Regina Saphier: The United States of China (Part 2)

Regina Saphier: The United States of China (Part 2)


After Eric X. Li’s TED talk was published, My TED Blog views hit an all time high globally, especially in the US. In addition, a few days after the talk was published, Richard Saul Wurman (the creator of TED) was kind enough to repeatedly post my blog link on his facebook wall and I wrote some extra material in response to two comments by his friends. Here are my comment responses, edited for my blog (remember, these paragraphs below were written by me in response to two comments, so some parts might appear to be out of place, but I did not want to fragment the text by removing those bits):

My comment response #1.: In part I wrote my essay because I noticed the enthusiastically applauding TED audience after EXL’s talk live and I realized that probably not many there witnessed the collapse of a dictatorship from the inside (especially not the collapse of an enormous system of multiple dictatorships under a mega oppressor in the form of the USSR) and not many at TED Global experienced the painful, deep and long lasting social and economic scars such a pathologically delusional system leaves behind. (Even most of those people living in these former socialist and communist countries don’t realize the trauma, the massive PTSD, because of the lack of cultural comparison and due to lack of information.) Hungary (a former “Satellite State”) and the “Eastern Bloc” countries still, after twenty years struggle with those unresolved issues and those issues are not going to be over for a long time.

Of course you should question anything that comes out of China in the suspiciously eloquent form of a propaganda talk or in the form of a superhumanly optimistic survey analysis of growing wellbeing in a developing country. (More in my next comment below.)

My comment response #2.: Anyone can show enormous growth at that scale with really low cost of labor when not having any regard for nature and individual needs, when the only target is growth. However, it is not a sustainable rate of growth, not a sustainable way of development in China. Imagine the income inequality that characterizes less than 6 000 USD GNI per year per capita among over a billion citizens, especially if you consider that the US is criticized for the shocking income inequality in the 50 000 USD GNI per year per capita range among “only” a few hundred million citizens. Are you able to grasp the difference in terms of quality of life? The two systems are not to be compared. One is a developed and established economy, the other is a fragile developing country. Still, both can be criticized endlessly in their own leagues. China at this point is a huge bubble waiting to burst. Naturally: larger, more established and more sustainable economies can not grow at China’s rate. Plus: don’t forget the economic casualties in other countries, the lost jobs, the lost income, the lost social status, the poverty that was created (among other things) by the unfair competition at irrationally low labor costs in China and by the insane target of forever growing consumption globally. In addition, imagine what is going to happen to the Chinese labor force when AI technology makes them completely obsolete in the future. The World is one interdependent system and China’s government has no regard for that, while other countries are also only learning to understand what all this means. If you look at this complex image and if you have some insight and even the ability to maintain the outsider position, it is surreal how EXL was able to lead the attending, highly educated, intellectually and financially influential TED audience by their noses. On top of this EXL also believes what he says. To me he is just another believer in the wrong thing because it appears to work for him. He is a skilled conformist. In a way he is the “other” you should take to lunch to have a conversation about differences in world views. But can you have an open and real dialog with someone who does not believe in freedom for his own countryman?

My comment response #2 continued: Before 1989 I could not travel freely. It was really hard and complicated to get out of Hungary (I could only travel to the US in 1981 as a child with my parents because my father’s sister lived there and she invited us… and because the Hungarian authoritarian regime, on the western edge of the “Eastern Bloc” started to slowly fall apart and a few years later it disintegrated completely, along with the rest of the sick system). After 1989 I was able to attend French school in Villefrance-sur-Mer for example in the nineties, on the hill, right behind you on your facebook profile picture (I recognized the view immediately when I looked at your profile). Later, when I did not have to use a passport on the border traveling from Hungary to Austria… well, I will never forget this new feeling of being a citizen of the EU. Since joining the EU in 2004, Hungary is going downhill economically, but this is not caused by the EU membership. It is caused by the “post-system change syndrome” or “PSCS” as I call it (before and after 1989: people faced very different expectations, but the people on the cellular level and so their attitudes remained the same). Leaders of old EU member states don’t recognize the need to help nations with this national PTSD. If you think about it, an individual with PTSD needs help and can not be forced to perform like people without PTSD. An individual with PTSD is also highly likely to pass on genetic susceptibility to PTSD to the fetus, this is scientific fact since 9/11. Imagine that on a national scale after decades of trauma! This in my humble opinion is a huge problem. Decades of social, psychological and so physiological and in turn biological trauma revealing itself today, and preventing adequate present day adaptation and development on a national scale. Hungarians were part of a closed and planned, surreal “1984” kind of system until 1989. Even most of their children don’t possess the appropriate skills today to navigate the high waves of an open market in the middle of a global economic crisis and during an era of transition in so many arenas of an increasingly globalized, online and mobile life.

When the Hungarian government now turns east, it is because the turning west did not work out for the political “elite” here. It is due to lack of appropriate communications and understanding between the western and the eastern elites, but not the way EXL wants you to believe. Just look at citizens in Germany, so close to each other (not apart like the US and China). People in the eastern part are very different from the people in western Germany. Decades of epigenetic changes due to a long era of suffering, fear, stress, anxiety and lack of resources and lack of freedom don’t disappear from one day to the other. At least two generations have to go before people in Germany start to look similar and indistinguishable again. I am not saying that people in the US and in China must be similar, diversity is important, but in fact many people in China are more and more americanized already and perhaps this is not what those people need.

When I look at my blog statistics, I see the map of the world… I see readers from everywhere. Views of My TED Blog went up by +9,012.50% last week after people watched Li’s talks and read my critical post. Still, there were no readers from China (for obvious reasons). I want that to change.

Dictatorships not only brainwash and isolate people, they also distort people on the cellular level for generations. That is a crime against humanity. Outsiders and even privileged insiders usually “somehow” fail to see that. Change makers in these countries are mostly regarded as strange and are powerfully hindered by the conformist masses and by the rotten status quo even after the dictators are long gone. Anyone who understands this should advocate for appropriate social and political change in China, but not necessarily for the kind that was made in America.

And if you would like to understand how Americans were brainwashed into consumerism during the last century (and at the same time into paradoxical impulse suppression) watch the fantastic BBC documentary: “The Century of the Self“. I wrote about this brilliant documentary in 2009 (in Hungarian, on my first blog). This kind of PR based consumer brainwashing is already happening in China. It also happened in Hungary and it did a lot of harm.


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Regina Saphier: The United States of China

Regina Saphier: The United States of China

I had my personal opinion, but I did not know that I had anything to say about China until I got an e-mail from Eric X. Li thanking me for my thoughtful writeup of his talk at TED Global 2013. That was the second when I realized that I need to say more, because my quick summary projected the impression that I agree with him. Well, mostly I don’t. I am able to see that he is a talented individual and I think it is true that new leadership models need to be introduced in the world, but I strongly disagree when it comes to the Chinese leadership model, as the right solution for China. Below I explain why. Hereby I present my critical, comparative essay in response to Eric X. Li‘s TED Global 2013 talk (talk published on July 1, 2013). He is an investor from Shanghai and a political scientist, also the Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute.

Going from communism to capitalism, from groups to individualism… to understand the rotten political narratives of societies we need people like Eric with personal historic and political perspective and analytical insight. According to Eric democracy was also sold to nations as was communism, but China did not buy it this time (not that it is in any way perfect, he added)… China did not go from communism to capitalism, rather created a hybrid system that works in many ways for them and meta narratives are the Cancer that are killing democracies around the world, Eric told us. In his opinion this global meta narrative is boring, that all nations should become democratic. In my opinion witnessing a dictatorship redressing itself is what is boring. It is also just plain sad to see a western educated young man tell the world to promote pluralism and at the same time promoting the tragic fact that pluralism is forbidden in China. Eric! Face it: there is nothing exceptional about Hungarians, nothing exceptional about Americans, and nothing exceptional about Chines people. We are all from Earth. We were all born on Earth. Your economy has powerful spillover effects, for example Hungary’s textile industry is dead. Your pollution is all over the planet. I have seen people like you being enthusiastic about a dictatorship and 40 years later those people try to make people forget what they did, what they supported, what they were saying. 40 years from now your split narrative will be all over the web. Your old self might one day regret the words you repeated again and again today.

Let me add: It is interesting if you compare this with the narrative of a journalist, that Hungary is the Cancer in the EU… Perhaps the EU uses the wrong narrative? Some people in the EU do that, definitely. Also, never generalize. Hungary is full of people who do not agree with the state of things in Hungary and never voted for this government. If the EU can not push the government out of office, with all that international political and economic power, how do you expect the exhausted, severely traumatized citizens of Hungary to do the same? Let plurality of governing styles change the global, social, economic and political narratives. BUT:

In my humble opinion, China’s present leadership is not sustainable as it is in the long run. I come from a thankfully collapsed similar regime (meaning I grew up in Hungary) that attempted to make its citizens “happy” (politically speaking: making sure those people didn’t complain and accepted the state of things… for many people pretending was survival, and many others did not even know that there was anything else, that there were other choices). Among other things that system resulted in the collapse and in huge debt. What I however also see is that Hungary’s right wing nationalist government is now looking at China as a role model… and at Russia… Autocratic government… with 2/3 of the parliament and no inhibitions: happily draining EU money for their string pulling mini oligarchs (the local kleptocracy). Terribly worrisome. At the same time the so called old democracies are unable to handle this new EU member state called Hungary, and those “old” democracies (EU and US equally) are also struggling with huge problems of their own (like joblessness, and technology making more and more people jobless). Meanwhile African nations are more and more looking at China (a capitalist dictatorship where slavery-like conditions are still the norm) instead of the US (a federal presidential constitutional republic, a representative democracy)… Clearly the US has much more GDP per capita and much more per capita income, but China is growing fast economically, while suppressing individual interests in China and building infrastructure in Africa. And the average person in China and in Africa is more interested in having a road, as opposed to having a vote… and having both appears to be an unattainable dream to them.

Corruption Perceptions Index

Corruption Perceptions Index

What is bizarre is that China is regarded as the key economy in the world today, but when you look at the numbers, the US is a developed nation with a strong GDP and GNI per capita per year (despite their democracy), similar to Sweden. Their GNI per capita is around 50,000 USD (note: there is income inequality so remember, this is only an average number, many earn much less, and some earn much more). China on the other hand is only a developing country still below the 6,000 USD per capita income per year level (above which a country is able to sustain democracy indefinitely, according to Dambisa Moyo‘s TED Global 2013 talk… another PR talk supporting China’s activities in Africa… interestingly she did not take any questions after her talk…). And Hungary is above the 12,000 USD margin so it is regarded as a developed country, but come on… democracy in Hungary is fading already (so perhaps Hungary’s budget and statistics are also questionable)… and Greece had twice that per capita income (over 24,000 USD) and it was just removed from the list of developed countries (the birth place of democracy with an imaginary budget)… Nothing that appears to be true based on old school economics is really true.  This is where we agree with Eric: New thinking is required.

However, keeping an open mind about how nations govern themselves does not mean that I would accept Orbán’s attempt to return to the rotten communist populism that Orbán himself (supposedly) hated and publicly protested against as a young democrat and that era was represented by Kádár, the authoritarian “happy-maker” of Hungary before 1989. When the so called “system change” happened, I was a teenager and the first thing I did, I went to Austria to learn German. The twenty something years that passed since were really traumatic on many levels and I don’t want to go backwards in time. At the same time the present situation in Hungary is not a sustainable one. Not politically, not economically and not in social terms. Low pay, high cost of living, enormous bureaucracy, political impotence and arrogance, manipulated state media (not as bad as in China… yet…), corruption, stagnating economy, plus mostly exhausted citizens. The open minded, constructive and independently thinking elite and the middle class is missing…

Meanwhile in Denmark: very low corruption, very high income, high levels of education and health care, low CO2 emission, long and increasing life expectancy. “The Kingdom of Denmark is a unitary constitutional monarchy, organized in a parliamentary democracy.” So, if Eric X. Li is telling us that the western world should look for some other ways instead of the way of democracy, I am asking EXL to consider this: China should urgently look for a way that permits plurality in a huge country with lots of regional diversity instead of the forced centralized dictatorship. Because perhaps there are hidden possibilities for Denmark-like regions in China, but right now you are forcing them too to look like Hungary… Just think about that… I suggest you adopt your own suggestions for your own country before you go out and tell the world how to progress. I suggest when you soon reach the 6,000 USD GNI per capita per year goal (above which China could indefinitely maintain democracy and democracies) you name your country “The United States of China” after turning all the autonomous regions and provinces into independent countries. (If that does not happen soon, some people definitely are artificially holding onto a questionable amount of power…)  Of course with all that growth and development in China, you will be able to be creative and invent the most marvelous technologically supported democracy where everything works like a dream. Right? Well, that is when I will look at China and say: the Chinese system might become the most superior one. How about that? When that happens and you become known as the investor from the USC, people of The West might be more likely to listen to your narrative. But as of today you come from China the land of modern day slavery and oppression (don’t you try to tell me that your polls are reflective of the truth, I know what dictatorships are doing to look good). Look forward, instead of looking backward.

Note: I just discovered thanks to WordPress’s “Recommended Links” that indeed I am not the first one to suggest a United States of China. Very interesting to immediately know that my idea is valid. And perhaps now is the time for the USC to be created. If China’s leaders are as effective as you say, we could celebrate a USC by 2020.

James O’Toole: Leading Change


Finally, let me quote James O’Toole from a book that I read over ten years ago while studying among other things the subject of Leadership at Columbia University in New York. (O’Toole: Leading Change: Overcoming the Ideology of Comfort and the Tyranny of Custom, p. 10-12): “Clearly, the leadership of change does not depend on circumstances: it depends on the attitudes, values, and actions of leaders.” … “To be effective, leaders must change their attitude about followers forever and under all conditions. Moral leadership, by definition, can not be situational or contingent. The reason is simple: if ever leaders revert to paternalistic behavior…, in doing so they will break trust with followers.” From 1994-1997 James O’Toole was Executive Vice President of the Aspen Institute, where you Eric X. Li are the Henry Crown Fellow.


Written by Regina Saphier, June 18, 2013 (

This entry was updated on June 20, 2013

New GNI data for 2012 added on July 10, 2013.

Additional data reported in the Hungarian media on July 09, 2013: The World Bank GNIPC in 2012 for Hungary is 12,390 USD. Most of the regional economies are doing significantly better, while Hungary is obviously going down. Here are the numbers between 2008 and 2011: 12,890 USD, 12,980 USD, 12,860 USD,12,730 USD. Here is what I wrote about this in January of 2013 on My Coursera Blog: “I am not pretending to know enough about developing countries, but in a way I feel that even though Hungary is regarded as a developed country, we have many issues that are similar to developing nations. In fact I strongly believe that statistics are powerfully distorted, because living standards are very different within Hungary, and it still feels like a developing nation.” Before we joined the EU Hungary was forced into pretending that it fits the EU. Well, even before I graduated from Columbia, I warned that Hungary is not ready for the EU, and that even EU officials are willfully blind to this fact. However, nobody was listening to a graduate student, obviously…

Eric X. Li’s TED Global 2013 talk was published on July 1, 2013




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Regina Saphier TED Global 2013 Day 4

I love this image! Michale Sandel, Harvard Philosopher is so much of a star in South Korea (his online Harvard lectures were translated into Korean), that he was invited there to kick off a major sporting event. This is our future! Brilliant intellectuals as stars and role models with integrity. I am fine with that.

The star philosopher, Michael Sandel in South Korea, as an opening attraction at a sporting event!

Friday, June 14, 2013

My blog dilemma is related to the fact that people are reading both my TED and my Coursera blogs from all over the world, that I can see from the stats, and some people even write to me, especially my Coursera readers, but I need more feedback to make sure my blogs are useful as they are. I mean I like to read the entire 4 days together after each TED event, it is nice to see it as a summarized and personalized stream of ideas… 🙂 However, due to its seasonality (2×4 days a year), following the two major TED events (for 4 years already), my new Coursera blog‘s readership is larger (after less than 1 year). Coursera that was one year old recently is regularly a hot topic in the media internationally, while TED is not so much… Of course at this point I am thinking: TED becoming 30 next year might cause the media to pay more attention to TED again. I like to write both blogs, but their exposure is different. It is why I am thinking about their future. And it just hit me, during the last 4 years I spent over a month of my life writing about the major TED conferences voluntarily (2x4x4=32 days all together). Until now, I spent half that time on my Coursera blogs, when I only regard the writing days (of course I also need to do research). So, my Coursera blog requires less writing time and gains more exposure on its own. (If I add my TED talk translations in the past, that is in fact a lot of valuable time, so I need to think hard how I allocate my time in the future. There is so much to write about, but I am only one person.)

Bruno opened in several languages (if I remember well, in French, Portuguese, Italian, German, Spanish and finally in English). I am sure he did that because Rives jokingly remarked yesterday that Bruno does not speak English. Not sure if Rives, who is a master of the English language could talk to us in half a dozen languages like Bruno does, so that intermezzo is now settled. I think it was rude of Rives, but I am sure Bruno’s joke that a speaker “stole” his book idea was no less questionable when it comes to being polite on stage while being watched by a global audience…

8:45 – 10:15am Session 11: Tech Impact

She spoke about social media’s protest capacity against the establishment and established beliefs.

Low cost computer for kids to learn coding.

Mr. EDx talking about MOOCs, like Coursera (Massive Open Online Courses). He is never mentioning Coursera, because that is their major competitor, leading the competition. The talk is more about “MOC”, “Massive Online Courses” (not Open) by schools giving degrees (like @ San Jose State University). A really successful and promising project. Licensing is an opportunity for EDx and Coursera equally. I think Coursera is more successful at this point, because their course diversity is huge, including the humanities. You can read more about Coursera and MOOCs on my other blog.

Storm Sandy revealed to her that the digital world is now a key part of our lives, as important as food and shelter. The “digital now” was immediately broken. Interesting to me, that she mentioned “Buda and Pest being divided by the Danube” (that she can find that out easily online now). 🙂 We live in a series of digital, virtual soap bubbles, and our time is artificially fragmented. Love is attention. Restore the flow of time and love. Take time back.

