Posts tagged ‘ted’

The Singularity is Not Necessarily Near

For those of you not already familiar with him, let me start off by introducing the visionary futurist Ray Kurzweil. He’s done some amazing things, but I don’t think his whole Singularity thing is right. →

Fantastic developments!

Back in November, I watched a bunch of videos from TED, and I’ve been raving to my friends about the first one ever since. It’s by Hans Rosling, who displayed a really neat way to represent statistics and other large sets of data in a simple, intuitive, and basically useful way. Well, it turns out I wasn’t the only one who was impressed: his software, GapMinder, was acquired by Google earlier this week! It would be really cool if we could all use this to look at more pieces of data more easily. You can already play around with a demo. Sweet!

I’ve already learned stuff from it: I had not heard of Comoros or Seychelles before playing with it today. They’re both countries north of Madagascar, apparently. Also, GDP and rate of economic growth don’t appear to be correlated, which surprised me. People in Luxembourg make a lot of money.

Oh, and by the way: it turns out there’s a Firefox plugin to support GPG in GMail. I might start using GMail full-time if this turns out to be easy to use.

TED – the conference on Technology, Entertainment, and Design

I’ve just found out about an incredible conference called TED, which apparently puts lots of its talks on Google Video (and they’re surprisingly concise—about 20 minutes each). It seems to be just a collection of brilliant people with ideas that can change the world, talking about their stuff. and whether or not I agree with their premise, I find the talks fascinating. Here are a few of them:

  • Hans Rosling shows a way to represent data collected from different countries to see how the world changes
  • Richard Baraniuk discusses ways to make education cheaper and available to more people (assuming they are literate and have internet access, so there’s a bit of a barrier at the beginning)
  • Jeff Han shows off an incredible touch-screen interface
  • Aubrey de Grey, creator of the Methuselah Mouse Prize, gives his thoughts on how to greatly extend life expectancy (a bit Kurzweilian, but interesting nonetheless).
  • Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene and evangelical atheist, discusses how we view the world and how this would change if we had different senses or were a different size.

It seems like going to TED would be a really neat experience, except that admission is $4400. I’ll have to settle for the videos, I suppose.