Bonobo played musical notes on the keyboard… the fingers carefully touching and making sounds.

Talking about the power social media gives people when protest are really needed.

Mental health professional telling the story of the voices in her head and how she survived the mistreatment that followed when she mentioned the voice to others… She is a survivor of the narrow mindedness around her, and she is a powerful advocate for like-minded people. In fact when she was talking, several times I felt like: now this is the last sentence… now perhaps this one… because of the power and intonation… each line could have been a closing line… and I was thinking, perhaps a voice in her head is telling her what else she should say… and when she was really done, June asked her if she still hears voices… and she answered: yes, I do, like: this is what you forgot to say… That was interesting, that somehow I could tell that from the way she presented the last 6-10 sentences. Anyway, I am glad that she managed to come to the conclusion, that what matters is not the symptoms, but what happened to her, and that she needed compassion, acceptance and support to recover from the traumas before and after her first diagnosis of schizophrenia.

She escaped North Korea and she told her powerful story… I grew up in a communist country, we could not easily leave Hungary for decades. What she escaped is much more dramatic compared to my experiences of the seventies and eighties in Hungary. When we had the revolution in 1956, I am asking you, where were the powerful democracies? Why did those nations passively watch people in my country suffer? Why was the assumption of ignorant people in wealthy countries that we wanted or deserved the shit we had to put up with? So, again and again I am asking: How much longer are you going to passively watch the suffering of people in North Korea? Those people were brainwashed, emotionally tortured, physically hurt. Do you think it is what people want there? No! I know that the North Korean people want your help even without knowing. I know that the North Korean dictatorship will eventually fall apart, but the process could be expedited by creative diplomacy… Just go and stop that madness, because people there are hurting.

A powerful and poetic talk about a bullied child growing up to be a powerful poet.

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