Dave Lim

TEDx Ambassador, TEDxSingapore


This conversation is closed.

Should TED allow demonstrations of military equipment and uniform on the TED stage?

This may be the first time explicit military equipment has been demonstrated on a TED stage.

What are your reactions and feelings about this?

One TED Community member wrote: "I hope this is the last time I see a military uniform on the TED stage for the purpose of hawking military weaponry... And let's be clear, any tool manufactured for the express purpose of increasing the effectiveness of military personnel is military hardware. "

Some questions:

Will this video TED Talk be used for marketing purposes for military equipment?

Would TED consider re-posting this TED Talk after editing out the first military equipment demonstration?

Where do you feel that the line be drawn?

Invite you to raise and share your feelings, thoughts and questions with the global TED community...

  • Mar 30 2011: Unfortunately, a strong military is a necessity in today's (or any other time's) world. Serving in the military is honourable. Weapons are a necessary part of the military. Naiive pacifism solves nothing. So as long as TED doesn't permit a speaker to glorify the negative aspects of anything military, there is no reason at all to restrict talksabout military matters any more than about climate matters, social matters, art, commerce, or anything else. The thinking person can accept or reject the message, but that shouldn't stop others from watching it.
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      Mar 30 2011: Is the military really necessary for the protection of the country? The united states military just sucks up funds that should be used for education or healthcare. Most of the time its not even used for national defense, it's used to promote the United States colonization of other countries. There are plenty of countries that have no military and are doing just fine. Costa Rica has no military, and with the money that they save they have managed to put together a universal healthcare system, free public education (with a literacy rate higher than the US), and have managed to power their country with 97% sustainable energy.
      What do you think is more necessary?
      • Apr 9 2011: Although I agree that better healthcare, free public education and movement towards sustainable energy are all desirable goals, the US military is beneficial for many reasons. First, Costa Rica cannot be compared to the US on the international stage because when is the last time Costa Rica influenced others in either a positive or negative manner? Also, USSOUTHCOM has done a noteworthy job at decreasing human rights abuses and delivering/administering humanitarian aide, maybe even more than any other organization. The military is the medium we have chosen to influence the world in a positive manner. Since we agree the world is a zero sum game and to do better at one, our capabilities in another area must decrease, the real question is what do you value more? Would you be willing to sacrifice these advances towards a more humanitarian world for the sake of... 97% sustainable energy?
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      Mar 30 2011: The question relates to the showcasing of military equipment and technology on a TED stage and in a TED Talk, rather a discussion about the role of military in society or any particular country.

      Military equipment would range from offensive weaponry, defensive or augmentative technologies (like in this case)
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        Mar 30 2011: Most wars happen to make money and here we are proudly presenting military equipment on TED. How bloody ironic lol.
        • Mar 31 2011: Seeing as we're getting political, here are my two cents. I'm an Australian who knows my history. If the US Navy hadn't helped Australia out against Japanese invaders in WWII in the waters above northern Australia, we'd be speaking Japanese now. I'm glad of the USA's military technology then and now.

          A quick thought on pacifism: Ever noticed that - if you have grandparents who lived through WWII - they don't speak about war as an ethical grey area? Why do you think that is? It is because they came face to face with an evil enemy. Hitler could not be reasoned with - they had to take up arms.

          As much as we want to believe we can all get along and we can put down our weapons, we have to abandon this in the face of real, deep evil. Pacificists are people who have never come face to face with the level of evil of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Hussein, the kind of evil on show in Rwanda, on show in Bosnia and Herzegovina, etc. Unfortunately there comes a time when the negotiation efforts must stop, the talking must come to an end, and force used. Unfortunately this is a fact of life, this is acknowledging our world as it really is. There are times when not taking up arms is morally irresponsible.
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          Mar 31 2011: Hi Phil, I enjoyed your response- it brought a new perspective to the dialogue. I, however, think we should all basically be pacifists until we are confronted with that great evil in our own time. As a Canadian I am a big believer in Peacekeeping rather than war but I do think that even Peacekeepers need to be empowered to protect the defenseless. Still, I see a lot of the military conflicts in the world today have been ignited by interference by outside forces that have catered to elites within the country with a profit motive on both sides to the detriment of the populus.Phil, you also have to admit that both Canadians and Australians were fed as fodder in the wars you mentioned by the powers that controlled our military men at the time.
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          Apr 2 2011: Phil, I see your point and basically agree with you. When faced with overwhelming force, pacifism is usually not much use. It's a sad reality that no end of idealism can resolve.

