Liz’s Notebook
Posts Not Fully Formed

Feb
07

1. Jay Walker

China will become the world’s largest English-speaking nation this year. English is the language of problem-solving. English is the world’s second-language.

2. Jamie Cullum, musician

3. Gever Tulley

Tinkering school for kids. No limits. Shows a rollercoaster built by 7-year-olds.

4. Barry Schwartz

Practical wisdom and the remoralization of professional life. Virtue. Nothing in a janitor’s job description that involves other people. But when psychologists interviewed janitors, they talked about how their job description was affected by people’s needs and wants. This improves the quality of patient care and enables hospitals to run well.

A wise person is made and not born. “We hate to do it, but we have to follow procedure.” “By appealing to rules and incentives, we are engaging in a war on wisdom and moral skill.” Incentives mean we don’t ask what is our responsibility, we ask what is our interest. Incentives are never going to be smart enough — they can always be subverted by bad will. We need incentives, but they demoralize activities.

We need to remoralize work, but one way NOT to do it is to teach more ethics courses. What we need to do instead is celebrate moral exemplars. No 10-year-old goes to law school to do mergers and acquisitions. Celebrate moral heroes. Moral work depends on practical wisdom.

5. Darius Goes West

Presentation on sterotypes press use to talk about Darius Weems, a person with a disability.

6. Liz Coleman, college president

We have moved away from liberal arts education — we have professionalized liberal arts to the point where they no longer provide breadth. The expert has dethroned the generalist. We have even managed to make the study of literature arcane. We yield the connection between education and values to fundamentalists.

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” — Thomas Jefferson

Action-oriented curriculum: Rhetoric, design, mediation, improvisation, quantitative reasoning, technology.

Opening a Center for the Advancement of Public Action in 2010, a kind of secular church.

Where for you to start: We cannot have a viable democracy made of of experts, zealots, politicians and spectators. being overwhelmed is the first step. You have a mind, and you have other people. Start with those and change the world.

Feb
07

1. Nate Silver, statistician

Election, only 90 days ago. If you look at states, just about everywhere became more blue. 20-30-point swings in highland regions for Obama compared to Clinton, it’s remarkable. What’s the matter with Arkansas. 14-20 percent of exit polls said race was important and said they voted for McCain.

Is racism predictable? There are strong predictions, when you look at education — low education = race-based voting. Also, how rural you are leads to race-based voting. So yes, racism is predictable.

Are there any black people in your neighborhood. Racism is predicted by a lack of interaction with people of other races. Cities facilitate such interactions. So we could think about smart street grids — makes you interact a lot with your neighbors. Alternative to cul-de-sacs — he thinks they made the country more conservative. Another idea is intercollegiate exchange program — the networking experience you get when you get to college.

When something is preDictable it’s Designable.

2. Alex Tabarrok, economist

The first half of the last century was terrible — wars and other events threw up political walls, trade walls, transportation walls, communication walls that divided people. In the second half, we took down tariffs, we used container ships, trade has increased. China is the world’s greatest anti-poverty program.

One world, one market.

Larger markets increase the incentive to produce new ideas. World GDP growth is increasing. Growth can wash away even what appears to be a Great Depression — growth went up at a faster rate after Depression than previous rate or adjusted rate would predict.

We need to keep globalizing, keep extending across boundaries, keep improving education.

3. Pete Alcorn, iTunes podcast director

Used to be Malthusian, but a declining population will have beneficial economic effects. Take away land speculation, price of land drops, that lifts burden off world’s poor. Declining population means more jobs. Europe after the plague shows this.

If we can make it through the next 150 years, our great great grandchildren will be planning for the next Enlightenment.

4. Bruce Buenode Mesquita

It’s a great thing if you can predict the future, because then you can change the future. Game theory. People are rationally self-interested. People have values and beliefs.

