Thoughts about TED 2019
author: Johann Roduit
After four days at TED 2019, here are four main thoughts regarding this fascinating week.
1/4. People & Ideas
For the past 8 years I have participated in a lot of different TED and TEDx events. One thing that always strikes me is that during such events the most exciting moments are never when I am listening to the talks themselves. Don’t get me wrong, the talks are incredible. Months of work are going into each one of them. And we can get an overview of some very important issues in record time. But I know that the talks will be available online. So the uniqueness of a TED or a TEDx event is not the talks themselves. Instead, what makes the event unique is the gathering of diverse individuals with the hope/goal that something can come out of these meetings. Bringing people, ideas, and entrepreneurs under one roof opens possibilities. So one thing I try to focus on is meeting new people. I am convinced that it is with people, brought together, that we will be able to launch innovative projects for the good of our communities.
2/4. Local & Global Communities
I am struck by the importance of starting innovative projects within local communities. While TED’s reach is global and aims to share big ideas, I am convinced that to tackle global challenges one has to be rooted in local communities. This is the reason I think that TEDx (the local, independently organized events) are crucial to the TED story. Starting locally helps bring together a group of thoughtful individuals that have a common goal: bringing positive impact to our communities. This is why I am excited about being deeply involved with two local TEDx events this year: TEDxMartigny in Switzerland and TEDxAbbotsford in Canada.
3/4. Innovation without Borders
It used to take a long time for isolated areas and communities to get new ideas. But today, in our digital era, innovative ideas don't have any borders. Most can access the latest research and ideas at the same time, from anywhere in the world. But I think we can go further. Not only can we access new ideas from anywhere, we can also be the creators and innovators of these new ideas from anywhere, whether it is Martigny, Abbotsford, Glestch, Zurich, San Francisco, or Beijing. In this sense, innovation has become fully decentralized.
4/4. Ethics & Science
I have seen a lot of interest in ethics during this week at TED, and had the chance to lead a conversation on the topic. Ethics of AI, ethics of big data, and ethics of gene editing are three major topics of conversation. Often, the questions are about the ethical consequences of such or such technologies. While it is crucial to think of possible ethical consequences, I also think that ethics should be integrated in the conversation much earlier, at the start of any given project. During the ideation process, we can already identify and clarify the underlying values of an idea. Instead of being a hindrance, ethics can play the role of an incubator. Clarifying our values help us determine what type of projects or products we want to launch.