          On the other hand:
          1. What's wrong with speaking Japanese? Being a slave of a colonial system that treats you as a resource to be used and discarded (Rape of Nanjing, anyone?) is a bad thing, but you chose a poor 'outcome' to make your point.

          2. Why did Hitler come to power? At the end of World War One, Ferdinand Foch declared that the Versailles Peace Treaty was not an end to the war, merely a 20-year pause. In other words, he could see that it created conditions under which Germany would again become a problem. Hitler came to power because of the dynamics of the situation at the time.

          So why was Germany "a problem" in the first place? In a world dominated by the imperial system, the basic principle was to conquer others or risk being swallowed up. This was the problem facing Japan too. The rules of the game were such that conflict was inevitable whenever any one player grew tired of being held down by the others.

          The problem is systemic, and can be solved by a change to the system.
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          Mar 30 2011: Well yes, should it not be linked with the role of military? We link medical advances to healthcare and khanacademy to education... is it so far fetched that we link exoskeletons made by Berkley to to the military and is it so far fetched that we link the military to war (which is bad)?
          TED has a lot of standpoints on politics and religion and should also have very clear directives of not allowing military promotion in any way!
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        Mar 30 2011: I have mixed feelings about military research. What I'm absolutely not conflicted about is the idea of censorship in TED. Editing out portions of a presentation before posting it is, I believe, censorship. The present discussion would not have existed had "they" edited the presentation. And who would "they" be? I'm not willing to let "them" make decisions for me.

        TED has guidelines about what is or isn't an idea worth spreading. I must believe that they brought the speaker on for the core idea presented. If a portion of the idea is somehow offensive to me, I must make that decision on my own.

        If they decide to include in their guidelines that ideas are worth spreading unless they have any military application, there might be very few ideas left to spread.

        If they decide to tell a speaker to present an idea but not in its entirety, that would be preemptive censorship.

        Very sticky...
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          Mar 31 2011: Hear, hear. No censorship.

          That would be more meaningful though if TED did not rely on big corporate sponsors.
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          Apr 1 2011: On the topic of censorship, all of the societies we live in have varying degrees of censorship, explicit and implicit, on what can be said, shown, etc. Public censorship exists most everywhere, including on this TED Conversations forum. We both self-censor and are subject to censorship also: http://www.ted.com/pages/conversations_terms
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        Mar 31 2011: Revett, first and foremost, I am not proclaiming myself a Messiah. Where the hell did that come from? That is my wish; To help the world. You have a problem with that? When did I say that there aren't people who are "as smart" as me? Why in the world are you comparing in the first place?

        And second, nothing you said disproved my statement which is based on nothing but facts and research on the subject matter. People "as smart" and "smarter" than me have proved it already so I don't see the purpose of proving it to you again especially with this interesting cello attitude you have going. Cheers mate.
    • Mar 31 2011: "Unfortunately, a strong military is a necessity in today's (or any other time's) world."

      You don't know this.

      "Serving in the military is honourable."

      What does that mean? It means that the military has its own mythology. The purpose of the mythology is to perpetuate business opportunities.

      The military has occasionally developed technology that turned out to benefit the general public. It goes without saying that these happy results are unintentional. Could we divert but a tiny percentage of the military budget to primary research, we would benefit many times over.

      It sickens me to see military technology on display at TED. The military is, by definition, contrary to every humanitarian impulse. Nothing good can come from such people.
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        Apr 1 2011: @Revett - I can understand your perspective but let me ask you something. You say war isn't for money. Then what is it for? Saying "it's dumb" is illogical. War is very well planned. There is nothing dumb about it. On the contrary it's so smart that it's simply sickening when you go deeper into its mechanics and understand how it works. Let's place the world wars aside and go to Vietnam as an example. What do you think it was for?
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        Apr 1 2011: Likewise. But you seem to imply that these wars happen for pretty darn good reasons when in reality, Vietnam was based primarily on money, nothing more. The US just needed a war, as hard as it is to accept that. If it was a just war, you wouldn't have the US military officials preventing the soldiers from doing any real damage, in countless ways. As cold as this sounds, there was nothing heroic about Vietnam. It was completely set up, starting with a ship that was blown up by the US! We were told that it was the Vietnamese. Ironically the same dirty tactics that were used there, were also similarly played out with Iraq. Do a search on economic hit men if you already haven't, you'll see what I mean.
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    Apr 2 2011: If the hadware had been demonstrated by, say, a mountain search and rescue worker, then I guess it would have been OK? It would have still been the same hadware, funded by the same organisation, just presented in a more sanitised way.