We don’t need to know very much to predict. We do need to know who has a stake in the decision. What they say they want (not what they want in their heart of hearts). We need to know how focused they are compared to other issues. And we need to know how much clout they would bring to bear if they chose to engage on the issue. We all care about two things: outcome and credit.

Uses this method to produce that Iran will not build nuclear weapons.

5. Nicholas Negroponte

I have presented 14 times at TED. OLPC proposed three years ago here, and some people predict netbooks will be half of the market in 12 months. You can thank us for that. But OLPCs are more hardy — he throws them around the stage. Commercial markets are interfering with non-profits. Half the kids with our laptops in the field are teaching their parents how to read and write. The only complaint I hear from parents is that they get too much email from the kids. In another three years, we will have 5-6 million a month going to children, and it will be totally open source, including hardware.

6. Dan Ariely

His interest in irrationality came when he was in the hospital and badly burned. The nurses took the bandages off him by ripping him quickly. He had 70 percent of his body burned so it took about an hour. He begged them to go slower, but they said they knew what they were doing, and that the word “patient” did not mean to ask questions or fear.

Left the hospital three years later (!) and studied at university. So he sudied it: originally used carpenters’ vice to crunch people’s fingers, then moved to sound and electrical shocks, added a pain suit to add much more pain. Dark sense of humor.

Because we don’t encode duration in the way we encode intensity, he would have had more pain if it had been more slow. Also start from the top, give him breaks. But nurses didn’t know that.

He did experiment where he invited people to cheat by self-reporting. We saw a lot of people who cheat a little bit. But cheat less if they think they would get caught. Is there a level of cheating we can do at a small degree that doesn’t change our impressions of ourselves? We call this the “fudge factor.” What can we do to reduce the fudge factor? People asked to recall Ten Commandments as a test cheated less. So we got people to sign an honor code — which was particularly interesting because MIT doesn’t have an honor code. Distributed Coke to refrigerators at MIT. Left plates with money in fridges, and those were never taken. Being a step removed from cash increases cheating — giving tokens to exchange for money instead of money doubled cheating.

Feb
06

The theme is DARE.

1-2-3. Capacitor (dance troupe) + preview of Where the Wild Things Are (with music by Arcade Fire) + Ueli Gegenschatz (B.A.S.E jumper, wingsuit flier)

4. Mary Roach, writer (fun facts about orgasms)

5. Ross Evans, lasso tricks

6. Lean Maria Klingvall

Born with disabilities — no arms and different-sized legs. But has accomplished much as a swimmer, singer, speaker, through the power of her personality and the support of those around her. Has never felt sorry for herself. Inspiring.

7. Herbie Hancock

Feb
06

The theme is GROW.

1. Natasha Tsakos, performance artist

My favorite language is science. Theater transforms senses and opens the door to imagination. And our ability to imagine makes us explorers.

Up Wake — demonstration of show — hero is businessman named “Zero.” Performed in a stage with three walls, she is the only actor but interacts with animations on the walls, perfectly choreographed.

2. Evan Williams, Twitter CEO

We didn’t anticipate the other uses that would evolve from this simple system — giving people ways to share information.

Taco truck that Twitters its location — gets lines around the block.

Users invented syntax to reply to users — we didn’t build it into the system until popular. Other third-party development based on API. Summize did Twitter search — we liked this so much we bought the company.

3. Christen Sussin, comedian

First rule of improv: say yes
Second rule of improv: and

Eye contact, listening closely

4. David Merrill, entrepreneur (and student of Pattie Maes)

What if when we use the computer, we could reach in with both hands, and grasp information physically, and interact with it.

Siftables: blocks you can shift around that are aware of motion and of each other.

5. Joel Fried

Talks about breaking up of his marriage of 33 years.

6. Rosamund Zander, therapist and coach

We grow older, but will we ever grow up. No official guidance after we officially come of age — so all we really know is to refine our game plan and get more control.

