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Tag: TED (page 3 of 4)

Elizabeth Gilbert: Genius and How we Ruin it

I’m standing in for Ethan Zuckerman, blogging from TED today. This post is part of a series from the TED 2009 conference held in Long Beach, California from February 4-8th. You can read other posts in the series here, and the TED site will release video from the talk in the coming weeks or months. Because I’m putting these posts together very quickly, I will get things wrong, will misspell names and bungle details. Please feel free to use the comments thread on this post to offer corrections. You may also want to follow the conference via Twitter or through other blogs tagged as on Technorati.

The author of “Eat, Pray, Love“, Elizabeth Gilbert has thought long and hard about some large topics. Her next fascination: genius, and how we ruin it.

Elizabeth

Elizabeth weaves an insightful story of artists, success and pressure. She asks if she’s doomed. What if she never replicates the success of her past book? Is it rational or logical to be afraid of the work that we were put on this earth to do? Why have artists and writers had this history of manic depressive and mental illnesses? Why does artistry always lead to mental anguish?

“I think it might be better if we encouraged our great creative minds to live.”

“It’s exceedingly likely that my greatest success is behind me. That’s the kind of thought that can lead a person to start drinking gin at 9:00 in the morning.”

She states that she now needs to create some safe psychological construct. She’s looking at other societies and understanding how they have dealt with this same issue. That led her to ancient Greece and Rome. In their world, the brilliance and genius around ancient artists were attributed to daemons and spirits. It protected them from narcissism in success and suicidal failure.

The big change happened when we decided that the person, who is this artist, is the center of the universe. It’s too much pressure to ask one person to think of themselves as this single vessel of all artistic understanding of the world.

Louise Fresco: The Problem of Romantasizing Bread

I’m standing in for Ethan Zuckerman, blogging from TED today. This post is part of a series from the TED 2009 conference held in Long Beach, California from February 4-8th. You can read other posts in the series here, and the TED site will release video from the talk in the coming weeks or months. Because I’m putting these posts together very quickly, I will get things wrong, will misspell names and bungle details. Please feel free to use the comments thread on this post to offer corrections. You may also want to follow the conference via Twitter or through other blogs tagged as on Technorati.

Louise Fresco is a powerful thinker and globe-trotting advisor on sustainability, Louise Fresco says it’s time to think of food as a topic of social and economic importance on par with oil — that responsible agriculture and food consumption are crucial to world stability.

Bread is a standard diet for people all over the world, not just in the West. She shows Wonder bread and the whole wheat bread and asks which one people like more. It’s overwhelmingly for the whole wheat, home made bread.

Bread

“We have this mythical image of how life was in the rural, aggricultural past.”

The industrial revolution brought us many great advances. But it also created a world of supermarkets. We shouldn’t despise the Wonder bread, because it means that we have created a way to make bread available to all. Even though it is tasteless and has a lot of problems, it has changed the world.

In the last few decades, since the 1960’s food availability has grown by 25%. This means we have more food available now than any other time in human history. As food became plentiful, it also meant that we were able to decrease the number of people who were working in agriculture (in the US, only 1% of the population works in agriculture.)

“Never before has the responsibility to feed the world been in the hands of so few people. And, never before have so many people been ignorant of that fact.”

Bread is now associated with obesity, because we’ve begun to add more and more high calorie ingredients to it. The price of mass production has been the destruction of many of our landscapes, and the costs have been tremendous with regard to the habitats.

How many of you can actually tell wheat apart from other cereals? Do you know how much a loaf of bread actually costs?

The counter movement is to go back to small scale, farmers markets and home made bread (much of that started in California). This is a fallacy, of us romanticizing the past. This is a luxury solution for us. We will be relegating the other agriculturalists around the world to poverty. It puts local food production out of business, and puts the urban poor out of food.

We need more science, and good science, to better understand the technology around pest and disease resistance. We need to think about urban food systems and to combine agriculture and energy. Most importantly, we need a food policy, not just an agricultural policy.

Nina Jablonski on Darwin’s Birthday Suit

I’m standing in for Ethan Zuckerman, blogging from TED today. This post is part of a series from the TED 2009 conference held in Long Beach, California from February 4-8th. You can read other posts in the series here, and the TED site will release video from the talk in the coming weeks or months. Because I’m putting these posts together very quickly, I will get things wrong, will misspell names and bungle details. Please feel free to use the comments thread on this post to offer corrections. You may also want to follow the conference via Twitter or through other blogs tagged as on Technorati.

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Nina Jablonski is author of Skin: A Natural History, a close look at human skin’s many remarkable traits: its colors, its sweatiness, the fact that we decorate it.

She dives into the life of Darwin. Specifically, she is talking about human skin pigmentation. Darwin rejected the idea that skin color was determined by the sun, the environment. Nina states: “if only he lived today, If only Darwin had NASA.”

