TED Conversations

Morton Bast

editorial coordinator, TED

TEDCRED 200+

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How would you make a difference with $1 million?

Do you have a big-impact, million-dollar-worthy idea that could spark some sort of real change in the world?

Good, because nominations for the TED Prize are open! As the Prize team makes their way through the thinkers, leaders and dreamers who've already applied, we wanted to hear from the TED community -- what would YOU do with the $1 million TED Prize? Submit your answers here. We'll be collecting some good responses for the TED Blog. And we very much invite you to go beyond this brainstorm and officially nominate a mentor, colleague, friend -- or yourself -- at http://www.ted.com/nominate by Monday, March 31.

Topics: TED Prize
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    Jan 30 2014: I have the wish to see the prototype of a developed project, already calculated as a feasible and economical 3 levels building with a sophisticated design, robust but simple to drive, which can Increase density by square meter of culture 80% to 250% MORE THAN THE TRADITIONAL HYDROPONICS. This application of technologies already proved can reach a respectable percentage Food Security of any country who wants to see their neighborhoods with empowered communities obtaining in situ their own food production.

    Dicson Despommier pushed in TED this idea of vertical integration of agriculture as a solution to the irrational use of the planet's resources. But Still complicated to find resources to consolidate this first hydroponics structure who will be the witness of a net of buildings, remotely controlled by few technicians who can create useful cultivable area in super populated urban communities, helping theme to obtain healthy food of high nutritional quality with very affordable prices.

    The actual vision of the Vertical Farming designs has the tendency of huge futuristic buildings with unattainable budgets ..Or few smaller agribusiness buildings settle in the periphery of some cities as a private way to create money.

    Will be easier to involve citizens from any community to new and clean technologies than to teach them to face the problems of growing crops in their little backyard lawns, if they are fortunately to have one, many contaminated with heavy metals, plus a long list of problems to solve besides the huge sweet water consumption.
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    Jan 28 2014: I would set up a Mr. Father/ International Father of the year contest (either locally or internationally depending on how far a million dollar stretches) where contestants are Fathers and are nominated based on parenting skills, community activity, proactive involvement in enhancing the quality of Fathering/parenting skills etc.
    My reason is that much of the problems we face as a global village stem from poor attention paid to the formative years of a child's life. The tough tasks that teachers face can in many ways be traced to suboptimal parenting and absentee fathers.
    This is not to say that mothers are always perfect, but generally the biological parenting instinct comes more naturally to mothers.
    In this day and age, with the stressful and multifocal waves of change sweeping across family life, it is almost sad to admit that Fatherhood and Fathering needs a bit of a shakeup and some incentivisation.
    I personally see beauty pageants as a complete farce and the sooner we rid ourselves of this vanity stained scourge the better.
    Why not invest the million dollars in creating a new type of beauty contest, one that can help mould our now more constructive aspirations. Fatherhood is a good place to start.
  • Feb 2 2014: I would start a non-profit peoples bank to compete head to head with the thriving payday loans business. It would focus on community projects and community jobs similar to a credit union. The first priority for community projects would be youth education: nutrition from the seed to the gourmet menus, nature understanding & appreciation, survival skills (home building, independent energy, community sharing)
    No more teachers, force or violence! Only guides who lead by example and attraction. Diplomas, degrees and titles of all kinds are worthless on applications, we are looking for guides who can do the job according to the needs of the children, instead of some corporation. We are building independence, we are building freedom, we are build communities that will thrive from the inside out. We will not take any government funds so the government cannot later threaten us, and we will build healthy, responsible, honest and capable citizens.
    As we prosper we will give a reasonable some to our government for service and protection in the form of goods and services, not something they can turn into a weapon or put in their pocket, like money! We will keep our own retirement funds in our own banks and operate on old fashion sound accounting practices, unlike today's banks which are really money laundering casinos. To keep our community strong we will employ time banking where ever possible so as to not be controlled or manipulated by the all mighty dollar. In the same light we will generate our own community energy and promote independent energy for our homes, buildings and vehicles. We will also show our children how to compete if they so choose with companies who no longer wanted liabilities so they incorporated and then they did not want to pay "any" taxes so they become non-profit corporations so they can hide their billions away from the government. SHALL I GO ON?
    Believe me, you do not want to give me a million dollars, I would start a responsibility revolution.
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    Jan 27 2014: One of the most difficult problems to solve, not only in the US but also throughout the world, is failing schools - especially K-12. Fix the K-8 level, high school and college become easier.

