Julian's blog: TED session 6: Different By Design

July 15th, 2010
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Last session of a packed day and we’re off again…

Miwa Matreyek, Multimedia Artist (and hear my AudioBoo with Miwa here)
One of the most extraordinary things I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure the web will do Miwa justice, but click the link on her name to take a look. Her performance on the TED stage combines shadow play with computer graphics, art and music in a wonderful phantasmagoria which really takes the breath away. Stunning.

 

Neil Gershenfeld, Physicist, Fabrication Pioneer
Some of this one goes right over my head but here’s what I get… the universe runs at the same speed regardless of how much of it you have, unlike computers. NG is working on programs that become evolving shapes like biology and ultimately real materials. He distinguishes four stages of technology:
1 computers make machines
2 machines make machines
3 codes make materials
4 programs make materials – at which stage we are growing our technology. This will be the Star Trek replicator, where we can create any material. Anybody will be able to make anything anywhere. Blimey. There was more here but if you want to understand it you’ll have to wait for it on TED.com because my brain fried at this point.

 

Tan Le, Enterpreneur
This one is massive. The best demo since wireless electricity last year. We actually see my mate Evan Grant controlling a computer by thought alone! Tan Le’s simple 14-node wireless brain-scanning headset called Emotiv and powerful algorithm that ‘unfolds’ the brain to locate neuro impulses make so much possible: Evan and I have been discussing the implications ever since… how about composing and modulating music with thought alone? Or altering your house environment automatically to ameliorate mood (eg for depressives or those with anger issues). Wow. I now believe we will be controlling our technology via thoughts within ten years. Incidentally, a fact to remember: we have 170km of axons in our heads! 

 

Eben Bayer, Green designer
One cubic metre of styrofoam (filthy stuff) uses the energy equivalent of 1.5 litres of petrol. 25% of the world’s landfill is this one material and it will take thousands of years to disappear. Eben has come up with a mushroom-based alternative: he grows this stuff into moulds and in fuve days it’s formed perfect styrofoam replacements for packaging – which you just throw onto the garden when you unpack the TV or whatever. They improve your soil as they are absorbed – and they cost little to make as they grow themselves. Absolutely brilliant, and possibly the most important thing so far at TED.

 

David Bismark
Election can be verifiable and still secret using his ingenious form and a web-based system. Nobody else can know your vote and yet you can check it was recorded so it can’t get ‘lost’. Let’s get this installed right now world wide.

 

Emily Pilloton, Humanitarian design activist
A pleasing story of reclaiming Bertie County through design.

 

This session contains some key talks – and the TED miasma has started. I did manage to AudioBoo Bill Liao, who is running a tree-planting programme called Weforest that just might save the planet. Listen here.

 

Tonight was dinner with TEDx organisers and Fellows – great fun but very noisy! May not remember who I am in the next blog. And so to bed for five hours before the next day…

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