World needs a reboot: TED

Feb 15, 2010 by Glenn Chapman
Outed CIA spy and author Valerie Plame Wilson seen here in January 2010, urged wiping nuclear weapons off the planet while Microsoft co-founder turned-philanthropist Bill Gates backed a case for investing in "terrapower" nuclear energy plants at the TED annual conference in Long Beach, CA.

Nobel laureates, technology titans, artists, scientists, and academics spent five days here grappling with how best to reboot the world.

Outed CIA spy Valerie Plame Wilson urged wiping nuclear weapons off the planet while Microsoft co-founder turned-philanthropist Bill Gates backed a case for investing in "terrapower" nuclear energy plants.

Author Michael Specter railed against a maddening societal shift away from scientific facts while fellow writer and philosopher Sam Harris argued that the separation between science and human values is an illusion.

"We've never needed science and progress more than we have now," Specter said at a prestigious that ended Saturday.

"Yet we'd have to go back before the Enlightenment to find a time that we fought things more than we do now. You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to you own facts; sorry about that."

The annual TED gathering was a thought-sparking swirl of perspectives, revelations, and creative presentations delivered by vaunted personalities asked to pack the talk of a lifetime in an 18-minute punch.

Physics was spun with insights into spider silk, synthetic life forms, the psychology of happiness and even a prototype mosquito zapping laser.

Ukelele-playing YouTube sensation Jason Shimabokuru captivated the audience with a performance that meshed Handel's Ave Maria with Bohemian Rhapsody by classic rock band Queen.

Natalie Merchant enchanted with new songs she lovingly crafted from the lyrics of revered poets such as E.E. Cummings.

Actress and comedienne Sarah Silverman rattled some in the famously upscale crowd with bawdy humor while former Talking Heads band front man David Byrne joined Thomas Dolby to sing "Nothing but Flowers."

The entertainment buoyed spirits and moods during days spent dissecting global woes from climate change and overfishing to disease, poverty and pollution.

"I have been bottling up a fair amount of rage," TED curator Chris Anderson said at the conference that ended Saturday.

"At a time when there are so many smart people capable of solving problems, what happens? Nothing. Running into walls. Grubby murky compromise. I really hate this. What the world needs is a restart."

The 1,500 people attendees included entrepreneurs, celebrities, and founders of Internet stars Google, YouTube, Zynga, and Amazon.com.

More than 900 groups of people in 75 countries attended virtually, with talks and presentations streamed to them online.

Recorded talks from gatherings are posted online at TED.com for free viewing.

More than 200 million "TED talks" have been seen at the website, according to event organizers. Volunteers recently started translating the presentations into scores of languages.

British conservative leader David Cameron made a teleconference visit to this year's TED to say that he will use Internet technologies to better connect people and government if he becomes prime minister.

"The Information and Internet Revolution Age has happened in our lives, but hasn't gone through government," Cameron said.

An annual TED prize gives each winner an altruistic wish that the community's members promise to help fulfill.

Renowned ocean explorer Sylvia Earle's TED prize wish last year to rally support for a global network of sea life havens has resulted in "Mission Blue" set to launch in April.

The mission aims to support fighting poachers at sea and to enlist allies online. Earle will join scientists, politicians and others on a Mission Blue fund-raising voyage setting out April 6 for the Galapagos Islands.

"TEDsters" were invited to join the adventure at a price of 20,000 dollars per passenger.

"Ideas are all well and good but what the world needs now is action," Anderson said as heady subjects ricocheted at the mind-jarring gathering.

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Archivis
Feb 15, 2010
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3432682
2.8 / 5 (13) Feb 15, 2010
Stop whining. Since the world dumped communism, and partially dumped socialism, world prosperity and wealth are booming. This is by far the greatest period in human history.

Our biggest problems are the do-gooders of big government. In the US they are messing up housing, energy, food prices, retirement savings, medical costs, education, and now they are crushing the job market. Big government is the problem, not the solution.
Skeptic_Heretic
4.5 / 5 (2) Feb 15, 2010
I have to agree to a point, we do all need a reboot. Too much posturing, too little factual interaction.

And my hat is off to Mr. Gates for realizing nuclear is not scary and dangerous.
robbor
3 / 5 (2) Feb 15, 2010
Mr. 3432682 , you've got to be kidding. How is it you did not mention the benevolence of Goldman Sachs, not to mention their aid in helping Greece cover up their national debt. This latest revelation is going to have a huge impact on the financial stability of Europe and the rest of the world. Wake up and get informed.
lewando
2.6 / 5 (8) Feb 15, 2010
When too many people start saying that we must "reboot the world" I get the creepy feeling that "jackboots" will soon be back in fashion.

rwinners
2.4 / 5 (5) Feb 16, 2010
Stop whining. Since the world dumped communism, and partially dumped socialism, world prosperity and wealth are booming. This is by far the greatest period in human history.

Our biggest problems are the do-gooders of big government. In the US they are messing up housing, energy, food prices, retirement savings, medical costs, education, and now they are crushing the job market. Big government is the problem, not the solution.


Wow. How parochial a point of view. A large percentage of the population of the planet has one retirement option.... to die.
fourthrocker
2.5 / 5 (4) Feb 16, 2010
If Jesse Ventura's conspiracy theory about the Bilderberger's is true the solution is coming soon. Almost all our problems can be traced back directly or indirectly to there being too many people. This planet can only support indefinitely about 1 or 2 billion people at a high technology level. If we actually were an intelligent species we would limit our population, too bad there is very little intelligent life on the third rock.
fourthrocker
2 / 5 (4) Feb 16, 2010
While I wouldn't welcome the jack-boots, our species would be better off in the long run. This planet can support human life for millions of years more. We are acting exactly like the virus that the agent in the matrix accused us of being. Not limiting our population now might prevent millions of generations from enjoying this paradise planet we were given. All the people who think it's god's will to have as many children as possible are the real criminals, they are helping trillions of people to never be born.
Skeptic_Heretic
2.5 / 5 (2) Feb 16, 2010
If Jesse Ventura's conspiracy theory about the Bilderberger's is true
Ha, Jesse Ventura.
Almost all our problems can be traced back directly or indirectly to there being too many people. This planet can only support indefinitely about 1 or 2 billion people at a high technology level. If we actually were an intelligent species we would limit our population, too bad there is very little intelligent life on the third rock.


Premier analysts have estimated that the planet Earth, at today's technology, (if used efficiently and homogenously applied) could support upwards of 14 billion people. I'll believe them over Ventura and Malthus anyday. You are correct when you say there is very little intelligent life on the planet.

After all, what do you think your chances of being one of the 1 or 2 billion left would be?
marjon
1.2 / 5 (5) Feb 16, 2010
Reboot is underway.
Scott Brown was elected to the Senate. Democrats are quitting congress before they are defeated this fall. Obama's popularity is falling.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing".
lewando
1.7 / 5 (6) Feb 16, 2010
While I wouldn't welcome the jack-boots, our species would be better off in the long run.

People who like to wear jackboots should not be asked to help control anything, esp. a population.
We are acting exactly like the virus that the agent in the matrix accused us of being.

The deer in our area have acheived equilibrium by a combination of starvation and getting their heads smashed by car bumpers. Point: a lot of suffering comes with that equilibrium. We are no different.
Not limiting our population now might prevent millions of generations from enjoying this paradise planet we were given.

Life on this planet is harsh. No paradise here.
All the people who think it's god's will to have as many children as possible are the real criminals, they are helping trillions of people to never be born.

Lock 'em up then, herr 4th-rock.