7. Dickson Despommier, high-rise farmer

Vertical farms advantages: restoration of damaged ecosystems, use 70% less water than traditional, no crop loss due to sever weather, year-round crop production, no agricultural runoff.

8. AnnMarie Thomas

Figuring out ways to make engineering fun. Class about dynamics. Their lab is full of trapezes and trampolines — looks like Cirque du Soleil.

9. Willie Smits, conservationist

Has lived in Indonesia for last 30 years, forester by profession. Incredible story of revitalizing land/plants/animals/community. Lots of slides and pictures! Very well received.

Feb
06

The theme is DISCOVER.

1. Evan Schwartz

Who is the wizard in The Wizard of Oz? He thinks it’s a composite of Edison, Rockefeller, Barnum and the Swami.

2. Thelma Golden, Studio Museum in Harlem executive director

Teacher taught her she could travel the world through art in museums without leaving New York City. But really discovered love of art through the game Masterpiece. Game play wasn’t that intersting, but the cards were reproductions from the Art Institute of Chicago’s collection. She hung them up on the wall with thumbtack — her first exhibition. Her work is about artists. First inspirations were JJ from Good Times — first black artist on TV — and Jean-Michel Basquiat “showed me who and what I was about to enter into.” When she studied art, black art was not in the canon.

Can a museum be a catalyst in a community?

Next step is reimagining cultural discourse in an international context.

3. Jennifer Mather, psychologist

Octopuses evolved separately from us. So if we look at their intelligence we know it is not our intelligence.

Cephalopods — exquisite senses, very good brains. Focus on one of these: octopuses.

Octopuses have personalities. Octopuses play. Octopuses solve problems.

Octopuses have a big brain, but not a centralized nervous system. They are very quick to learn, but also quick to forget (but they only live about a year). Sexuality only at the end of their lifespan.

Will they compete with us? No. Confined to ocean by physiology, and most are pretty small.

4. Nalini Nadarni, tree researcher

Studying treetops, canopies. Forming ICAN, international canopy network, talking about ecological importance and deforestation.

Figuring out ways to relate to people to make ecological issues important to them.

They buy used Barbies and dress them in helmet, rope, vest, et cetera, and redistributed them as “Canopy Barbie” with information packet.

Involved people in prison to grow mosses, because moss use in the floral industry is unsustainable. No green where they are, they have time and space, no sharp implements involved — has been very successful.

Very cool talk.

5. Bonnie Bassler, molecular biologist (preceded by a little talk by Nobel Prize winner Kary Mullis about somehow binding antibodies to molecules so they can fend off diseases which was cool but I missed part of)

100 times more bacterial genes on you than the 30,000 genes you have that are you. You may think of yourselves as human, but I think of you as 90-95 percent bacterial. They do vital stuff in addition to making you sick, but that’s just a small minority.

But how can they do anything at all? They’re incredibly small, all they do is grow and divide, have always been considered asocial.

But how can they have such a big impact if they’re always acting as individuals?

Bioluminescence — bacteria have signal producing protein and signal receptor protein. That leads to group behavior. Not an anomaly — all bacteria have systems like this — they use chemical words. We call this “quorum sensing.”

You’re enormous — a couple bacteria could hardly affect you. But bacteria realize that onlyy once they have critical mass that they can overcome you — they use quorum sensing to tell when they have enough.

Are there multilingual bacteria? (to count how many of other types of bacteria are present). Yes — the universal communication molecule — every single bacteria has the same enzyme and makes same molecule — we call it Esperanto.

Antibiotics select for resistant mutants. So what if we could make it so bacteria can’t count each other, so they can’t launch virulence?

We think this is the next generation of antibiotics, and it will get us around this process of resistance.

We think bacteria invented this, but this is how all your body’s cells and organs work. We’ve also made pro-quorum sensing molecules to make this work better, since many bacteria live as mutualists and make you healthy.

Thanks her students — says all these discoveries made by 20-30-year-olds in her group.

Big standing ovation.