    If I have a million dollars (I may need a little more), I will open an elementary school that will allow children to perform to their full potential through individualized instruction. I will hire the most competent and caring teachers, and they will be paid well. Teacher to student ratio is about 1:10. Children who need extra help will be given opportunity to master basic concepts. There will be a lot of critical thinking and problem-solving exercises, enough art activities, and plenty ot hands-on learning - programming or coding, cooking & baking, carpentry, basic electricity, and outdoor activities.

    I will invite experts to lecture and provide hands-on demonstrations: doctors, scientists, engineers, artists, writers, community leaders, etc.

    My school is open from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. There is no need to give students a lot of homework because they will learn all the academics they need in school. After 6:00 PM is family time. There will be less yelling at home, less stress on both students and their parents.

    Is running a great school attainable? YES! Is it sustainable? YES! Do we have the resources to have great schools? OH, YES! Is it possible to make average 5th graders to read and write at 6th and 7th grade level or do math at 6th, 7th, or even 8th grade level? YES!

    Improve our schools, educate our children well, and the rest of our problems will become less complicated. Well-educated children become more responsible adults and more responsible adults become more productive members of the community and better citizens of the world.

    The proposal above is just a prototype - just like a prototype car. Once the program has been proven, then it can be duplicated. That is when individualized instruction can empower every student to perform to his/her full potential.
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    Jan 27 2014: COMMUNITY GARDENS ... The accelerating closures of small post offices and shops are destroying communities ...
    I envision for villages to have a 'community garden,' and for towns to have several such gardens. By a community garden I mean a place where it's possible to have a cheap and wholesome meal, share ideas, network, start enterprises, have an exchange library where local writers can offer readings, where it's possible to rent a space and and conduct a workshop, and rent a stall once a week to sell handmade wares.
    To avoid such place from becoming too wholesome and holy, there could be a specially designated area for the reckless, that is people who like a smoke, enjoy a glass of wine and have crazy dreams like this one.
  • Jan 27 2014: I would begin by revitalizing the city I live in. There are many run-down buildings that I would like to employ local people to restore (creating jobs) to then sell (at cost or close to cost) to low income families in the area. Hopefully I would be able to do this through private loans which would give the opportunity to expand the project over time. If successful, I envision creating teams to spread out into other areas, deepening the impact.
  • Feb 2 2014: La nourriture produite sur terre chaque année est suffisante pour tout un chacun, mais encore 13poucent de la population mondial souffre de sous alimentation. En utilisant les surplus des supermarchés, des cultivateurs, est des consommateurs trop gaspilleur pour les redistribuer a des populations ayant vraiment besoin on fera du bien sans se donné beaucoup de mal. En effectuant des collectes des produits destiner à être jeter ou bruler sans même avoir été consommé des individuels ou des volontaires aideront a les déplacé d’un point a un autre afin que les populations ciblé Puisse y accéder. Sachant que juste le un quart de la nourriture jeté chaque année pourrai sauver les 850 000 000 de sous-alimentés de notre planète j’aimerais crée un mouvement a une échelle global basé sur des action local par un réseau de distribution appuyé par un site internet détaillant selon votre position sur le globe les zones ayant besoin de nourritures et t’indiquant en même temps comment t’y prendre pour aidé a ton tour : par un don, du bénévolat, ou pour le transport des dons.
  • Feb 1 2014: I have a lot of family. I would spend my million in buying each one a modest home, with solar energy, they really wanted in an area they could live in comfortably. I would buy each family member a new electric car or two if needed. I would plant a vegetable and an herb garden in their yards, pay for their first two years of utilities, buy some new clothing if they needed it, pay their medical bills. After I do all of that I would tend to the needs of friends. Even though that would probably take care of all the million, if it should happen that I have any left over I would take care of some families who are not really good friends, but on whom I have had my eye. As I help all my people we will talk about the homeless and how to help them as individuals. If all I can reach are properly cared for then things would ripple out from there. Can't ask for more than ripples.
  • Gord G 50+

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    Feb 1 2014: I believe I could make a difference with much less. In addition I feel I could establish a revenue stream that would not only fund future projects but also foster awareness of issues and establish a global platform to brainstorm creative solutions.

    This could be achieved by tapping into the power of gaming.

    In 2012 Angry Birds generated 200 million in revenue and FarmVille reached a billion dollar in sales. These games achieved these levels by simply providing an entertaining experience to a global market.

