TED and TEDActive Offer Immersive Inspiration and Radical Insight
"He who speaks in primordial images speaks with a thousand voices; he enthralls and overpowers, while at the same time he lifts the idea he is trying to express out of the occasional and the transitory into the realm of the ever enduring." -- Carl Jung
The TED Conference has become a temple for intellectual neurogenesis. At TED (and TED Active), the confluence and diversity of mind-candy triggers just the right kinds of conceptual collisions leading to the elusive, dot-connecting, combinatorial creativity that thinkers relish. I truly believe the synthesis of new ideas arises in the ecstatic or inspired state whereby the recombination of previously acquired information and the pattern-seeking abilities of the brain converge, leading to a form of intellectual neurogenesis, the spitting forth of AHA!, an orgasm in the head that gives birth to new insight. At TED, we experience this multiple times over the course of the event!
Here is one way in which TED truly shines: Besides the obvious (and hugely important) aesthetic considerations, the talks vary widely. This year we went from listening to the Head of DARPA, Regina Dugan, telling us to "dream the impossible", to learning about the power of story from the writer ofToy Story -- and it is precisely this juxtaposition and diversity that triggers radical new insights.
One of my favorite talks featured X PRIZE founder Peter Diamandis speaking about how exponentially emerging technologies can be leveraged to solve humanity's grand challenges. The talk was based on the research for his new book Abundance, where he carefully explains how, in spite of what you hear from our doom and gloom media, the world has never been better off, and is improving exponentially. He cited the work of Steven Pinker's Myth of Violence, which showed how violence is down across the world. He also cited Hans Rosling, another TED speaker, who has shown that by every measurable indicator, quality of life markers for every nation have been on the rise for decades. His talk was just the kind of counter-intuitive download that attendees enjoy.
TED has also redefined the dimensions of memetic content: The self-contained ideas packaged in a TED talk can live on past their initial presentation.TED talks can leap from brain to brain, exhibiting infectivity and spreading power, just like organisms! Their vector of transmission is the global brain.
In spite of the huge scale of a TED talk, they still feel remarkably intimate while remaining intellectually satisfying. Most speakers mix and match their work and research with really personal stories, the combination of which allows them to converse with the audience on richer, deeper, and subtler levels of communication by more closely replicating the multidimensional stimulation of actual lived experience. Philosopher Terence McKenna used to say that all of the unique and significant characteristics and preoccupations of human beings can be summed up under the heading of cognitive activities: dance, philosophy, painting, poetry, meditation, essentially the world of ideas, of mind. "We are truly homo sapiens, the thinking animal," he wrote, "our acts are all a product of the dimension that is uniquely ours, the dimension of cognitive activity. Of thought and emotion, memory and anticipation. Of psyche.".
At TED, the best talks, like cinema, have the power "to make visible the invisible, express the inexpressible, [and] speak the unspeakable"...
There's a great line that reads: "Life is only worth living when it is in the service of something beyond the explicit and the mundane." TEDsters seem to wear this truism on their sleeves. Attendees and speakers alike represent the some of the most interesting people in the world. TED is heaven for the thinking mind.
I was so inspired by Peter Diamandis ideas related to Abundance that I did this video rant waxing philosophical on its themes. Proof that TED can turn ideas into action:
Jason Silva is a Fellow of the Hybrid Reality Institute, a research and advisory group focused on human-technology co-evolution, geotechnology and innovation.
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
You can say 'no' to things, and you should. Do it like this.
- Give yourself permission to say "no" to things. Saying yes to everything is a fast way to burn out.
- Learn to say no in a way that keeps the door of opportunity open: No should never be a one-word answer. Say "No, but I could do this instead," or, "No, but let me connect you to someone who can help."
- If you really want to say yes but can't manage another commitment, try qualifiers like "yes, if," or "yes, after."
Three scientists publish a paper proving that Mercury, not Venus, is the closest planet to Earth.
- Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbor must be planet two or four, right?
- Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
- Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbor is... Mercury!
Neuroscience research suggests it might be time to rethink our ideas about when exactly a child becomes an adult.
- Research suggests that most human brains take about 25 years to develop, though these rates can vary among men and women, and among individuals.
- Although the human brain matures in size during adolescence, important developments within the prefrontal cortex and other regions still take pace well into one's 20s.
- The findings raise complex ethical questions about the way our criminal justice systems punishes criminals in their late teens and early 20s.
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