6. Nathan Wolfe, virus hunter

Health prevention research in Cameroon over the last 10 years. A number of discoveries — it’s not easy to do this, but if you look in the right place, you can monitor the flow of viruses into human population. Seeing new retroviruses like HIV. Trying to phase this from research to a global monitoring effort. Started Global Viral Forecasting Initiative. Monitoring thousands of individuals.

Now he’s looking to invertebrates to try to prevent pandemics…and trying to discover alien life on our own planet — now we finally have the tools to explore and understand.

Feb
05

The theme is DREAM.

1. Jill Tarter, astronomer

Perspective is a very powerful thing. From my perspective we live in a fragile island in a universe of possibilities. If we’re alone, it’s an awful waste of space. Humans have only been the most intelligent life on our planet for a very short time.

“I wish that you would empower Earthlings everywhere to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company.” Wants people to look at data in real time to detect irregularities, etc. Wants to find new algorithms to figure out the data.

2. Silvia Earle, oceanographer

We’ve eaten 90% of the big fish in the sea, we’ve destroyed half the coral, lack of oxygen in the Pacific should concern you. Now is the time to save, explore, protect the wild ocean. The next 10 years may be the most important in the next thousand years.

“I wish you would mean all means at your disposal — films! expedition! the web! more! — to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet.”

3. Jose Antonio Abreu, maestro

Tells story of advancing children through music in Venezuela (previously taped video with subtitles).

“I wish for your help to create and document a special training program for at least 50 gifted young musicians, passionate for their art and for social justice, and dedicated to bringing El Sistema in the United States and in other countries.”

Feb
05

The theme is INVENT.

1. Daniel Libeskind, architect

Look around — architecture is resistant to change. We applaud the well-mannered box. But to create a space that never existed is what interests me. Architecture, of all things, has to be optimistic. Need to grapple with questions — be political. It must be real, not simulated. Rawness in space over refined — demonstrates possibilities that have never been part of the vocabulart of architecture. Pointed, not blunt. My main goal is to be memorable. Without memory we are amnesiacs. Silence is good for a cemetery, but not for a city.

2. Kevin Surace, Serious Materials

EcoRock drywall. Drywall with no gypsum at all. Worked on for three years, just got off assembly line. It takes 8,000 gallons of gas to build a house — we must change everything about the materials we use.

3. Jon LaGrou, Safeplug

What if we could prevent electrical fires before they start? The main causes are faulty and misused appliances and wiring. Thomas Edison invented the circuit beaker in 1879. 83% of home fires start below circuit breaker safety limit. Need to detect at the outlet level. Plug has chip. Sensor in outlet Intelligent receptacles prevent injuries because power is always off until it senses an intelligent plug. Also enables remote shutdown and automation of appliances to save power. 186 patent claims of 414 applied for.

4. Shai Agassi, Better Place

At Davos, wondered about the question: how would you run a country without oil? First thought ethanol, then hydrogen, then got to thought that if you could convert an entire country to electric cars, you could get to a solution.

Electric cars need to be more convenient and more affordable than today’s cars. No time for a science fair — how do you do it with the science and economics we have today? During visit to Tesla, realized the answer is separating car ownership and battery ownership — the classic “batteries not included.”

Need to charge whenever you’re stopped — so how about if everywhere we park, we have electric power — already exists in places like Scandinavia to heat cars. Today’s technology is 120 miles range for batteries — but you’d never want to get stuck. So we added a battery swap system. You don’t do it as a human being, you do it as a machine. It looks like a car wash, you’re back on the road in two minutes.

The battery is the crude oil, not the gas tank. It doesn’t burn, it consumes itself, has 2,000 lifecycles these days. We were asked in the past to pay for the whole oil well when you bought the car. We created the new consumable — electric miles. $0.08/mile will be the price when we come to market in 2010. eMiles will follow Moore’s law. 4 cents/mile by 2015, 2 cents/mile by 2020. We do not use any electron that comes from coal. Even if oil cars get to 40 MPG by 2020, that’s still $0.80/mile.

