Sunday 21 October 2012

My first TED!

OK - TEDx, but perhaps the largest TEDx in the UK – if not Europe.

Hosted (rather well!) by Jim Dickenson – Director of Policy and Delivery at NUS.

(The image has one of my tweets!)

Morning Session:

Professor Martin Hall, who waded back 5 million years, saying “That’s what archaeologists do” ...

Salil Shetty Secretary General of Amnesty International.  Salil gave a personal and emotive speech, perhaps paraphrased as ‘... when you notice an absence of justice ... do something!’  #50shadesoffair

Sir Ian Wilmut – Professor of Reproductive Biology at the Centre for Regenerative Medicine.  Ian led the team that cloned an adult sheep – ‘Dolly’.  Ian talked us through some of the mechanics and science behind cloning, and some of the hopes for future uses of the technology.

Felicity Goodey gave a passionate speech about bringing the BBC to Salford – that the BBC don't own the buildings (unusual for the BBC) - about how the Salford community were engaged in the project – about how lives were changed – about how Media City is not a ‘one off’, but an emerging worldwide phenomena.  Almost makes me want to move to Salford – but although the creators of the Manchester Ship Canal brought the sea to Manchester (after Liverpool dock charges became too much) – they didn’t bring the beaches – never mind!

Humour was a coping mechanism: The txt says:
"Debs - it's Matt here.  Don't listen to Hayley
The airfares get cheaper in February!!!"
Debra Searlethe woman that rowed across the Atlantic, (mostly) on her own.  Quote: “Choose your attitude .….” because out in the Atlantic that’s about all you can choose.  Debra also use visioning as a motivational aid - envisioning what rowing into Barbados would look like.

Julie Meyer: “David and Goliath must dance” – saying that start-ups coming to Ariadne Capital are coming with ideas that work with the giants (Tesco, Google, Amazon), not with the intention of defeating them.  Another notion was “capital follows innovation” – illustrated with the philanthropists behind da Vinci and Michelangelo.

Joseph Incandela: “Searching for the genetic code of our universe” (hinting at others?) or “The Hunt for the Higgs boson ...”.  Thrilling stuff for physicists – I love this stuff!

Davide Swarup: Playing the ‘Hang Drum’ – Very chilled – very ethnic - see (and listen!): 

Afternoon session:

Ken Shamrock: Whose message was that getting wayward kids back on the rails should be the personal responsibility of everyone, not left to governments and institutions.  See:

Etienne Stott – the English Slalom Canoeist who along with Tim Baillie won Olympic Gold in 2012.  In 2011 Etienne needed surgery on his shoulder; in his speech he mapped out the milestones to the Olympic Gold – visioning his journey as a “ ... red thread from the hospital bed to the Olympics”.  Note the visioning echoed Searle’s speech from earlier.  His is perhaps the most quoted quote from the event: "The response to the problem is more important than the problem itself" – and they responded like champions.

Paul Zenon: Gave an amusing and thought provoking talk about airport security – poking fun at policies and procedures, highlighting how organisations hide behind these paper shields; then he illustrated the absurdity of being able to have as much liquid as you want, as long as it was in separate 100ml bottles – by suggesting how convenient for anyone that wanted to keep liquids apart and combine them when airborn – and encouraging them to have a mixing vessel – the clear plastic bag to carry the bottles in!?  Also – he finds taking his own metal detectors (the paddle type) through airport security highly amusing (so did we!).

Jim Al-Khalili – perhaps best known for Radio 4’s “The Life Scientific” – Jim introduced (to me, anyway) the notion of ‘Quantum biology’ – illustrating with the example of the European Robin that seems to navigate using Quantum effects in its right eye!?  (something to do with blue light causing electrons to detach from an atom in the right eye of the Robin)  He quotes many who say:  “If you are not baffled by quantum mechanics then you don't get it”.

John Robb: Punk rock vocalist and TV presenter – encouraging us to get away from the X-Factor and so many ‘covers’ to please the judges, and back to making real music and real culture with our mates in our back yard – and totally with you on that John.  How about a ‘Concert Goers Charter’ that would put a top limit on the most someone should pay for a ticket?  If enough signed up prices would tumble.

Geoff Burch gave a very hard-nosed speech on sales – a bit too hard nosed for me.  I tasted ‘vacuum cleaner salesman’ – (I’ve had them in my house – promised the earth – delivered a mess).  I loved the sheepdog analogy – getting the sheep into the pens.  But I’m into the (Geoff) derided customer relationship management and getting the sheep to feel comfortable with the direction your taking them and making sure that what you are doing is right for the sheep.  I’d prefer to come up with a different product rather than sell something unsuitable.  If you’re thinking of getting around this by creating a need for your product, perhaps that might be seen as morally grey if there were no need before you arrived with it.  However, there are many products out there that had no market before a market was ‘invented’ – such as the ‘laser’ that is used from everything from CDs to telephone lines these days.  Good speech.  Jury out on the morals - but then again, here's a YouTube version of today's speech that seems to have a different emphasis in the final few seconds:

Ray Hammond: Outstanding!  News to me was that futurologists see a ‘black hole’ in the next 20-30 years when computers become ‘as capable’ as humans.  Now as long as machines do the work – what they do best – and leave humans to ‘enjoy themselves’ – that’s fine with me.  I seem to remember Harold Wilson suggesting in the 60s that technology would perform more and more 'work' leaving us to have more and more leisure!  However, what’s new is the ‘singularity’ – and beyond, when computers make computers that are twice, then four times, then eight times ... etc.  I kept getting images of ‘SkyNet’ (Terminator) in my head.

Akala – who rounded up the evening with a history of HipHop – that he traces back to ancient story-tellers – and then performed – making us all sit up and take notice.  Outstanding!

Footnote: The above is my recollection following the event – I’d be delighted to take any corrections – at worst by comments.

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