Here are Bill’s top 8 from his point of view. See his Linkedin article
for more photos and insights.
1. Robots of today and tomorrow – I learned a lot about robot progress this year at TED on many fronts. I finally am seeing robot actuation, manipulation, and navigation in the human environment being close to readily available. I say close, because the examples I saw were amazing, but still way too expensive. But the advances have been huge, and I see personal and automation robots making an exponential gain (and reduction in price) by the end of the decade.
2. AI is here and it’s a game-changer – There were many talks at the event about AI, both hopeful and fearful. Chess champion Gary Kasparov spoke eloquently about his feelings again playing against computers.
Stuart Russell talked about how in a few years, we will probably have an AI that can read – and learn from – EVERYTHING the human race has EVER written. That’s just an amazing thought: that you could have ALL that we have ever written at your access.
3. A message of hope – TED worked for a year to arrange for the Pope to speak from the Vatican to the TED audience this past week, and his message of hope and inclusion was very strong and well received. His main message was that the only future worth building is one that includes everyone.
4. Coaching and continuous improvement – I learned from Atul Gawande, author of many great books including the Checklist Manifesto, how important it is to get coaching. No matter how much of an expert you are, or think you are, getting feedback from someone watching you always helps you perform better. He gave examples of surgeons, famous violinists (see Itzak Perlemen behind Atul in the photograph below), and others, and how they improved and improved primarily with listening and constant feedback.
5. Face-to-face contact improves our health – Susan Pinker gave a great talk showing how different parts of your brain light up with human contact, but only face-to-face contact and interaction engaged the brain that way. Passively watching a video didn’t do the same thing. She studied a small village in Sardinia where the population has an above-average number of centinarians, male and female, which she attributes in part to the constant/close personal interactions of the villagers.
6. Bet against the consensus – Successful hedge fund manager Ray Dalio gave a talk on how he runs his firm, but his advice that particularly resonated with me was, “in order to be a successful entrepreneur or investor, one has to bet against the consensus, and be right!” The betting against the consensus part is easy, but the being right part is hard. But I do love trying to follow that advice.
7. Helping others less fortunate – there were many moments throughout TED that really emphasized how important it is for us to help others less fortunate. Refugee advocate David Miliband gave a powerful talk about this, as did refugee activist Luma Mufleh. I can’t do their talks justice, but you should really try to watch them when they come online. They were both thoughtful, moving, and powerful. Rutger Bregman gave an amazing talk on the cycle of poverty, and how it could be ended that he also talks about in his book, “Utopia for Realists.”
8. Other points of view – One of the biggest things I learned at TED this year was listening thoughtfully to other points of view, for 18 minutes, not just 18 seconds. Tristan Harris, former ethicist at Google, spoke eloquently about how “the Internet is not evolving at random, it’s a race to the bottom of the brainstem to see who can get the most attention.”