Imagined all this as a white paper, so he wrote it and handed it out to international leaders. Renault put $1.5 into building these cars, president of Israel Shimon Peres is signed on, all this while Agassi was still at SAP, Peres said he had to quit and do this.

Israel, Denmark, Australia, Hawaii, then San Francisco Bay Area. At $147 million/barrel, we spent money to buy, then economy crashed, now $40-50/barrel. What happens when the economy recovers? We’ll spend more. Estimated another 30% demand. “OPEC stimulus package: = $200/barrel. This oscillates until we lose everything that we got.

We will scale from 100,000 electric cars in 1011 to 100m cars in 2016.

Cars will be just like cell phones — you pay for the minutes that subsidize the price of the device. In Denmark we will use solar, in Israel we will use solar. Digging up for sun instead of digging down for oil.

When solving big questions, the two important numbers are zero — zero oil — and infinity — scaling this to infinity. Not little 20% growth.

Cars represent 25% of the world’s CO2 emissions. We have to go to zero before the world ends. We didn’t send a man to the moon 20% and there will be about 20% we’ll recover him. We sent a man to the moon.

If we don’t change this, we’ll lose our economy right after we lose our morality.

Big standing ovation.

5. Catherine Mohr, roboticist

About the future of surgery. Unfortunately I can’t take notes on this one — figuring out what to do with the Agassi talk for Earth2Tech. Mohr unveiled a multi-pronged robotic arm that will improve surgery.

6. Daniel Kraft, doctor

Taking bone marrow samples to do stem cell research is hard physical work and makes bone look like swiss cheese. He developed Marrow Miner — looks like electric drill with really long needle instead of drill bit.

Already FDA approved, 3-6x more stem cells extracted improvement on normal method.

7. Robert Full

Biomimetrics. Curious about gecko toes — there are leaflike structures on their toes with terrible split ends — 2 billion nano-sized split ends. Various people are creating synthetic versions. A woman successfully used gecko stick to climb up a 60-foot wall.

Stickybot — using the adhesive and combining with gecko-like toe peeling to unstick from the wall.

Tail is not there just for show to look like a gecko — when they took off the tail, the robot gecko fell off the wall. Figured out that tail is an fifth leg for stability when necessary (like when one leg is knocked off). Tail also helps right them when falling upside-down — all is needed is the swing of the tail to right itself. Put gecko in a wind tunnel and realized it uses its tail to swim like a dolphin, and swims in the air with front legs, can even steer towards a landing target.

So bringing that back to biomutualism — they created an active tail in robot. Let’s figure these secrets out.

8. Richard Garriott, game designer

Launched into space as first second-generation U.S. astronaut last year. You can see more than you expect, can feel weather systems, tectonic plates, realize the footprint of humanity on all fertile land.

Feb
05

The theme is UNDERSTAND.

1. Nina Jablonski, anthropologist

Darwin’s Origin of Species has only one line about human evolution in the entire book, saying all this could have implications. Much later, in 1871, he did have something to say about it: of all the differences between the races of men, color of skin is best-marked — but doesn’t correspond with difference in climate. But if you look at NASA, you see ultraviolet radiation clearly around the equator. Skin pigmentation is the product of evolution by natural selection. We all share heritage of having been darkly pigmented. But then we moved. Lightly pigmented skin evolved, probably three times in history, because it happened to the Neanderthals too. Health and social consequences for living in an area that has more or less UVR than your skin is evolved for. Risk of Vitamin D deficiency just as bad as sunburn.

Barack Obama = first moderately pigmented president of the U.S. Similar pigment to Southern Africa and Southeast Asia.

You only have to look at your skin to see evidence of evolution.