What Darwin didn’t appreciate, was that there was a fundamental relationship between ultraviolet radiation from the sun and people’s skin color. She shows a map of the predicted skin color derived from multiple regression analysis.

Map of skin color

Darkly pigmented skin is highly protective under intense UVR areas, melanin is a natural sunscreen. She states that as people moved around the world, from high UV to low UV areas, there were skin color repercussions.

On how the globalization of travel (example: a white African’s like me, living in Sudan as a kid) : “We are living in environments where our skin pigmentation is not properly adapted.” There are both health and social consequences.

Golan Levin: Looking at Looking at Looking

I’m standing in for Ethan Zuckerman, blogging from TED today. This post is part of a series from the TED 2009 conference held in Long Beach, California from February 4-8th. You can read other posts in the series here, and the TED site will release video from the talk in the coming weeks or months. Because I’m putting these posts together very quickly, I will get things wrong, will misspell names and bungle details. Please feel free to use the comments thread on this post to offer corrections. You may also want to follow the conference via Twitter or through other blogs tagged as on Technorati.

Golan Levin is an artist and software engineer who is here to talk to us about experiments in interactive art. He asks, “Where is the “art” category in the iPhone app store?” Golan is interested in discovering how to empower people through interactive art.

golan_switz_2002

Currently, he’s walking us through how certain sounds have a higher probability of creating certain shapes. Then, how the tool he created takes people’s voices and throws letters and shapes onto a canvas in real time. This has repercussions for voice recognition software.

This is called Ursonography, and below is an example of it:


Ursonography (Excerpts), Jaap Blonk & Golan Levin, 2007 from Golan Levin on Vimeo.

Now he’s really doing some crazy things with eye-tracking software and the way that it can be used to create art that knows it’s being looked at and creates itself. He calls this Eyecode.

Eyecode

Renny on The Culture of Availability

Renny creative guru from Wieden and Kennedy gives a quick talk at TED on the rise of the culture of availability. The proliferation of mobile devices and the expectation of availability.

He talks about the different contortions we make to check our mobile phones (email, SMS, chat, whatever). He shows pictures that are titled, “The Lean”, “The Stretch”, and “The Love You”. (I’ll try to get these later)

Renny states that what we’re doing when we check our phones around other people is saying, “You are not as important as what is on my mobile device.” Our reality is less interesting than the story I will tell.

I share, therefore I am. We are creating the technology that will create the new shared experience, which will create the new world. Let’s make technology that makes people more human, and not less.

Ed Ulbrich: Bringing Benjamin Button to Life

I’m standing in for Ethan Zuckerman today. This post is part of a series from the TED 2009 conference held in Long Beach, California from February 4-8th. You can read other posts in the series here, and the TED site will release video from the talk in the coming weeks or months. Because I’m putting these posts together very quickly, I will get things wrong, will misspell names and bungle details. Please feel free to use the comments thread on this post to offer corrections. You may also want to follow the conference via Twitter or through other blogs tagged as on Technorati.

At Digital Domain, Ed Ulbrich works at the leading edge of computer-generated visuals. On a recent project, filmmakers, artists, and technologists have been working at a breakthrough point where reality and digitally created worlds collide. His most recent work can be found in the Curious Case of Benjamin Button film, starring Brad Pitt.

Benjamin Button

They first started on this project back in the ’90s and had to throw in the towel because the technology just wasn’t up to creating these visual effects. The “holy grail” of the industry is digitizing the face. The problem was, there is no margin for error when doing this with a face as well known as Brad Pitt.

Ed tells of how nervous he was when the finally realized they could do it, and then got the “go ahead” from the studio. It was a daunting task. They had to take all the details and idiosyncrasies that make up Brad Pitt in order to make it real (for a full hour of the movie).

Step 1: admit you have a problem
Step 2: break the problem down

The current technology (in 2004) wasn’t really up to the task, so they had to walk away from all that was in this movie and video game space. Instead, they had to make their own technology “stew” that would be able to handle what they were trying to do.

FACS – Facial Action Coding System and Contour by Mova allowed them to do so much more. They ended up stipling Brad Pitts face and getting every 3d possibility of what his face was capable of doing.

The problem… Brad was 44 and Ben needed to be 87 years old. Ed just unveiled to us a 100% representation sculpture of Benjamin Button in three different age increments. (Absolutely incredibly… looks so real). Then they transposed that 3d data onto the sculpture. In the end, they created a real life puppet that Pitt could control with his face.

Olafur Eliasson: Visuals, Art and Movies

I am stepping in to help liveblog TED for Ethan Zuckerman today. This post is part of a series from the TED 2009 conference held in Long Beach, California from February 4-8th. You can read other posts in the series here, and the TED site will release video from the talk in the coming weeks or months. Because I’m putting these posts together very quickly, I will get things wrong, will misspell names and bungle details. Please feel free to use the comments thread on this post to offer corrections. You may also want to follow the conference via Twitter or through other blogs tagged as on Technorati.