We need to be aware how technology is invading our privacy and learn to protect our data better. This is the time of big data, and we need to fight for privacy.

11:00 – 12:45pm Session 12: All Together Now

NGOs have the problem of scale. Business can create resources and achieve scale. Creating need at a profit. So, how do you use these profitable resources to solve social problems? Profit makes any project infinitely scalable, he says. Connecting social problems to businesses, based on shared values. Change how business sees itself, and change how others see business. I need more explanation Michael.

Not only can you pay for getting ahead in line, you can pay people to stand in line for you… Are we sure that this is good? Not really. He told the audience about an experiment, where kids were given 2 dollars for each book read to motivate them. It is however obvious to me that this does take away intrinsic motivation. Kids read more books, it turns out, but mainly shorter ones… and he did not say what happen after those kids did not get any more money… Without intrinsic motivation and without the financial incentive, why would those kids keep on reading? Anyway, buying your way ahead of the line is wrong… business should not be involved in everything. How do we want to live together? We need to define boundaries for business and people. Do you want to live in a society where you can get anything for money, or in one where things are important that money can not buy. Nice debate between the two speakers (Michael and Michael) after the two talks. I agree with Michael Sandel, markets should not overwhelm every realm of our lives.

When he was diagnosed with brain cancer he asked for an image of his cancer and could not get one initially! It is his own cancer! Finally, when he got it in a digital form, he could not open it, so needed to play with the data to make it visible. His own cancer! He started a website and open sourced his medical data to find a cure globally. I love this talk. He is fine now! 🙂

Investigating (the often global) networks behind corruption. Oh, I wish she started investigating in Hungary at the highest levels! This is very dangerous for her and for the activists, but this is also very important.

He is talking about gratefulness. I know what he is trying to explain. I wish my grateful moments, that I call “the moments of my inner smile” would be continuous. Last night on my balcony between 1:30 and 2:00 am I was watching the stars and the satellites and I was grateful. I spotted 4 satellites within 30 minutes. I felt the night was beautiful and I was grateful for being alive and witnessing this particular night. I might have to move to a convent to sustain these states of my mind, because others are not living gratefully and are not stopping to live mindfully, as David is suggesting. But I hope more and more people will be. 🙂 I also hope I will be able to sustain those periods longer and longer to become a better person, also when I am with others. I am doing well on my own, in one on one situations. I need more time, as do so many of us. It is a process: making the world a better place by making yourself more grateful more often. 🙂

Regina Saphier TED Global 2013 Day 3

Thursday, June 13, 2013

11:00 – 12:45pm Session 8: State of the Nations

The ideology of free individual choice is denying the massive social changes that have huge impact on our choices, freedoms and on individual lives in general. This leads to the feeling of failure on a massive scale by individuals (note: in turn a social influence in itself: you are surrounded by highly frustrated people). Paradoxically, in the age of abundant information, ignorance and denial is on the rise (I totally agree, I can see that in my own environment, and that again is a social influence, being surrounded by ignorant people when you seek out knowledge all the time and try to share it). Most people have passion for ignorance, not for knowledge, she says. People are living longer with ignorance…? It is what she stated, that research shows that people who seek out adequate health services live shorter… Why? Are you sure? Where is that research? Anyway, she decided not to take choices so seriously, because most of our choices are unconscious and irrational. She finished with: We have choices regarding the kinds of societies we want to live in… Not sure she managed to explain her point… So, do we have choices, or not? I think our individual choices are limited by our powerful, unacknowledged unconscious, by misleading social and personal narratives, and by ignorant and frustrated societies made of confused individuals (eg: researchers and TED speakers unable to make a coherent point on stage…).

  • Eric X. Li Investor and political scientist, Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute

I developed my notes of Eric X. Li’s talk into a full independent blog entry: The United States of China


Excellent speaker. She spoke about sexuality wrapped into religion and influencing politics in the Arab world. The sexual revolution is still ahead in the Arab world. She is advocating freedom of choice, open debate, the refusal of double standards for men and women, for a healthier social climate, and in fact for physically and emotionally healthier societies.

Economy, society and environment must be considered as a coherent system.

He says, majors usually know what they are doing, because they are from the neighborhood. Ours is not the world of states and borders, our world is cities plus border-less issues, like illness, war, education, transportation and international travel. Nation states are unable to solve global problems democratically. Democracy (from the Greek word “demos”…) was born in the ancient Greek “Poleis”. (But tell me, does democracy work? And stop telling me that there is nothing better yet, rather start creating what is better.) “Thank you so much my fellow citizens”, – were his last words on stage. Well, the right last word indeed… “citizens”… Democratic people of cities need to make their own policies… instead of being lost in rotten party political narratives of nation states. He made his point, most definitely.

2:15 – 4:00pm Session 9: Forces of Change

She is from Zambia. A highly educated and elegant woman with a “China will solve Africa’s problems” narrative. (No, it won’t.) Your democracy will only go on forever if the per capita income is above 6,000 USD, she told us. A new kind of economic system is needed for many countries. No middle class, no democracy. Keep an open mind, different countries need different solutions.

Historically all of the global regions are growing, including Africa. Every poor country is struggling with corruption. Well to do countries have little corruption. Charles told us, that there is huge growth and democratization going on in Africa and he also showed us his optimistic predictions.

Africa is the cradle of innovation that grew out of necessity and scarcity. At this point my internet stopped working… I had to wait, and I was thinking, this is such an interesting talk… I am going to have to review it from the Archive in a few hours. At the end of the talk my internet came back. Did you know, Toby asked us, that even humanity was created in Africa? I am wondering, will I see an era when it won’t matter where you are from? Will we ever talk about our origins like this?: “I am from Earth.” I am sure we will…

After the music, between the two talks a really funny video was shown! Africans collecting radiators for freezing people in Norway. 😉 Excellent, well executed mirror, with humor and music to show how some of these campaigns must feel to people in African countries… Because lets face it, Aid Campaigns are framed as if people in Africa were helpless children… in other words, these are patronizing projects. Stop this patronizing narrative and start dealing with the capable adult humans of Africa. (Because yes, it is cold up north, but Norway has a lot of oil… obviously no need for radiators from Africa. Right? The same way, yes, African countries are often poor, but there are many human and natural resources there, those need to be used in a smart ways for them to prosper, instead of sending aid.)

Well, when he told the story of the really old lady voting and having no clue who she voted for… he did say this as a positive story of the spirit there… but come on, she has no idea? What is the point of having the power to vote if you have no knowledge of what you are voting for? Should the right of voting not come with the obligation to know what the hell you are doing????

He was an orphan on his own as a teenager. He had to escape North Korea because he was starving. First he went to China and stayed in an underground shelter for NK refugees. Later, in the US his foster father shared his food with him, and this gesture motivated him to start studying really hard. At the end of his talk the host told him he could send a message to his sister and mother (in case they are somehow watching his TED talk) and he did speak to them but he was shaken so badly at this point, he could hardly speak. I felt like my heart was breaking apart, it was so painful to watch. I was crying and crying, I could feel how hard this was on him. I wish a better life for people in North Korea. This suffering must be stopped!

This just can not be solved from the inside. North Korea is held hostage by its own leaders, who rule with terror. The only inside job: the collapse of the ruling class. Until that happens, people will suffer. And international sanctions will only cause more suffering to those who already suffer (hunger, brainwashing, fear of the other, trauma, lack of valid information, isolation, enormous vulnerability). Other nations must be involved. Understand: those people are held hostage by their own people in a highly homogeneous society, artificially divided into the “trusted” and the “untrusted”. So, therefore diplomacy with a totalitarian regime looks like ongoing (apparently endless) hostage and crisis negotiation. This must be sustained. The exhausted hostages, millions of fellow human beings: need help.

5:00 – 6:45pm Session 10: Imagined Beauty

This was fun. 🙂

I love clouds! 🙂 I am too a cloud spotter. I am going to send Gavin some of my cloud photos later (perhaps).

How to get from the known to the unknown in your research… talking about the process, creatively… using improvisational theater. Changing the frozen culture of science. Telling scientists to stop being cold and rational, and start feeling, use improvisation, intuition, music and at this point he starts singing. So funny, I am actually laughing as I am writing this. 🙂

Instead of painting on canvas in 2D, she started painting on people in 3D and took photos of the outcome. Very interesting actually. I could feel that she enjoys the process very much.

Well, you have to listen to this. This is like explaining music…

Forgács András (with his obviously Hungarian name and MIT background) growing meat and leather, making both processes more cultured (no need to kill any animals in the future). I think this is a good idea for the leather… not yet convinced of the meat… can you make sure that the meat has the biological properties of healthy meat?

Hmm, he is actually a good singer and musician, uninhibited on stage and also entertaining. Interesting voice. This is the first time at this TED conference that I like the music.

Where do you come from? This is a very complicated question to answer today. More important however: Where are you going? This is a talk about the home being inside of you. I think he was talking about something I wrote about a few days ago on my facebook page: “After a really hard and long day (stressful due to the lack of sensitivity, empathy and humanity in the community), I walked out onto my balcony into the cool and dark evening to relax and contemplate, and suddenly I see the International Space Station silently flying by like a bright star from right to left, right in front of my home, high up in the sky. And this brought a smile onto my face. The ISS for me is the technological symbol of human introspection. Looking back on humanity. Looking back into yourself. Exploring the landscapes. (Regina Saphier, June 06, 2013, Budapest, Hungary)”

This blog entry was last updated on June 19, 2013.

Regina Saphier TED Global 2013 Day 2

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

8:45 – 10:15am Session 4: Money Talks

Living during the time of a new economic revolution, we need a new: New Deal! She spoke about the problem that the rich are getting richer and the middle class is going down really… The industrial revolution showed us what it means to change a system, and she listed the wars, systems changes and financial crisis that societies and people had to suffer through to get to an era when we are healthier, living longer, and even are taller because of better nutrition, etc. Meanwhile today is the era of the plutocrats who are in fact not creating enough jobs, but are really professional when it comes to tax optimization, and this is why a New Deal is imminent, because we are already in a second revolution (also related to technology) and one financial crisis is already ruining our lives. This topic also came up at the TED Long Beach event earlier this year and it is a very important one. Governments are already contemplating giving basic income to every citizen who is not able to obtain work, because 1. There are not enough jobs, 2. People become desperate in such situation in masses, 3. That means upheaval, fighting, attacks, wars… and that needs to be prevented… At the same time educated citizens need to work out a New Deal so that people are not only silenced, but also get to live a normal, sustainable life with dignity.

Modeling economic crisis and predicting them by looking at natural or systemic signs of crisis, like a birth, a land slide, or a rocket engine starting. Economic and market crisis can be predicted scientifically. Didier told us how. He also told us how his valid predictions were initially not taken seriously by so called market experts. “Gouverner, c’est prevoir”. Governing is about the ability of foresight. I wrote many years ago on another blog of mine that the Hungarian government was asleep while the economic crisis was approaching… I could not understand how that bunch of people could be called “government” when those idiots (we learned yesterday that political idiots are the ones acting alone without any coordination) had no foresight of something so visible that even I could see it coming and overwhelming Hungary. It was all over the international news that something was wrong with the markets internationally, it was clear it will reach us, yet the Hungarian “government” was surprised, and the opposition was no more skilled, made no predictions, suggested no protective measures. It was shocking to me.

She says a new, independent, transparent, self sustaining and nonprofit rating agency needs to be created and she is of course right. Rating agencies of today are intentionally distorting the international markets based on invisible background economic interests. This must change for more realistic valuation.

Where are the European Googles? She shows an image, on the left: Zuckerberg, the US, on the right: Kafka (bureaucracy), the EU. The public sector suffocates the EU, we know this slogan. However, most of the key technology in a smart phone was funded by DARPA and other government agencies in the US. Just think about that! So the EU needs to become a better government-like investor in order for the European Google to be created. Mariana is a pleasantly crazy smart speaker, I hope to see more of her at TED.

It is all about attention… a very skilled performer picking a spectator’s pocket on stage. Really entertaining. 🙂 However, I do not think the credit card was meant to fly off from the performer’s hand behind the subjects back… that was a mistake right there. But still a very funny performance that should make you think: What would you do if you could control people’s attention to that extent?

Introducing the social impact bond. Invest in social programs to prevent re-offending by criminals. Save money for governments this way, and finally investors get their money back when offenders don’t relapse and become working citizens (less prisons are needed). Win-win-win.13 social interest bond programs in the UK already. Flexibility is needed too for these to work. Public, private, social, civic, all need to be involved in a partnership to bring on social change this way.

11:00 – 12:45pm Session 5: Listening to Nature

Measuring biodiversity by measuring how it sounds. Knowing that birds are gone by playing the sounds that were recorded in a park year by year…

Mono-cultures and pesticides are killing bees. Bees are flying greater distances to find diverse flowers, are hungry and when they finally find pollen, it is full of toxic pesticide and this complex situation kills them. You can help! Plant local bee friendly flowers everywhere and do not use pesticides. Flowering weeds are also very important to bees.

Why malaria nets are not used inside malaria societies where malaria is viewed as a fact of life (and the nets are also uncomfortable). And in other more developed countries there is no malaria because of better and healthier infrastructure… So, we need a new malaria attitude against this otherwise amazingly resilient and interesting parasite. Nets are not the long term solution against malaria. So, why is Bill Gates shipping nets to those people? It is true that Europeans are also not wearing masks during the influenza season… even if it is a good idea, people just don’t like to do that…

Introducing the robotic cockroach… or the robo roach… for teaching purposes and for brain simulation.

Real time composition on the TED stage. (I assumed this is what improvisation was about.) I think it is an intuitive ambiance and introspection based composing style, real time, based on solid performance skills and practice. It is what I used to do whenever I set down at a piano when I was younger, with the tiny difference that I had no clue about piano playing. 😉 Yaron says he turns off his conscious mind and lets his unconscious play in flow.

Suzana is a smart primate on Earth eating cooked food. Like all of us humans. It is basically what she was saying. She counted that the human brain has 86 billion neurons and our primate specific brains need the energy in “predigested” or cooked food. Raw food eating primates have less neurons and smaller brains. So, what made us so smart is: cooking!

Chris announced that TED Global goes to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in October 2014! We already knew that TED Long Beach becomes TED Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada in 2014. For me it only means that there will be two major TED events to blog about in the evening and by night… (not during the morning and the afternoon, like now, during TED Global… the really hard ones were/are TED events on the west coast of the US and Canada… that means 9 hours of time difference and writing until the morning each time…).

Hilarious examples of sexual (anatomical and behavioral) diversity in the animal kingdom. Very good talk.

2:15 – 4:00pm Session 6: World on Its Head

Talked about the crisis of institutions and how disadvantaged groups need to learn the code of these institutions to be able to successfully fight back for their own wellbeing.

She introduced us to the Babushkas (senior ladies who refused to move) still living in the dead zone of Chernobyl in Ukraine.

Telling us about the development of Latin America.

We learn about the Middle Eastern conflicts.

Making political art. Being critical about politics.

Humanizing Muhammad.

  • May El-Khalil Founder of the Beirut Marathon

    May El-Khalil

    May El-Khalil (TED Global 2013)

Peacemaking is a marathon… May told her story of training as an athlete, being hit by a bus, having had 36 surgeries to be able to walk again and meanwhile organizing the Beirut Marathon to unite people of her nation and to create leaders for the future.

5:00 – 6:45pm Session 7: Regeneration

Growing bone tissue in vivo (within the human body) and also using her special technique to regenerate heart tissue.

Regenerating the damaged brain. The brain has its own regenerative capacity even in MS (we see images about this). There are stem cells that are responsible for those slow and minor regenerative processes. This slow process needs to be promoted to make it more efficient. Healing and drug discovery… using brain stem cells of the patient.

  • Grégoire Courtine Spinal cord researcher

    Grégoire Courtine Spinal cord researcher

    Grégoire Courtine Spinal cord researcher (TED 2013)

On his way to heal spinal cord injury in people. He can do it in rats already. And he is sexy with this cute French accent in English. Especially like his upper lips. 😉 I love that he showed his team too and told us it was a community effort and he is “only” the maestro. (Still I am sorry for the rats…)

Introducing the Nanopatch for safer and pain free vaccination. Because it injects into the right skin surface (we see a brilliant microscopic image of the skin with the Nanopatch in it), the immune response is much better at much lower doses. Also, the vaccines used in the Nanopatch are dry, so no need for refrigeration.

Taking pictures of sound waves, magnetic fluids and burning whiskey in a bottle. Not exactly sure how this last talk fits in with this mega powerful session of game changing scientists. Nice images, but not scientific enough… so I take it as art. But for art it was not as powerful… Still an amazing session it was!

Bruno tells us: TEDx-ers are watching online from 53 countries. A truly global event.

Three brothers playing the same instrument at the same time… looks a bit bizarre on the TED stage… I mean, it really looks like a “foursome”… if you know what I mean… 😉


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Regina Saphier TED Global 2013 Day 1

Natasha Bedingfield


I am as usual in Hungary, more specifically in Budapest, and watching TED Global 2013 plus live blogging about it. Meanwhile in my district in Buda we have major flooding along the Danube, we also had several powerful storms like the one yesterday, we had two earthquakes during the last two months between 4.2 and 4.8, and Hungary is struggling economically (also in social terms and professionals are leaving by the thousands to find jobs abroad). My life too was full of hardship for the last few years. TED conferences gave me perspective, hope and intellectual resources. It was at a TED conference last year that I discovered Coursera and started another blog about it. Next year I am probably going to phase out my TED live conference blog after we celebrate 30 years of TED in 2014, and I am going to focus more on Coursera. I am still thinking about the future of my blogging… Let me know if you would like me to continue both blogs. By now I have solid experience in global blogging in English (as opposed to more limited local blogging in Hungarian) and I am thinking about new blog topics…

Coursera was anyway what I was really looking for in the first place when I stumbled upon TED many years ago… I had something to watch until Coursera finally manifested itself… Thank you Richard! Thank you Chris! Thank you TED speakers!

