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

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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.

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Written by Regina Saphier, June 18, 2013 (mytedblog.wordpress.com)

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 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

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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… 😉

 

Related articles

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:

http://stackoverflow.com/

https://trustcloud.com/

http://launch.connect.me/

https://airbnb.com/

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

Lawyer

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

Techno-illusionist

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: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/hu/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html

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):

http://www.alaveteli.org/

http://www.asktheeu.org/

http://www.investigativedashboard.org/

……

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

Curator

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

6:00 – 7:45

Session 10:

Reframing

Sarah Slean

Musician

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

Artist

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

Femtophotographer

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… 😉

Video: http://worldsciencefestival.com/videos/introducing_quantum_levitation

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

http://bigthink.com/Mind-Matters/obese-smoker-no-retirement-savings-perhaps-its-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:

Globality

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

Author

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

Pianist

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

Journalist

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

Pianist

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.

http://www.tedprize.org/

Usman Riaz

Percussive Guitarist

Preston Reed

Revolutionary Guitarist

My TED Live Conference Blog Dilemma

The foundation's logo.

Image via Wikipedia

I am still not sure… should I write my usual speaker by speaker TED blog live during the conference? Or should I just go completely ignorant about others who are unable to see the live stream and will have to wait for videos months and months and even then still more waiting for translations… But do those thousands of ignorant people in Hungary deserve my altruistic effort to educate them? Am I doing this only for fun or am I now doing this as a duty? There is no one forcing me… I am still thinking about this… I also feel that writing in Hungarian is very limiting… Perhaps there are more people who would appreciate my efforts in English… definitely more exposure in English… by now I have two of my live TED conference texts in Hungarian and one in English… I might just write this one in English now… but the live TED blog in Hungarian based on live English talks is much more challenging and I like that. I am going to have to make up my mind real soon about this.

I made up my mind, and I am writing my future TED blogs in English.