TED Conversations

Lars Jan
  • Lars Jan
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • United States

Artistic Director / Founder, Early Morning Opera


This conversation is closed.

How can creatives use new technologies to increase empathy across cultural and geographic distances?

I'm fascinated by how people feel close to one another and how the answers to that question are evolving.

Live TED Conversation: Join TED Fellow Lars Jan

Lars is a media artist and founder of Early Morning Opera, a multidisciplinary art lab creating works about "America right now."

This conversation will open at 1:00PM ET on November 18th


Closing Statement from Lars Jan

THANK YOU ALL CONTRIBUTORS ! Lots of insight, passion and bunch of new threads to follow. I think the conversation veered towards empathy as relates to how we experience the world via the web, which seems like the trunk of this conversation. I'm also curious about what other branches will evolve — comments about universal translation and the future of gaming sparked my imagination in particular.

Benedict Anderson calls nations 'imagined communities.' We are pretty successful at imagining our affiliation with 300 million other folks, and that was the case well before the web and other social tools emerged. I'm constantly wondering about how we might expand that number to about 7 billion. 300 million and 7 billion both feel like infinity, at least to me. So I'm essentially imagining the same thing anyway.

Looking forward to connecting with you again, in thought or person as the case may be, somewhere down the line. Thanks again for sharing your passion! Onwards and upwards...

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    Nov 18 2011: Time for an odd question: Let’s say the world was given an empathy grade by some intergallactic intelligent friends. What would you guess that grade might be, and do you think we have a good chance of improving it next, uh, semester?
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      Nov 18 2011: Considering the world is run by corporations and businesses, the goal of which is to increase shareholder profits and not to build community or create empathy, I think we, as humans, would be hard pressed to see ourselves having a really awesome grade to interstellar onlookers.
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      Nov 18 2011: Good question.

      In times of large-scale war we tend to believe that we're less empathetic. How can I humanize the enemy? I would guess we're a lot less empathetic than we should be. B-? How's that for a grade?

      Let me redirect the question: In such a globally connected world is there such a thing as too much empathy?
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        Nov 18 2011: NEVER! Never ever ever! :)
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          Nov 18 2011: Well, if we get sci-fi for a moment, and I feel wholeheartedly what anyone else, world wide might feel. Then how do I cope everytime someone's mother dies, if I feel like it's my mother? How do we not grind to an emotive hault? Now this is a bit tongue in cheek, and certainly not our problem a the moment. I wish we had this problem...
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        Nov 18 2011: Given Lars's last point, yes, it would be difficult to experience every mother's death as our own mother's death. However, I think if we did experience tragedy on a much deeper and personal level, we would understand what mourning is, or what celebration means, and the importance of rituals that help us process those emotions.

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