Lets see what is happening at TED Global this year. These are Edinburgh, Scotland times below, please look up your own local time relative to the program.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

11:00 – 12:45pm Session 1: Moments of Truth

Generally I detest when politicians speak at TED. Still, this appeared to be a humble talk about democracy in crisis internationally. There was even some review of democracy’s history. Papandreou envisions the EU as a citizens’ “Agora”. Give immigrants a European citizenship, he says. Lets not be “Idiots” standing on our own, lets examine our issues together.

Talked about the sustainability strategy of IKEA and other major corporations.

He asked during his passionate talk: Why shouldn’t we all have a Serengeti on our doorsteps? Well, I am thinking: I am ok with the lions in Africa… And yes, whales are important for the existence of planktons… not only the other way round… but as the speaker himself pointed out: who are we to decide what kinds of animals get to live in our neighborhoods… Why would I want to let him decide?

From a land where driving a car by a woman is punished by direct harassment to her family… It happened to her, she was sent to jail, therefore she became an activist for the right to drive. Saudi Arabia was the last place where women could not drive and were punished for even attempting to drive once. It turns our, there was no law, this was some unwritten custom. There was her land and there was the rest of the world. She succeeded because others joined her protest and women are now driving in Saudi Arabia.

Saying no to the old school feminist narrative of putting your job first. Bread-winning and care-giving are equally important and governments should invest in both like Sweden and Norway does. Make care-giving cool for men. She is basically talking about humanizing society, accepting differences, and let people be who they want to be, the way they want to live. Finally she pointed out that she grew up in a time when her parents were smoking, and when racial segregation was the norm. She pointed out that change is happening, but how fast, that depends on us.

2:15 – 4:00pm Session 2: Those Flying Things

Amazing demo of drones in flight indoors. Balancing a glass of water in the air by a drone? No problem.

Explaining the flexibility of conservation drones. Low cost tools to survey huge areas.

Using drones in logistics. Getting supplies, like medication to areas that are unreachable on roads. The cost is low, the speed is high. The beginning of a new paradigm in transportation? (Get your sushi by a drone in no time and make all delivery people jobless…hmm…? I always have this dilemma…) Engage in social fiction to make it happen: lift people out of poverty… (but do it so that you do not push others into poverty).

Weaponized drones are still controlled by humans but human control for them to work as tools of killing: no longer a technical requirement. Autonomous operation is part of them. The capability is there already. Drones today are able to make the decision to kill a human on their own! Is this the future we want? Robots killing people? Pushing responsibility away from humans…? Anonymous war? Will you know your enemy? How can you protect yourself from such faceless attackers hiding behind robotic weapons…? Advanced nations are data driven and opinion leaders are easily identified by their data and social network usage. Easy targets. This could suffocate free speech. We need a treaty on robotic weapons. No robot privacy in public places!

3D panorama imaging demonstrated by one of my favorite TED speakers, Blaise (such a nice man). As you walk your camera takes photos and stitches them into a flow of images.

Looking at  the forest and landscapes with bio sensors from the air. Greg shows us how he is able to deeply analyze the forest with his spectrometer, showing the biodiversity, living and dead trees, their growth rate, the impact of animals and human activity (like illegal gold-mining). Brilliant technology.

5:00 – 6:45pm Session 3: Exquisite Enigmatic Us

Sleep is vital! The quality of your sleep impacts your mental health.

Our minds are able to mislead us when it comes to memories. Memories can even be artificially planted into human minds.

Mixing culture, language and media heroes.

Speaking to us about the brain’s thermostat when it comes to weight gain or weight loss. It feels like Sandra experienced a lot of trauma and her anxiety level is very high to tolerate the stress of the TED stage. Remember, have compassion, do not judge, rather ask: What happened to her? And in her TED talk she talks about that… I feel how she is struggling. It took her a lot of courage to go on stage and speak about eating, culture, mind, body and anxiety.

Excellent speaker, just like Jane, her twin sister, who is now a regular TED speaker. Still, I am not entirely convinced Kelly… I think all this sounded way too idealistic: you now believe (after believing the opposite for 10 years) that stress is making us stronger… you are less likely to pass away from stress related causes and are more likely to become successful at the task that is stressful, if you think stress helps you do what you do. Why am I not convinced?

Kelly McGonigal

She told us, if you believe stress is bad for you, your blood vessels contract during stressful events, while if you believe that stress is good for you, your blood vessels relax. This could be, yes, but what if you were traumatized in the past, and no matter what you think, your blood vessels just keep contracting due to neurological or genetic damage? Also, she stated that while financial stress raises your risk factor by some 30%, taking care of someone removes that risk… due to the wonderful impact of a famous stress hormone: oxytocin. This contradicts Christakis’s findings regarding care taking, networks and stress (often killing the caretaker and stressing out friends and family in your network), and also contradicts the Columbia U. research regarding higher status and stress… the higher your status the better you handle stress… So, this new finding of yours needs more examination, perhaps another 10 years.

Still, I am sure what you think of stress and what your attitude is like, that does impact your body via your mind, definitely.

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Regina Saphier TED Global 2012 Day 4

Imogen Heap - Ellipse

Imogen Heap – Ellipse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Friday, June 29, 2012

9:45 – 11:15

Session 11:

Taking Another Look

Maurizio Seracini

Art Diagnostician

See what is below the surface… very interesting. Discovering the deep layers of paintings… We get to see an app that helps you find hidden details of paintings at exhibitions…

Becci Manson

Photo Retoucher

Giving back photo memories to people in Japan after the tsunami…

Mina Bissell

Cancer Researcher

How come Obama‘s trillions of cells know what to do? Why does his nose not turn into his foot…? Context and architecture… the micro environment is what matters… inject one cancer cell into an embrio: no cancer… inject the same cancer cell in a chicken: and you get cancer growth. Milk production is the same… the cells forget to produce milk when taken out of context… Restore tissue architecture… what is structurally wrong with the cells and their environment… This is a wonderful and hope giving talk… especially to me… because my mother and father are cancer survivors… my mother is still in the process of fighting… I wish medicine advanced faster… and at the same time I see wonderful new discoveries, like the one Mina and her students are working on.

A short audience talk:

Ryan Merkley… popcorn video

Imogen Heap


Interesting and fun performance: make your music with your body. Imogen is wearing a dress and gloves that help her to compose music while singing and moving around on stage.

John Wilbanks

Data Commons Advocate

Clinical studies and informed consent… We need to connect clinical studies’ data to be more innovative… build commons of our medical data… share your data voluntarily… like: lifestyle, food, genome, illnesses in the family … don’t be patient!

For breast cancer research:

12:00 – 13:45

Session 12:

Public Sphere

Kirby Ferguson

Filmmaker and Remixer

Everything is a remix. – he says and shows us several examples, like Steve Jobs and his ideas… Steve used to present inventions as his own… as his company’s… but truth is, many of those technologies were around before he got to know about them… he loved to take from others and pretended it was his, but hated when other people took ideas from him…

Michael Anti


How 300 000 million tweeting Chinese people, a number that covers the US population, change Chinese society… Due to the language, Chinese regard tweeting as a true media… it has more content there, because Chinese is a very complex language, giving you lots of context. For Chinese people censorship and working around it is: normal. I think Michael has a lot of courage…

Andrew Blum

Network Author

Andrew showed us how physical the internet really is. He even showed us a picture where a man walked out of the ocean with a fiber optical cable and we got to see how this extremely long cable was connected to the cable network on land… The internet is not weightless he says… it is not a virtual thing… it is very physical and it connects you and me physically, even if also by the power of electricity, light and the like.

Margaret Heffernan

Management Thinker

Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril

Childhood cancer rates growing… Why? 1956 research finding… Mothers in affluent families got x-rayed while pregnant in high numbers. Only 25 years later was the practice eliminated. Openness is not enough to make the change. Allison and George… (sorry, but did not get the full names…) The point is: Allison was sure she was right about her discovery because her research partner, George had this approach: he tested her hypothesis and findings by trying to show that she was wrong. And since he could not show that she was wrong, their professional argument made the results really powerful. But still it took the profession decades to get it, because they were not open for the truth.

Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril [Hardcover]
Margaret Heffernan (Author)

Most organizations are not thinking. They can not think… they are too afraid to face conflict. 85% of officials are unable to face and manage conflict, so they avoid meaningful confrontations. (Like Chris at TED…) Solution: see conflict as thinking, learn to argue and become very good at it. Margaret tells us a story how one person can find others in an organization who have the same concerns and so as a group they can break the silence, confront the leaders, and make the change together. The CEO usually has NO idea what is going on… It is true! Face this truth. Become a leader.

Stand up to authority. The truth will set us free when we develop the talent and moral capacity to stand up for that truth in front of other people, but with a working strategy. Openness is the beginning. First make sure, that you are right, get equipped with tools of arguing, learn to face social pressure and speak up. Organizations must also learn to embrace these people and these opinions. This approach makes organizations safer.

Well Chris Anderson did not award my truth telling! So, TED: open up! Hire Margaret to teach you a thing or two about facing conflict within or regarding TED and face difficult truth to grow. Stop ignoring, silencing, uninviting and disregarding people who help you build the image of TED as volunteers and who have the courage to tell you the truth when you screw up. It is easy to embrace the uncritically enthusiastic followers… but it is hard to listen to people like me. You know what I am talking about Chris…

However, I have to say, this TED Global was wonderful! 🙂 Thank you! I am sure you can take in that opinion. Thank you TED people, I can live with the fact that you are humans, lightness and darkness… we all are. 🙂 During the closing remarks Chris was trying to say how the TED Global audience was wonderful this year and Bruno kind of told him on stage that what he wanted to say was: the TED Global audience was better compared to the TED Long Beach audience… that was an awkward moment for sure… but one thing is definitely true: Bruno is a more reliable, more even tempered curator… This time I did not have the feeling that TED was in a content crisis.

Daria Musk

Web Music Sensation

Daria is telling and singing the story of her wonderful Google+ HangOut stardom. She is singing You Move Me! 🙂 while her hangout friends are on screen in the background. This is so special and so representative of what is going on in the world today in my global network. And this connectedness is growing every day.

How a lonely girl earned 1.6 million friends: Daria Musk at TEDGlobal 2012

Clay Shirky

Social Media Theorist

In this age, you can no longer get away with being stupid… You will be exposed if you are a narrow minded public servant or politician for example.

Brilliant game changer, Linus Torvalds is mentioned… LINUX… Get a GitHub account… collaboration without coordination… Expect not to be censored and use technology to speak up and influence society and politics… It is your world. Make it better as you can. And yes, you can!

Regina Saphier TED Global 2012 Day 3

English: Portrait of Jane McGonigal

Portrait of Jane McGonigal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

12:00 – 13:45

Session 8:

Talk to Strangers

There was a major technical issue in Edinburgh. We had no idea at the time if the power comes back or not until the next session. We sure hoped so.

Update: the power is back and session 9 starts at 3:15 Budapest time. Jane got to complete her fun and empowering talk in session 9.

After Session 10. update: Jane had to do a retake of her talk’s first part, because the power outage destroyed the first part of her original talk… High drama… we felt the stress… we were with her as she walked on stage at the end of the day and re-recorded her first few minutes… and the stream was cut suddenly again and we were in the dark… for a while we had no idea if she was ok and if it was only us being cut off, or if the power was gone again in the building of the TED conference… I kept asking and we were informed that she was ok, and she was able to record her talk just fine finally… My sympathy for this pro speaker! Jane is a warrior! Hope to see her talk online soon.

Rachel Botsman

Sharing Innovator

I know Rachel from the RSA lectures. She talks about the age of online trust between strangers. Collaborative consumption on a global scale, using technology. Your reputation in this age is key. Service networking… outsourcing your tasks: taskrabbit… assembling IKEA furniture and earning 5000 dollars a month… Facebook users trust each other, she says, so they have the potential for trust based online collaboration. How do you ensure safety, how do you handle real and online identity? Should your reputation travel with you from one site to another? Manage your reputation capital! It is very valuable. Because would it not be wonderful if the truly trustworthy would run the world?

She also mentioned:

Robin Chase

Transport Networker

Robin’s story: from Zipcar, to Buzzcar… from uniform cars that you can use in the US, to people’s cars that you can share in Paris. She calls this phenomenon: Peers Incorporated. It is a world of innovation, personalization, collaboration, and economies of scale. It is not self evident how such a system is built, but she now knows how it works. The peer production community needs quick feedback tools that are in place. Supercharging Individuals.

Amy Cuddy

Social Psychologist

High testosterone and low cortisol are the key to top leadership… Be powerful, but do not get nervous … Role change can change your hormone level. Fake it until you become it! Amy becomes truly vulnerable when she is telling us that her career was broken by a car accident and it took her 4 years longer to get her college degree, but more importantly it took a lot of faking until she made it back on track as a gifted academic. She needed her wonderful mentor to push her to stay in the game and when she had the chance as a mentor to do the same for a discouraged young woman in her class, she told her the same: you have a place here, and you should fake it until you become it.

So, the practical take home parts of this talk: before you enter a judgment situation, like a job interview, in the elevator or in the bathroom, stand up, spread your arms high in a V, smile, imagine you are strong, and tell yourself you will be successful. Smile! And this helps you to do better or even give your best, because your posture, your facial expression, your words go deep in your brain and change the outcome of your efforts. Take the power pose! This was a truly moving TED talk with very important content.

Jason McCue


People who were hurt by terrorist attacks, should be better supported to live a more normal life. I really do not understand why this talk had to be placed into this session. Terribly out of place among so many positive messages. It is important, yes, it has a place in the conference, just not in this session. Especially after Amy’s brilliant, vulnerable and uplifting talk. A very bad curatorial decision, after a really good one… actually a lot of very good ones.

Marco Tempest


Jane McGonigal

Game Designer

As our old friend Jane tells her story of a head injury and promises us 7 extra minutes of life, the power goes out in Edinburgh, but we have no clue what happened, and the live TED conference chat goes wild trying to figure out why the stream is gone… and I am thinking, this reminds me of the power outage in Oxford a few years back.. and sure enough, it is a major power outage, but in the city of Edinburgh. We hope Jane gets to finish her talk, and we get our 7 extra minutes of a gamer’s life. 🙂

Here is Jane’s first TED talk with my Hungarian subtitle:

Jane finishes her talk at the beginning of Session 9. so I continue my blog note:

Priorities change when you make a comeback from a trauma or illness.

I do what makes me happy, I know who I am, get a new sense of me, better able to focus on what is important. Trauma helps you live a more authentic life, and have fewer regrets at the end of your life. Jane playfully teaches us to work on our physical, mental, emotional and social resilience and live 10 years longer. She in fact developed a game, called SuperBetter to help herself get better and here she is, giving us this inspiring TED talk. She is always creative, even when she is ill and her brain tells her to kill herself. I know how it feels to be so ill… feeling desperate.

Why is this talk so meaningful to me? Well… during the second part of my thirties I have been severely ill and the illness demolished my career as an NGO founder and director. I suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome and it took three years of my life. I have become completely isolated, because people did not understand what happened to me, including my doctors. The person working 18 hours a day and enjoying her work, turned into a recluse in pain, unable to do much. That person was me. So, I set out online to find the cause of my illness and read thousands of medical articles in English (on pubmed, etc.). I did finally manage to find the cause of my illness (a major part: severe lack of “vitamin” D due to too much work and lack of sun). I recovered, but for a long time I felt this deep fear that I might get sick again. The TED talks, the TED conferences, my own TED translations and my own TED blogs were my hope giving tasks. The TED phenomenon helped me to keep up my mental, emotional and social resilience. (“Vitamin” D gave me my physical resilience and strengths back. And so much more… read about this “vitamin”! It is not even a vitamin!) Therefore I am completely able to understand and feel why Jane’s game for recovery is so helpful. And I am glad we both recovered! 🙂

Note: if you did not read the into of this day: Jane had to do a retake of her talk’s first part, because the power outage destroyed the first part of her original talk… High drama…

3:15 – 5:00

Session 9:

The Upside of Transparency

Parag Khanna

Global Theorist; Guest Host at TEDGlobal 2012

Sanjay Pradhan

Development Leader

I am still under the influence of Jane’s talk, so I am sorry, I am unable to pay attention to Sanjay’s emotional talk…

Beth Noveck

Open-Government Expert

How to use technology and data to get things done… Delivering better information… US patent applications will be totally open to all of us to influence them, globally… Demand this revolution!

Heather Brooke

Investigative Journalist

Grow up society, and demand secret documents now. Heather did that and heads fell in the British Parliament, by the dozen! Lets make officials accountable for not revealing public interest information. Iceland is becoming a safe and open place for data publication for all of us.

She suggested these sites for good use by citizens (the first one had Hungary listed on the left side):


Marc Goodman

Global Security Futurist

Marc shows us how useful everyday technology is used by criminals too. Like 3D printing… or what about DNA… personalized attacks… Our security system is outdated. Open source global security… I really like Marc.

Deyan Sudjic


Talking about transparency and opacity in design, city planing, architecture and every day life.

6:00 – 7:45

Session 10:


Sarah Slean


Singing her song: Lucky me! … about living today and being ready for science. 🙂

Laura Snyder

Science Historian

Darwin started his discovery journey as a natural philosopher and came back as a scientist, because the word was born around his time… As women got admitted into science circles in the past… today: people must be incorporated into the field of science.

John Maeda


Funny play with letters, sound, typeface, movement… Art is enigmatic… “You do not get it? Good.” – he says. It is what it is all about. Also, leadership is about connecting unlikely entities and see what happens… and you can use visual network analysis technology to understand your system, connections, groups and people in the system. Interesting talk.

Michael Hansmeyer

Computational Architect

Folding simple shapes into intricate, beautiful forms never seen before by using simple algorithms and 3D printing them. Awesome! 🙂 WOW! I believe the people there in the room do not grasp what they have seen now. My best friend is an architect and an artist… I have been “trained” in this field… I know that this was fantastic!

Ramesh Raskar


Taking pictures of light at really high speed and sensing light reflections for… safety for example… this talk was fantastic too.