    Imagine an entertaining game that also has a positive impact on the future of the planet. And all a person has to do is have fun playing the game.

    Now imagine if the player gained points, gifts and incentives by finding virtual solutions to virtual problems. There would be in game resources that could be purchased to help them build a better world. Players could form teams to tackle complex problems and make greater gains.

    Of course successful online games must generate an audience to succeed. And what better way than a cash prize. Each year, players that have reached a minimum point level are placed on a ballot. The game community then votes to choose the player they feel created the best virtual solution to a real world problem. The player is award the cash prize. In addition, a cash award would be provided to help apply the virtual solution to the real world.

    The game would be fun…and rewarding.
    • Feb 1 2014: This has already been done.
      • Feb 1 2014: Zachary - Happy to hear there's funds being raised for a good cause. Do you know the name of the game or do you have a link?
      • Feb 1 2014: Thanks for the link Zachary.

        Interesting game. It's different than what I was envisioning. The game appears to be functioning as a platform to build awareness, rather than generate funds.

        There are several key differences from what I'm proposing.

        1. It would be easy to learn and fun to play. It wouldn't be didactic or have complex strategies.
        2. A round of play could be completed in 5 to 10 minutes. Short play cycles work best for mobile games (i.e. while waiting for a bus)
        3. The graphics would be colourful and appealing. The theme would be amusing, rather than simulate scientific schematics.
        4. It would incorporate in-game purchases. This method of monetization has proven to be an effective way to generate revenue.
        5. A broad age group could play.

        The game would be developed as entertainment. The purpose is to generate revenue to supply funds for serious projects. For example, both Angry Birds and FarmVille are based on old computer games. The companies simply altered the theme, created appealing graphics and engaged people with an entertaining game universe.

        The key is FUN. And whether or not the player is playing to save the world or to kill some time before her/his next class... it will be generating revenue.
    • Feb 1 2014: This has already been done.
  • Jan 30 2014: A million dollars is not enough...neither for education nor technology...I would invest it in shelter homes...There are so many people who live on the streets...Where I come from(Serbia),we only have one or two shelter homes...And it is not enough...with the economy that`s providing so little and more and more people declaring poverty...
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    Jan 30 2014: I think I'd like to invest to earn more because $1 million is still not a big enough amount to do as many things as I want . Investment would be on my own educations or helping other people start or delvelop their business. And of course I'd like to give some to my parents.
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    Jan 28 2014: If possible, setup an interactive museum of tribal indegeneous technology from different parts of the world. Another practical step is to setup alternative school in one or two village in the region i came from.
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    Jan 28 2014: Great question! Personally, I'd use it to connect. I've come to realize that I've been spending way to much time and resources trying to do it myself. The talent and drive is all out there. I just need to connect the new social network vendor with the kindergarten teacher who's afraid to use it. I need to host happy hours for home school association parents and university professors. I need to have workshops where design thinking graduates can help 21st century parents stay involved in their kids' education while also juggling jobs and a mortgage. The digital communication piece is already there and it's pretty cheap. It's the physical place to bring these groups together that we're lacking. At my institution, I think I could create such a space for well under $1 million! We'd just need money for some display technology, cheese and crackers, and maybe some home brew on occasion (this is St. Louis, after all :)
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      Jan 28 2014: Were you not doing something like this in 2012 or 2013? Did you have a thread about an opportunity you had to plan a space for the display of technologies for teaching/learning and a place for users- teachers, learners, developers- to come together to learn how to integrate new technologies into their learning environments?

      Forgive me if I have mixed you up with someone else.
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    Jan 28 2014: start a program designed to make effective use of technology in education.

    rather than be centred around excitement over devices and replacing paper with tablets, i would investigate practical ways for technology to streamline and update logistics and management within individual schools.

    the way i see it, there is too much focus on the 'wrong' side of the tech-coin in education. a lot of it is driven by catch-phrases and idealism that does not deal with the real problems within the system.

    in my experience as a primary school teacher, the adherence to tradition over forward thinking is stifling. true use of digital communication technology was stymied by old habits, old perceptions and an unwillingness to trust individual teachers' professionalism without "supervision".

    the other part of education that needs blowing wide apart are assessment systems. most of them are so out of date and ineffective, that schools using new technology in combination with archaic assessment methods are very much like a spaceship pulling a plow..
  • Jan 28 2014: Lo usaría para invitar a los 20 líderes del G-20 a acoger a un niño de un país del tercer mundo en su casa durante 60 días y conociesen su forma de ver el mundo. Pagaría todos los gastos para que no tuvieran que molestarse y así sabrían como sobreviven en sus países de origen. Solo con que destinasen una mínima parte del presupuesto anual del país que dirigen a combatir el hambre y la falta de educación infantil en los países subdesarrollados, cambiaríamos el mundo. Intentaría así concienciar del problema a los mas poderosos.

