playlist

How did the internet take over our lives?

TED Talks that make sense of this brave, new, virtual world.

  1. 22:55
    Zeynep Tufekci We're building a dystopia just to make people click on ads

    We're building an artificial intelligence-powered dystopia, one click at a time, says techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci. In an eye-opening talk, she details how the same algorithms companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon use to get you to click on ads are also used to organize your access to political and social information. And the machines aren't even the real threat. What we need to understand is how the powerful might use AI to control us — and what we can do in response.

  2. 12:56
    Margaret Gould Stewart How giant websites design for you (and a billion others, too)

    Facebook's "like" and "share" buttons are seen 22 billion times a day, making them some of the most-viewed design elements ever created. Margaret Gould Stewart, Facebook's director of product design, outlines three rules for design at such a massive scale—one so big that the tiniest of tweaks can cause global outrage, but also so large that the subtlest of improvements can positively impact the lives of many.

  3. 14:54
    Jaron Lanier How we need to remake the internet

    In the early days of digital culture, Jaron Lanier helped craft a vision for the internet as public commons where humanity could share its knowledge — but even then, this vision was haunted by the dark side of how it could turn out: with personal devices that control our lives, monitor our data and feed us stimuli. (Sound familiar?) In this visionary talk, Lanier reflects on a "globally tragic, astoundingly ridiculous mistake" companies like Google and Facebook made at the foundation of digital culture — and how we can undo it. "We cannot have a society in which, if two people wish to communicate, the only way that can happen is if it's financed by a third person who wishes to manipulate them," he says.

  4. 17:00
    Tristan Harris How a handful of tech companies control billions of minds every day

    A handful of people working at a handful of tech companies steer the thoughts of billions of people every day, says design thinker Tristan Harris. From Facebook notifications to Snapstreaks to YouTube autoplays, they're all competing for one thing: your attention. Harris shares how these companies prey on our psychology for their own profit and calls for a design renaissance in which our tech instead encourages us to live out the timeline we want.

  5. 19:05
    Scott Galloway How Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google manipulate our emotions

    The combined market capitalization of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google is now equivalent to the GDP of India. How did these four companies come to infiltrate our lives so completely? In a spectacular rant, Scott Galloway shares insights and eye-opening stats about their dominance and motivation — and what happens when a society prizes shareholder value over everything else. Followed by a Q&A with TED Curator Chris Anderson. (Note: This talk contains graphic language.)

  6. 6:32
    Mehdi Ordikhani-Seyedlar What happens in your brain when you pay attention?

    Attention isn't just about what we focus on — it's also about what our brains filter out. By investigating patterns in the brain as people try to focus, computational neuroscientist Mehdi Ordikhani-Seyedlar hopes to build computer models that can be used to treat ADHD and help those who have lost the ability to communicate. Hear more about this exciting science in this brief, fascinating talk.

  7. 16:32
    James Bridle The nightmare videos of children's YouTube — and what's wrong with the internet today

    Writer and artist James Bridle uncovers a dark, strange corner of the internet, where unknown people or groups on YouTube hack the brains of young children in return for advertising revenue. From "surprise egg" reveals and the "Finger Family Song" to algorithmically created mashups of familiar cartoon characters in violent situations, these videos exploit and terrify young minds — and they tell us something about where our increasingly data-driven world is headed. "We need to stop thinking about technology as a solution to all of our problems, but think of it as a guide to what those problems actually are, so we can start thinking about them properly and start to address them," Bridle says.