2. Art Benjamin, mathematician

Culmination of high school mathematics should be statistics, not calculus. It’s a subject that you could and should use on a daily basis. If all American citizens knew about probability and statistics we wouldn’t be in the economic situation we are today. It’s gambling, it’s predicting the future, it’s fun. We need to change from analog to digital. The mathematics of uncertainty, of data.

3. Hans Rosling

AIDS in 6 minutes in animated charts.

4. Louise Fresco, food and agriculture expert

Few of us spend a day without eating bread in some form. It is actually a mainstay of longer life. Wonderbread is actually quite important because it is part of abundant food. Bread is the most basic fundamental food, we added all this stuff to it, and now it’s associated with obesity. But large scale has a price — destruction of habitats. What we need to do is better understand our food. Can you even tell wheat from other grains? Can you bake bread? Traditional setting, farmers markets, great — but this is a fallacy. This is idealizing the past. If we want to go to small-scale farming, we relegate farmers to poverty and the urban poor to starvation. What they need is implements to bring to market. Local food production is a luxury. World food production needs to double by 2080 (?), and most of that is meat. We can product more, but we need mechanization. We need clever, low-key mechanization that avoids problems of large-scale production. We need to serve low-income city people who need cheap diverse foods.

Use biotechnology in some places, use robots, improve irrigation. We need fish ponds in parking lots, greenhouses on rooftops.

5. Elizabeth Gilbert, author

Far too much pressure on artists. So many kill themselves. Her real fear is that her best work is behind her. Greeks and Romans thought of a helper fairy who helped people be creative. Going from “having a genius” to the modern “being a genius” was a huge error. This talk got huge applause and a standing ovation.

6. Jacek Utko, newspaper designer

Newspapers are dying for two reasons: readers don’t want to read yesterday’s news, and advertisers follow them.

Ideas for how to save newspapers: local, free, tabloid, niche, opinion…

But this can only save time, because in the long run there is no reason for the newspaper to survive.

Front page: I want to make posters, not newspapers. We have fun.

The secret is we were treating the whole newspaper like one piece, like music, and music has ups and down.

Got awards for best-designed papers in the world for Polish and Estonian papers. And circulation grew directly after redesign after years of stagnation. Bulgarian paper’s circulation up 100%.

But not just design. Bosses were surprised by all his business questions. Design can change not just your product, it can change your workflow, it can change your company. We just need inspiration, vision, and determination to operate at the highest level. To be good is not enough.

7. Nigel Holmes, graphical explainer of things

“I’m fascinated by big numbers which have such innocently similar sounding names, but which hide huge differences, really huge differences.”

8. Margaret Wertheim, “figurer”

Crochet hook is an incredibly powerful technology. Project with twin sister over last three years: crochet coral reef. Thousands of people have become involved. Tens of thousands of hours of labor, 99% done by women. In 2005 there was a lot of talk about global warming and effect on coral reefs. Her actual profession is science writing, so had no idea what it meant to fill 3,000-ft. gallery, as she was asked to do.

This isn’t just a random medium. The only way mathematicians know how to model hyperbolic geometry is with crochet. A line on a crocheted surface defies Euclidean geometry. They had such a symbolic view of mathematics couldn’t see the lace in front of them.

We want to propose an alternative to the think tank: the play tank.

Feb
05

The theme is SEE.

1. Oliver Sacks, neurologist

Hallucinations. Tells story of 95-year-old patient who hallucinated a silent movie. Diagnosed her with Charles Bonnet syndrome. In his experience, 10% of hearing impaired have hearing hallucinations, 10% of visually impaired have images. MRIs done while people are having hallucinations show that visual hallucinations activate fusiform gyrus. Animations activate different cells. Car hallucinations different. Can’t think of them as dreams. This is common — must be hundreds of thousands of blind people who have these hallucinations who are too scared to mention them, but valuable to understanding how the brain works. Bonnet wanted to understand the theater of the mind created by the infrastructure of the brain. Sacks himself is partially blind, and sees the geometric hallucinations, but they stop there.

