Stories are necessary, but they’re not as magical as they seem, says writer Sisonke Msimang. In this funny and thoughtful talk, Msimang questions our emphasis on storytelling and spotlights the decline of facts. During a critical time when listening has been confused for action, Msimang asks us to switch off our phones, step away from our screens and step out into the real world to create a plan for justice.
In a poetic, personal talk, TED Fellow Katlego Kolanyane-Kesupile examines the connection between her modern queer lifestyle and her childhood upbringing in a rural village in Botswana. “In a time where being brown, queer, African and seen as worthy of space means being everything but rural, I fear that we’re erasing the very struggles that got us to where we are now,” she says. “Indigenizing my queerness means bridging the many exceptional parts of myself.”
As a research scientist at Google, Margaret Mitchell helps develop computers that can communicate about what they see and understand. She tells a cautionary tale about the gaps, blind spots and biases we subconsciously encode into AI — and asks us to consider what the technology we create today will mean for tomorrow. “All that we see now is a snapshot in the evolution of artificial intelligence,” Mitchell says. “If we want AI to evolve in a way that helps humans, then we need to define the goals and strategies that enable that path now.”
Hacking, fake news, information bubbles … all these and more have become part of the vernacular in recent years. But as cyberspace analyst Laura Galante describes in this alarming talk, the real target of anyone looking to influence geopolitics is dastardly simple: it’s you.
For the people of Kiribati, climate change isn’t something to be debated, denied or legislated against — it’s an everyday reality. The low-lying Pacific island nation may soon be underwater, thanks to rising sea levels. In a personal conversation with TED Curator Chris Anderson, Kiribati President Anote Tong discusses his country’s present climate catastrophe and its imperiled future. “In order to deal with climate change, there’s got to be sacrifice. There’s got to be commitment,” he says. “We’ve got to tell people that the world has changed.”
What can you do when the wheels of justice don’t turn fast enough? Or when they don’t turn at all? Vivek Maru is working to transform the relationship between people and law, turning law from an abstraction or threat into something that everyone can understand, use and shape. Instead of relying solely on lawyers, Maru started a global network of community paralegals, or barefoot lawyers, who serve in their own communities and break the law down into simple terms to help people find solutions. Learn more about how this innovative approach to using the law is helping socially excluded people claim their rights. “A little bit of legal empowerment can go a long way,” Maru says.
Heather Lanier’s daughter Fiona has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, a genetic condition that results in developmental delays — but that doesn’t make her tragic, angelic or any of the other stereotypes about kids like her. In this talk about the beautiful, complicated, joyful and hard journey of raising a rare girl, Lanier questions our assumptions about what makes a life “good” or “bad,” challenging us to stop fixating on solutions for whatever we deem not normal, and instead to take life as it comes.