    If it had been a gun or explosive device, a lethal weapon, then it would clearly be a weapons demo. How about if it was body armour, worn by a police officer? A supercomputer that can model hypersonic airflows on future passenger aircraft, or future military aircraft? Nuclear weapons design and testing is mostly done on computers these days, instead of with live explosions. Is this a good thing? Should we talk about the technology or not?

    Almost everything has a military application. We can show just the non-military uses, but would we be hiding from the truth if we did? Is it better to pretend there are no military applications, or by putting this stuff on stage without any pretense, are we saying that it's OK to kill people and blow things up?

    Tough call. Thanks to Dave for asking the question. I must admit I'm not really sure what my opinion is at this moment.
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      Apr 5 2011: i would have totally agreed you but since i gave a visit to the Berkeley Bionic's web site , finding out they have licencing agreenment with "Lockheed Martin" to "advance the technology" ... its pretty obvious this high-tech's gonna serve military...
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    Mar 30 2011: Anything military based is aimed at destroying life at some point in time in some way or another. I feel that is directly in conflict with the purpose and deep message of TED, for which I have the utmost respect, and I'm very upset that the organizers allowed this to happen. Nothing more to say.
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    Apr 2 2011: Similarly like in Ken Robinson's Talk when he says that "education is one of the subjects that goes very deep with people", this topic of military and wars +TED goes very deep with strong feelings, emotions and positions expressed.

    Much of it appears to be because it involves the taking of lives of fellow human beings.

    Some key points brought up so far:

    Throughout history, in some cases, intent is defense, in other cases, the war intent is purposeful because of ideology, obtaining resources, etc

    Warfare has long been part of human activity: Bands of ancestorial human beings, even before homo sapiens, and also animals (chimpanzees, meercats, etc) would attack tribes/families/territory of their own species and of other species to gain territory, food, mates

    This would generate defensive responses, resulting in warfare.

    Because of their intelligence and capabilities, homo sapiens are able utilise resources + technology to kill each other powerfully and on massive scale in both defense and offense.

    Because of their intelligences and capabilities, throughout history, homo sapiens, knowing the consequences of war, have also consciously been able to avoid and moderate their wars and conflict too.

    TEDx/TED's draws a self-censoring line against showing content 'weapons and ammunition', regardless of use by military, police, civilian, among other categories of content.

    The explicit display of the exo-skeleton worn by uniformed military person on a TED stage generated some deep reactions.

    This augmentative human technology can be used in both defensive and offensive military situations.

    This may not have fallen into TED's own prohibition on "weapons" content

    Some TED Community find this objectionable because explicit military use was shown at TED.
    This may not have happened if shown in other contexts, by fireman, police, civilian.

    Some do not object to military equipment on TED.

    Some believe TED should not censor any content at all.
  • Mar 31 2011: Military equipment should not be demonstrated on TED
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    Mar 30 2011: The purpose of TED is to "spread ideas." It is a fact, opinion on the matter regardless, that the military is a major funder of research and that military technologies change the world. When a "game-changing" or "paradigm-shifting" technology happens to be a military one, it changes the way wars are fought. What changes the way wars are fought changes who can realistically fight wars, and changes international politics and diplomacy. Gunpowder slowly ended the days of pitched battles, the nuclear bomb was the root of the deterrence concept, and the Predator drone calls into modern question the ancient issue of assassination.

    The rise of offensive military technologies- enhancements in the damaging effects and accuracy of weapons- and shift towards asymmetric conflicts in civilian-filled areas has been eroding concepts of armor and fortified positions. These trends taken together make for a more deadly form of war where the only defense is the enemy not knowing where you are, and a form of war more advantageous to non-state actors. Should exoskeletons ever be made both robust and sufficiently cost-effective for war use, the great change will be the possibility of troops being fully mobile while armored to the degree of being bulletproof to anything less than a .50 caliber. Such a shift would turn the tables against non-state actors.

    If you're still following me, then you probably understand my argument by now: military ideas should be counted in "Ideas worth Spreading." Military technologies shape our lives and individuals and the interactions between states and between states and groups. Moreover, military ideas, such as "total war," "shock and awe," "OODA loops (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act)," "police actions," and etc have far-reaching have implications.

