Best of TED



Back in 1984, TED was a conference that aimed to bring three worlds together: Technology, Entertainment and Design. Since then the scope has broadened and now it offers creative thinkers the ultimate 15 minute soapbox. So how about today we indulge ourselves in a bit of cherry picking and take a look at some of the best of TED?

Dean Kamen previews a new prosthetic arm.
"Now he's going to pick up a pen with his opposed thumb and index finger. Now he's going to put that down, pick up a piece of paper, rotate all the degrees of freedom in his hand and wrist, and read it."

There's a lot of new technology around these days. Much of it is very impressive. Much of it has got some serious wow factor. But trust me, you haven't seen anything until you've seen this short little 6-minute film. Dean Kamen is an innovator, but not just of things. He set out to reinvent the prosthetic arm for maimed soldier - a prosthesis that has been pretty much the same since the U.S. Civil War - a stick and a hook.

Aubrey de Grey says we can avoid aging
"We probably can actually implement these fixes within a decade."

Cambridge researcher Aubrey de Grey has a pretty revolutionary point of view. He argues that ageing is merely a disease that we can fix. Humans age in seven basic ways, he says, all of which can be averted. He says it's relatively easy to fix and we should really start "getting our shit together."

David Byrne says architecture helped music evolve
"One of the new music venues is the automobile. I grew up with a radio in a car. But now that's evolved into something else. The music that, I would say, is written for automobile sound systems, works perfectly on it. It might not be what you want to listen to at home, but it works great in the car."

From the airy and flowing music that filled cathedrals to the rock music performed at Tootsies Orchid lounge in Nashville, the shockingly grey haired David Byrne moves through different architectural periods in history, and notes how music has always been written and performed to get the best out of the venues they were performed in.

Vik Muniz makes art with wire and sugar
"This is the clown skull. A remnant of a very evolved race of entertainers. The entire Encyclopedia Britannica bound in a single volume, for travel purposes. And the half tombstone, for people who are not dead yet."

Brazilian-born, artist Vik Muniz has exhibited his work all over the world. Here he we see his masterful use of unexpected materials such as sugar, cotton wool and chocolate syrup to create some truly stunning images. The giant images of the scissors and envelope drawn into the earth beat the average crop circle hands down.

Sir Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity and Bring on the learning revolution!
"I have an interest in education -- actually, what I find is everybody has an interest in education. Don't you? I find this very interesting. If you're at a dinner party, and you say you work in education -- actually, you're not often at dinner parties, frankly, if you work in education. You're not asked. And you're never asked back, curiously. That's strange to me. But if you are, and you say to somebody, you know, they say, "What do you do?" and you say you work in education, you can see the blood run from their face."

Why don't we get the best out of people? Sir Ken argues it's because we've been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. Students with restless minds and bodies -- far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity -- are ignored or even stigmatised. Watch both of these presentations- recorded some 4 years apart- and you'll wonder why we don't we see more of him on TV. Simply brilliant.

John Fountain is senior copywriter at Avvio


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