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Notes on the Technology Entertainment Design (TED) Conference

The Technology Entertainment Design Conference -- or TED -- is a 4 day meeting of 50 brilliant speakers from a wide range of fields. In the words of David Pogue, a technology columnist at the New York Times:
They are the most compelling, passionate, informed speakers you’ve ever heard (all right, maybe 45 of them are). Some bring back reports from the edge of medicine, archaeology, nanotech, neurology, psychiatry or the Web... But a good number of them bring you face to face with some of the most upsetting realities of human existence.
Pogue is not a writer who praises lightly, and he's right -- the lectures are fantastic. I haven't yet listened to all of them, but to give you a sense of the topics, here are brief introductions to a few I've seen:

Hans Rosling is a professor of international health at Sweden's Karolinska Institute, and founder of Gapminder, a way of visualizing differences in health, economics, and demographics of nations. It's an astonishing look at the differences between the "developed" and "developing" world. You've never seen information presented this way before.

Larry Brilliant is an epidemiologist who was a major force in the World Health Organization's effort to eradicate smallpox. He talks about his background, smallpox, and using information technology to help fight disease.

Helen Fisher is an anthropologist who discusses gender differences and the biochemical foundation of love.

Richard Dawkins, a biologist, is an author and the Oxford professor for the public understanding of science. He discusses the "strangeness" of science and why human brains may not be able to understand the universe.

Steven Levitt wrote Freakonomics. He talks about the economics of an inner city gang.

Eva Vertes, a student at Princeton, discusses new ways of thinking about the treatment of cancer.

A. Degrey talks about aging as an "engineering problem."

Ray Kurzweil, a futurist at MIT, discusses the accelerating development of new technologies and how they change humanity.

Bjorn Lomborg, an economist, talks about ways of prioritizing the world's biggest problems, and lists AIDS prevention at the top.

Steve Johnson, author of the Ghost Map, talks about Dr. John Snow's identification of the source of the cholera outbreak in London in 1854 and the implications for public health.

Many more lectures are posted here.
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About the Author


Dr. Schwimmer's blog explores the intersection of medicine, new technologies, and the Internet.