Tuesday, April 12, 2022

TED 2022 - Day 2

As I expected, Garry Kasparov's talk from yesterday is already available on TED's Web site. It is well worth the fifteen minutes. 

One of the simple pleasures of being in Canada is grabbing my breakfast from Tim Horton's. My best way to describe Tim Horton's is that it is a Canadian Dunkin Donuts. I'm sure that is an insult to one or both of those chains! Regardless, a Canadian Maple donut and a coffee gets my day off to a good start. 

Once I had my breakfast and finished yesterday's blog, it was time for the first of the two morning sessions. Sessions generally run about an hour and forty-five minutes long with six to ten talks. One of the "talks" in a session is often a musical performance. Each session has a topic that loosely ties things together such as this morning's ones of Capitalism and Intelligence. I'm just going to highlight a couple of today's talks.  

The highlight from the session on capitalism was by Manish Bhardwaj. He argued that companies need moral clarity. Rather than doing things like increasing diversity for business reasons, companies need to do them because they are right. He strongly feels that we need to do the right thing because it is right. He contended that moral clarity is not solely the domain of families and religion. His talk was well received with lots of applause, but it left me wondering where that moral clarity is supposed to come from. Despite that reservation, his talk was thought provoking and worth listening to when it becomes available. 

From the session on intelligence, the talk that stood out to me was by Dan Harris. He had been an ABC News anchor, possibly best known for having a panic attack on live television. He spoke about finding out from a 360 review by his peers that he was a real jerk. He came to understand that he was taking his anger and self-centeredness out on those that he worked with and on his family. He described his journey to forgiving himself and becoming a significantly better person. Harris was engaging and fun to listen to and while I may not agree with all of his prescriptions for self improvement, I found a lot in what he said to be worth considering and acting on. When this talk becomes available, it is well worth watching. 

Also in the session on intelligence, Holly Herndon gave an amazing demo of an AI that had been trained on her voice and could sing in different languages that Herndon could not speak. What was really cool was when another performer came up and had two microphones--one which amplified his voice and another which changed his voice to Herndon's on the fly. By holding both of them up, he was able to sing a duet. She spoke a little bit about the intellectual property issues, but this was another whole kind of deep fake that I did not know currently existed. 

In the afternoon, I signed up for dragon boating. We were in two boats of about 16 people each and we learned about paddling in sync, the history of dragon boats, the Vancouver waterways, and some of the local buildings. It was a little cold and not the exercise I had hoped for, but it was decent afternoon activity. 

After that outing, there was a final evening session where nine different Audacious Projects gave talks. Each of the projects was doing significant work making the world a better place in areas like refugees, rights of indigenous peoples, Artic permafrost, US election systems, and global healthcare. It was exciting to hear what dedicated people could do in the world and made me want to think more about how I can have a bigger impact. It was an inspiring session. 

Immediately after that session, we went to a dinner where tables of six or so people discussed capitalism and how companies could make it work for not just the shareholders, but employees and the planet. (Other dinners at other restaurants discussed other topics.) The people at our table included a Facebook AI researcher, an inventor with over 100 patents, and a corporate lawyer who helps people with their "encore" careers. We ended up spending part of the time talking about our book, Limit Your Greed. Generally, the food and conversation where excellent. If only I didn't need sleep! 

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