Boaz Almog

Quantum Researcher

Quantum “levitation”… quantum locking with magnetic field and super conductors… not levitation… and of course Sapphire is also part of the phenomenon… 😉


Keith Chen

Behavioral Economist

Chinese language does not divide tenses… it rained yesterday, it rained today, it rained tomorrow… so, if present and future are the same for you, it is easier to save. At least this is Keith’s theory and the numbers and data analysis suggest: he might be right. Future-less language speakers are the best savers. They have a continuous existence.

Hungarian is a “futured” language, unfortunately, so perception of time is divided. Hungary’s savings are just under 25%.

Future-less “nations” and their people are more likely to be healthy, play it safe and save. Do I feel so out of place in Hungary, because I started to adopt German at 17 and English since 24? No… I just simply feel out of place here since… since I was born…

And when I assumed my day was over, I find this article on BigThink with a funny Hungarian stamp as an illustration:

Obese? Smoker? No Retirement Savings? Perhaps It’s Because of the Language You Speak

“No Retirement Savings? Perhaps It’s Because of the Language You Speak”  – “Illustration: 1958 Hungarian postage stamp of a (perhaps strong-FTR speaking) grasshopper partying away for the summer while the (maybe weak-FTR-speaking) ants prepare for winter. Hungarian, by the way, is a strong-FTR language.”

And here is the working paper under review:

The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Evidence from
Savings Rates, Health Behaviors, and Retirement Assets
M. Keith Chen∗
Yale University, School of Management and Cowles Foundation

Hungarians are bad at saving... are they cut off from their future due to language?

Figure 2 shows average total savings rates, accounting for both private and government consumption. Data
from before 1985 are included in the regressions below but excluded here to normalize time periods across
countries. Both Switzerland and Belgium have significant within-country FTR variation; for simplicity they
are shaded according to their majority-FTR status. Difference in means are computed using a OLS regression
where observations are clustered at the country level.

Hannah Brock

Guzheng Virtuoso

Regina Saphier TED Global 2012 Day 2

English: Neil Harbisson and his eyeborg implan...

Neil Harbisson and his eyeborg implant. World’s first cyborg recognized as such by a government. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

9:45 – 11:15

Session 4:


Pankaj Ghemawat

Globalization Thinker

So, just how globalized is the world. Well, it is at 10-20 % only! For example, international, cross border phone calls are at 2% only. Businesses created by immigrants globally only at 3%. Foreign direct investment globally is below 10%. Export / GDP somewhere at 20%… And in all cases survey participants hugely overestimate these numbers when guessing. Like the French, who think their country is “suffering” from a 24% immigrant population, while it is in fact only 8%. That latter number changes perception. People in the US think that foreign aid in the national budget is 30%, while it is only 1%. Pankaj says: Radical Openness is a nice title for a TED conference, but truth is, incremental openness would already be an achievement. People on Facebook have only 10-15% of their friends located outside of their geographical region or country.

Pankaj Ghemawat

Pankaj Ghemawat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Robert Neuwirth


He talks about DIY economy… Robert points out that the informal economy is growing and it is a huge part of the world economy all together.

Andreas Schleicher

Education Surveyor

Korea not so long ago was a sad country, and now every young Korean finishes high school… Wonderful! My question: but what about the record numbers of suicides among Korean intellectuals? Perhaps the large class sizes are low cost but also dehumanizing and overly competitive? What about the hikikomori population of Japan?

The PISA Test and Hungary… according to one chart, we are doing ok… but I would disagree with Andreas immediately! And a new chart comes up and we are in the red (lower left part of the chart in red)… we spend little on our education… high socioeconomic disparity, low average performance and guess what, and this is my news for you: high levels of suicide, alcoholism and depression. Extremely depressing country to live in, I should know. I call it the Mediterranean Balkan.

Still, the data Andreas showed, is very interesting and useful for comparison and for finding what works (statistically, not necessarily humanly, in my opinion). But actually PISA stats are distorted, because it depends for example on the schools where the tests are done… not always representative of the other schools in a country.

Natasha Paremski


Classical music for a change… nice. 🙂 Too short… need more…

Alex Salmond

First Minister of Scotland

For small nations, it is not the economic size that matters, rather it is the power of their ambition. He showed us a chart with small countries that recovered easily from the global crisis… well, Hungary is NOT one of them, unfortunately. Hungary is a nation suffering terribly… and has always been suffering…

12:00 – 13:45

Session 5:

Shades of Openness

Malte Spitz

Politician and Data Activist

EU citizens to mobile companies: Do not retain our data. He asked his phone provider to send him what they are storing about him. Finally, after some struggle, he got it and he put it online. Companies are constantly trying to track us. We have to fight for our independence every day. Privacy is a value of the twenty first century. Just because these companies are able to retain all this info about you, they should not do so. Ask your company: What kind of data are you storing about me?

Ivan Krastev

Public intellectual

Finally, it is not Hungary, but Bulgaria: the most pessimistic nation! They voted with blank ballots saying: We have no leaders to vote for! Thank you! Tell politicians that we are not idiots, we know when there is no choice. Ivan, who has no mobile phone, says that we now get facebook revolutions. Do you believe that well informed, decent and talented people will run for office? Chris says, he now understands why Bulgarians translated all TED talks… they were looking for hope.

Gerard Senehi

Experimental Mentalist

Some spoon bending at TED… I did that with Uri Geller years ago… I have no idea how that worked… we were standing in a regular kitchen in Oxford… he picked up a spoon, asked me to hold it, and asked me to put my finger on it… he in turn put his finger on mine and the spoon was bent immediately… I suspect he gave that set of utensils to the host in the past… but it did not change shape when I touched it alone… go figure… I still have that distorted spoon by the way…

Gabriella Coleman

Digital Anthropologist

Anonymous is protecting the freedom of the internet. A visible and invisible group at the same time. Team work. Gabriella is practicing ethnographic diplomacy when she is talking about this phenomenon… She says, if the Anonymous group members were to send her a pizza, it should please be gluten free. 🙂

Leslie T. Chang


Understanding female factory workers… in China… Alienated workers? Or resourceful women in development? What matters is that these women learn, change and their families notice but they don’t really understand. These women learn English, because: Our customers in the future might not be Chinese, so languages are needed. 320 dollars bags taken home as gifts from the factories… family members at home could not understand why these items were selling for so much in the US… well, what matter to me, is that those women should earn more if the profit is so extreme…

Neil Harbisson

Sonochromatic Cyborg Artist

Our colorblind friend, Neil shows us how he is able to hear colors. When he started to dream in color, his brain started to produce sounds of colors. He is now a cyborg with his device, listening to Picasso. He now dresses in a way that sounds good. Or composing Lady Gaga salad… or Rachmaninow dishes. He creates sound portraits. Nicole Kidman’s face sounds good.

3:15 – 5:00

Session 6:

Misbehaving Beautifully

Sarah Caddick

Neuroscientist and Policy Advisor; Guest Host at TEDGlobal 2012

Read Montague

Behavioral Neuroscientist

Linking human brains in action around the world and measuring their interactive activity with fMRI machines.

Elyn Saks

Mental Health Law Scholar

A personal story of schizophrenia. In fact I know Elyn’s story from NPR. People like her are the ones who change the world, because she is changing people’s perceptions by opening up. And that is courage.

Ruby Wax

Comedian and Mental Health Activist

She says our pets are happier than we are. In a funny way she is out to remove the stigma from our brain being confused or overwhelmed in this century. Why is it, that you get sympathy for an illness of a specific organ, but no sympathy if your brain is sick. It is an organ you know. Full of chemicals, synaptic connections, electric signals, and it can break down just like a machine.

Vikram Patel

Healthcare advocate

People with mental illness live a shorter life, with a lower quality of life. Mental illnesses are leading causes of disability, like depression. How to use ordinary people to deliver mental health training to poor people, with serious impact… SUNDAR: Simplify, UNpack, Deliver health care, Affordable, Reallocate resources (SUNDAR… attractive in Hindi). Democratization of medical knowledge…

Wayne McGregor

Dancer and Choreographer

We are experts in physical thinking, he says… (but obviously, his kinesthetic intelligence is above average). He is turning the TED logo into movement spontaneously and his colleagues pick it up and repeat it in their own ways. It is really fun to watch. 🙂 The TED dance is born.

Natasha Paremski


Classical music again. 🙂

Robert Legato

Visual Effects Guru

Brilliantly creative make-believe for the cinema lovers… Go see Hugo in 3D…

6:00 – 7:45

Session 7:

Long Term

Vicki Arroyo

Environmental Policy Influencer

What I am taking away from this: when natural disasters hit people, many are likely to stay in dangerous areas, because they are unable to evacuate their pets… and get killed together with them… so legislation has to change to allow people to escape with their pets. Vicki basically introduces intelligent design and policy that can protect people from natural disasters.

Jonathan Trent

Scientist and Biofuel Guru

OMEGA… a safe system at sea to make bio fuel by using micro algae and: increase bio diversity. Sounds good. Even open source!

Hassine Labaied

Wind Energy Innovator

He shows us a new kind of wind turbine system. Very interesting, and very effective, but also still in development.

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

Cognitive Neuroscientist

Looking at the brains of teenagers. In late adolescence the pre-frontal cortex and other brain areas are optimized, and the amount of gray matter measurably decreases, so unnecessary connections are eliminated depending on the environment the person is in. So, take that into consideration when you educate young people.

Susan Solomon

Stem Cell Advocate

She is showing us a special video: an illness unfolds in front of our eyes by using human cells. Imagine your stem cell avatars being used for drug testing. Not only is this technology going to save lots of time and money for the pharmaceuticals, but also it could help you and me get targeted and safe medications when we need them (safely pretested and personalized).

We are informed that the TED Prize is now 1 000 000 USD and you can nominate yourself if you have a dream.

Usman Riaz

Percussive Guitarist

Preston Reed

Revolutionary Guitarist

Regina Saphier TED Global 2012 Day 1

Prezi Logo

Prezi Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

12:00 – 13:45

Session 1:

Critical Crossroads

Don Tapscott


Don tells the story of his neighbor open sourcing his gold mine geo data to find info and gold… In fact my father did the same for many years publishing photos of items in his collection asking: do you know who painted this? Because he knew, he can not possibly know it all… so he open sourced the research and it worked many times. Don says, it is the age of networked intelligence. Collective intelligence is able to solve huge problems in the world… Lets do this, he says.

Shyam Sankar

Data Intelligence Agent

Fascinating high level data mining to find any info, people, and connections between info and people. Artificial and human intelligence combined…

Robyn Meredith


China in the age of global economic crisis… the “factory of the world” in trouble when 20 million Chinese lost their jobs (and what about people in Hungary, 10 million people all together, who lost textile industry jobs by the hundreds of thousands due to the dirt cheap Chinese goods in the past… we no longer have a textile industry)… but their new middle class has spending power over there in China (we do not appear to have much of a middle class in Hungary)… Beijing wants innovation (Hungary has very little innovation… like Prezi… not much more, unfortunately… but at least Prezi has TED or rather Sapling as an investor… Ok, LogMeIn and UStream is also related to Hungary…)… China again wants to be innovative… like the gun powder… you know… made in China… The new economic “Big Brother”… Robyn says: “Today’s companies no longer make what they sell or no longer sell what they make.” China in its own way wants to make its people happy (unfortunately, Hungary’s leaders are not interested in Hungarian people’s happiness).

Jason Silva

Tech Filmmaker

According to Jason: “Awe is the best drug…” I have no comparison, I just love mental play and awesome ideas, art and talks.

Raghu Dixit

Fusion Musician

Well, music…

James Stavridis

NATO Supreme Commander

He says, instead of walls, “use bridges” and gives us examples of social, cultural bridges creating security. NATO is using social networks as well you know. In many instances use soft power instead of hard power.

3:15 – 5:00

Session 2:

Tinker Make Do

Ellen Jorgensen

Biologist and Community Science Advocate

Ellen: “It’s a great time to be a molecular biologist!” So, now you can analyze your own genome… and use the data for genealogy research. DIY… you can also confront the dog owners about their dogs’ leftovers on the streets… You could do so many things in these new communities. GenSpace is the world’s first government-compliant DIY biotechnology lab.

Massimo Banzi

Physical Computing Guru

He showed us a couple of wonderful open source projects. A must see! This talk should be up soon! 🙂

Catarina Mota


She is a maker (originally a social scientist), using smart materials. She says, we should understand smart materials today, to be able to meaningfully use them.

Matt Mills and Tamara Roukaerts


Aurasma, a startup that makes augmented-reality technology for mobile phones.

TED Fellows Director, Tom Rielly tells us about Max Little who invented an algorithm to detect Parkinson’s by using voice only.

Lee Cronin talks about chemistry apps in 3 minutes… 3D printers and chemical inks… print your own medicine… no need to go to your chemist in the future… “on the fly molecular assembly”…. own personal meta fabricator…

Antony Gormley


The body in space… light and darkness… very visual talk… he makes you disappear together… and turns you into an exhibit at the same time.

Kathy Hinde

Bird Piano Creator

Annoying TED “talk”.

Jamie Drummond

Anti-poverty activist

Lets do a global open source consultation about important issues. Collecting, connecting and committing. What do you want the next goals to be? He really wants to eliminate poverty by 2030.

6:00 – 7:45

Session 3:

Building Blocks

Daphne Koller

Daphne Koller


She is the person in this conference I am able to identify with most in terms of her goals. Free top higher education for all. Education might finally become a fundamental human right, life long learning will be a norm, and innovation is the goal. Her startup, Coursera, is working on just that. She spoke about the wonderful tools, people and outcomes. Top talk! Hope to see it online very very soon. I have an Ivy League degree (MA)… I live in Hungary now… I immediately discovered interesting courses on Coursera that I might take after the TED conference is over. I really love this idea… It would be really interesting to see if I could compile a DIY Interdisciplinary PhD on the Ivy level via Coursera from the best US universities… I have been looking forward to such an opportunity since I moved back to Hungary 10 years ago… Doing that as a game perhaps… like I described in one of my TED conversation comments to Jane McGonigal over a year ago… (Jane asked this: We spend 3 billion hours a week as a planet playing videogames. Is it worth it? How could it be MORE worth it?). Here is my shortened answer:

“I am not a gamer. I am an online idea generator…. Why not create a game that makes people in the developed world responsible for the education of people in the less developed parts of the world. There is now so much content out there for online education for free… I was thinking: Ivy League development, education, etc… students should be inspired by online games … you know, somehow combining education, mentoring, research and gaming… Get your degree as an online gamer by teaching people skills, showing them the world, interacting with them online and seeing results as we play. Learn from each other. Get your university credits with meaningful online games. … “online global community graduation” … I imagined getting an experimental PhD in such a way online (on top of my Columbia University MA) from my home in Budapest, Hungary while pulling someone else (living in a less fortunate environment) toward a BA or an MA degree. The game could have an academically meaningful impact beyond the epic win of teaching people skills, languages or science… I am sure many PhD students would be happier with this, instead of being the RA and TA slaves of tenured professors in the US… I could work with a post-doc who is in the US… so that person in the US, me in Hungary, and the person in the Third World: we would get to know each other’s needs and culture too and that with minimal carbon footprint. That could promote global power balance and understanding. This in my opinion would be a meaningful game project.”

Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, the founders of Coursera

Shimon Schocken

Computer Scientist, Educator

Provide the environment for self study. Open source computer course… Grading is degrading… so he is telling us about upgrading. He is showing us a tool and my stream is gone… so I am sorry, but I have no way of knowing what he is talking about right now… will look it up from the archive later. But the tool he was showing looked similar to GeoGebra

Beau Lotto

Neuroscientist, Artist


Amy O’Toole


How to change perception… Fascinating story of kids getting published with an original scientific study. Amy: Anyone can discover something new.

Eddie Obeng

Business Educator

Stop looking at the twenty first century with twentieth century eyes.

Karen Thompson Walker


She is talking about fear in life and in literature.

Macy Gray


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Regina Saphier TED Global 2011 Day 4

Friday, July 15, 2011 8:30 – 10:15
Session 11: Things We Make

Neil MacGregor

Director of The British Museum

We are introduced to an ancient piece of PR on clay from Babylon. And important object for Iran and also for Jews: the Cyrus Cylinder of Babylon.

A short talk follows by a TED Fellow, Genevieve von Petzinger about the geometrical shapes on cave walls and objects of the ice age.

Ben Kacyra

Digital preservationist

We see amazing 3D laser scanned virtual representations of our collective memory, buildings, statues and complete sites. CyArk 500 Challenge: to digitally preserve 500 world heritage sites in 5 years.

Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg

Artist, designer

Daisy talks about invented cultural life forms, that are part of the set: synthetica. Growing objects, instead of manufacturing them. Or make bacteria to produce different colors. It would be possible to harvest natural colors, and could also be used in laboratory diagnostics.

Robert Gupta


Touching violin tunes streaming from Edinburgh to Budapest. 🙂

Michael Biddle

Plastics recycler

While it is easy to recycle metal, it used to be hard to do the same with plastic. But Michael not only developed a way to selectively extract plastic precisely, but he also revolutionized the plastic industry: recycled plastic requires 10% of the energy to create recycled objects (no oil required), compared to using virgin plastic, made of oil.

In my opinion we should not be using plastic at all, instead we should use non-toxic, and completely degradable materials. And we have seen such materials in the making at TED in the past…

Anna Mracek Dietrich


Terrafugia: a flying car. Brilliant. I want one. 🙂

Joe, the sand artist comes back.. still not very impressive to me. Ferenc Cakó is much more creative, poetic and fluid…

Malcolm Gladwell


It was about war, and when this word comes up, I stop listening. Sorry. But the key message was: the more efficient the US got at bombing countries, the angrier the sufferers got and the more people were killed by terrorists attacks.

11:00 – 12:45
Session 12: Next Up

Harald Haas

Communications technology innovator

Well, the future is light transmitted data.

Markus Fischer


Breaking the code of bird flight. An artificial bird is flying over the heads of TEDsters in Edinburgh.

