The independent organization TEDxSF put together an excellent program Tuesday evening with a great lineup. Here is what we saw along the theme of “The Edge of What We Know.”
– Juan Enriquez spoke about the poverty in the Mexican state of Chiapas and his role as a negotiator between the Mexican government and the indigenous people of Chiapas following an armed insurrection. He said he is angry at the way the people have been treated and the continued poverty.
– Dr. Alex Filippenko, an astronomer, spoke about the discovery of “dark energy” a force that is repulsing galaxies from each other. Very little is known about dark energy and dark matter and his mission is to interest people, especially kids, in these questions so that more people can join in discovery of the universe.
– Dr. Brian Fisher, a scientist at the California Academy of Sciences, (where the event was held) spoke about ants, his specialty. Ants are vital to the vitality of soils on every continent except Antarctica. He said very little is known about ants and that more study is needed. He questioned scientific projects such as searching for life on Mars when there was so little known about life on Earth – only 20% of species on Earth have been identified.
– Colin Weil introduced Ecoreserve.org, which allows people to buy rainforest in Panama for as little as $25. Each person is allocated a small parcel in a large reserve located in the Mamoni Valley.
– Tony Deifell spoke about his life changing experiences in teaching people without sight to take photographs and the beauty on those images.
– Kevin Kelly spoke about “The Technium” and his belief that technology has a life of its own and its own agenda. I think he is confusing capitalism with technology.
– Jaron Lanier gave the best talk of the evening. He spoke about many things, including avatars and about exploring the shape of avatars and what this experience might produce.
– Molly Fisk performed some of her award winning poetry.
– Curt Smith, who used to be part of the duo “Tears for Fears” gave an excellent talk about the changes in the music industry and how there are new rules to be written.
– Julia Query shared an intense and emotional account of raising her son, who seemed normal but then developed autism.
Dr. Ed Moses spoke about his work at the National Ignition Facility on creating power stations fueled by fusion energy, the same energy source used by stars. He believes that this carbon-free from of energy will dominate energy production by the mid-century.
– John Kohler spoke about “smart money” and how mobile phones will become our wallets. This form of currency will be able to distinguish between green and non-green goods and will enable great social changes in the world.
– Ozomatli, the legendary multi-cultural band from Los Angeles finished up the program with a rowsing set and a noisy parade through the halls of the Academy of Sciences.
The organizers: Jason Johnson, Michael Levit, Christine Mason McCaull and a huge team of volunteers, which included publicist Jeanne Alford, did an excellent job, it was the best program so far.
Tom Foremski is the Editor and Founder of the popular and top-ranked news site Silicon Valley Watcher, reporting on business and culture of innovation. He is a former journalist at the Financial Times and in 2004, became the first journalist from a leading newspaper to resign and become a full-time journalist blogger.
Tom has been reporting on Silicon Valley and the US tech industry since 1984 and has been named as one of the top 50 (#28) most influential bloggers in Silicon Valley. His current focus is on the convergence of media and technology — the making of a new era for Silicon Valley. He also writes a column at ZDNET.