Revolution, innovation, cyborgs: 10 top TED Talks from 2012


A taste of the world as we will know it, or a taste of the world we currently live in. TED talks are always innovative and refreshing. Here are 10 TED Talks that will make you think of the world a little differently.

Ramesh Raskar: Imaging at a trillion frames per second

A camera that can record at the speed of light? Who would have thought it possible? But here it is, a trillion frame a second femto camera. Watch as Ramesh Raskar displays the way this new technology shows how light actually behaves at its own speed and how it will allow for cameras that can see around corners.

Marco Tempest: The electric rise and fall of Nikola Tesla

An interesting look at the life of Nikola Tesla through a fantastic animated pop-up book and illusion. Marco Tempest is a magician and illusionist, and his high-spirited and inventive methods are extremely engaging. If everyone went to sleep with a story read like this, we would all have had much better childhoods. For people who are not in the know, this is an informative and entertaining way to discover the life of Nikola Tesla. And if he did succeed in his greatest endeavours, we would all probably be using free energy.

Vinay Venkatraman: “Technology crafts” for the digitally underserved

A story of people who do not have access to the highest technologies available using their ingenuity to solve very complex problems with very simple solutions. Vinay Venkatraman speaks about Haddish Rai who works in a little shop in Mumbai, India where they reverse engineer devices to suit their own needs. Vinay continues giving examples of places just like this all around the world. It just goes to show that with a little know-how people can do amazing things, like building a projector out of a mobile phone, LED flash-light and a lunch-box.

Donald Sadoway: The missing link to renewable energy

The good old-fashioned American way to cure the world of its energy needs? Invent the solution. The first battery was conceived around 200 years ago, and we haven’t had as much progress as you would think. So here is the next iteration: a new “liquid metal” three layer battery invented by Donald Sadoway that he says is to be incredibly efficient, emissions free and cheap. It will be made with abundant materials to ensure the sustainability of it and allow people from all over to take advantage of it. Is this the next generation of energy storage?

Renny Gleeson: 404, the story of a page not found

We all know what a 404 error page looks like. It is the bane of our internet lives. Renny Gleeson puts it well here, saying that we don’t want the 404 experience, we want the “unicorns dancing and rainbows spraying out of your mobile phone” experience. He compares the internet to a relationship, and when you get the 404 page you know something hasn’t gone the way you wanted. The solution? Make the 404 page worth seeing.

Don Tapscott: Four principles for the open world

Don Tapscott gives an inspirational speech about the concept of openness and how the “technology revolution is opening the world”. He reckons the internet has revolutionised the world akin to how the printing press did hundreds of years ago. He continues to say how social media has turned from a network for friends to connect with to a device in which empowers people. The example used is of Syria and how people were using Twitter and other social media networks to their advantage to pinpoint enemy troops. The talk ends off with Tapscott stating that it is not the Information Age, but the Age of Networked Intelligence.

Michael Anti: Behind the Great Firewall of China

There are many misconceptions surrounding the internet in China. The biggest is that it doesn’t have much to offer in the way of innovation. This is clearly wrong, because China has at least 500 million internet users. Or as Michael Anti puts it, Chinanet users. What China has done with the internet the rest of the world has to offer is “block and clone” it. China is a BRIC country, meaning it is one of the fastest growing emerging market economies and it is also a SICK country, meaning it is one of four countries that does not have Facebook. It is not to say that it has no other social media site. It simply has blocked the sites it does not wish and clones them to suit its needs.

Neil Harbisson: I listen to color

There comes a time in a person’s life who has a disability that has been fixed by some technological enhancement when they should accept themselves as cyborg. This is what Neil Harbisson has done. He has a rare condition in that leaves him completely colour-blind. An electronic eye has been developed for him that sits across the top of his head, hanging over his forehead. With this device he can actually hear colour. It connects to a chip in his brain and plays a sound every time he sees a certain color. This way he can ‘hear’ colours. Harbisson even started dreaming in colour and from then on started feeling like a cyborg.

Kirby Ferguson: Embrace the remix

Embrace the remix, because nothing is original. Everything is built on something from the past. Ferguson uses examples from the music industry, specifically Bob Dylan, and shows how everything is just a copy of everything else, tweaked a little, refined and then released as something new. It’s a fact of innovation, nothing can happen on its own, and all we do is build on what has happened before us. It seems people have forgotten this, especially Apple, because you can’t have something entirely original. There is always a predecessor in one form or another.

Pam Warhurst: How we can eat our landscapes

No, not edible buildings, this isn’t Hansel and Gretel. It is, however, fantastic. In Todmorden, England, an initiative started growing vegetables and fruit trees other edible plants all over the town. From the train station to the police station, there is food everywhere in every place that food could have been planted. It is called the Incredible Edible and I don’t see any reason why this sort of initiative shouldn’t be implemented everywhere. “We are all part of a local food jigsaw, we are all part of a solution,” says Warhurst.



Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Memeburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.