David Adjaye

David gave a really clear picture of regional differences in African architecture and I think it was a very good TED talk. It introduced me to something I did not yet know. I love architecture. And I have too little knowledge of today’s Africa.

Rory Stewart

Rory is the new kind of British politician and he loves to walk! 🙂 I am not terribly interested in politics. Sorry. By the way, excellent speaker. We need intelligent risk takers with humility who know the terrain and culture wherever you want to send aid, money and groups, locals or people with real local knowledge who help to rebuild and develop. Rory has first hand local experience with this, because he walked among real everyday people, in several regions of the world. Remarkably intelligent politician. Gives you hope!

Jo Hamilton


She plays the Air Piano (not to be confused with a theremin).

Jeremy Gilley

Peace activist

Completely adrenalin driven Jeremy talking fast and long about his brilliant idea: The Annual Peace Day, 21 September. Remarkable story. Amazing what we, dyslexics are capable of. 😉

Related articles

Regina Saphier TED Global 2011 Day 3

Thandie Newton at the 2007 BAFTAs

Image via Wikipedia

Thursday, July 14, 2011 11:00 – 12:45
Session 8: Embracing Otherness

Pat Mitchell

Media pioneer

She is the host of this session.

Thandie Newton


Thandie tells her own story of otherness and how dancing and acting helped her understand that oneness and suspended self is the key, and that she should respect her own self instead of being ashamed of it or changing it constantly… but not live in her self, rather aim to reach oneness. It was such a beautiful TED talk, that I will not attempt to retell it, rather ask you to please, listen to it as soon as it will be online. And I have the feeling that it will be up very soon.

Yang Lan

Media mogul, TV host

Yang introduces us to the hopes, problems and needs of Chinese youth.

Nadia al-Sakkaf

Nadia shows us pictures and tells the story of how people, especially women and girls in Yemen live today.

Jarreth Merz


Jarreth tells the story of Ghana living up to the expectations of democracy. He says, yes, we Africans can!


Dance company

Well, they dance…

Bunker Roy


Bunker, who had the best education and a privileged life in India, decided to go to a village 45 years ago and started the barefoot college for the poor a bit later, in 1972. He says: listen to people, to the poor people and for example train the grandmothers of poor communities to make fundamental changes. He spoke of women being trained via sign language to build solar tools and how these women went home and changed their villages in several countries. His talk included so much genius that I recommend you to definitely watch this talk on as soon as it becomes available. Wonderful story!

2:15 – 4:00
Session 9: Living Systems

Alain de Botton


Alain suggests atheism 2.0 🙂

We need help, guidance, assistance, because as religions say, people are children… while universities assume we are adults in need of information, and that is all. Well, I am sure you see the right way in the middle, and get a “church ceremony meets university lecture” kind of education for life: The School of Life. Religion: repetition, calendar, structure, rituals, oratory skills, branded multinational institutions… so: lone individuals of the mind, like poets and educators, must group together. Learn from religion. But NO leader needed, because it is a wiki kind of project. 🙂 I feel that Alain’s new TED talk is somehow unfinished…

Erik Hersman


Erik says, innovation is equally distributed in the world, and Africa is no different.

Paul Snelgrove

Marine biologist

Paul is cataloging marine life and he shows us some stunning images. My favorite was the Yeti Crab. 🙂

Pavan Sukhdev

Environmental economist

Pavan works to end the economic invisibility of nature. Recognize natural capital.

Pauline Chen

Surgeon, writer

Doctors can cure people and also help the dying and their relatives. Pauline advocates for empathy in medicine. Humanize the medical profession.

Charles Hazlewood


And finally music with explanation of the conductor’s job and that music should not be an elite phenomenon in the “West”. Charles says we should make music as freely as Africans do. 🙂 He is starting a para orchestra in the UK for disabled people. And finally he shows us how Haydn explained the importance of trust to one Prince Esterházy in Hungary (the particular Esterházy prince wanted the musicians to move out of his household, so to make his point, Haydn composed a piece during which the musicians leave the stage in pairs until the piece is played by only two people who also walk out finally while still playing).

5:00 – 6:45
Session 10: Feeling

Alison Gopnik

Child development psychologist

Alison says: to be a learning baby is like being in love in Paris after drinking three double espressos. Babies are super learners, they also run unconscious or conscious “statistical calculations” while learning. What they find hard is focusing.

Paul Bloom


Paul says we want to own original artworks because we need to believe that real, hard, skilled work, effort, creativity and history is behind that particular collectible or even music. This gives us deep pleasure. When we learn that the object of desire is not original, we lose interest, because we lose the history we assumed initially and we lose the feeling of pleasure.

Paul Zak


Poor countries are low oxytocin nations. This hormone is the trust molecule. It increases empathy and it makes us moral. It connects us. Dr. Love says: 8 hugs a days will make you happier. And the more people hug each other, the better place the world becomes.

Todd Kuiken

Biomedical engineer

Todd develops highly flexible and functional prosthetic arms with nerve connections and his patients surprised him saying that they have tactile input and so they feel different surfaces and textures.

Mr. Tempest, the magician performed again, and today he impressed me. 🙂

Abraham Verghese

Physician and author

Another medical doctor with empathy telling his story. Don’t just look at data, the computer, but listen to your patients, look at them, hear them and examine them directly. It is an important ritual that people need.

Regina Saphier TED Global 2011 Day 2

Cover of "The Rational Optimist: How Pros...

Cover via Amazon

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 8:30 – 10:15
Session 4: Future Billions

Niall Ferguson


Niall says: “Killer apps” of wealthy nations are: Work Ethic; Competition; Scientific revolution; Property rights; Medicine; Consumerism. Any society could adopt these and now, instead of the US, it is China that uses these as a world leader while also using the IT killer apps downloadable by millions globally.

Yasheng Huang

Political economist

Yasheng says China develops faster than India, because the Chinese government does not have to take into consideration the public opinion. Also the literacy rate and education is much better in China. Chinese women are approximately twice as literate as Indian women, and while in China you are literate if you are able to read and write hundreds of characters, in India you are called literate if you are able to write your name.

Tim Harford

Undercover economist

Tim says: move away from the God Complex and try: trial and error. People find it hard to be challenged, they like to be in their little “know it all” bubble and they must be shocked out of that bubble. It is very difficult to make good mistakes. I really like his way of presenting this idea.

Robin Ince


Robin is making fun of life and science and I know this kind of twisted and funny thinking, because we make jokes like his with my best friend all the time.

JR is back to give us an update on his TED wish.

John Danner speaks about Robert Owen’s New Harmony, Indiana plans… His socially innovative business thinking was remarkable.

Josette Sheeran

Anti-hunger leader

Josette shows us what kind of damage hunger causes in the brain. She says we have enough food to feed all people in the world and tells us about the tools of eliminating hunger in the world. School feeding raises girls’ and boys’ school attendance by 50%. Brazil is the most skilled at eliminating hunger.

11:00 – 12:45
Session 5: Emerging Order

Matt Ridley

Rational optimist

He is now the curator of this session, he is not presenting a TED talk today.

Svante Paabo


We are all recent emigrants of Africa… Right, I knew that. Our differences come from genetic variations of a very similar genetic set.

Mark Pagel

Evolutionary biologist

Mark says: words are sometimes dangerous, you can be killed for saying the wrong one. Now words are also the basis of social learning, the skill that made humans so successful. Social learning is visual theft. Language was developed to manage human cooperation. Languages also isolate from other groups. Can we afford so many languages in our interconnected global and virtual 21st century? We have to confront the idea that we have to become one world with one language. (Are you sure?)

Elizabeth Murchison

Cancer researcher

Elisabeth talks about the Tasmania Devil‘s contagious cancer, that threatens the entire Tas population. This population is the ultimate cancer. All cancers on Tasmanian Devils’ faces have the same DNA… Sexually transmitted dog cancer is similar all over the world. Tens of thousands of years old, coming form wolfs. There was a research involving humans and human cancer cells (they were injected into humans), and in a few cases it can spread…

Cynthia Kenyon

Biochemist, geneticist

Cynthia says: DAF-2 gene mutation not only makes the C. elegans live longer, but also live better and look younger. It acts via hormones, similar to insulin, promoting nutrient uptake by cells and IGF-1, promoting growth. Genes are instructions to make proteins that do something and the DAF-2 gene encodes cellular DAF-2 hormone receptors. When the DAF-2 gene is normal, it contains the instructions for normal receptors, and normal, faster aging. It is speeding up aging. When this gene actually is less active (because it is damaged), the individual has a better and longer life… Aging is controlled by hormones. This has now also been tested in flies and mice and they also live longer. It might also work in people. Studies show, that Ashkenazi Jews who live until 90 or 100, they also have a mutated DAF-2 gene, as do some other populations in the world. Why do they live longer and better? Because in such mutant individuals many protective genes are switched on (antioxidant, caregiver, DNA repair, immune system related genes, encoding relevant proteins) that repair the cells and extend the lifespan. The FOXO protein turns on longevity genes. These people are less likely to have cancer or Alzheimers and might live beyond 100. When the DAF-2 gene functions normally (encoding a normal DAF-2 hormone receptor), it prevents the FOXO protein from entering the cell and so the individual lives a shorter life, because the FOXO protein is unable to turn on many protective genes (that encode protective proteins) and the cells store more “food” (we all know that too much food is bad for you). It is actually stress that might damage the DAF-2 gene, and so it turns on the FOXO protein and that turns on the longevity genes (and so the longevity proteins). FOXO has variations. She is trying to come up with a human FOXO related medication to make people healthier and live longer, but this medication would not change the genes, it would only bind to the proteins and change their activity. If you stop taking the drug, the protein returns to its normal activity. Actually changing these genes at birth might make you very ill, because these genes are key to your energy production and normal development. So fine tuning is a better option. This process is really a form of youth extension, it won’t make you live forever, but imagine the possibilities! Cynthia is a really sweet, smart, and excellent speaker. She has humor, she is scientifically brilliant, and her parallel examples were very clear.

Joe Castillo

Sand artist

As Joe says, there are more talented Sand Artists in the World, like this Hungarian man:ó

Vivaldi Four Seasons Autumn Sand Animation Ferenc Cakó:

Karol Boudreaux

Poverty economist

Karol talks about community based national resource management in Namibia.

2:15 – 4:00
Session 6: The Dark Side

Misha Glenny

Underworld investigator

Misha introduces young cyber criminals with Aspergers (high functioning autism) and other disabilities who learnt their hacking skills early and lost their ways in the real world. They are brilliant minds who should not be in prisons he says. It is due to their extreme IT abilities and also extreme social disabilities that they ended up convicted.

Mikko Hypponen

Cybersecurity expert

Mikko shows us the 25 year history of PC viruses and how we went from the harmless first Pakistani virus to organized crime and dangerous viruses. He says it is important to create the InternetPol. Really good talk!

Eddi Reader


It is always nice to listen to Eddi. 🙂

Pamela Meyer
Lie detector

We all lie, Pamela says and she is right. Go from lie detecting to truth seeking. She gives some useful examples.

Ben Goldacre


Well, pharmaceutical companies also lie… But we knew that already.

TEDx update.

Karen Tse

Anti-torture activist

Torture in countries happens because of broken down legal systems. Karen developed a program to make sure, people get to see a lawyer to be defended.

5:00 – 6:15
Session 7: Bodies

Daniel Wolpert

Movement expert

I spent the time trying to convince the TED tech team that we can not hear the talks properly and the central volume should be turned UP! Could not hear the talk, sorry.

Sheril Kirshenbaum

Biologist and writer

Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin rises while kissing and most people tilt their heads to the right. Women kiss to test the men. Women, as it is well known, prefer men with more diverse and different genetic makeup, to have healthier offspring, BUT women on the pill prefer the opposite. (Is it not possible that many illnesses are caused by this latter issue?)

Péter Fankhauser


Nice robo-dance. 🙂

Marco Tempest


Some graphic trick on stage…

Jae Rhim Lee

Jae says we should accept death, stop embalming with toxic materials and use special mushrooms to decompose our dead bodies to reusable compost. Become a decompinaut.

Alice Russell

Good music on stage. 🙂

6:30 – 7:30 Live recording of BBC World Service‘s “The Forum”

Regina Saphier TED Global 2011 Day 1

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.

Image via Wikipedia

I started my TED Global 2011: “The Stuff of Life” webcast day number one with a nice, self made breakfast, with my regular 15 minutes of sunbathing for vitamin D (D hormone) production at 11:00 am (NO sunscreen!) and with some flash non-fiction writing:

I have a spider in residence. It is living between two red shelves and rebuilds its external web weekly after I clean the apartment. It neatly places the dead leftovers in front of the two shelves, right outside the little gap where the spider lives, so that I can easily clean up the insect skeletons. We have a good cooperative relationship. It is a medium sized fat spider, very accurate indeed and has been my spider in residence for many months. We never bother one another. It lives in the niche of my home economy, since I never eat small insects.

I believe the above paragraph reflects a TEDster like attitude about living together with people, nature and our own self. Welcome to my regular TED live conference blog. I am going to be posting notes all day, until Friday as usual. I always edit my notes after sessions so there might be a slight delay in posting. Times in the program are all Edinburgh time (British Summer Time). TED Global takes place in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland this year, instead of Oxford, England where facilities were not ideal for the event. Lets see what TED Global has in store for us this year.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 11:00 – 12:45
Session 1: Beginnings

Lee Cronin

Lee is trying to create inorganic and non carbon based life. He might just succeed within two years.

Annie Murphy Paul

Science author

Annie explains the reason why I love cucumber salad with sour cream. Its because my mother had no choice but eat that while on holiday during her pregnancy in Poland. In Hungary we do not normally eat cucumbers with sour cream, but we all take it for granted in the family that her temporary diet change influenced my preference for this kind of salad. 🙂 Fetuses learn and prepare for their culture and environment specific lives while in the womb and their entire lives are influenced during the 9 months.

Researchers found the biological marker for PTSD susceptibility in babies of 1700 WTC pregnant women after 911. They passed on PTSD vulnerability to their kids.

Chris remarks that women who attend TED while pregnant give the best possible start for their to be born kids. He also says something like this: no extra charge for fetal attendance at TED. People laugh. 🙂

Rebecca MacKinnon

Media activist

Rebecca speaks of the complex question of balancing citizen voices, internet usage and government activity. How should we constrain the power on the internet. Or how can we hold power (people) accountable on the internet.

Danielle de Niese


Unfortunately Danielle’s performance is not enjoyable via the web cast. Not even via high speed… my laptop is too old.

Richard Wilkinson

Public health researcher

Richard says: If you Americans want to live the American dream, move to Denmark. Social evaluation threat raises cortisol permanently (a stress hormone) in people living in highly unequal societies. (Note: This stress hormone influences DNA expression and normal functioning of the body!) In other words it is judgment that ruins people’s health in unequal societies. Chronic stress from social sources is highly damaging. Make bosses accountable for employees. (And may I say: make parents accountable for their children, because constant emotional stress causes life long mental and physical illnesses when kids grow up…) Pay attention to the psychosocial health of societies. It is highly relevant in Hungary, a very ill and unequal society in huge economic trouble.

Phillip Blond

Political theorist

Philip says: we need to revive the culture of good groups that produce good people. In other words, lets move beyond extreme individualism and extreme collectivism. Move beyond leftism and rightism. Relationships are the basis of a healthy and normal existence. He says it is access inequality that causes the biggest problems. So money that goes to large corporations today should go to smaller local groups. He is talking about the UK…

It is time for me to make lunch.

2:15 – 4:00
Session 2: Everyday Rebellions

Hasan Elahi

Privacy artist

Hasan has a wonderful sense of humor to digest the century he is living in. He has been interrogated after 911, so he decided to post key info on a website about what he is eating, purchasing, when he is traveling, which airport he is at. He says: I am more able to watch myself that anyone else. And he also says, he is no longer special, because now everyone else is doing this with smart phones (if you have one… I don’t).

Maajid Nawaz

Anti-extremism activist

Maajid says evil, not only good, went global on the internet. He was a member of an extremist organization, so he should know. He says extremists are unfortunately more successful social media users than democratic groups. Extremists build on the grass roots opportunities, from the bottom up. So, advocate for democracy on the same grass roots level. Use counter-narratives in the relevant societies.

Justin Hall-Tipping
Science entrepreneur

Justin tells us about flexible and transparent carbon on the nano scale and how he will help us make clean and free self generated energy with nano carbon window shields and how this project will lead to the ability to beam energy with no grid (energy can be saved by making electrons inactive until the energy is needed), and in turn how it will solve the world’s lack of drinkable water by desalination…

Yves Rossy


Jetman is a phenomenon, you have to see him flying.

Asaf Avidan


Amazing voice on the TED Global 2011 stage! 🙂 You should listen to Asaf singing.

Julia Bacha


Julia is spreading the news about under reported non violent resistance in Budrus in the West Bank and in other places. It works if you give them attention in the media.

5:00 – 6:45
Session 3: Coded Patterns

Geoffrey West


Cities, according to Geoffrey, are networks of creative human interaction. Double the size of a city and you get a 15% increase of all specific indicators, like wealth, universities, income, crime, police, and so on. Cycles of innovation are necessary to avoid collapse of cities.

Shohei Shigematsu


Shohei says, sometimes think in the box.

Kevin Slavin

Algoworld expert

Kevin somehow mesmerized me as I was listening to him (I liked him even before I listened to him, by just looking at his face in the program guide… it is some subconscious thing), so I have to say, I do not know what exactly he was saying, but it was about a superb future for algorithms and the loser presence of slow algorithms. 🙂 Oh, and he mentioned a Hungarian scientist with whom he traveled and had a conversation about the many physicists in finance…

Allan Jones

Brain scientist

Allan is telling the story of human brain mapping.

Balazs Havasi

Pianist, composer

Balázs is Hungarian. And actually it is all I know about him. I have seen him at TEDx Danubia this year, but he did not make a huge impression on me. He is now doing the same “classical encounters rock” scenario… People at TED Global like it, so it is good PR for Hungary.