    I would use to invite 20 G20 leaders to host a child from a third world country at his home for 60 days and know his way of seeing the world. I´ll pay all expenses so they did not bother and so would know how can they to survive in their home countries. Only should allocate a fraction of his country's annual budget aimed to fighting hunger and lack of child education in the developing world to change the world. I´ll try to raise awareness of the problem to world powerful leaders.
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    Jan 28 2014: I would create a school farm. The students would manage the farm in exchange for their education. Any profits gained from the students contributions were given back to them upon completion of their own business plan.
  • Jan 27 2014: I will invest it in designing a watch that measures the quality of time uniquely to each and every of its users.

    Why? Because time is the very container that holds and dictates all of our efforts and I believe we have an outdated approach and perception towards it. (Yes, we have been at this method for a really really long time!)

    Sir Ken Robinson got it really right when he said --- "We have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process; it’s an organic process. And you cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish."

    If we can accept a very simple fact that we function differently at different hours only can we begin replying time with actions that make sense and not merely to satisfy the system. It is that simple. Earth didn't come prepackaged with the 9-5 system, so why are we spending our time like it did?

    I would like to suggest a different approach to time-keeping which I gathered and interpreted from Sir Ken Robinson's words; that our very best effort is still secondary to the environment its positioned in.

    And time is a crucial element of the environment which we often overlook.

    As our world problems grow, we really need to view and tackle it from a perspective that considers the tools that we could and should have, and not only the ones that we have at the moment. As the good old saying by Bernard Baruch goes --- "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

    If we can design a time system that compliments and brings out the best in people, we are essentially laying the foundation for more amazing skills and great minds to grow on.
  • Jan 27 2014: Pro-active psychological support for children in schools. Kids are under huge pressure to succeed, and often in the face of adversity at home. I would like to see support reach every child who needs it.
  • Jan 27 2014: I would open a school focused on collaborative leadership with youth, academic learning through service, using technology as it's used in the real world - offering opportunities for those who may not otherwise get to travel and connect... students deserve an empowering education that would both interest them and prepare them for the world they are living in, my school will provide an alternative to the traditional classroom.

    Project leaders will work in partnership with the young people who choose to accept the challenge of designing and completing their own service and academic program. With projects both local and global, there is a place for every student to find his or her gifts.

    Using current communication technologies, students from partnering sites collaborate in the development and implementation of their unique joint project, developing the skills needed to recreate and reinvent the world we live in...