    Excluding transformational ideas and technologies which happen to relate to war-fighting would be tragic for TED. You don't have to watch these talks if you intensely dislike the military.
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      Mar 31 2011: "The purpose of TED is to "spread ideas.""
      I noticed that you later added "worth spreading" and that is where most of us have a problem with this talk... Military ideas are NOT WORTH SPREADING!

      And no we don't have to watch them, that is the whole point of this debate, if you want military and weapons you should seek them elsewhere!
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        Mar 31 2011: Mr. Strobl,

        You have made the same vehement argument in several places in this conversation, and I will address it here, where it is trumped by the superior analysis above. First let me state my position as a pacifist and as one who has protested both the Iraq and Afghanistan (there weren't many of us) wars in their infancy, and who finds war and the US military-industrial complex and cultural war marchine pugnant. Surely there aren't too many TEDsters who like war, but that does not give preeminence to your point of view.

        "Military ideas are not worth spreading" fails on so many levels:
        - ignores the reality that the entire history of mankind has been marked and profoundly influenced by military conflict.
        - idly asserts that simply not thinking about or not discussing military ideas will somehow radically end conflict.
        - arbitrarily censors particular ideas from public discourse.
        - insults the intellect of other viewers, assuming their inability to filter concepts.
        - assumes the universal correctness of your normative framework (with which I happen to agree, but do not share your bent toward indoctrination of an already liberal-minded community).
        - in this case, ignores the content and context of the message itself. Health care benefits for veterans is a significant share of health care costs in the US, so military technology that reduces these costs is an "idea worth spreading" insomuch as "saving taxpayers money that can be better spent" is an idea worth spreading.

        What's next from you, Mr. Strobl? Shall we pull "The Art of War" off bookshelves because of its non-pacifist rhetoric? Perhaps we should strip George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt (founder of the US National Parks Service), and John F. Kennedy of their respected places in American history because they were soldiers, and military ideas are not worth spreading.

        The shoe is certainly on the other foot when an American is advising a Swede to show more tolerance.
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          Mar 31 2011: Dear Jared.
          It is perhaps true that I have been somewhat disrespectful to others while commenting on this thread, for that I apologize.
          And what you say is true, the shoe is on the wrong foot, I should be more tolerant towards people.
          It is just that reading some of these comments made me so frustrated that I did not truly think before sharing my opinion.

          I do however still believe that the military has nothing to do on TED.
          As for "The art of war", of course it should be available for anyone, so should "Mein Kampf" but I do support censorship on TED and still think that the military should be one of those things censored.

          And some of your presidents were probably great people and great leaders, I think that is why you should honor them... not because they were great killers or great at doing what they were told.
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    Mar 30 2011: I agree with Max and Sargis, TED should not let military into their conferences! Surely there must be some other company or NGO that make exoskeletons without the main purpose of making better killers... Or maybe TED should allow Berkley to demonstrate some of their bombs as well... bombs can be used to make tunnels and dig out harbors for example or how about the aversion of NEOs... let them show TEDsters what their truly capable of doing!
    I am being sarcastic, NO MILITARY ON TED! You should be ashamed!

    Edit: who authorized this?
  • Apr 13 2011: The military, as with the equipment displayed in this video, is a tool. In the right hands, the US military could help to instore human rights in countries devoid of it, asist countries struck by disasters etc... However, in the wrong hands, it could easily be used as the armed forces for the oil industry, invading profitable countries for their sake. What we should be critisizing isn't the military itself, but rather those in control. Although it is clear that in the past decade, the US military has been used for nefarious purposes, is it really their fault, or is it the one of the government behind it? When someone bends a nail with a hammer, should we blame the hammer or the hand using it?

