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How TEDActive changed me

This year I went to TEDActive. It was the most life-changing experience I've ever been through. The TEDActive experience changed how I felt about everything - experiencing debates between different subjects and participating in stimulating discussions gave me a different perspective on how people used and interacted with technology.

Firstly, I'd like to highlight some of the key talks I took away from TED this year.

From the first few sessions, there was a talk about an artist, Phil Hansen, who had a problem with his joints, and this problem didn’t let him draw straight. Most people would take this as a problem and leave art, and that’s exactly what he did. But after a while he came back into art and discovered that he was able to create these extremely unique paintings using his problem.

The most fascinating part was what happened later – he began to create these incredible pieces of art, which only lasted a certain amount of time, and then they would be gone. He was creating art that would never have existed but that was the beauty of it, and he named his series of pieces “Goodbye Art” - an example would be creating art using a lot of candles and then blowing them out.

What I took away from this talk was the fact that you can create something that you’re intrigued in for yourself and to express your thoughts into something physical even if it doesn’t last. You don't always have to do something that lasts forever, but sometimes even the smallest projects count. This is an incredible process of creating something you have always had in your mind and actually discovering that it was an awesome idea. In addition, it was also a way for him to do art that would suit his joint problem.

Secondly, there was an amazing artist called Beardy Man who some of you might have heard of. He makes the most incredible noises from his mouth and to above and beyond he worked with a few companies to create a machine that would allow him to record his voice and be able to play and remix those sounds in real time. But the crazy part is that leveraging his voice he is able to record sounds he makes and remix them together to create music that goes beyond what humans can do.

Moreover, I was also inspired by two other talks by two teenagers who pretty much blew my mind. Firstly, there was an 18 year old, Taylor Wilson, who created a Nuclear fusion reactor at the age of 14, and currently is in high school working as Nuclear Scientist.

And secondly there is Jack Andraka a 15-year-old student who discovered a way to diagnose pancreatic cancer and reduced the costs by over 1000% from 30,000$ to around 4$. This would mean that people would easily be able to detect if they have pancreatic cancer or not and be able to cure it at a very early age thereby also in a way finding a way to cure early staged pancreatic cancer.

These individuals really inspired me as from a very young age they were able to go above and beyond and understand their talents and really create something that would change the world. It’s incredible to me that these individuals were able to have such dedication and passion to teach themselves something so complex as Nuclear Physics and create a diagnose for a disease that even Ph.D level students are trying to find. It’s not everyday where you meet individuals who dedicate their lives into doing something so difficult and achieve success in those fields.

Other incredible people:
Camille Seaman – incredible photography of clouds, storms, and snow.
Sleepy Man Bangjo Boys – group of 3 musicians (10 year, 14 year, 15 year) who create the most stimulating and unique music.
Shane Koyczan – the most touching and incredible poet to date.

Lastly, I’d like to point out the questions and inspirations I got from TEDActive and give you a feel of the outcome of the stimulating debate. In participating with people from around the world I understood that there is a huge amount of people who want to learn how to program but don’t get the resources and guidance to. Most people aren’t the best at learning online or don’t have Internet access so in talking to people who have tried to get people together to use Codeacademy and other resources they said that they’d actually prefer if they actually had people come and teach them programming.

In addition, if you teach a child something personally it’s more likely that he would run away and learn even more about what you teach him, and the same could potentially apply to programming. From that moment I was inspired to one day travel around different parts of the world where I can teach at least a group of people who are extremely passionate about programming but can’t pay to do so. The most amazing part was that I met individuals who did run TEDx organizations all around Africa, Asia, and America and some of them were looking for people to come and inspire their audience to learn how to program. There is a real passion in certain parts of the world to create iPhone apps or simple websites.

Moreover, I also discovered that there’s an amazing amount of things to still discover in this world. I was particularly inspired by a musical piece at TED which basically was like an orchestra but that consisted of people around the world using Skype technology in real time. I felt that that was an incredible application of something that already existed and something I had never thought of in the past.

I also came out with a lot more knowledge. I met individuals who are working on solving everyday problems but coming with ingenious ideas because they consider the solutions from the perspectives of every individual that uses that problem, and that is not new to everyone but something I had never been directly exposed to. I met people from Microsoft who told me that they were creating products that were designed to be more natural to the individual and had different philosophies from the Google Glasses, where they wanted computers to assist individuals and not integrate into individuals. I felt that it was a unique perspective.

One interesting example was the fact that when you wear the glasses you could potentially record moments where you are fighting with your girlfriend and those moments will be stored somewhere on the cloud and then you’d be able to remember all the moments you have ever had. Or when you walk into someone cheating on you and now you’ve it on video and you’d obsess over it forever. That’s horrible.. I’m not for remembering every moment because I love to forget stuff that I don’t want to remember anymore and I know it’s easy to delete but how many people actually delete memories? I would have never came up with this point alone and felt so connected to these incredible individuals at this conference.

They also told me that they were in the progress of building a Universal Translator, which translates everything using your own personal voice. It exposed me to a new world where there was so much going on. The talk by Elon Musk on his SpaceX program also showed how advanced we are outside governmental airspace in creating technology that would one day take us beyond earth. We’re not too far away from actually going into space and being able to experience something that 50 years ago almost no one had experienced before.

In addition, I was also able to change my mindset on solutions. I met individuals who were trying to change the world but with the simplest solutions. Individuals who don’t need a billion dollars to solve the world issues on climate change and actually have results. There was an incredible TED speaker, Allan Savory, who is trying to change the world climate problem by grazing animals at places where land is extremely dry. His methodology actually had results and doesn’t involve an insane amount of money, and by his calculations we could actually change the world climate change by using his methods.

These simple solutions are the ones, which can actually make a difference. Combing this with my passion of web technology I was able to realize that I don’t actually have to build everything for my product. I was able to use APIs from different areas and integrate it to build something incredible. Using small building blocks that people have spent hours and hours on and using these blocks can actually give amazing results and potentially change the world.

I would recommend TEDActive to everyone. It’s an amazing experience, which everyone should go through once, and TED is an amazing platform for everyone. The main part of the conference is not the talks themselves you can watch them later but the incredible people you get to meet and discuss the talks with. These people are simply incredible.