2. Joann Kuchera-Morin, composer

AlloSphere at Santa Barbara for research, artistic and scientific installations. She’s a composer, works with visual artists to map complex mathematical patterns visually and socially. Shows demo of flying into research projects in the allosphere. Flying through the cortex of a brain with real MRI data, blood density is heard sonically. Shows another of bacteria, another of lattices of atoms to look at hydrogen bonds, another of electron flow based on Schrodinger Equation. Art, science, and engineering combined into an instrument.

3-4. Dale Chihuly and Olafur Eliasson, sculptors

FYI I am not always doing the art stuff and not the music, just the talks that are more talks and more techie. Which kind of ruins the effect, but that’s OK.

5. Ed Ulbrich, visual storyteller

Breakthrough in computer-visual animation for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. For nearly the first hour of the film, Brad Pitt is completely generated from the neck up — no makeup. This movie has floated around Hollywood for well over a century. First got involved when Ron Howard directing, but it was too hard at the time. The human head was the holy grail of our industry. A decade later David Fincher pushed it through. He wanted the main character in the film to be played from the cradle to the grave by one actor. Very hard. Prosthetic makeup wouldn’t hold up particularly in close up, character needed to be appealing. Brad Pitt’s face so well known. Attached computer-generated head to the body of another actor. He threw up when he received the phone call to say the project was a go.

Motion capture. Available techniques: marker-based with infrared sensors, facial marker tracking — pretty crappy. We needed to know what was going on between the markers — skin, creases, dimples. So we walked away from the strategies of the day, out of comfort zone. Looked to other fields — medical imaging, videogames — to reappropriate. Surface capture in front of array of cameras, phosphorescent makeup. Went into millions of polygons. Made 3-D database of everything Brad Pitt’s face is capable of doing. But that was at age 44. But he needed to be 80 years older. Shows bust of Brad/Ben at 87. So retargeted facial expressions to be older. Show bodies in New Orleans with blue heads. Now needed footage to actually be acted — he watched on screen footage six months later, then he improvised. With four HD cameras. Could choose positions on face to pull the expressions from — e.g. when a particular eyebrow is raised. Fast-forwarding through lighting system — global illumination, creating a lighting environment to match whatever happened in the real world. Also had to create an eye system, an articulating tongue — one person devoted to tongue for nine months. Skin had to be good enough for him to fit in at old home among real old people.

Effectively we created a digital puppet that Brad Pitt could operate using his own face.

There was one thing we created, a digital Botox. Took humans to differentiate between an ironic smile, a happy smile, etc. “Emotion capture.” Took 155 people over two years to create. If another actor were to enter the system, wouldn’t have ticks and idiosyncracies — this is shaped to be Brad.

6. Renny Gleeson, TEDster

Culture of availability driven by mobile device proliferation. Furtive mobile device use — “the lean” to quickly check on device while someone looks away. “The stretch” — looking at phone at end of arm. Recumbent motorcyle text-messaging. Fundamental need developed to create shared narratives. Literally what’s you’re saying is: What’s happening here, now, isn’t as importatnt to me as what could be happening anywhere else. Moment doesn’t exist unless documented. I share, therefore I am. What we push out becomes who we are. We aren’t merely projecting identity, we’re creating it. Let’s make technologies that make people more human, and not less.

7. Ray Zahab, crazy outdoorsman

A month ago today he was at geographic South Pole, had just broken world speed record to south pole by shaving five miles off. Hercules inlet to South Pole, him entirely on his feet. 40 below every single day, massive headwind, crevasses in snow, uphill the entire way. Had just gotten back from 111 days in desert in Africa. We are capable of doing anything we set our minds to, but we need to be doing it for a reason. So developed live website updating everyday, talking about depleted ozone effects they were witnessing. Young people sent in questions, they inspired. Has only been running for five years, a year before that was a pack-a-day smoker. I’m learning this at 40, imagine being 13 years old, hearing those words and believing it.

