By making photographs that seem to show our favorite celebs (Diana, Elton John) doing what we really, secretly, want to see them doing, Alison Jackson explores our desire to get personal with celebs. Contains graphic images.
Mice, bugs and hamsters are no longer the only way to study the brain. Functional MRI (fMRI) allows scientists to map brain activity in living, breathing, decision-making human beings. Read Montague gives an overview of how this technology is helping us understand the complicated ways in which we interact with each other.
Over the years, research has shown a counterintuitive fact about human nature: Sometimes, having too much choice makes us less happy. This may even be true when it comes to medical treatment. Baba Shiv shares a fascinating study that measures why choice opens the door to doubt, and suggests that ceding control -- especially on life-or-death deci...
Abortion is extremely common. In America, for example, one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime, yet the strong emotions sparked by the topic -- and the highly politicized rhetoric around it -- leave little room for thoughtful, open debate. In this personal, thoughtful talk, Aspen Baker makes the case for being neither “pro-lif...
Tan Le's astonishing new computer interface reads its user's brainwaves, making it possible to control virtual objects, and even physical electronics, with mere thoughts (and a little concentration). She demos the headset, and talks about its far-reaching applications.
All-female Mariachi band Flor de Toloache take their name from a Mexican medicinal flower that's known to be an ingredient for love potions. Between two captivating songs, learn more about how the group is making a mark on Mariachi history.
Making the case for collective intelligence, Hu Liang offers a case study of an investment program that incorporated social media crowd-sourcing and produced dramatically improved performance over typical trading systems.
In this joyful, heartfelt talk featuring demos of her wonderfully wacky creations, Simone Giertz shares her craft: making useless robots. Her inventions -- designed to chop vegetables, cut hair, apply lipstick and more -- rarely (if ever) succeed, and that's the point. "The true beauty of making useless things [is] this acknowledgment that you d...
Imagine you're on a game show and you can choose between two prizes: a diamond ... or a bottle of water. It's an easy choice – the diamonds are more valuable. But if given the same choice when you were dehydrated in the desert, after wandering for days, would you choose differently? Why? Aren't diamonds still more valuable? Akshita Agarwal expla...
Economics writer Tim Harford studies complex systems -- and finds a surprising link among the successful ones: they were built through trial and error. In this sparkling talk from TEDGlobal 2011, he asks us to embrace our randomness and start making better mistakes.
The 500+ TED Fellows are making headlines in over 100 countries for their incredible work in all fields. This year's TED Fellows cohort represents 14 countries across five continents -- including, for the first time, Peru. Each TED Fellow was selected for their remarkable achievements, the potential impact of their work and their commitment to c...
Why do so many companies make bad decisions, even with access to unprecedented amounts of data? With stories from Nokia to Netflix to the oracles of ancient Greece, Tricia Wang demystifies big data and identifies its pitfalls, suggesting that we focus instead on "thick data" -- precious, unquantifiable insights from actual people -- to make the ...
What if everything in your life was randomized: from the food you ate to the things you did and the places you traveled? Computer scientist Max Hawkins created algorithms to make decisions like these for him -- and got hooked on the experience for two years. He shares how relinquishing choice sent him across the world and opened him up to the be...
The world's dietary habits threaten to collapse our ecosystem. Environmentalist and entrepreneur Pat Crowley believes we need to find alternative sources of nutrients, making the case for insects as our next culinary frontier.
Paul Rothemund writes code that causes DNA to arrange itself into a star, a smiley face and more. Sure, it's a stunt, but it's also a demonstration of self-assembly at the smallest of scales -- with vast implications for the future of making things.
Backed by mathematical analysis, network theorist Albert-László Barabási explores the hidden mechanisms that drive success -- no matter your field -- and uncovers an intriguing connection between your age and your chance of making it big.
"Babies and young children are like the R&D division of the human species," says psychologist Alison Gopnik. Her research explores the sophisticated intelligence-gathering and decision-making that babies are really doing when they play.
Our obsession with productivity -- to-do lists, life hacks, morning routines -- is making us less productive, says digital anthropologist Rahaf Harfoush. She explains why we need to redesign our workday around creativity -- not just efficiency.
Janine Benyus has a message for inventors: When solving a design problem, look to nature first. There you'll find inspired designs for making things waterproof, aerodynamic, solar-powered and more. Here she reveals dozens of new products that take their cue from nature with spectacular results.
Today's math and science curricula often serve to alienate students from these valuable disciplines when they should be doing the opposite. STEM advocate Amara Berry uses her family's work in the sciences to illustrate the pressing need for making education in these subjects more accessible and effective.
Clay Shirky looks at "cognitive surplus" -- the shared, online work we do with our spare brain cycles. While we're busy editing Wikipedia, posting to Ushahidi (and yes, making LOLcats), we're building a better, more cooperative world.
Confirmation bias, loss aversion, the halo effect – inherently, humans face obstacles when making rational decisions. In the future, could purely logical cognitive computers help erase these blind spots? Dario Gil explores what the future of cognitive computers looks like and considers the uneasy question: could technology ever replace humans?
From the TED archives: The legendary graphic designer Milton Glaser dives deep into a new painting inspired by Piero della Francesca. From here, he muses on what makes a convincing poster, by breaking down an idea and making it new.
Trust is on the decline, and we need to rebuild it. That's a commonly heard suggestion for making a better world ... but, says philosopher Onora O'Neill, we don't really understand what we're suggesting. She flips the question, showing us that our three most common ideas about trust are actually misdirected.
Fiorenzo Omenetto shares 20+ astonishing new uses for silk, one of nature's most elegant materials -- in transmitting light, improving sustainability, adding strength and making medical leaps and bounds. On stage, he shows a few intriguing items made of the versatile stuff.
Too often, freelancers are told they have to choose between being creative or making money. Financial expert Paco de Leon debunks this thinking -- and gives practical advice on how you can set yourself apart and get paid what you deserve.