12 Terrific Techie TED Talks

The true meaning behind 404 pages, an optimistic George Orwell & more.

TED Talks

TED Talks can entertain and make you smarter about a lot of subjects, including technology. Here’s a look at 10 excellent tech-related talks, with brief summaries by TED regarding the talks.

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Mikko Hypponen: George Orwell was an optimist

“Recent events have highlighted, underlined and bolded the fact that the United States is performing blanket surveillance on any foreigner whose data passes through an American entity -- whether they are suspected of wrongdoing or not. This means that, essentially, every international user of the Internet is being watched, says F-Secure security expert Mikko Hypponen. An important rant, wrapped with a plea: to find alternative solutions to using American companies for the world's information needs.”

Catherine Bracy: Why good hackers make good citizens
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Catherine Bracy: Why good hackers make good citizens

“Hacking is about more than mischief-making or political subversion. As Code for America’s Catherine Bracy describes, it can be just as much a force for good as it is for evil. She spins through some inspiring civically-minded projects in Honolulu, Oakland and Mexico City — and makes a compelling case that we all have what it takes to get involved.”

Hasan Elahi: FBI, Here I Am!
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Hasan Elahi: FBI, Here I Am!

“After he ended up on a watch list by accident, University of Maryland media artist Hasan Elahi was advised by his local FBI agents to let them know when he was traveling. He did that and more ... much more.”

Jinha Lee: Reach into the computer and grab a pixel
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Jinha Lee: Reach into the computer and grab a pixel

“The border between our physical world and the digital information surrounding us has been getting thinner and thinner. Designer and engineer Jinha Lee wants to dissolve it altogether. As he demonstrates in this short, gasp-inducing talk, his ideas include a pen that penetrates into a screen to draw 3D models and SpaceTop, a computer desktop prototype that lets you reach through the screen to manipulate digital objects.”

Amy Webb: How I hacked online dating
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Amy Webb: How I hacked online dating

“Digital strategist Amy Webb was having no luck with online dating. The dates she liked didn't write her back, and her own profile attracted crickets (and worse). So, as any fan of data would do: she started making a spreadsheet. Hear the story of how she went on to hack her online dating life -- with frustrating, funny and life-changing results.”

Ian Ritchie: The day I turned down Tim Berners-Lee
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Ian Ritchie: The day I turned down Tim Berners-Lee

“Imagine it's late 1990, and you've just met a nice young man named Tim Berners-Lee, who starts telling you about his proposed system called the World Wide Web. Entrepreneur Ian Ritchie was there. And ... he didn't buy it. A short story about information, connectivity and learning from mistakes.”

Anant Agarwal: Why massively open online courses (still) matter
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Anant Agarwal: Why massively open online courses (still) matter

“2013 was a year of hype for MOOCs (massively open online courses). Great big numbers and great big hopes were followed by some disappointing first results. But the head of edX, Anant Agarwal, makes the case that MOOCs still matter -- as a way to share high-level learning widely and supplement (but perhaps not replace) traditional classrooms. Agarwal shares his vision of blended learning, where teachers create the ideal learning experience for 21st century students.”

David Pogue: 10 top time-saving tech tips
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David Pogue: 10 top time-saving tech tips

“Tech columnist David Pogue shares 10 simple, clever tips for computer, web, smartphone and camera users. And yes, you may know a few of these already -- but there's probably at least one you don't.”

Renny Gleeson: 404, the story of a page not found
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Renny Gleeson: 404, the story of a page not found

“Oops! Nobody wants to see the 404: Page Not Found. But as Renny Gleeson shows us, while he runs through a slideshow of creative and funny 404 pages, every error is really a chance to build a better relationship.”

Todd Humphreys: How to fool a GPS
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Todd Humphreys: How to fool a GPS

“University of Texas at Austin’s Todd Humphreys forecasts the near-future of geolocation when millimeter-accurate GPS "dots" will enable you to find pin-point locations, index-search your physical possessions ... or to track people without their knowledge. And the response to the sinister side of this technology may have unintended consequences of its own.”

Paolo Cardini: Forget multitasking, try monotasking
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Paolo Cardini: Forget multitasking, try monotasking

“People aren't just cooking anymore -- they're cooking, texting, talking on the phone, watching YouTube and uploading photos of the awesome meal they just made. Designer Paolo Cardini questions the efficiency of our multitasking world and makes the case for -- gasp -- "monotasking." His charming 3D-printed smartphone covers just might help.”

Marco Annunziata: Welcome to the age of the industrial internet
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Marco Annunziata: Welcome to the age of the industrial internet

“Everyone's talking about the ‘Internet of Things,’ but what exactly does that mean for our future? In this thoughtful talk, economist Marco Annunziata looks at how technology is transforming the industrial sector, creating machines that can see, feel, sense and react -- so they can be operated far more efficiently. Think: airplane parts that send an alert when they need to be serviced, or wind turbines that communicate with one another to generate more electricity. It's a future with exciting implications for us all.”