    Pardon me if my english is at times flawed, it is not my native language.
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    Apr 8 2011: I am an Army Officer and student at the Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. I have served three combat tours. The realities of war are the human factors-technology does not win. Values are what ultimately win the peace. There are consequences to new technology, and TED can help peel the issues back and get people talking about them before they literally become the problem. Military or non-military technology makes no difference. Debate is healthy. To deny a forum for talking about it is cowardly. Soldiers carry the burden of doing right and projecting national power, and doing it with dignity and often times doing it unnoticed and with great sacrifice. We owe it to them to give them the tools to serve with integrity and honor and in cases where they have physically become a casualty-offer them the hope of greater recovery through technology. Our strengths as American Soldiers are our Army Values. We have superior technology and weaponry and rules of engagement to limit causing civilian casualties and undue pain even to our adversaries. We train in lethal and nonlethal engagements and scenario based training modeling the rigors of combat and the moral and ethical choices that must be made in combat. We have layers of decision processes and checks and balances to limit and mitigate risk to noncombatants. Our weapons, technologies, and Soldiers are tested to meet Geneva Convention standards and obey Rules of Land Warfare. Most importantly, we are a values based organization with leadership that leads by example to absolutely protect the innocent and carry out missions decisively. We secure non-governmental organizations to bring hope and basic needs to the people of the world who need help and hope in times of war or disaster. TED should facilitate military technological advancement discussions to continue to advance discussion on how to use or not use technolgy in the future. Thank you. See you on the high ground.
  • Apr 3 2011: Should Ted exclude speakers affiliated with religions, corporations, the police, government, unions, and lobbying groups too? Surely all those organizations have caused great destruction and suffering as well. I'd add another group to the list: Pacifists. All that's required for evil to prevail is for good me to do nothing.
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    Mar 31 2011: I'm reading and shaking my head. I can't really believe that this particular "conversation" is necessary, nor as active as it appears to be. One needs only to watch most any news broadcast, to see all sorts of military weaponry being used - with the results graphically shown as well. Objecting to rampant militarism, or to gross weaponry by targeting a brief demonstration of an exoskeleton break through, seems so knee-jerk as to be absurd.

    Today's military relies perhaps too heavily on computers, for imaging, targeting, analysis, and communications. I've seen TED talks touching all those areas, and none seemed to engender this sort of discourse. Perhaps it was simply the presence of a military uniform, that's set everyone off? Wow.. really? Should that be the case, then perhaps it's time for the Technology folks, and the Engineers, and of course the Designers, to cast an eye toward a redesigned uniform, something perhaps a bit less daunting? Maybe they can begin with some of the robes and scarves shown from most anywhere currently undergoing this supposed "enlightenment".

    These are some amazing technological breakthroughs, and should be lauded as pioneering achievements in biomechanics! How fantastic they are, to offer so many new mobility horizons to something akin to 1% of the world's population. Don't edit out the uniform, if anything I'd wish to see a much longer, more detailed talk.

    Now, when a TED conference endorses war, or killing, or death... well, I'll listen to that as well, and I'll probably argue against it.

    But this is a non-issue, and oddly, I feel a bit ashamed of myself, for even bothering to discuss such foolishness, much less post anything.

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    Mar 31 2011: I forgive you TED, it slipped through your fingers and you will be more careful in the future! ;)
  • Mar 30 2011: I expect everyone stating that the military - or military technology - should not be allowed in TED to cancel their internet service and get rid of any TCP/IP based communication from their lives. You'll also need to avoid anything with carbon-kevlar composites, half of modern trauma medicine, and a stack of other things. If you're not going to stop reaping the rewards of the military R&D budget, it is obnoxious and childish to insist on its exclusion.

    TED attendees are intelligent enough to draw their own conclusions based on the evidence. Do you think the lifting exoskeleton could help workers in a warehouse? Laborers? What about futuretech applications like high gravity environments? Emergency response crews?

    I don't see anyone demonstrating the latest grain refinements for SABOT rounds, or .50 caliber recoil-less rifles. There are no weapons here, and that should be enough for you.

    I understand that people may have objections the military, and the political goals they accomplish at the orders of our elected leadership. That is fine, and a discussion that is not particularly relevant. Military trickle down tech is everywhere, and pervasive in our lives. It would be ignorant and unreasonable to deny its influence, and thus foolish to ignore.
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      Mar 31 2011: Yes, the results of the tech is everywhere, but so is the tech of Nazis, do you condone them?
      And why do you think so many "intelligent people" are objecting to this? Do you really think that such a large part of the community are dogmatic hippies?
      It it true that most of us want peace on earth, we find war quite wrong and resource demanding...
      And if you think about it you would probably realize that, given founding, civilians would have created all the great things you state above...
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    Mar 30 2011: Even if I'm against the concept of a military, as a citizen, I should always stay informed as to the might and especially the technology of the military of my country. To know how well it can supposedly protect me from harm's way, but equally is to know should I ever wish to protest within my country so I know what forces I'd be up against were they to turn on me, as many country's military tend to do when confronted by hostile population.