This is an interesting TED Global 2011 + TEDx Danubia related TED blog link, informing us about Csaba Manyai, TEDx Danubia host talking about Urania Scientific Theatre (where the Hungarian event normally takes place) at TED University:

Regina Saphier TED Global 2010 Day 1-4

Important: This post is a transferred version of my blog (my first independent blog where I published many essays between 2005-2010 and also my first three TED blogs, TED Long Beach, TED Global and TED Women in 2010). The reason for this transfer: the companies that own (Cg.01-09-728809 Magyar Vendor Informatikai Szolgáltató Kft., Cg.01-09-885471 EMG Médiacsoport Kft. “csődeljárás alatt”, Cg.01-10-043483 EST MEDIA Vagyonkezelő NyRt. “A végrehajtás elrendelésének időpontja: 2012. augusztus 16.”) are involved in “bankruptcy” and “tax debt” procedures and is now out of service (cloud services are often unreliable)It says on their front page that they are “waiting for equipment”, but I did some company data mining and it is now clear to me that the truth is, the owners are in huge financial trouble. The users were not properly notified to the best of my knowledge (I did not get any e-mails warning me that 5 years of my data will be “off the air” in no time) and members are still kept in the dark (unless they are as curious as I am…). I am recovering my old posts from google’s archives to save the latest texts and make the old TED posts available on my new TED blog. This one is all 4 days of TED Global 2010. Initially I wrote two of my three TED conference blogs in Hungarian in 2010, but this one is in English (I tested my ability to write the live blog in English immediately, and it worked, so later I have decided to forget about Hungarian on my TED blogs and also on my Coursera blog).

TED Global 2010 Oxford Saphier Regina First Day


TED Global 2010 Oxford

Regina Saphier

Speaker by speaker blog, First day

(TED Global 2010, Előadónkénti Blog, Első nap)


OK, people, I was going to write my blog in Hungarian, but I changed my mind. I am going to do it in English, in a kind of telegram style. If a note I wrote is long, it got me in a flow, but short notes do not represent bad speakers, only I was less interested in that topic or the content was less blog friendly, more visual, artistic or the stream was gone… All sorts of things happen during an online conference. Sometimes I am chatting with other viewers when it is more interesting. And if you want me to translate some of the notes into Hungarian, let me know via TED.

A major audio issue destroyed the flow and element possibility for the online viewers on the first day.

I write this TED blog for the very reason that most TED conference talks which I am able to see live, are posted slowly during the next few months for the average viewer. I will see what gets posted during the next week or so from the first day (in an effort on TEDs part to correct the mistake with which they upset us) and will write blogs only about the talks that won’t get posted fast (but only if TED really lets us, translators, viewing the webcast for free, see the first day’s full archive soon). Update from July 17.: I received the TED Archive link today for session 1 and 2. I am now working on the blogs for the day (now that I am able to hear what they have to say). Update from July 18.: Yesterday I completed the first day too.

One talk below has a talk link and some blog lines already. And one talk has a blog note now. Go see it. 🙂

3:00 PM – 4:45 PM      Session 1: Global Century

Joseph Nye, diplomat

Power is changing. Power is moving from west to east. Power is getting diffused. Instead of the rise of Asia, it is the recovery of Asia. Industrial revolution caused shift to the US, and now a new balance follows by the rise of China.

Power diffusion is key… computing costs have fallen… capabilities are available to everyone… well… not yet I would say, Mr. Nye… and not everywhere… yet…

What is power? It is a way of influencing the outcome, influencing others. Three ways: 1. force, 2. payment, or 3. generating the want from others to be part of the new outcome you intended to introduce, that is: soft power. Use more soft power, and save “carrots” and “sticks”. A new narrative to understand power: Who’s story wins? Who’s narrative is going to be influenced by the winning story. The narrative of “the end of America” keeps returning, but it did not happen. Also Asia is not one thing… Manage the fear, and avoid over reaction. 3D Chess game… Layers: “US/China”, “Economic power of the nations”, “Transnational relations” (climate change, pandemics, outside the control of governments). Cooperation is the key. Soft power is the tool of the 21st century. Empowering China to deal with carbon emission. Move away from “I win you loose”. Hard power will remain, but you must mix it with soft power and it becomes: smart power. Organize in networks. We can use soft power to live better in the 21st century.

Sheryl WuDunn, women’s rights advocate

Turning oppression into opportunity

She tells a story of a girl in China, called Dai Manju, who got pulled out of her class by her parents, because, as they told her, she would be anyway only work on the rise field, and the 13 dollar school fee is too much. This happens to many women in the world. She still went to the school, to listen to whatever she could hear from the outside during lectures. She was actually a very good student. Well, Sheryl says, they wrote an article about her in The New York Times (in 1990), and lots of 13 dollar donations arrived, and finally a 10 000 USD donation arrived too. This exogenous investment made it possible to renovate the school, give scholarships to all the girls, and Dai Manju got to finish her school. Later she graduated from vocational school too and she has become an accountant and got a job. In turn she sent money to her parents and they built a new house, with running water.

After slavery in the nineteenths century, and totalitarianism in the twentieth century, our greatest challenge, in the twenty fist century is: gender inequity. In the developed world there are more females, but in the developing world, there are more males.

Today, 60 – 100 million females are missing in the world in the current population, for several reasons. More girls were discriminated to death than all people killed in all of the battle fields in the world in the 20th century. Girls get aborted, before they are born, because of ultrasound.

A mere skin and bone girl in Ethiopia in a feeding center is shown. Her brothers were fine. In India, between age 1 and 5, as much as 50% of the girls die. When you educate a man, he will have somewhat fewer kids, but if you educate a woman, she will have significantly less children.

Practically, one of the best ways to fight poverty and terrorism, is bringing girls into the labor force, by educating them. Women are not the problem, they are part of the solution, together with men. She tells another story of a girl (I think her name is Beatrice), in Uganda. An American charity sent them a goat, the goat had twins, the goat milk got sold, the girl went to school because her family could pay, she was diligent and later ended up graduating from an American university.

The speaker’s book, Half the Sky inspired a movement. She says: join the movement  and help save the world by saving and educating women. And watch her talk .

Naif Al-Mutawa, creator of The 99

All superheros’ parents are missing and all get their mission from above… Very much biblical archetypes… If you want kids to live in a better world, link positive messages, instead of negative to heroes. Even is you are an atheist, you do not teach your kid to tell three lies every day. Right?

Use your powers for others. Naif introduced a few heroes of the 99 at TED, to my surprise, one of them is Hungarian. JAMI is shown during Naif’s talk in a film excerpt, and his real life name is supposed to be Miklós Székelyhidi, which made me laugh because I am a Hungarian and this name is really a funny choice, but a good one… and of course I am sure Teller, Neumann, Denise Gabor and other Hungarians known in the US might have been part of this character description here , as was the fact that scientific genius often comes with Aspergers syndrome, that makes it hard for those people to interact with others. Naif created a few super heroes to give culture appropriate international positive role models to kids in the Arab world. First he got little attention, but when the Danish caricature scandal hit the news, his work has become an instant hit.

In my opinion it is the positive version of brain washing. If this can prevent children from learning hate and teach them to embrace other cultures, Naif did 99 super hero’s job globally.

Here is Naif’s TED Global talk. 

Nic Marks, happiness researcher

He says we focused on the worst case scenario, and any psychologist will tell you that this is linked to the flight mechanism in people. Not a good idea to use feat to get people’s attention about the future, because they will run away… Start thinking about progress. Other mistake: the financial markets project that things go well if indexes go up. “The GNP measure measures everything except that which makes life worthwhile.” (Robert Kennedy, 18th March 1968) What makes life worthwhile? People want happiness, wealth, love and health. How successful is a nation at making its citizens happy and healthy.

He shows a chart, where nation on the top right are producing a lot of wellbeing, but use a lot of the Planet. Nations at the bottom left use very little of the Planet, but also produce very little happiness. He say, there is the good news, and he is smiling, that there are nations at the top left, using optimum amount of the Planet and producing lots of happiness, like Costa Rica, and Latin nations. Life expectancy: 78,5 years. The happiest place, on the quarter of the resources. 99% of electricity from renewable sources. In 1949 they abolished the army. They invested in social programs. They have the Latin vibe, the social connectedness. The future might be Latin American. We need to get others into the chart’s top left section.

National account of wellbeing. Company happiness indexes. 5 positive actions to make yourself happier: connect, be active, take notice, keep learning, give. Happiness does not cost the Earth. Leaders should have the right vision for wellbeing, not in terms of material goods, and so we can create a happier Planet. Here is the talk .

Patrick Chappatte, editorial cartoonist

He, the political cartoonist, starts with things like: What’s going on, cartoonist are taking over TED 2010…? I don’t know if you heard about it…  “newspapers”… it’s a sort of paper based reader… it’s lighter than an iPOD, it’s a bit cheaper… – audience laughing. Patrick showed us many revealing cartoons about regimes, conflicts, or just plain fact of everyday life. He says, cartoonists have the responsibility to shut up when they are supposed to draw cartoons against people. Cartoons should be positive thing, using smart humor, for people.

4:45 PM – 5:45 PM      Coffee break, Playhouse, Randolph

5:45 PM – 7:30 PM     Session 2: Human Systems

Matt Ridley, Rational optimist

After the first day was spent with an error on TEDs part (many people could not hear the speakers well due to an annoying echo), Matt Ridley’s talk was posted  the very next day on TED.COM. So, no need for me to post a blog note on this one, but his key line was about human brains being neurons in a larger collective brain. Also he pointed out that most things we manufacture (like a mass-produced pencil or computer mouse) are so complex, that no single person can make them. This collective, theoretical brain makes everything, in a kind of hard to grasp synergy, and so individual IQ has no meaning for this speaker. And the terrible things that were predicted in the news 20 years ago, did not happen, while many positive changes happened, like average lifespan is up, child mortality is down, per capita income adjusted for inflation is up and the like, so we should be a little more optimistic about out future. Good points.

Steven Johnson, Writer

Where do new ideas come from?

He starts with the Grand Café in Oxford. Opened in 1650. He says the enlightenment happened in England, because people stopped drinking alcohol, the antidepressant, and switched to stimulants, like tea and coffee, and were all sitting in one space, no matter what field they were in professionally. Flash, Stroke, Epiphany, Eureka, Light bulb… An idea is a new network of neurons. New ideas form in a social network.

He shows an example of a really good new idea, an incubator, that is built for the third world, where people are able to keep cars going, they have that sort of expertise, but no parts for incubators, so the incubator was built of car parts only.

Research shows that good ideas in science happen at the weekly lab meetings. He also points out that good ideas have a very long incubation period. He introduces the term: slow hunch. Darwin’s October 1838 epiphany is only a scenario written in his autobiography, but research shows that he had the theory of natural selection described long before that. (I think, as a matter of fact, Darwin even kept his discoveries secret for a long time until the time was right to publish them.)

He finally tells us the story how the Sputnik event triggered the development of GPS in the US as a side project, and he closes with the remarks that for sure some in the audience used a GPS to find a Café House in Oxford. Excellent speaker, excellent talk, high entertainment and learning value.

Chris Wild, Retronaut

Would you like to see my time machine?

Beaumont Street in archival pictures… (the street is displayed where I actually went to see my GP in Oxford when I lived there for a year…) Its time secrets shared in pictures… he shows the past in pictures… 1909… and even earlier… photographs and graphics… I like this speaker, he has an interesting, soft, kind presence. Sepia stained past… he says, we think of it as dusty… and even slightly sinister. But those were the present for people back in those times. He started looking at history as a time-scape. This is why he needed the retro scope.

The Dakota Building’s time-scape shows up in the retro scope now… James Joyce gives us the talks motto: I created nothing but I did not forget anything.

Peter Molyneux, Game changer

I want to recreate lost times with my father… AI technology is introduced on stage. New kind of storytelling. Real living being created, at least the character feels real. It works. Milo the young boy moved to a new place with his parents, he is lonely, and each player will create a new personality and a new story for him… Wonder…  WOW. It was amazing actually.

Annie Lennox, Activist, singer-songwriter

Annie Lennox performed live in the hot theater.

TED Global 2010 Oxford by Regina Saphier Second Day


TED Global 2010 Oxford

Regina Saphier

Speaker by speaker blog, Second day

(TED Global 2010, Előadónkénti Blog, Második nap)

Note repeated from first day (in case you start with the second day): I was going to write my blog in Hungarian, but I changed my mind. I am going to do it in English, in a kind of telegram style. If a note I wrote is long, it got me in a flow, but short notes do not represent bad speakers, only I was less interested in that topic or the content was less blog friendly, more visual, artistic or the stream was gone… All sorts of things happen during an online conference. Sometimes I am chatting with other viewers when it is more interesting. And if you want me to translate some of the notes into Hungarian, let me know via TED. (Times are all Budapest time.)

9:30 AM – 11:15 AM  Session 3: Found in Translation

Ethan Zuckerman, Blogger, digital visionary

New Media does not help us as long as it is biased. Eg.: Wiki bias! The US thinks it is the center of the world. Ethan thinks they are suffering from imaginary cosmopolitanism. The good news: Global Voices. Dark spots of the world must be brightened on the new media map. Hard to find media in some places and even if you do, you are mislead by the “wisdom” of the flock. You need a guide… Also lots of content has to be translated for the rest of the world to make them understand. I wonder why he did not mention the TED Open Translation Project. I am a TED translator, I am mentioning it. 🙂 We are thousands of volunteers, translating TED talks into different languages. Here is my TED translator profile:

Ethan’s talk

Elif Shafak, Novelist

She is a story teller, talking about the art of story telling. Borne in Strasbourg, later lived in Turkey, in Ankara. Her mother was a single mother… in a patriarchal society. A westernized, educated mother and an eastern grandmother who was much less educated. From her grandmother’s healing practice she knows: in closed circles you dry up. Elif talks about the dangers of the likeminded clusters and tells us how these build stereotypes. She thinks stories can punch mental holes in the walls around us so that we do not dry up behind the walls of stereotypes. She started writing at age 8. She was so introverted, she even apologized to objects. She was also bored. Started to write about herself first. She writes fiction. Her mother has become a diplomat, and she was suddenly part of a posh cosmopolitan circle. Stereotypes all around her. She thinks of her imagination as a suitcase that she takes with her. She later moved to Istambul. An earthquake hit. She remembers an old, conservative grocer sitting next to a crying transvestite, offering her a cigarette. Mundane differences evaporated and people have become one for a short time. She mentions latecomers to a language. The intimidating and stimulating frustration of not being fluent, not being a native. She married and went to Arizona, but her husband lived in Turkey. Her life was strongly influenced by travel and different cultures. “I like your book”, a reader told her, “but I wish you wrote it differently”. You are expected to write from a female point of view and Elif does not like that. Writers are seen as representatives of their communities, but they are creative people and should not been pigeonholed. Multicultural writers are grouped by passport. That is so wrong. Stories come from everywhere. She was put on trial for her word usage! She was prosecuted. But it was fiction, she explains. She loves fiction.

Note: This is the moment when I get into my TED Conference ZONE emotionally (yesterday, the webstream had a major technical error and many viewers’ experience was destroyed. Stream for the first day will be available later in an archival form we are told… it is when I will be able to write about the first day… until then, we have some more speakers to enjoy and write about.).

Stories transcend borders. Literature has to take us beyond our limitations. Do not fetishize books, she says. Knowledge that does not take you beyond yourselves, is worst than knowing nothing or very little. When I write fiction – she says – I cherish elusiveness. “I feel therefore I am free.” Write what you can feel. Draw circles beyond circles. Let us be friends. Excellent talk! 🙂

And it is already available for you to see ! 🙂

The Global Conversation Project

June Cohen’s short announcement:

TED: 300 million views

11 000 translations

Richer way of communication: The Global Conversation Project on TED

1. Parallel conversations in several languages

2. Start your own conversation about a topic, even in your language

3. Have a conversation profile


David McCandless, Data journalist

Designing information is his passion. Interesting fact in one picture: February is the peak month of breakups on Facebook.

Effortless intake of designed data. The language of the eye. (Writing is the language of the mind. – he says.) Relative figures and visual representation makes it much easier to absorb facts.

Let the data set change your mindset says his teacher, Hans Rosling, multiple times TED speaker and TED star. He shows the Snake Oil chart that I received many moths ago from a friend while trying to make sense of the food supplement world. He shows the balloon race chart in action. Size: popularity. The research was PUBMED based. Vitamin D shows up high and big! Take it! And take a test for it as well.

Here is the talk

Mor Karbasi, Singer-songwriter

Musical joy. 🙂

Iain Hutchison, Facial surgeon

He is repairing faces. How about operating on people’s minds…? Just some fMRI feedback by Christopher deCharms? Noninvasively. 🙂 Less bullying… Still disfigured people need help and Mr. Hutchinson does a wonderful job. People on the chat list are warned by TED, I thank him, because I know this doctor’s work, but some other viewers think they can handle it, and know, they are in surprise, how disfigured people can become. Also amazing how much even just one surgery can do for them.

12:15 AM – 14:00 PM  Session 4: Irrational Choices

Sheena Iyengar, Psycho-economist

A young blind female speaker was walked up the stage. She is working at my alma mater: Columbia University. Sugar and green tea she mentioned at the start… No sugar in Japan for green tea that is her experience. But there is sugar for coffee. In Japan employees protect customers who “do not know any better”. In their minds, they helped her save face she thinks. But she felt she could not make her choice. Choice in America is different from choice in Japan. It’s about freedom in the US and about saving your face in the larger community in Japan. Assumptions… Make your own choices. In the US the locus is the individual. Being true to yourself.

In a study kids were told that either they can make a choice, or Mrs. Smith made it for them, or in the third case their mothers… That was the prime impulse that influenced the outcome. Independent choice resulted in best performance by US kids. Asian kids performed best when mom was involved. Satisfying one’s own preferences is the key… By the way, because she is blind, she was reading her text by hand. It was very interesting to see, but I am not sure she wanted this to be revealed. Her hands were purposefully hidden behind the pulpit and as long as the special camera was not in action, I did not even think that she read. She was so fluent, it was amazing, and of course she did not have to look down on her notes. Therefore it looked like she was simply speaking her mind. I think her choice was to not show her Braille papers, but I might be wrong.

