OK. Renny's sort of in heaven right now. Down here @ the TED bloggers alley in Monterrey. I feel incredibly lucky to be here, so here is my best attempt to share what I am seeing/hearing. Typing as I go. My apologies for typos.
- Demo of kluster technology - crowdsourcing tool they are using to try to develop a product over the course of TED in a single 72 hour period - seriously check it out. Kluster leverages game design principles to the brainstorming process - funky
- Lunch sponsored by Nokia, Annsi Vanjoki presenting
1st presenter in the Who Are We bucket:
Louise Leakey, granddaughter of Louis. Couple of quick notes -
- until 30,000 years ago, we shared earth with at least two other walking apes
- what makes us us? She suggests collective intelligence, language, consciousness, advanced tool use + the ability to communicate with each other any where in the world...
- avg 'Homo' species has lasted about one million years, but look at us - in only 200K years, 6.5 B people, growing by about 80MM/year. Technology, she notes, has removed our checks and balances
- "we are most certainly the only animal that makes conscious choices that are bad for our species" - Louis Leakey
Palette cleanser - it costs a lump of coal to transmit one megabyte of data. That's funky - shows a bag of coal (200 lumps) equating it to one 200Mb file. Yikes.
Wade Davis got off strong, stayed on a roll:
'We coexisted with neandrathals, but left them in our dust...according to proto-shamanists, cave paintings are 'postcards of nostalgia', not direct artwork reflecting active culture..all of humanity descended from 1000 people who left Africa...there is no progression - different cultures are just different options. Polynesia - 10K islands. Wade traveled with Navigators who can determine island group by wave patterns against boat...they know 250 stars by name, can feel 32 different sea swells against the hull of the boat from the inside...if you apply everything it took to get to the moon, to the sea? you get Polynesia. western science is a major response to minor needs. our billboards sell underwear, theirs, prayer walls."
Talks about the 4 noble truths:
- all life is suffering
- cause of suffering is ignorance
- ignorance can be overcome
- delineation of a contemplative practice
Said one monk "we may not believe you went to the moon, but you did. you may not believe we achieve transcendence in a lifetime, but we do"
Andean rituals - go into the mountain as an individual, but you emerge as a community. Machu piccu was never a "lost city" always linked into road system, but also into the sacred places - rhythms of land play into sacred models - their prayers and their prayers alone maintained their world and society.
Wade spent 6 weeks with the "elder brothers" a deeply religious Peruvian priesthood - that "live and breathe the realm of the sacred chewing .5lbs of coca leaves/day - they pray for the dead with spinning motions, all weaving and look, descendants from the goldsmiths of central America, retreated into the mountains. Keep men in the sacred field for 18 years, two cycles of 9 years each. The world is an abstraction
had to be cleansed before visiting - holy men wear no shoes - must never break contact with the earth
For the Inuit, blood and ice are affirmations of life, not signs of death
the world is not flat - it remains a rich tapestry, topography of the spirit - these societies are not failed attempts to be you, they are different answers to "what does it mean to be alive"
industrial society has existed only 300 years - a shallow culture by comparison
Chris Jordan - HOLY COW - takes issues from the raw language of data to make them stories that are meaningful to us. So we can ask, as a people, "How do we change?" How do we take responsibility for the one thing we are in charge of - which is our own behavior.
Here's one photo:
yep, those are plastic cups. 1MM of them. Same as is used in 6hrs by the US airline industry.
Breast augmentation is becoming the most rapidly growing high school graduation gift.
His "Can Seurat" depicts 106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the US every thirty seconds.
and the detail shot:
and up close:
Next up: Sxip Shirey, audio artist. Amazing. My words suck compared to what sounds he makes.
Stephen Hawking via telecon to Cambridge, addresses four questions:
1. Where did we come from
2. How did the universe come into being
3. are we l alone in the universe
4. is there alien life out there
what is the future of the =human race
Odd to hear a telecon of a virtualized voice talking about the beginning of the universe...thought the theory of the universe could be divided into two parts
Under extreme conditions, time can behave like another dimension of space. removes distinction between time and space. means initial laws of evolution apply to creation. the universe can be created out of nothing. if fact, we can predict the likelihood. we think we have solved the mystery - "perhaps we should patent it"
Are we alone? we believe life arose spontaneously on the earth, so we can assume it has also originated in other places. but we don't know how life first appeared. Life appeared on earth within a half billion years of it being possible. Has been about 10B years - if probability was low, it would have taken longer to form
Are we alone? well, we haven't meant anyone. doesn't think there are other civilizations at or higher than our level within a few hundred light years.
what is the future of the human race? we should make sure we survive and reproduce, our use if the planet resources are growing exponentially. Our genetic code carries a selfish and aggressive instinct - it will be difficult to avoid trouble...Our future is in space.
Thankful his physical condition hasn't been a handicap in his pursuit of knowledge...
[film showed the 7 minutes and the user interface Hawkins uses for answering]
Jill Bolte Taylor - Brain scientist - Neuroanatomist - - starts riffing on Triple Immunofluorescence
Had her own brain hemorrhage 12/10/1996. Lost her left hemisphere, effectively.
Pulls out a brain with dangling spinal column. seriously. Audience freaks out. then she describes the hemispheres.
- right hemisphere - parallel processor - this present moment, right here, right now. thinks in pictures. learns through kinestesiology, sensorial input. we are energy beings connected to each other via our right hemispheres
- left hemisphere - Serial processor - the past and the future. Pull details out of present moment associates present to past (what we have learned) and projects possibility into the future. thinks in language, not pictures. calculating intelligence. Says "I am", which makes me single and separate from the energy flow, separate from you.
The morning of the stroke, she became aware of her body...she began experiencing her own body from a distance. And felt a bad headache coming on. Standing in her bathroom, she could hear her own internal dialog about which muscles should expand and contract, Then realized she couldn't define where her body began and ended, the molecules of her body connected, bled into the molecules of the wall...then left hemisphere brain chatter went silent...
captivated by the energy around her - felt enormous and expansive - then left hemisphere came back on line "we got trouble! we have a problem! we need to get help!" then it drifted back out and she was back in la-la land - had just shed 37 years of emotional baggage, then left hemisphere comes back on line "get help! gotta get to work! can I drive?"...she then realized she was having a stroke, then thought - "omg - this is so cool - how many brain scientists get to study what they study from the inside?" then left hemisphere said "i don't have TIME for a stroke" - long process to get a colleague on the phone. In her mind she said "I need help" but sounded like a golden retriever - she didn't know she couldn't speak or understand language until she tried to use it. Got to the hospital.
Then she woke.
Sensory input was an overload - lights too bright, sounds huge - couldn't identify her own body in space...felt there was no way she could squeeze the enormity of herself back into her body. Felt like she had found Nirvana. Could people step to the right of there left hemispheres? transcend?
2.5 weeks later, they removed a hemorrhage, a blood ball the size of a golf ball.
"We have two cognitive minds - we can choose who and how we want to be in the world - and you do choose. we do choose. to be single and alone, apart , or together part of the universe."
Session 1 comes to a close.