    Example, would you protest were you to hear the military was replacing all personel with drones completely? Sounds good if you're on the good guy end, but it would be deadly to a group of citizens wanting to protest who are put down not by people in uniforms who have a chance at having a conscious, but by machines with as much will as a corporation has consciousness.

    Remember, money was created for the purpose of taxation. Who stands to benefit the most from money's creation, those forced to use it, or those who control printing it?
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    Mar 30 2011: The military is essentially a corporation looking to expand itself. TED does not promote other big corporations in its talks, what makes the military so special? I think its a disgrace to the TED community to promote military hardware. It goes against everything that I think TED stands for.
    Now, if that same "super-suit" had been put on a fireman or rescue worker and the speaker talked about how it could be used to save lives, it would have been different. I would have actually found it really cool. But the fact that they chose to bring a soldier in uniform onto the stage makes me sad for the future of TED.
  • Apr 25 2011: I feel there's a significant difference between weapons manufacturing and "military technology" such as this. I support TED's position of not allowing weapons technology to be promoted through this site, but in a case like this, there are clear applications for the technology that do not involve the military- everything from search and rescue teams to Fed-Ex delivery workers. Even when designed for and purchased by the military, it's important to remember that the military is involved in many non-aggressive, humanitarian efforts that technology like this can inspire and aid.

    Was it in bad taste for the presenter to bring a uniformed military member? Perhaps. But I don't think his presence is so offensive that the implications of technology being presented should be ignored like that.
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    Apr 2 2011: Interesting question.

    i just reread the rules for TEDx conferences, and there is a clear statement about sponsors. You can't be sponsored by anyone that makes weapons or ammunition. It doesn't say anything about non-lethal equipment, and speakers are not sponsors in any case.

    So I guess TED is following the letter of it's own rules. As for the spirit, debateable.

    On the one hand, anything that promotes or glorifies war is probably unacceptable. But war is part of the world we live in. Is it not better for us to be well-informed about how the military do things?

    Would there be nothing to gain from seeing a military specialist on stage sharing some insight about leadership, risk management, mathematical modelling, simulation, field medicine, driverless vehicles, targetted delivery of payloads, or any of the other cutting edge stuff the military have access to? Do none of us have anything to gain from learning about the techniques and practises which are used by another organisation? Does it not help to know about military technology, so that we can think of other uses for it?

    And then there is the issue of war itself, and how the military works and operates. We've seen video of helicopters shooting at people in the streets. We haven't heard the other side of the story. How does the chain of command and decision-making process work in these situations? We've seen Philip Zimbardo's talk about Abu Ghraib, but we haven't heard from the military about what they learned from that. Don't you want to know? Are you not interested in knowing how Strike Command decides what kind of munitions to drop on whom? In your name. I am.

    Obviously, there is a danger of giving a platform to apologists for dubious activities. But I can see a case for having a more informed understanding of this area.
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    Apr 1 2011: FYI, these are TED rules and stance about TEDx events
    (I do not know if TED applies these rules to themselves also)

    Content: Unacceptable content: You may not display any content associated with:
    o Weapons manufacturers
    o Ammunition companies
    o Cigarette companies
    o Online gambling organizations
    o Sex-related businesses

    Unacceptable sponsors: Under no conditions will TED allow companies or organizations who deal in the following to sponsor TEDx events:

    * Weapons/ammunition
    * Tobacco/cigarettes
    * Adult-oriented products/services

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    Mar 31 2011: To answer the questions that you asked Dave:
    Yes, this will promote the marketing purposes of military equipment.
    No, TED should not consider re-posting it, it is tainted and should be either left or deleted.
    The line should not allow arms manufacturers to promote themselves in any way.
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    Mar 31 2011: "Military equipment should NOT be demonstrated on TED" +1

