BY: OLIVIA VARNSON
(Gainesville, Ga.) — The twenty-fifth annual Technology, Entertainment, Design conference was held in Vancouver, March 16 through March 20. This year’s theme was Truth and Dare. Guest speakers challenged audience members to question the truth behind universally accepted statements like “the news is bad” and “robots will destroy more jobs than they create.” Speakers also dared the audience to contribute to creating a future that will benefit the greatest amount of people. It was a convergence of ideas that aimed to test beliefs and inspire conversation.
Perhaps the most popular TED talk of the event came from Monica Lewinsky. After being at the center of the first scandal to spread through social media, Lewinsky drew from what she described as a traumatic experience to bring attention to a culture of humiliation that fosters in online spaces. Nothing can ever be removed from social media. Invasions of privacy are more prevalent than ever before, and Lewinsky argued that it is far too easy to lose our sense of humanity and compassion. Lewinsky admitted that while she did make a mistake at the age of 22, it was a mistake she has been forced to live with her entire life because of the culture of humiliation that exists within social media. The effects of that kind of attention can be deadly. “In 1998, I lost my reputation and my dignity. I lost almost everything, and I almost lost my life,” Lewinsky said. In order to prevent this kind of pain and suffering, Lewinsky urged her audience to be more cautious with the links they click, because those clicks can determine the popularity of a news story. She dared them to show compassion and consider how that popularity might affect someone’s life.
Health journalist Maryn McKenna spoke about the looming threat of bacteria-resistant diseases that could result in ineffective antibiotics. The medical science available today may not be able to protect the world from ever-adapting viruses. In her speech, McKenna called upon the audience to examine their uses of antibiotics and to be certain that these resources are not going to waste. Meanwhile, explorer Nathalie Cabrol spoke about the possibility of life on Mars. Cabrol studied the environment of the high-elevation Andes Mountains and suggested that if life can be found in such extreme conditions on Earth, life on Mars may not be so far fetched of an idea.
For a full list of TED talks and videos, visit ted.com.