Today’s session is titled “See”, and that’s just what we’re doing with Olafur Eliasson and his artwork. He is also behind 121 Ethiopia, an African nonprofit.

Olafur Eliasson: The Weather Project

Olafur thinks of his studio in Berlin as more of a lab, where they do a lot of experimentation. He is asking us to stare at a screen, which has colors in certain shapes. When the image disappears, we see the complimentary color in the same shape. Though the narrative isn’t that exciting, he claims we are co-producing a movie.

My view from the blogging area

Olafur tries to make art that helps people feel a part of a certain space. As an example, he tells of his large waterfall artwork that gives a sense of size to people in New York City. Where you can finally get a real feel for what the size of the space you’re in is.

Oliver Sacks: Seeing with the Mind

I am stepping in to help liveblog TED for Ethan Zuckerman today. This post is part of a series from the TED 2009 conference held in Long Beach, California from February 4-8th. You can read other posts in the series here, and the TED site will release video from the talk in the coming weeks or months. Because I’m putting these posts together very quickly, I will get things wrong, will misspell names and bungle details. Please feel free to use the comments thread on this post to offer corrections. You may also want to follow the conference via Twitter or through other blogs tagged as on Technorati.

Oliver Sacks

We start this morning with Oliver Sacks, who since Awakenings first stormed the bestseller lists (and the silver screen), has become an unlikely household name, and single-handedly invented the genre of neurological anthropology.

We see with our eyes, but we also see with our minds. Hallucinations is what he will be talking to us about today.

Oliver tells a story of an old lady who was “seeing things”. Who ended up being a perfectly sane and lucid lady, who had been very startled because she had been, “seeing things”. She had been completely blind, through macular degeneration for 5 years, but now was starting to see people in Eastern dress, cats, dogs, and a man with large teeth on one side of his face. Sometimes, she might hallucinate black and pink squares on the floor that go up to the ceiling. In her words, “It’s like a movie, a very boring movie.”

She was confused, and thought she might be going mad. She wasn’t, she had Charles Bonnet Syndrome: an anarchic visualization stimulation release.

10% of visually impaired people get visual hallucinations.
10% of hearing impaired people get hearing hallucinations.

As the visual parts of the brain aren’t getting as much input, they start to become hyperactive. Oliver tells us amazing stories of people what people see. Of boys flying up to 100 feet, men splitting into 6 parts and cartoons come to life.

Functional Brain Imagery (FMRI), has been possible in the last couple years. He tells us how the different parts of the brain are being activated and which are overactive for certain types of hallucinations, and it’s different parts that see teeth and eyes, from buildings, landscapes or cartoons.

He reminds us that blind people all over the world, many times have cases of hallucinations, yet they probably don’t share those with people for fear of being seen as crazy.

PW Singer and Robots Wired for War

[Sidenote: follow the real TED 2009 liveblogging by Ethan Zuckerman]

There have been some phenomenal talks in this first day of TED 2009. If I had to pick a favorite, I don’t think any quite caught my imagination as did PW Singer’s talk on “Wired for War” talk on robots use in modern warfare. Singer is an interesting character, he’s a military analyst that doesn’t study or write about the normal topics that you think would come from someone with that profession. Apparently, his new book by that name just came out 5 days ago, and I’ve decided that will be my read for the flight back home.

PW Singer

Maybe it’s my infatuation with gadgets or making things, maybe it’s because I, like so many boys, fantasized about robots and all the cool things they could do as a child. Either way, I was mesmerized by his story, and the images he showed of this new breed of mechanized warfare and the “cubicle warriors” that control them.

Singer said that the robots we have now are the equivalent of the Model-T for vehicles 100 years ago. When you see what they can do, what they are capable of, that can be a very scary picture. The US military is on the cutting edge with the leading technology in this space right now, however there are 42 other countries working on military robotics too, so no one knows what will come next.

www.Army.mil

He takes us a step deeper and asks, “How do we rethink the rules of war?” What are the repercussions of a having robots that have the capability and “go ahead” to kill?

So, at the end, I’m troubled and I’m excited. It’s an amazing world of technology that I don’t know much about, but that has such potential for great good and for great harm.

Framing TED 2009

It seems that the frame for discussion and debate for TED 2009 has been set:

We are facing an economic crisis and the environmental crisis, with technology as the possible answer.

Al Gore  at TED 2009

Talks in the first two session, especially the ones by Juan Enriquez, Al Gore, Bill Gates, Ray Anderson, Pattie Maes and Tim Berners-Lee have set the tone for this year’s TED. Each of them has talked about the current economic crisis, the environmental crisis or the future promises that technology offers.

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