    War is NOT an "Idea worth spreading" and I hope this is the last time we see an uniform on stage, the last time TED is used for advertisement of military products and the last time irresponsible teenagers armed with guns to steal cheaper oil or benefit an armament industry are glorified as warriors.
  • Apr 29 2011: Not long ago military exoskeletons were still science-fiction, as seen In James Cameron's Avatar where the commander of the ailing US Airforce fought his last combat sitting in a robot fighter after his bulky fleet had been outflown by 2000 warriors of Pandora. Yet amazingly enough, they were riding dragons instead of using flapping-wing exoskeletons, and I bet that if Cameron had gone that far the Pentagone would have censored his movie...
    Let's hope that by the time flying protheses will be state-of-the-art, the crowd of individually airborne members of the civil society will outnumber by far the militaries -- for only then shall we get a chance to defeat US global air superiority just about to close in on all of us.
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    Apr 26 2011: No, they shouldn't.
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    Apr 26 2011: Whether we like it or not most of the innovations have been results of military research. That's the ugly truth. Even though my heart breaks that this type of research is used against mankind, I felt TED gave a great example of how the same technology can be used for and against mankind.
  • Apr 14 2011: You could ask the same question about a presentation in which features a SWISS ARMY KNIFE. Honestly *rolls eyes*.
  • Apr 9 2011: While the information displayed in this video IS for military purposes, there are a few things that comfort me as to the possible security risks. The only technical information released involved the weight carried and the potential life of the battery. In my head, this is the equivalent of saying that a tank can carry 5 soldiers and go 300 kilometers on one fuel supply. It leaves to the imagination many important details such as composite, weapons intergration etc. Those are the things that (in my humble opinion) should not be advertised or showcased, and they werent. Additionally, there are about a million and one non-military uses for a lift assist exoskeleton like the one presented in this TED talk, and for that reason alone I think that while it was demonstrated as military hardware here, the practical applications would see this device much more commonly used off the battlefield than on. Would you propose that we keep the tech specs pertaining to a new high yield solar panel secret simply because of their potential military value?
  • Apr 5 2011: It was quite apparent, the moment that the soldier appeared on stage, that there was a discomfort about the audience. Typically, an on-stage display of technology being put to every day use warrants at least a mild applause, but in this instance, only produced silence. With that being said, the impression that the audience left at that moment, I believe, said everything there is to say on the matter. However, on that note, it does generate further gray area, especially in the field of augmented reality applications, where military-based funding holds a dominant portion of the market.
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    Mar 31 2011: While it is an example of progress, I see your point. However, Military/Arms/Govt investment is nothing new. Many products originally had military applications. Invention is born of peace and war. That doesn't mean they cannot be separated. Just that there is a link between them. Good question. I don't think 29 days is enough for this one...
  • Mar 31 2011: People like to object in forums like this to see their ideas posted. We are in a democracy and this is well within your rights but you do not have a right to decide for me what I do or do not watch on Ted. If you don't like the content of a particular presentation than go to another. Protesting about the content of a particular presentation is a waste of your time that could be better spent on volunteering to help someone or some group. Complaining about this is the same as certain people, (aka pacifists), getting all bent out of shape because other people have the right to firearms. It's like the liberals and pacifists that voted for Obama. The concept of a new face in the White House may be a good idea in theory but the reality of voting in a rookie senator has created a real mess. We have run away spending, record unemployment, transparent borders and an health care system that was designed to help groups like ACORN and the people they support.and not people who work for a living.

    So what do you think about my posting? If you don't like it don't read it but you do not have the right to censure what TED posts on it's site.

    As a finishing note all of the technology we use today in our everyday lives is a spin off of a military application. Internet, computers, cell phone, GPS, our cars and flying are just a few technologies we use these days to make our lives richer.

    Have a nice day. :-)
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    Mar 31 2011: I believe it's just a matter of the product itself.
    If it's some kind of weapon that its sole use is to kill or injure people, then NO, it shouldn't be allowed.
    If it's some kind of research for a new camouflage or survival kit or robot technology or satellite images (the list is really long), then YES, because almost all major inventions where discovered either during a war (eg radar) or preparing for war (eg cryptography, stealth technology etc).

    PS: Allow me to remind you that war does not necessarily mean that someone is preparing to attack a nation. Most of the times he is preparing to defend his country.
  • Mar 31 2011: Surely the point of TED is technology or the ideas behind it? To ban the sharing of a technology/ idea based solely on the limits of the present use that it has been designed for curtails the growth of knowledge and the idea. Should we also ban ideas that later might be used for martial activities? If this is so, then we should look again at a lot of the TED videos and censor them on the off chance that they inspire military personnel. Perhaps the membership of TED should also be vetted to ensure the ideas aren't spread to - undesirables?

    This is begining to sound more and more like Zeus was right to chain Prometheus to the rock.
  • Mar 31 2011: Quite frankly I'm surprised at the close-minded reaction to this talk. Shouldn't TED be about challenging our preconceived notions and learning from people that we normally wouldn't?