She also mentioned Eastern Europe: choice during hospitality… in Russia she was told that the seven different drinks she offered were not seven choices, but only one. All are just soda, only one choice – people told her. Seven sodas, seven juices, seven waters would only mean three choices to Russians, but 21 choices to Americans. Americans would be thinking that 7 sodas are seven choices. (28 degrees in my room right now… no other choices…) “I am used to no choice.” – one person among her study subjects told her. Eastern Europeans went from no choices to too many choices and they still remember when they had very little.

You become overwhelmed by choices if you are not prepared for them. They become constraints. They are suffocating. She shows us a cartoon, showing a typical US shopping mall, with this text: “Monstromart, where shopping is an ordeal.”

She talks about parents losing their babies or having crippled children for life. If you are American, the parents have to make the decision and are left with the “what if…” … it is torture having to make that decision. If you are French, the doctors make the decision… parents say they learned something from the short lived child…). French were more positive about the situation later on compared to Americans, but US parents wanted that choice. American parents had the assumption that they had to make that choice. US: The narrative of limitless choice. But no single narrative benefits all. Change your own narrative. She cites Frost: “Poetry is lost in translation”. Brodsky says: “Jewish Russian …” and I lost the web stream for a while here, therefore I am only guessing she cited him saying: “I am Jewish – a Russian poet and an English essayist”. People loved the talk. I did too. It was the right choice for me to watch this and share it with you via my blog.

Here is Sheena’s brilliant TED talk 

Laurie Santos, Cognitive psychologist

We make predictable mistakes and are resistant to feedback… Laurie works with primates to show this. Actually monkey experiments often make me very sad so I was simply uninterested in this talk. I love psychology, but don’t like monkey experiments. Make computer simulations and leave the animals alone.

Here is the talk  I really don’t care about

Mark Elliott, Pastor

Mark talks about miracles. According to NPR: 80% of Americans believe in miracles. He says, he is a pastor in the miracle believing business and tells us the story of the scarce blue lobster. Well, I still do not believe in miracles, only on days when I am very anxious and so become irrational and completely driven by my right brain to feel the hope for a better situation and my left brain unable to explain the sudden solution arising out of nowhere. Mark just got extremely lucky to see more than one blue lobster in his lifetime, I think.

Spaghetti archive film shown, no idea why:

Bertrand Piccard flying his special solar aircraft. Link was not posted for the particular video, but just go to google and you will find several short films of him.

Lewis Pugh, Coldwater swimmer

“I am never ever going to do a cold water swim.” His fingers were swollen after one of his major challenges. He still walked up to Mount Everest and did a symbolic swim in a new lake… It was too cold, he almost got killed with his fighter attitude. Drowning is terribly frightening – he says. Give up your assumptions and you can accomplish something that looks impossible even to you (with almost superhuman skills). He was advised to rest and walk up in two days to swim slowly in breast stroke, with humility, and no aggression. He felt really good. He made it. Just because something worked well in the past, won’t necessarily work in the present. Just because we lived like this, wasting the planet, for so long, it does not mean it works. A radical shift is needed, so make your own radical shift (at least in one area) and keep doing it.

Here is his talk  about the life changing swim…

Jamil Abu-Wardeh, Producer

A peacock sitting on its tail is just another turkey. – his mother told him. His job is to change the image of the middle East. He did a really good job. But you gonna have to watch the talk  to better understand. He says people in the middle East like to laugh. I never assumed otherwise. 🙂

Maz Jobrani, Comedian

He can now travel with his new US passport, no problem… – he so assumed. But it still says what country he was borne in… He is making jokes that I can understand as an ex-frequent traveler crossing borders and coming from Hungary. He is making jokes about the situation during his border crossings and the like.

He is really funny. 🙂 I too hate to be looked at like the woman from Eastern Europe – Soviet Block… the only Russian word I know is: sabaka…. (dog)  But now I am sorry that I am unable to speak Russian actually… wonderful books, films, in Russian. I am still identified even by my educated friend in the US as a writer who could tell Americans about a childhood in the Soviet Block. No I could not. I have no identification with the word: Soviet. Never had. Please move on to the next assumption and prejudice to be eliminated. Maz is really funny, but his jokes must be seen to be enjoyed to the fullest.

15:30 PM – 17:15 PM  Session 5: Healthier Together…

Inge Missmahl, Analytical psychologist

Psychotherapy in hell in Afghanistan… A traumatized local woman told her during a therapy session: because you have felt me, I can feel myself again. Empathy… People need to be able to learn from bad experience and move on. Culturally sensitive psycho social therapy is what she is doing. Retraining health workers as well. She is presenting her results at TED. You can treat trauma without medication. Another woman in therapy told her: we should have killed one another, but you are helping me.

Annie Lennox, Activist, singer-songwriter

Talking about her HIV AIDS campaign: SING. By 2015 mother-child transmission should be eliminated. She is wearing her HIV Positive T-shirt, to show support. It is a sign of her solidarity.

Mitchell Besser, HIV/AIDS fighter

Ashoka fellow

A key task is the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission. 90% of babies born HIV negative in the developed world, while in the undeveloped world, 40%… 1000 babies with HIV per day born in Africa.

Mentoring mothers are employed to teach other mothers. They are paid. Experts of their own illness and also get trained and retrained. Patients teach the doctors. One to one help. Men are hard to engage. In Rwanda the father must come to testing and counseling. Disclosure in families is a problem in many African countries, because families often just send the sick person out onto the street. (Speakers look and sound very tired in the hot Theater in Oxford.)

The hardest part is stigma reduction. Breaking the silence. Task shifting: from doctors to patients, the mentor mothers are the solution. Mitchell had an idea in the shower and now there are 1600 mentor mothers in several African countries.

20% of the HIV world lives in Africa. Empowerment through employment is important. Transformational: mothers caring for mothers.

Karsu Dönmez, Singer-songwriter

Excellent entertainment. Listen to her songs. 🙂

Arthur Potts Dawson, Green chef

Sustainable restaurant. Arthur explains his restaurant from the floor to the cooling on the ceiling. People choosing portion sizes was my favorite part.

Social enterprise he is mentioning too in connection to a special people’s supermarket he started. Environmentally conscious business is important for the future.

John Hardy, Designer, educator

He is an undiagnosed dyslexic. (Just like me until about 10 years ago.) He is talking about the beautiful Green School in Bali, made of bamboo. School kids are smiling in the photos. Should I move to Bali, I am wondering, while watching him speak… At his school, when he was a child, the walls were the same material, as the insane asylum’s walls. Here the walls are open, with bamboo frames. When graffiti appears in the table, sanding, waxing is the task for kids and that teaches them about the value of the table and show it belongs to them. Solar and more is built in to be off the grid. Compost toilets…they work.

The Green School is in South Central Bali, surrounded by green houses, and green business. It is now a green community. Local women prepare the food. The bamboo building houses Bali’s next green leaders. He says pro-lexic instead of dyslexic. He explains that bamboo is tall grass growing really fast. The central building is called the hart of school. They needed models to build this, because local builders did not know how to read the printed plans.

It has become a bamboo cathedral to green culture and green education. The hart of school. The most beautiful bamboo building in the world. And indeed it is awesome.

18:00 PM – 19:45 PM  Session 6: Different by Design

Miwa Matreyek, Multimedia artist

Interesting, but only because she turned out to be really behind the screen. But it was otherwise full of visual clichés. I did not like this performance.

Neil Gershenfeld, Physicist, personal fabrication pioneer

John von Neumann, I so knew he would be blaming him as second… Neil is talking about the artificial separation of data and hardware. Programs can become things. And they will create other things. (But wait: programs were initially punch cards for looms, right?) Programs making things anywhere, for anyone, is his dream… I know, I have one of his books … The final goal, something like the Star Treck replicator. A Fab Lab in Afghanistan and knowledge shearing… Barcelona: house fabrication, prototyping with a Gaudi twist. Fab Academy. You are smart, you can go now… most schools say, so this is why Fab Academy is important. Bring the lab to the student. Accreditation for a place… Invent degrees for a planet? (I am not sure why Neil is unable to better structure his lectures, especially because he is becoming a regular at TED…) MIT and places will be obsolete he says, and I agree with him. TED is part of that trend. Carnegie and library founding… Now the future is lab literacy, he says. Interfacing between data and things. Manchester’s field fab lab… Anybody can make anything. With data: on demand local production. Cloud labs. Linking of community labs. Anybody will be able to make anything almost anywhere. His thinks the question is now: How do you do education and business in that world?

Ok, Neil, so when can I make my new car and new home? When? And how exactly? You really should be a bit more specific after so many years of talking about your vision. When can the average consumer go to a store and purchase the listed raw materials to print the bits for a family home? And for how much? And how long does it take? And how long will it last?

Tan Le, Entrepreneur

Measuring and utilizing brain waves with Emotiv. Interpreting the signals of the brain for technology. Cortical folding makes it difficult to interpret brain signals. Still they created a wireless and easy brain wave reader. Moving virtual objects with own mind via Emotiv. Absolutely brilliant mind reader that lets you move actual objects too! Move your wheel chairs, or turn on the light if you are just lazy.

And here is the phenomenal demonstration of Emotiv on the TED stage. 

Anne Quito

A Warhol she found… Always been there. Art all over the office building. She works with art, still did not notice for a while. Slow hunch… it was the wall paper with a cow. She organized walks with coworkers to see more of the things in the same building. Many things to discover when you look together.

Eben Bayer, Green designer

Mushrooms. Compostable things… Styrofoam: toxic white stuff. Get rid of it. Grow mycelium in a mold. (seed husk?) Self assembling materials. 5 days in 15 secs. Natural polymers. Our children will live happily in 10 000 years… he says…

David Bismark, Voting system designer

Power corrupts as we know. Elections are messy. Lots of mistakes are made. How do we make secret votes safe? You review your encrypted vote online. Only you can do that. David proposes a way for verifiable elections.

Emily Pilloton, Humanitarian design activist

She moved to a poor area and is reshaping the place.

I really like most of these talks, by all of these smart women; good to see these role models, good for young people. Mostly healthy, but always diligent, intelligent, creative people. Studio H. Developing skill in pubic education. Designing and building. Youth the biggest asset!

TED Global 2010 Oxford Saphier Regina Third Day


TED Global 2010 Oxford

Regina Saphier

Speaker by speaker blog, Third day

(TED Global 2010, Előadónkénti Blog, Harmadik nap)


Thursday, July 15, 2010

9:30 AM – 11:15 AM   Session 7: Creatures Great and Small

Again, I am writing this as it happens, in an impressionistic style, and it is 28 Celsius in here…

Adrian Dolby, Organic farmer

The soil is the source of our food. The ecstatic skin of the earth. 300 000 million backteria… 10 000 meters of fungus in a jar of soil. (I hope I am getting this right.) Other crops are planted before the soil is used to prepare it. Weed is just biodiversity – he is telling us. Ladybirds are used to control pests (I know that). Healthy clean crop is the goal.

At this point I have a question: if so many people are allergic to milk and gluten, is this really working? Are there perhaps more goals here? Like realizing that people are fed things that are not good for them, even if it is all super organic? Are organic farmers really always feeding us things that make us healthy? Or are we allergic because of intensive farming? I would like to know that…

So, can organic farming feed the world? We are unable to feed it today even with intensive farming – he says.

Well, TED had much better speakers on the topic, one of them being Den Barber. I suggest both of his talks. I am very intimate with his ideas, because I worked on both translating and reviewing his two available speeches on TED; here you will find both on my TED profile:

Funny video shown:

Migros: Fresh organic produce… a chicken laying an egg at the shop, after a long run into city…

Toni Frohoff, Wildlife biologist

Whales’ voices played. The wisdom and humanity of whales mentioned. Dolphins are not safe in Japanese waters, but still like humans. Research shows that dolphins have a para-limbic lobe, that we do not have. Are they much more skilled at empathy? Dolphins, elephants and other animals are wired for empathy, emotions and have psychological capacity (I always knew that). They like touch just like us. Self awareness is also there. A researcher using mirrors to study dolphins could no longer research them in captivity, after the dolphins died. She felt it was wrong to do so. I agree. A Beluga watching himself in a reflector glass is shown. Moving his lips, looks like a speaking Beluga… so funny. Killer whale giving a gift to a diver? Whales being touched by humans kindly. The new borne too… The mother was hurt by humans, but let her baby close to humans in Baha(????). Elephants showing empathy, highly developed community. Orcas are misnamed killer whales. Dolphins saving humans. Toni telling a story she witnessed: dolphins surrounded a woman who had become tired during a swim. Mischievous dolphins introduced, taking the camera of a swimmer. She returned it the next day! Humanity and Humility. Her new term: “Humality”. Animals have feelings and that is a fact. Psychological and cultural needs of animals should be high on our agenda. The Friendship Foundation… Some societies always had respectful connection to animals. Companionship of dolphins and dogs… Love animals, and have empathy for them.

And if you love animals, you might as well like to eat insects:

Marcel Dicke, Ecological entomologist

Why not eat insects? Lets do it! We have 6 million species of insects. 80% walk on 6 legs. I like the speaker’s T-shirt with colorful insects. Ladybirds controlling pests. 57 million dollar contribution to the US economy by insects. He is eating caterpillars. 1000 insects species are eaten around the globe, of the 6 million. All of us eat 500 grams per year in our average processed food. Red colored white fish is also colored with an insect (cochineal , bíbor tetű, 1 gram is 30 euros, just like one gram of gold). We eat too much meat. Insects: less viruses, more output with investment when bred, less waste (less green house gases), they even give you vitamin D, also give you high calories, etc. 80% of the world eats insects. They think it is a delicacy. Shrimp is very much like a grasshopper. A locust is a shrimp of the land. Just a matter of our mindset. Insects sustain us, and will feed us in the developed world. Dutch chocolate maker is shown using insects. Bruno eating insects like he was doing it all the time and tells the audience, lunch at TED today will be 50% insect based for all.

12:15 AM – 14:00 PM Session 8: Adventures in Fairness

Tim Jackson, Economist

Creative destruction. Expanding markets. We love new things. A life without shame… you buy to look good. That expansion sustains itself, and collapses when you no longer purchase. Debt went up because too many people tried to stay in the game. He says this: We spend money on things we do not need, money we do not have, to make impression that do not last, in order to impress people we do not care about. On the other hand, beyond vanity, we are busy doing small things, and we are keeping out the giraffes… (He explained that he insulated the windows together with his 5 year old, and the child suddenly asked him: “Is this really going to keep out the giraffes?” The child, I think, mixed up “the draught” with “giraffes” (correct me if I am wrong), but Tim took it as an example of how people keep trying to do the small things in life, and as I put it: have no capacity to grasp everything in depth wile most of them are in debt.) Are we the selfish people spending on un-necessities, or the caring people keeping out the giraffes? Open up to new things, he says, and have institutions to protect the vulnerable altruist within (I say, lets do it). Ecosia… Social enterprise. Investment has to be a different beast. Transition. Low carbon… Invest in the idea of the meaningful prosperity for people to flourish. Participating in the life of that society is key. So we can connect. Places of joy, celebration, contemplation. A shared present and a common future.

And here is a really good example of shared presence and common future:

Jessica Jackley, Microlender

Small ideas… Huge impact. She created Kiva. In Uganda people were paid via Kiva and they were able to start their small businesses. 5 years in, 150 million dollars of loan accumulated via the site. Wonderful. 🙂 Ongoing attention is provided to members. Community+Money is better then Money only. Profounder is a new site. You can see that Jessica loves her vision. She was tearful at the end, and we felt her deep motivation and love for the people behind the surface of that portal. More people like her and the world will be better for many other people.

At this point I got completely distracted by the forum, after TED WOMEN was introduced on stage. So, no idea what the last three speakers wanted to tell me… sorry. Will watch these talks later I promise (at least before I fill in the associate survey).

Last week I had this idea that I should organize a TEDx WOMEN in Budapest, and so you can imagine how happy I was to see the new two day event in Washington. I mean I am a TED translator constantly having trouble to keep my self introduced rule of translating an equal number of talks from men and women on TED. It is true. It is a problem. Much more men present at TED, and TEDx events (most of the time). This year I am very pleased with the TED Global gender balance. I still strongly wish for a 50-50 proportion, but we need to work on that even in the developed world! Governments are lead by men. Institutions are full of male leaders. Academia has more female students and less female professors… The higher you reach in a powerful and prestigious profession, the more men you will find. Women have to be encouraged to become leaders, and for that reason more women role models of the highest standards must be introduced via TED. TED WOMEN is a wonderful idea in my opinion. But I hope there will be a day, when this won’t be an issue any longer. For now, we need to work harder to make this happen.

15:30 PM – 17:15 PM   Session 9: The Unknown Brains

After one hour of power outage in Oxford, my internet was gone too… Well, the TED Global Experience is not perfect like this… The TED Long Beach stream was perfect for 4 days, only one talk was interrupted, all others were fine. When the stream was back again, Maz made us laugh. 🙂

I tweeted: #TED “The Jerry Seinfeld of TED”: Maz Jobrani. 🙂

My opinion: TED is a cloud gifted program.

Gero Miesenboeck, Optogeneticist

Now I reviewed the talks in this session, and immediately “Dr. Gero” was much more interesting. In fact his interest in finding and influencing the critic in the brain (that makes the decisions based on experience), is an extremely important brain research problem.

Heribert Watzke, Food scientist

Mr. Watzke told us that while the brain is only 2-3% of the total body mass, we use 25% of our bodily energy to run that expensive brain and cooking is an important part of our brain development, as a species. When humans started to cook food (and looking at our teeth he says, we were doing that for a very long time) we made energy more easily available to the human body and our brains. The more energy the more skilled and complex the brain can become. He points out that the gut has a neural management system of its own, and it is equivalent to a cat brain. So there is a reason why we say: I have this gut feeling… So, he say we should imagine having a cat in our guts. He closed his talk by saying: I cook therefore I am.

