TED Talks Society and Culture
Summary: Thought-provoking videos about life and being human, with ideas from business leaders, psychologists and researchers speaking onstage at the TED conference, TEDx events and partner events around the world. You can also download these and many other videos free on TED.com, with an interactive English transcript and subtitles in up to 80 languages. TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.
In the vast sweep of history, even an empire can be forgotten. In this wide-ranging talk, Gus Casely-Hayford shares origin stories of Africa that are too often unwritten, lost, unshared. Travel to Great Zimbabwe, the ancient city whose mysterious origins and advanced architecture continue to confound archeologists. Or to the age of Mansa Musa, the ruler of the Mali Empire whose vast wealth built the legendary libraries of Timbuktu. And consider which other history lessons we might unwittingly overlook.
"From populist demagogues, we will learn the indispensability of democracy," says novelist Elif Shafak. "From isolationists, we will learn the need for global solidarity. And from tribalists, we will learn the beauty of cosmopolitanism." A native of Turkey, Shafak has experienced firsthand the devastation that a loss of diversity can bring -- and she knows the revolutionary power of plurality in response to authoritarianism. In this passionate, personal talk, she reminds us that there are no binaries, in politics, emotions and our identities. "One should never, ever remain silent for fear of complexity," Shafak says.
For the past 70 years, scientists in Britain have been studying thousands of children through their lives to find out why some end up happy and healthy while others struggle. It's the longest-running study of human development in the world, and it's produced some of the best-studied people on the planet while changing the way we live, learn and parent. Reviewing this remarkable research, science journalist Helen Pearson shares some important findings and simple truths about life and good parenting.
"There are a lot of resources given by nature for free -- all we need is our sensitivity to see them and our creativity to use them," says architect Anna Heringer. Heringer uses low-tech materials like mud and bamboo to create structures from China to Switzerland, Bangladesh and beyond. Visit an awe-inspiring school, an elegant office and cozy social spaces -- all built from natural materials -- in this delightful talk.
Divisions along religious lines are deepening, and we're doubting more and more how much we have in common. How can we stand boldly and visibly together? Inspired by an idea from her collaborator Yazmany Arboleda, place-maker Nabila Alibhai and her colleagues created "Colour in Faith," a social practice art project that unites people of different religions by getting them to paint each other's houses of worship yellow, in a show of solidarity. "We've proven that the human family can come together and send a message far brighter and more powerful than the voices of those that wish to do us harm," Alibhai says.
Our culture is obsessed with happiness, but what if there's a more fulfilling path? Happiness comes and goes, says writer Emily Esfahani Smith, but having meaning in life -- serving something beyond yourself and developing the best within you -- gives you something to hold onto. Learn more about the difference between being happy and having meaning as Smith offers four pillars of a meaningful life.
In a mind-bending talk that blurs the line between science and art, Tomás Saraceno exhibits a series of air-inspired sculptures and installations designed to usher in a new era of sustainability, the "Aerocene." From giant, cloud-like playgrounds suspended 22 meters in the air to a balloon sculpture that travels the world without burning a single drop of fossil fuel, Saraceno's work invites us to explore the bounds of our fragile human and terrestrial ecosystems. (In Spanish with English subtitles)
Daan Roosegaarde uses technology and creative thinking to produce imaginative, earth-friendly designs. He presents his latest projects -- from a bike path in Eindhoven, where he reinterpreted "The Starry Night" to get people thinking about green energy, to Beijing, where he developed a smog vacuum cleaner to purify the air in local parks, to a dance floor that generates electricity to power a DJ booth. Check out Roosegaarde's vision for a future where creativity is our true capital.
We all have origin stories and identity myths, our tribal narratives that give us a sense of security and belonging. But sometimes our small-group identities can keep us from connecting with humanity as a whole -- and even keep us from seeing others as human. In a powerful talk about how we understand who we are, Chetan Bhatt challenges us to think creatively about each other and our future. As he puts it: it's time to change the question from "Where are you from?" to "Where are you going?"
Do you sometimes have your most creative ideas while folding laundry, washing dishes or doing nothing in particular? It's because when your body goes on autopilot, your brain gets busy forming new neural connections that connect ideas and solve problems. Learn to love being bored as Manoush Zomorodi explains the connection between spacing out and creativity.
On August 21, 2017, the moon's shadow raced from Oregon to South Carolina in what some consider to be the most awe-inspiring spectacle in all of nature: a total solar eclipse. Umbraphile David Baron chases these rare events across the globe, and in this ode to the bliss of seeing the solar corona, he explains why you owe it to yourself to witness one, too.
A handful of people working at a handful of tech companies steer the thoughts of billions of people every day, says design thinker Tristan Harris. From Facebook notifications to Snapstreaks to YouTube autoplays, they're all competing for one thing: your attention. Harris shares how these companies prey on our psychology for their own profit and calls for a design renaissance in which our tech instead encourages us to live out the timeline we want.
Born with a genetic visual impairment that has no correction or cure, Susan Robinson is legally blind (or partially sighted, as she prefers it) and entitled to a label she hates: "disabled." In this funny and personal talk, she digs at our hidden biases by explaining five ways she flips expectations of disability upside down.
It's a fateful moment in history. We've seen divisive elections, divided societies and the growth of extremism -- all fueled by anxiety and uncertainty. "Is there something we can do, each of us, to be able to face the future without fear?" asks Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. In this electrifying talk, the spiritual leader gives us three specific ways we can move from the politics of "me" to the politics of "all of us, together."
Cheyenne Cochrane explores the role that hair texture has played in the history of being black in America -- from the heat straightening products of the post-Civil War era to the thousands of women today who have decided to stop chasing a conventional beauty standard and start embracing their natural hair. "This is about more than a hairstyle," Cochrane says. "It's about being brave enough not to fold under the pressure of others' expectations."