    Suspend your prejudices and discover what else is out there.
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      Mar 31 2011: Unfortunately the talk looks like an advertisement, because it is. I weapons salesman is not a deserving TEDster.
      This talk goes against of the motto of the talk, war is NOT an "Idea worth spreading".
      What was the contribution of this talk? Which new ideas are inspiring us to design a better world?
  • Mar 31 2011: Why not. Many of these developments used by the military are converted to civilian use. Most civilian businesses can not afford the research and development. At least this investment in technology can be returned to the public in the way of new opportunities.
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      Mar 31 2011: Because the same or more development can be done by non-military organizations for less money and for more noble causes. The breadcrumb, leftovers and scraps of military development do not justify de development of more efficient killing machines.
  • Mar 30 2011: It is important to keep in mind that many of the tools and materials that we use in our everyday lives were developed through innovations in military and space programs. I am not making a statement on these programs one way or another but it is easy take our everyday conveniences for granted, without recognizing their origins.
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    Mar 30 2011: Military gear is totally inappropriate on TED. "More effective weapons" is not exactly an "idea worth sharing." It's not as if the military lacks a platform for getting their words out.
  • Mar 30 2011: Whether or not you like the fact that we have a military, we do. And we have everyday men and women serving in that military. When overseas, they go through more hardships and grueling physical conditions then a lot of people stateside can even imagine. So why anyone would object to a technology that makes their lives easier and helps prevent back injuries being displayed on TED is a mystery to me. Granted, this technology can be used to increase the effectiveness of military personnel, but it was designed because they are already being asked to cary extremely heavy equipment and many of them are sustaining back injuries. An idea that makes people's lives easier (and let's all remember, soldiers are PEOPLE whether you agree with their chosen profession or not) and prevents injury is absolutely an idea worth spreading. And shame on you for making a debate about the role of the military.
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      Mar 30 2011: I cannot agree with you when you try to cast shame on someone for opening a debate. The military should not be allowed to operate in any venue without scrutiny. It is that same military that is expecting their own people to do things that destroy them body and soul. I read that last year more American soldiers took their own lives than died in battle. This talk was another example of their disregard for the men and women under their command when they have until now expected them to carry burdens that crush their spines. No one is condemning soldiers - although many of us are not thrilled with the idea of enabling more killing- but we do reserve the right to discuss the issues.
    • Mar 31 2011: "Why anyone would object to a technology that makes [soldiers'] lives easier and helps prevent back injuries being displayed on TED is a mystery to me."

      I might be able to clear this up for you. Here's why we object. Soldiers are hired killers. They slaughter other human beings and get paid for it. If the equipment hurts their backs, they should quit. This "exoskeleton" thing will let them keep going, keep killing, keep turning dead bodies into cash. But we don't want them to keep going. We want them to stop. Is that clearer?
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      Mar 31 2011: Objecting to making people into better killers and promoting it on TED, definitely!
  • Mar 30 2011: Like it or not, military research has resulted in great gains in robotics, aerospace, marine, telecommunications, remote sensing, medicine and a myriad of other fields. The minute we start editing TED content with respect to funding source or some template for political correctness we seriously impact the free exchange of inspirational ideas; what TED is all about. What next, a condemnation of NASA for its military work?
    • Mar 31 2011: "What next, a condemnation of NASA for its military work?"

      I condemn NASA for its military work. NASA should be 100% civilian. And if I had a choice between a military-dominated NASA and no NASA at all, I would choose the latter.
  • Mar 30 2011: I think you can find inspiration anywhere…let’s not forget one of the benefits of TED is the ability to see things you would never normally see. I don’t care if you are in a hunting lodge or a coffee shop, closed minded is closed minded. Inspiration is where you find it!!
  • Mar 30 2011: This is a difficult one for me to call. On balance, I would say that it is OK in moderation. Military technology exists and I am interested in the developments that are being made.

    The fact is that the huge expenditure on military R&D often leads to broader social gains, (internet, medical advances etc) and here we have such an example of new technology. I wonder how much longer we would have to wait for such technology to come to fruition and benefit the physically impaired without the military R&D. For sure, if the military budgets were diverted into general healthcare research, we woudl get there pretty quickly.

    The debate on the need for the military (and this somewhat distasteful industry is, as it seeks to serve all sides and is quietly pleased at the financial prospects resulting from unrest around the world) is a big one. For me, I find references to "our" or "The US" distracting. TED is a great worldwide community (albeit somewhat US centric). I believe, however, that the audience can look beyond the occassional military reference.