Arts

When we manage a flash of mercy for someone we don’t like — including ourselves — we experience a great spiritual moment, says writer Anne Lamott. There are times in our lives — scary, unsettling times — when we know that we need help or answers but we’re not sure what kind, or even what the problem or question is. We look and look, tearing apart our lives like we’re searching for car keys in our couch, and we come up empty-handed. Then when we’re doing something ...
Researchers are finding that your mental patterns could be harming your telomeres — essential parts of the cell’s DNA — and affecting your life and health. Nobel-winning scientist Elizabeth Blackburn and health psychologist Elissa Epel explain. How can one person bask in the sunshine of good health, while another person looks old before her time? Humans have been asking this question for millennia, and recently, it’s becoming clearer and clearer to scientists that the differences...
Economist Robin Hanson thinks the era of ems — robots with artificial copies of human brains — could occur in the next century. Read his astonishing predictions … and prepare for your jaw to drop. The next big new-era-inducing change is likely to be the arrival of artificial intelligence, in the form of robots smart enough to substitute wholesale for human workers. I guess that the first such robots will be whole brain emulations or “ems.” An em results from taking a particular...
We can do so with careful planning, recovering the ideals of compassion, peace and equity, and standing together in the face of hate, says Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. Life, down here on earth, is holy. It is also exceptionally fragile. It is hevel, a Hebrew word meaning a mere breath. Almost in his last words, Moses tells his people, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set life and death, blessing and curse, before you. Therefore choose life so that you and your de...
Here’s something you might want to consider tattooing on your forehead: What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do, says productivity guru Tim Ferriss. To do or not to do? To try or not to try? Most people will vote no, whether they consider themselves brave or not. Uncertainty and the prospect of failure can be very scary noises in the shadows, and most people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty. For years, I set goals, made resolutions to change direction — nothing...
Artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn rejuvenate neighborhoods around the world with color and collaboration through large-scale painting projects. Design duo Haas&Hahn — Dutch artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn — like to ask big questions (TED Talk: How painting can transform communities). For example, why should they use their brushes and paints on a single canvas when they could take the same tools and transform buildings, blocks and entire neighborhoods? And why should ...
When taxpayer money goes to companies with murky ownership, it may put lives in danger and support shady actors. The watchdog group Global Witness shows what can happen when a government ends up working with anonymous companies. In February 2017, President Trump proposed a $54 billion increase to the annual defense budget. His proposal raised eyebrows at Global Witness, the watchdog organization cofounded by TED Prize winner Charmian Gooch (TED Talk: Let’s launch a new era in business). But ...
In the Internet era, conflict is constant, invisible and deadlier than ever. No longer is the country with the biggest army or most missiles the most powerful — instead, those wielding the best algorithm can dominate, says foreign policy strategist David Rothkopf. Today, new technology has ushered in an era of a new kind of conflict. It’s a war that, on its surface, looks like peace; it can be waged constantly and will be invisible to most in society. This kind of conflict might be calle...
At this conservation center in central China, captive-born pandas go through a gradual, carefully monitored process to prepare them for lives in their natural habitat. Photographer Ami Vitale shows how they go from wriggly newborns to independent adventurers. In September 2016, animal lovers breathed sighs of relief when the conservation status of the giant panda was upgraded from “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. OK, pandas are still deemed “vulnerable,...
Let’s shake ourselves out of our four-wheeled stupor, look at the vehicles and devices being developed, and reimagine how we’ll move around our cities, says TED technology curator Alex Moura. Humanity has come a long way from traveling by horse, but when we consider the future of transportation in cities, too many of us are still stuck in the 18th century. We still envision our streets full of four-wheel chariots (minus the horses), and our future as relying on cars or car-like vehicles, bec...
Essential, data-derived advice for leading a happy, healthy life, shared by researcher and psychiatrist Robert Waldinger. Have you ever wished you could fast-forward your life so you could see if the decisions you’re making will lead to satisfaction and health in the future? In the world of scientific research, the closest you can get to that is by looking at the Harvard Study of Adult Development — a study that has tracked the lives of 724 men for 78 years, and one of the longest studie...
Shorter workweeks could help reduce accidents, combat climate change, make the genders more equal, and more, contends historian and author Rutger Bregman. Had you asked the greatest economist of the 20th century what the biggest challenge of the 21st would be, he wouldn’t have had to think twice. Leisure. In the summer of 1930, just as the Great Depression was gathering momentum, British economist John Maynard Keynes gave a curious lecture in Madrid titled “Economic Possibilities for Our Gra...
We can all play a role in helping defuse even the most bitter conflicts, says veteran negotiator William Ury. Here’s how. My passion in life is helping people and societies to move from no to yes. As a negotiator, mediator and cofounder of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard University, I’ve spent more than four decades traveling the world and getting involved in some of the most difficult conflicts of our time, from the Cold War to the Middle East. One of my favorite negotiation stories i...
Justice should be blind, right? Unfortunately, the predictive policing software used in much of the US has bias and misunderstanding programmed right into it, says data scientist Cathy O’Neil. The small city of Reading, Pennsylvania, has had a tough go of it in the postindustrial era. Nestled in the green hills 50 miles west of Philadelphia, Reading grew rich on railroads, steel, coal and textiles. But in recent decades, with all of those industries in steep decline, the city has languished....
There’s no Academy Award for Best Color — yet — but this less-celebrated element of filmmaking is used to propel and convey the plot. Here’s how. A sunny, hopeful yellow. An introspective turquoise. An arresting, violent red. When you see a color in a film, what you see is no accident — filmmakers carefully compose each frame and make color decisions that affect your experience of watching, even if you don’t realize it. Here are the ways in which filmmakers use color to d...
The thought of asking your colleague how much she earns makes you cringe inside, and the same goes for telling her your salary. But pay transparency could benefit employees, organizations and society, says management researcher David Burkus. How much do you get paid? No need to say it out loud — just keep that number in your head. Now: How much do you think the person sitting next to you at work gets paid? If you don’t know the answer to this question, it’s not surprising. It’s u...
Synthetic biologist Tal Danino manipulates microorganisms in his lab to create eye-catching, colorful patterns. Here’s a look at the process he uses to turn “Oh, yuck” into “Oh, wow.” Synthetic biologist Tal Danino washes his hands constantly, one of the occupational hazards of working with bacteria all day at the Synthetic Biological Systems Lab, which he runs at New York City’s Columbia University. Danino, a TED Fellow, spends most of his time trying to harness bacteria’s unique ...
Researching, celebrating and supporting African American food culture is Michael Twitty’s way to honor and heal those who came before. To chef and blogger Michael Twitty, a plate of stewed okra is much more than a popular soul-food dish — it’s a form of African American history. For many years, people in New Orleans referred to okra as salade du fevi, and it was thought that fevi was a corruption of French for fava beans. “I was like, I know this ain’t right,” says Twitty. Fo...
Probably not. But if we want a future where more of those jobs are decent and well-paying, we — and our institutions — need to rise to its challenge, says economist David Autor. Here’s a startling fact: in the 45 years since the introduction of the automated teller machine, those vending machines that dispense cash, the number of human bank tellers employed in the United States has roughly doubled, from about a quarter of a million in 1970 to a half a million today, with 100,0...
In a democracy, power resides with the people. Here’s some helpful advice on how you can get your share, from civics educator Eric Liu. Power is something we are often uncomfortable naming and talking about explicitly. In our everyday talk, power has a negative moral vibe: power-mad, power-hungry, power trip. But power is no more inherently good or evil than fire or physics. It just is. The only question is whether we will try to understand and harness it. In the culture and mythology of democ...