American-Swiss journalist and author Edward Girardet is one of the world’s foremost experts on Afghanistan. His recent book Killing the Cranes details his experiences and encounters over the past 30 years and sheds light on the reasons for the West’s failures in this country.
In his talk, he uses Afghanistan as an example of the crucial need for credible, independent and reliable global reporting as a prerequisite for making informed decisions about the predicament of crisis-affected populations. He argues that new media are insufficient for filling the gap left behind by many mainstream media in the wake of 9/11, and he offers some new ideas about potential solutions.
Michael Yaziji is professor at IMD. He focuses especially on the relationship between corporations, NGOs and government. He has a strong interest in issues associated with sustainability and the environment, and in the role of the corporation in a changing world. In his talk, he argues that the existing corporate structure is no longer optimally adapted to the needs of society or of corporations themselves. He proposes some bold suggestions about the modifications he sees as necessary.
Being able to use a clean toilet whenever we need it is still a privilege in today’s world. Billions of people still do not have access to sanitary facilities. But even in developed cities, the high water consumption of our toilets is becoming more and more of a problem. Tove Larsen from Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, works on the toilet of the future, a toilet that one day may very well be present in every home.
Corporate actors today often wield more power than governments. Manon Schick, head of Amnesty International’s Swiss section, argues the need for greater state regulation of corporate actors, including in Switzerland, particularly with respect to operations conducted abroad.
Laurent Keller is an evolutionary biologist and an expert on the behavior of social insects, specifically ants. In his talk, he reveals some of the fascinating observations his lab has made on the complex social organization of these animals, living in societies comprising thousands of individuals. Prof. Keller also draws some conclusions on the implications for human society and how information and transport can be optimized.
While dealing with our challenges requires a great deal of serious thinking, it is refreshing that, in these complex and troubling times, there are people around injecting a strong dose of craziness and humor into the mix. Steve Edge, a severe dyslexic who has never read a book (nor, presumably, a webpage blurb; we resist the temptation…), runs a highly creative design agency based in East London. We don’t know exactly what he has in store for his talk, but he assures us that his message will be uplifting. Coming from a man who dresses like every day is a party, we have good reason to look forward.
Cary Adams, a former COO of Lloyds TSB International, switched careers in 2009 to become CEO of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC; formerly International Union Against Cancer). The UICC is the largest cancer-fighting organisation of its kind, aiming to eliminate cancer as a life-threatening disease for future generations. In his talk, Cary will argue for the need for major actors to invest more in the fight against this persistent threat to people’s well-being.
In his talk, Mikkel Vestergaard explains how his company has successfully leveraged international carbon markets to sustainably finance the first large-scale water purification program, providing safe drinking water to more than 4 million people, and directly tied this funding to measurable development outcomes. This new pay-for-performance model of financing global health realigns incentives to create long-term investment in health impact for child and maternal health and the prevention of water-borne diseases, and can be scaled up and applied to other areas of global health to accelerate progress toward our collective commitments within the Millennium Development Goals.
The current global financial crisis represents a major threat to stability and the wellbeing of huge numbers of people. Some blame the greed of the banking sector. But what are the deeper underlying causes?
Salvatore Cantale is a professor of finance and an advocate of the role of finance in value creation, who himself started his career as an investment banker. In his talk, he makes the complex plain and proposes some new approaches to finance as potentially promising solutions.
Explaining in a few words what matters, how we can find out what we are really made for, and what we are (unconsciously) afraid of – this is what David Veenhuys does. His talk is not only of interest for those seeking greater satisfaction in their professional careers, but provides inspiration to anyone seeking greater enjoyment and meaning in their lives.
Machine intelligence is improving rapidly, to the point that the scientist of the future may not even be human! In fact, in more and more fields, learning machines are already outperforming humans.
Artificial intelligence expert Jürgen Schmidhuber isn’t able to predict the future accurately, but he explains how machines are getting creative, why 40’000 years of Homo sapiens-dominated history are about to end soon, and how we can try to make the best of what lies ahead.
Jamie Catto was a founding member of the British dance music supergroup Faithless and has worked as a producer/composer for renowned artists such as Dido and Emiliana Torrini. In 1999, he and Duncan Bridgeman formed the double Grammy-nominated global music and film project 1 Giant Leap, which fuses sounds, images and words from artists and thinkers around the globe. Their 2008 film, “What About Me?”, won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the Red Rock Film Festival. Jamie is also a human rights activist and conducts acclaimed inspirational workshops.