8. Golan Levin, interactive artist

Art and technology still pretty far apart — trying to bring them together. Phonesthesia we all have, where as synesthesia is uncommon. Cognitive psychologists have sussed our shapes of phonemes — sounds and shapes. Really neat installation where person stands in front of microphone with projector behind, and shapes and letters of sounds are animated. This only took one or two people for a few months — not Benjamin Button style — being a hybrid person. Live subtitles for nonsense poem. “Typing” with eyes using camera that captures short clip of your eyes every time you blink. What if art looked back at you? Opto-Isolator robot — blinks in response to you. Looks away if you look at it too long because it gets shy. New one — eight-foot snout with googley eye, with 8-foot robot arm inside. Making a robot that seems like it’s continually surprised to see you. Computer targets people who are moving around the most. Creating a novel body language but have that communicate something to the person who sees it — that it’s interested and surprised to see you.

Feb
04

The theme is RECONNECT.

1. Saul Griffith

Kites — every child’s favorite plaything –have a magnificent future. Wind is second-largest renewable resource after solar. Kite powered by robot can power five U.S. households — sustained long-duration flight. Working towards megawatt machines — paper plane enough to power cell phone, and it goes from there. Within two years hundreds of kilowatts of machines in the sky.

2. Seth Godin, marketer and author

What is your profession? Story of dogcatcher who instituted no-kill shelters. Cheaper labor and faster machines — we’re running out of both.

Tribes are about lading and connecting people and ideas. It’s what people have wanted forever. You can tell when people are part of a tribe. Ideas become movements. The Beatles did not invent teenagers, they simply decided to move them. Being a leader gives you charisma. What I want you to do – it only takes 24 hours — is create a movement.

3. Jake Eberts, movie producer

Information about what’s happening to our world doesn’t always provoke emotional connection to actually make a change. Filmmakers can do that. Jacques Perrin of Winged Migration spent eight years of his life on impossible quest: Oceans. $75 million — far too much for documentary. We have time to save the oceans, to respect the inherent dignity of the animals that live in the oceans. New filming techniques made it possible to move alongside the animals underwater. Nine-minute preview is pretty spectacular — hard to believe this footage isn’t computer-generated.

4. Yann Arthus-Bertrand, photographer

Carbon emissions in getting here to speak — my work is to show our impact on the planet. Examples of glaciers melting, coral dying, over-fishing…We don’t want to believe what we know. I always show my pictures in the street, next one will be in New York. But landscape is not enough. Sent cameramen around the world over five years asking same crucial question about life, did 5,000 interviews. Video matrix of hundreds of interviews with comments about life and love and regrets. “6 Billion Others” is the resulting project.

Teaser for movie he made — another beautiful nature documentary. “Our life is tied to the well-being of our planet.” “What binds us together is far greater than what divides us.” Home is the name, will be distributed free with no copyright on June 5, everybody can download it on the internet. “There’s no business on this movie.” “We have to believe what we know.” “It’s too late to be pessimistic.”

5. Matt Harding, online video star

80 countries now dancing badly, thousands of people to dance with me. 100 bajillion views. Same idea — flailing around in a way that feels natural.

In India learned how to do Bollywood dance, planted the seed of an idea of making another video where I would go around the world again and get organized groups of people to perform their dances with me. Would be like an old-fashioned MGM musical using the whole world as my stage. But couldn’t convince my girlfriend Melissa, who produces these videos, because she’s a real dancer — has been ballet dancing for over 20 years. For her applying choreography makes it a music video, it’s been done, we’ve seen this before. Also might reduce and trivialize cultures down to this one dance. Melissa came up with idea to get people to learn other people’s dances. The videos are about connecting people, reminding us of the basic tings we have in common.

I have a really good idea now, but not a plan. Haven’t a clue how to pay for it. Experiment: I want to teach everyone here two moves I learned in India.

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