Nicholas Negroponte: A 30-year history of the future (TED Talk)

This talk begins with a visual tour of technology from the past 30 years. Negroponte has given 14 TED talks previously. In this one he wants to share what has happened in that time, and what he thinks is going to happen in the future.

1960s:

  • Computation
  • Timesharing
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Computer aided design
  • Robotics

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Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions (TED Talk)

It is thought that science has no opinion over questions of right or wrong. Science will never answer the most important questions in life. Harris argues that this is actually a dangerous illusion.

They say that science cannot deal with morality because it deals with facts, and facts and values are in different spheres. A description of the way the world is, cannot tell us how it ought to be.

But there is no version of human morality that at some level doesn’t come down to a fact which is based on our conscious experience. Why don’t we feel sad for rocks? And why do we feel more empathy for apes than we do for ants? It’s because of facts – we believe these things to hold a certain amount of life experience similar to our own. But we could be wrong about these fundamental judgements, we may have got the facts wrong, which would lead to a different version of our morality.Read More »

Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend (TED Talk)

A particular study changed Kelly’s attitude towards stress. It tracked 30,000 adults in the United States, for 8 years. They started by asking people: how much stress have you experienced in the last year? And, do you believe stress is harmful for your health?

Then they looked at public death records to see who died.

What they found is that those who had experienced a lot of stress in the previous year had a 43% increased risk of dying. But, importantly, that was only true for those people who also believed that stress is harmful for your health.Read More »

Sir Martin Rees: Earth in its final century? (TED Talk)

Darwin showed that we are the outcome of four billion years of evolution. What astronomers try to do is go back before this time. We can trace things back to the time of the bang, but we don’t know what banged, and why it banged. That’s a challenge for 21st century astronomy.

The ultimate challenge of science is a theory of everything – that is a theory which unifies the very large and the very small. At the beginning of our universe, it was just an atom, and until we understand this single theory, we cannot understand what happened at that time.Read More »

James Flynn: Why our IQ levels are higher than our grandparents’ (TED Talk)

Over the course of the last century, our minds have altered dramatically. We’ve gone from a concrete world, to a world where we’ve had to develop new mental habits – like clothing the concrete world with classification, abstractions, and taking the hypothetical seriously, wondering what might have been, rather than what actually is.

Time has shown that we have gotten better at dealing with the hypothetical – for example one hundred years ago we struggled with this notion:Read More »

Henry Markram: A brain in a supercomputer (TED Talk)

Henry and his team want to recreate the brain. This is important because it’s essential to understand the human brain if we want to get along in society, it’s a key step in our evolution; we cannot keep doing animal experimentation forever, we have to have a working model of the brain; and finally, there are 2 billion people on the planet affected by mental illness, and we can come up with very concrete ways to treat those disorders with a replica brain.Read More »