Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Slam Poetry

A great part of a TED conference is the change of pace delivered by short punchy 3 to 5 minute talks. We will be including several of these in our TEDxIBYork program, and we're delighted that two slam poets will be joining us in this category, Lishai, and David Silverberg.

Poetry is no longer relegated to the dusty tomes we might have read in high school. It's out there communicating with the people in a mix of poetry and performance art. Lishai and Silverberg are both accomplished practitioners of the art. One of our committee who attended a performance recently, assures me we have a great treat in store!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

River of Gods

Just as Cleo Paskal's book Global Warring had raised my consciousness of the political consequences of environmental change, I picked up River of Gods by Ian McDonald.

Set in India in 2047, River of Gods is a complex book interweaving the stories of nine different characters, who gradually drift together as their stories overlap. A key backdrop to the story is the failure of the monsoon for several years, sparking water wars. The book brought to life - or at least fictional life - the geopolitical consequences of environmental change.

The book also weaves together the traditions of India with the future as impacted by artificial intelligence, robots, and nanotechnology.

River of Gods is a longish book at 600 pages, and is rather demanding at the beginning with so many characters being introduced. But it's worth the effort; as the characters become more familiar, the book becomes completely engrossing. It posits adults that can be surgically transformed into a neutral gender, children can be genetically engineered, there are laws prohibiting computers which surpass a particular level of Turing intelligence, soap operas which dominate people's lives many of whose characters are AI-generated

Friday, July 16, 2010

Exploring Space

I'm happy to announce that we have another fascinating speaker for TEDxIBYork. Bob Richards is a Toronto boy, having studied engineering at Ryerson and physics and astronomy at University of Toronto. He then headed to the US for a space science degree at Cornell, where he became special assistant to Carl Sagan.

Since his education, Bob has been immersed in space ventures. In 1987, he co-founded the International Space University, based in Strasbourg France, providing graduate-level education in all disciplines related to space programs and enterprises - space science, space engineering, systems engineering, space policy and law, business and management, and space and socirty. The ISU develops the future leaders of the world space community by providing interdisciplinary educational programs to students and space professionals in an international, intercultural environment.

is still very active at ISU, and received an honorary doctorate from the institution in 2005. He's also the recipient of the K. E. Tsiolkovski Medal in Russia, the Space Frontier Vision to Reality award in the US, the Arthur C. Clarke Commendation in Sri Lanka, and the Aviation and Space Technology Laurel in the US. He may not be an astronaut, but he does get around on earth!

Bob is CEO of Odyssey Moon Limited, which is
developing a sustainable commercial transportation system to deliver payload services to the Moon in support of science, exploration and commerce. The Company has designed a commercial lunar robotic transportation service to meet the pent up and growing demand for low cost, frequent access to the Moon and is a contender for the $30M Google Lunar XPrize.

More recently, Bob was a founding trustee of Singularity University. Based at NASA Ames campus in Silicon Valley, its mission is to assemble, educate and inspire leaders who understand and develop exponentially advancing technologies to address humanity's Grand Challenges.

The Geopolitics of Environmental Change

You heard me describe a wonderful book I read back in May. I'm so pleased that we have been able to attract Cleo Paskal, the author of Global Warring: How Environmental, Economic and Political Crises Will Redraw the World Map to speak at our TEDx conference. I'm really pumped to have her insight on many of the events that have happened since the publication of her book.

TEDGlobal 2010

I've just finished 'attending' TEDGlobal via live webstream. Despite some uncharacteristic technical glitches by TED, the experience was great. Participating in an actual TED far exceeds the experience of listening to talks one by one on the site. The continuous stream of high-quality talks puts your head into a new gear. There must be some biochemical reaction!

There were some great talks I will be reporting on soon. But first a quick explanation for the long silence. Yes, there was a heat wave, which required much swimming. Yes, there were many guests at our cottage to share the good times. And yes, there was lots of work as curator of TEDxIBYork. But mostly, there was no g. That's right - no g. My computer's g key failed. I could cut and paste g's in most of my work. But not in this blogging software for some reason. I tried to avoid the g, but it just didn't work.

At any rate, the keyboard's been replaced. I had bought an extended warranty with my Lenovo computer (a purchase supposedly relegated to suckers), which covered maintenance at my site for 3 years. Sorting out the warranty registration (which I suspect was my fault for not sending in) took unreasonably long. However, once it was sorted, a delightful young man from IBM appeared at our somewhat remote cottage within a couple of hours to replace the keyboard. You hear so many negative stories about customer service, I thought I should brighten your day with a good one!