    mission statement

    We are cultivating 21st Century Skills, supporting academic achievement, service learning and global citizenship by serving as guides on a learning journey with young people who are exploring and expanding their reach in the world.
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    Jan 27 2014: I could complete my family tree. Relatives I did not know existed would come at a full gallop. Other than that I might get a larger allowance ... $10 bucks a week .... one can only dream.
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    Feb 3 2014: Develop as many permaculture gardens at as many schools as possible.
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    Feb 3 2014: Créer un site Internet avec pour page d'accueil, le planisphère qui constituera la plateforme et le support de toutes les associations qui mènent, à travers le monde, une action de nature environnementale.
    « EPINGLER » une association sur la carte consiste à l’y faire apparaître, afin de lui assurer une certaine publicité et de permettre à des volontaires de la rejoindre.
    Ces volontaires seront appelés « PARRAINS ». Le parrainage implique une participation financière, matérielle ou physique à la bonne marche d’une organisation.
    Imaginez que la possibilité soit donnée à toutes ces associations de faire une demande de parrainage à plus de deux milliards de personnes ! Quel que soit leur taille et leur situation géographique! Que ce soit un parc national en mal de moyens pour assurer la survie des animaux, des plantes et des écosystèmes qu'il protège, une association de lutte contre la pêche aux baleines ; des particuliers réunis pour planter des arbres dans leurs quartiers. Ces associations n'auraient plus à investir dans la communication, il leur suffirait de faire une demande de parrainage bien visible sur la carte du site "Parrainons la planète".
    Il y aurait en plus :
    *un système de notation qui permettrait aux parrains d'évaluer les associations et aux visiteurs du site de se faire une idée plus précise des activités menées par ces associations grâce à leur retour.
    *des prix pour encourager les associations, les parrains très engagés
    *une application Smartphone
    *une application Smartphone
    L'écologie pourrais être source de développement (les écosystèmes, les arbres et les animaux pourraient être source de tourisme et les actions visant leur sauvegarde créer des emplois...) ; de divertissement (on pourrait vaincre l’ennui en allant planter ou arroser des plantes, ou en s'occupant d'une espèce ou d'un écosystème avec d'autres parrains.) ; d'harmonie et de paix (toute l'humanité quel que soit nos différences engager pour la planète)
  • Feb 2 2014: I confess I've read very little, it's the question that grabbed me, and since this was the same question asked a couple years ago, (where I live), I'm defensive.
    You see, the same question as asked here in Minneapolis MN., I think it was a small story in the on-line, "Star Tribune" newspaper.
    I was the first to respond, and was thrilled to answer with my own personal plan.
    Than NOTHING, and than some more nothing, than after a long time, more nothing.
    I hunted down the source (Google is your best friend) and was unglued to find that the money came from the left over Republican national convention held in Minneapolis.
    More dogged digging, produced an extremely long list of personal dreams, idea's and thought out plan's freely presented to what end?
    No other word has ever been (to my knowledge) made public, or this money awarded.
    I concluded that the Republican right, (or some wing of it), had scored a huge boon, by culling the idea's and dream's of an entire metro area, (if not the whole state of Minnesota), for the entire cost, of not one cent.
    My single hope,( in this case), is to be completely wrong to be thinking about that lousy experience, when reading about another that sounds exactly like it.
  • Feb 2 2014: I would implement the business plan for my massage tool for the treatment of muscle overuse injuries.

    The American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons estimates muscle and bone injuries cost the American economy $850 Billion/year - greater than the cost of cancer and heart disease COMBINED. Soft tissue injuries - mostly due to muscle overuse injury affect over 10% of the US population in chronic injury, often resulting in partial or total disability. This is not a high profile issue - but it is real, and will get worse.

    25% of soldiers evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan were due to muscle injuries - the toll of backpacks of 100 pounds. Many still suffer from those same injuries, - a number have committed suicide as a result.

    Children suffer overuse injuries from backpacks full of books. Many suffer injuries due to their pursuit of sports. Factory workers performing repetitive motions hurt. Computer users are at risk of forearm injury which can be debilitating - and interfere with sleep which in turn results in additional health concerns. Restless leg syndrome prevents effective REM sleep - affecting alertness, energy and the immune system. The effects of poor sleep are thought to contribute to diabetes.

    Overactive muscle spindle cells can be reset by high pressure - deep tissue massage work as it has been done for thousands of years. German research by a dozen research doctors from the early 1900's determined every muscle overuse injury could be rehabilitated in the course of 1 to 5 weeks of work. Scientific literature supports the effectiveness of massage, testimonials document the results of high pressure - deep tissue treatment.

    My business plan specifies a website with all the information for the public to treat existing overuse injuries, guidelines how to prevent overuse injuries from becoming chronic, and the tool and method procedure to facilitate treatment by anyone.

    A self supporting ongoing enterprise can reach millions in need.
  • Feb 2 2014: Wow Morton that was fun but I really don't want your corporate money, when this starts to roll over their is plenty of money out their, too much really. I want the money to come from within the community, after all it is their baby. I would much rather have time dollars in our bank, something we can count on and can't be taken away!
  • Feb 2 2014: I would gather single moms and dads on low income, who want to enter STEM careers and allow them to have college, and housing and other things they need to complete their schooling. Then assign them to mentors in STEM programs so that they in turn can mentor others. I don't want to limit this to just single moms because i know there are single dads out there too, but we need more women in STEM careers. There are so many women who are smart enough to go to college but they can't, they have to work, take care of kids, elderly parents, or have other obstacles in their lives. I was told that since I have my high school diploma i have too much education. I don't want another single mom to hear that ever again. I have learned, on my own, computer and programming and other tech skills. All i have is a high school diploma.
  • Feb 2 2014: With $1,000,000, First I'd set my family up with a 100 acre self sustaining farm complete with aquaponics, off grid power, and farm animals so they learn how to live and eat healthy. After that I'd like to help start aquaponics in less fortunate areas. I have a small experimental system I started last year and am expanding some this year. I love it.