Gina Rudan (3 min. talk)

We have two G spots she says. She got rejected from a gifted program when she was a small girl on the upper west side of Manhattan. We have genius, she points out, and we made it to the gifted class of TED, either sitting in the audience or watching from home. Practical genius is in all of us she says and gives a few key words: Values, Creative Abilities, Passions, Strengths, Skills, Expertise. That is all you need to bring out your own practical genius. Get into the Genius Zone… Don’t let life de-genius you. Don’t compromise you genius. Share it and be part of the mindful foreplay at TED.

Stefano Mancuso, Plant neurobiologist

He gave a new perspective on plants. He even suggests to have plantoid robots instead of insectoids or androids… He speaks with a lovely Italian accent about lovely and exciting plants. He show how sun flower seedlings are playing (!) to be trained sun flowers when they grow up. He talks about Darwin’s science changing ideas in relation to the plant brain. Mancuso started his talk by showing how ignorant even the bible is about plans and he tells us that plants can sense, communicate, move and so on. He also compares plant roots’ networked complexity to the internet. And makes sure we know the snail in the animal eating plant remained alive. He also corrects David Attenborough’s mistake when he told us that a whale was the largest creature, when in fact the Mammoth Trees are much larger.

Here I remembered that some of us on the forum were thinking that a fungus was even larger, but of course fungus is a third category, beyond plants and animals. Still, it is much larger than a Mammoth Tree.


Sebastian Seung, Computational neuroscientist

Ok, the first really interesting speaker in this session. Wow… nice 3D images of neural sections. And branches on a neuron and synapses are shown. Vesicles  too. Neurotransmitter in it… spits it out if it wants to communicate. Connectomes are found if you color the 3D cube (nice colorful 3D image shown of a very small section of the brain). How are the brains of men and women different? Probably everyone’s’ brains are like spaghetti, everything is interconnected. The 3D section is by the way much smaller than a neuron. With a special microscope you can see details, and Sebastian hopes that in the future our entire connectome will be visible and researchable this way. I am not supposed to speak about feelings… right? – he says. But I sometimes feel wonder and despair he adds… He offers a metaphor for the connectome, it is like a stream bed. He also mentioned cryogenics, people who have their bodies frozen after death. He says, his approach to this is scientific, not judgmental. If connectomes, the stream beds of the human neural system are not destroyed while in a frozen state, those people might be able to see a future, that not many among the people watching this TED talk live will see…

Sebastian’s talk is extremely interesting and important. I believe the fact that we tend to live longer now, and with the development of medicine, and improvements in our environments and with the increase of global human collective consciousness, we have to understand that life extension is key. Why? Not only because of individual hopes. No. But because we invest in education and technology at never before seen levels, and we need to have longer lives to fully utilize our vast knowledge. I strongly believe this. I am curious about the future. About what we will be capable of, how we will change. I want to live to see scientific discoveries that we are not even thinking of as of yet. My motive for a long life is curiosity. What is your motive? Would you like to live a short life, with lots of fun, or a long curious one, with many types of mental fun?

His voice – one forum member commented, is like Tom Cruise’s voice. It is true. I do not like Tom Cruise however… but funny enough, there is a film, Vanilla Sky, with Tom Cruise, and it is relevant… extremely relevant to this talk. Now (as I just mentioned) I am no Tom Cruise fan, but one night I watched Vanilla Sky (I had no idea what it was, but the camera work and the interiors were really good so I got interested…) and actually it was a watchable movie, with an interesting twist at the end. And I feel Sebastian also put his movie-like interesting twists into his talk. He has a presence, a nice voice, I think he has the tool set of a movie or stage actor and the mind of a scientist. 🙂

Update (June, 2014): You can build the connectome as a citizen scientist with the Seung lab’s amazing science game: EyeWire. Even as a novice, I love it!


I think I had an especially low focus 90 minutes if I had to see all of these talks again to realize how brilliant they all were. I think I just did not pay attention for some odd reason for the first time. Especially shocking if we know that I love the brain as a topic. Thank god for the associate conference archive. 🙂


18:00 PM – 19:30 PM   Session 10: Who’s the Teacher?

Sugata Mitra, Education researcher

Self organized learning environment

The Hole in the Wall experiment, 1999-2001…

I love this idea already. He put in a screen into a wall for kids to play with it in slums in India. Kids recording and playing music in 4 days are shown. Kids downloading within 14 days. Groups of children can learn from each other to use computers (NO teacher involved). The Hyderabad Experiment 2002. Make yourself understood to the computer, it was the task. 2 months later: their accents changed and spoke like a Britt person (the software was set to pick up the British accent, but no other). If a teacher can be replaced by a machine, it should be…

If kids are interested, education happens… Kid saying: my e-mails hop across the ocean. Kids started to google their homework. Teachers noticed huge changes. I mean if the stuff is on google, why stuff it into your brain? 2006 he moved to Newcastle. The Kalikuppa Experiment 2007. Can Tamil speaking kids learn biotech on their own. 26 children… How long did you practice? Every day. 12 year old says: Apart from the fact that improper replication of genes causes genetic disease … we understood nothing. Method of “the grandmother”. Stand behind them. And admire them. Score up from 30 to 50. The Gateshead Experiment 2009. Each group of 4 gets a computer. You can change group. Like a lot of science is done, really, look at others, do something with it, and claim it is your idea. Task solved in 20 minutes, worst only 45 minutes. Score in two months still 76% average.

I completely believe him! I always felt I was prevented from learning in school. British grandmothers… granny cloud… mentor teaching via skype.

Turin… 2010? … 15 minutes later they had the answer even when he told them all the questions in a foreign language. 10 year olds. 30 minutes later: relativity was discovered. Self organizing systems. I cried and laughed during this talk. I feel that our education is about to finally change to the better, but my schooling was really bad. Every day I am trying to undo the damage that was done to me in Hungarian schools.

Here is the link to the talk:

By the way I wrote in April to Bruno Giussani that I would like to work on TED+Jane McGonigal’s idea+Ivy Leagues without walls. I suggested TED give degrees via Ivy Leagues to mentor-teachers who are experts in the TED experience. I would love to get a PhD for teaching via TED with the videos I translated, and the blogs I write. He wrote back saying that he forwarded my suggestions to the team. Later nothing happened. I inquired, but still nothing… Upsetting actually. Often nothing happens when you have an idea in the TED community… it is mostly just talking… too few actions…

Conrad Wolfram, Mathematician

Use computers for math learning and calculating. Teach students to ask the right questions. When people argue that kids should learn the basics of math before using computers to calculate, he says: do you force drivers to learn how to design a car before you let them drive? We need people who can feel math instinctively, and for that they need to be able to play with math problems on the computer. After all, when out of school they are going to work on computers and not on paper. We need real life examples that prepare students for the life after school. People need to learn to use math in a meaningful way and that today means that they use computers to calculate at work and at home. If you are an engineer who has a family, you will use your computer to design a car and examine your life insurance policy.

Ralph Simon

He told us how Bobby McFerrin’s song, Don’t Worry Be Happy was born…

Tom Chatfield, Gaming theorist

I will just suggest you watch this talk, that I translated into Hungarian after having seen it live during TED Long Beach:

Chris Anderson (TED), TED Curator

Chris was talking about cloud learning with online videos (like TED) around the globe. I am very exited about all this. I sent them several suggestions a few months back, but did not get any meaningful response. I hoped for some innovative, transformative project that he would announce tonight. I have so many ideas for this…

TED Global 2010 Oxford Regina Saphier Fourth Day


TED Global 2010 Oxford

Regina Saphier

Speaker by speaker blog, Fourth day

(TED Global 2010, Előadónkénti Blog, Negyedik nap)

I am writing this as it happens, in an impressionistic style, and it is 29 Celsius in here…

Friday, July 16, 2010

9:30 AM – 11:15 AM   Session 11: The Tiny Blue Dot

Johan Rockström, Sustainability expert

We are the first generation to receive information about what humanity is doing to the planet globally and scientifically, even in the popular media, so we can make a change based on that information and use it to our advantage even, in the long run. He is giving a graphic demo by literally sitting on an inflated plastic globe, and later demonstrated our fall, by actually falling of the stage. I followed some conversation on the chat wall and my eyes were not precisely on him, rather a bit to the right, and so I have no idea if he jumped deliberately, or accidentally. He just walked back up and continued as if nothing happened. He says our planetary temperature was never as balanced as recently (in planetary terms) and with our industrial impact after the Second World War we kicked it out of this unusual balance. Our Nitrogen use is extreme, for example. He proposes a new approach to climate change, a new way of thinking. Turn the crisis into opportunities, depending on what the local impact of the climate change. He showed examples that can be further studied via his website . And here is his TED talk .

Jason Clay, Market transformer

You can not wake up a person who is pretending to sleep… – he says… We are living on 1.3 Planet by now, if we consider the resources being used and wasted. The average American consumes 43 times more than and average African. But even an average cat in the developed world has a larger environmental impact than an African. Big issues!

Should we buy sustainable food, or should we have a choice between regular and sustainable? Definitely sustainable food is the target for all. Locally or globally… it must be sustainable. Leading businesses should start managing this Planet as if their life depended on it. Sustainability must become a precompetitive issue, not a consumer issue. Consumers should not be forced having to read micro print, research websites, and the like. All goods should be sustainable, so you can simply buy it. I so agree with this speaker!

He selected 35 places and 15 commodities to start with. He pinpointed key places and commodities to work with, and the attitude will spread from there he says. 100 companies control 25% of the key commodities in the world (which is shocking actually, to me…). We can work with them, he says. That 25% drives the future 45% of production and output that has to be sustainable as well…

Here is my take on this: make all packaging degradable (it is possible, if you have spent 4 days watching TED Global 2010, you should know…). In New York I used to recycle, it was easy. No problem. There was a man employed and paid who sorted after we also sorted the items. Also in Ann Arbor it was easy, as you walked out, you just dropped the entire bag of your plastic and paper with one move into a huge container. Manageable and economically acceptable proportion of labor on your part. (I still think it can not be the future. You have to make waste that does not take a lifetime to manage.) In Budapest, there are educational recycle boxes on streets for dummies, and you have to transport all your recyclable trash to those plastic giants with tiny holes in them. And now the bad joke: you have to put in each item one by one. I wanted to be a good citizen and tried to fit in at least with my trash handling (I might never be able to fit in any other way ever again I guess… even this was short lived). One day I announced to my friends and family that I refuse to take part in this idiocy. I told them: do you know that you are wasting hours of your life doing this, while policymakers think you are stupid, so they make small holes, square or circle shaped ones, where you are forced to drop in each plastic, glass, aluminum or paper item one by one, and in turn this free labor is utilized by Chinese polar outfit manufacturers (often sweatshops) to make your polar shirts that you will later purchase for a lot of money. You are pushing in the trash by hand, even if you are a degree holder, with valuable skills, and a Chinese billionaire’s new yacht is being built by your very hand on the other side of the box on my mind. Stop building luxury yachts for Chinese rich moguls. Companies: make all household packaging completely biodegradable if you want this Planet to survive and let us make good choices each time we have to purchase something. And people: purchase less, as if your life depended on it.

Ok, so back to this excellent talk, about good news: on salmon agriculture, new guidelines are introduced, based on his work. Reputational risk forced companies to work together. 40 of them signed already. Applause all over the theater. TEDsters love this good news. I wonder if the disappearing vitamin D will be put back into salmon… (Note: Research shows, that farm salmon has only 25% of the vitamin D compared to wild Alaska salmon, and that due to the conditions and the food they get. And our population in the developed world is vitamin D deficient in epidemic proportions, which is probably one reason behind the increase in cancer… So, better salmon, better food in general, higher vitamin D level, healthier people… and a more sustainable humanity.)

Mars is also mentioned: they improve chocolate production. Public domain chocolate developed to use less land. We have to think differently. Whatever was sustainable for 6 billion people is not going to be enough for 9 million. Lots if key companies, that you and I know, are involved in this. And they will be forced to participate in this project. This is his good news.

Loved this talk for the content and for the knowledge demonstrated by this speaker.

Rachel Sussman, Artist, photographer

I hope I got the names and the ages right below. 🙂 For pictures go to Rachel’s website.

Uareta plant… 3 000 years old, a relative of parsley.

Rachel is researching continuously living plants. She traveled the world for this. Once even was left to her own devices when a researcher did not turn up on the fjord where she was dropped of. Humbling experiences. Armillaria Death Rings… The humongous fungus or honey mushrooms (?). It is a 2 400 years old fungus. Brain coral, 2000 years old. Clonal Quaking (talán rezgő nyárfa liget lehet?) in Aspen, 80 000 years, male, and immortal. She mentioned the fact that animals never live that long… like a giant clam, 405 years old, and died in the lab while its age was determined. Supposedly immortal jelly fish that can reverse into the polyp form… she is not sure if it really is immortal… More wondrous plants displayed: Scotland trees in the cemeteries, older than the Church itself. Sagole Baobab … 2000 years old… so huge, sometimes it is a bar or a prison… Welwitschia Mirabilis 2 000 years. Has the longest leaves too. Underground forest: 13 000 years (clonal). Creosota Bush 12 000 ys, grows in a circle. Clonal Mojave Yocca, 12 000 + years old… 400 000 years old Siberia Actinobacteria, doing DNA repair in extreme cold, so it is not dormant, growing as long as 500 000 years probably. Map of the oldest living things…

Really good talk, interesting points, excellent pictures. High novelty rating on my scale. 🙂

Rachel Armstrong: Carbon Capture

We, TEDsters, know Rachel well. She is talking about her programmable chemical complexes and the carbon cycle. Links technology and nature. These technologies can have positive environmental impact. 1.5 % of the Earth’s surface: 40% of the carbon emission. We need to take larger steps, individual efforts are not going to work fast enough. Let’s create a positive 21st century.

Ze Frank, Humorist, web artist

He made up a scientific article about insignificance. He showed how easy it is to make people believe any rubbish they hear online or at a conference… He remembers the Earth Sandwich project, that TEDsters know well. Youngmenowme:… Anyway, he brought the good news… in his very Ze Frank way and we loved it:

Dimitar Sasselov, Astronomer

Copernicus reburial. Copernican revolution. He was buried with 14 others. And genetic testing helped to find his bodily remains. From Copernicus we jump to the NASA Kepler Launch in 2009. Finding New Earth… Transit method: dimming of the light is detected to detect smaller planets and we can tell how large, we can describe its orbit, period of its orbit, and so on.

What have we learned? –he asked. Now, for the first time, we can say that small planets are dominating the galaxy. We can study them now. Are they co-habitable? 100 million habitable planets are out there, and we soon discover at least 60 of them. Is there molecular diversity: life as a chemical phenomenon on those planets? Is it like gravity: same everywhere, or not? We can answer these on the Earth. He shows us an animation: cell-like bubbles form and divide and have a membrane. The Harvard Origins of Life Innovative Project… Life insignificant in terms of size. Life is significant in terms of time. New revolution, with synthetic biology… Another excellent talk, with high novelty rating from me, as a TED translator and blogger, having seen several hundred TED talks.

Here is his TED talk. 

12:15 AM – 14:00 PM Session 12: Waging Peace

Stefan Wolff, Ethnic conflicts scholar

I don’t like university type lectures like this one. I just don’t. One dimensional… no interaction between the viewer and the speaker. A good TED talk is spinning… a good TED talk engages. You just feel the difference. And after a good TED talk, you remember the speaker and the key ideas in the talk… I am a very interested viewer, still he can not keep my attention. He does not make me deeply engaged. The topic is still very important, but I don’t remember what he was talking about. A typical scholar who talks because he has to, and has zero passion, or is unable to show that passion. I am sure he could do better as a TED speaker. As Sir Ken Robinson would say: he is not in his element, and we can feel that. He does it, because he is ok at it, but he does not love this topic. It is not him.

William Perrin, Community activist

Enable your neighborhood via a blog. Move if the area is terrible… or, as he did, get involved in your local community and change it. Good talk about how to make the world a better place when you engage in local politics and enable online debate. Good speaker, excellent activist, exemplary citizen. High practicality rating from me. Actual ideas can be replicated that were mentioned in this talk.

Mallika Sarabhai, Dancer, actor, activist

Men defined women. Mallika telling the story of suppressed women in history who must rise. She is telling mini narratives of women rising and standing up for themselves.

After this performance, Chris makes men in the audience stand up to celebrate women. Men quickly stand up and clap. In turn, Chris also makes women stand up and celebrate the men who support them (if I got this right), which triggers a surprisingly slow reaction from the women in the TED audience… very telling actually… would be nice to know exactly what this means… Are they suspicious of men only pretending to support them? Are they used to being celebrated? Are they reluctant to trust and celebrate the men who suppressed and defined them for so long? Or are these women mostly unaware of being suppressed? Or are they women who are never suppressed? Those men still willingly do show support… only because it is fashionable to say there is change happening and more needed…? I do not think those women know that it is a huge thing historically that they sit there, with degrees and freedom. Often I think men and women have no idea about things going on in society, even when they are supposedly highly educated. A women who never faced discrimination, will never feel it. Chris made a good move, it made all this visible.

Zainab Salbi, Activist and social entrepreneur

She grew up with the colors of war. Sounds of sirens. Fear of dying during war. The fear of loosing loved ones. Fear of dying from inside out. I dye 10 times one day, a war victim told her. There should only be one death for one life. Inevitabilities… the word itself… cause her some trouble. Anyway, she wanted to say that those are not just inevitable casualties by number, they are individuals.

She says: 1 year of world military spending equals 2900 years of the UN budget allocated to women!

There are two wars. One side lead by men. Another side lead by women. Women keep schools, hospitals and factories open. One of them walked for 20 years. Her toe nails grew back: she says that means there is peace. Women who are not raping, not killing, not harming, and male students, and male doctors, who are not killing, but saving people and communities, are also excluded from discussion about economy and cultures. Women should be involved 50%. Investing in women and girls is a key issue. Reverse spending trends and lasting peace might result. Invest in women to ensure that there are no more wars. There is a field where many men and women meet. Let us all meet on that field.