Can technology solve big problems?

Speaker: Jason Pontin

Length: 10:04

Rating 2 / 5

Summary

People, politicians & investors have recently been unwilling to back big technology challenges such as the moon landing. The problems people imagined would be solved by technology (including famine, disease), due to lack of political will and public support for large scale research. Some issues such as famine are no longer technology problems, with political corruption preventing the food being distributed fairly.

Critique

Jason talked well, but the presentation lacked an idea or solution. I feel most of what he talked about is well known – that to do something big you firstly need the appetite to do it.

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How to learn anything in 20 hours

Speaker: Josh Kaufman

Length: 19:27

Rating 4 / 5

Summary

You can get to a passable level in a new skill with 20 hrs practise. You just need to

  1. Deconstruct the skill into its important parts. Reduce the skill to an achievable level
  2. Learn enough to know when you are on the right track
  3. Focus, push through the “Feeling stupid” phase of learning, and practise

Critique

A good idea, and presented well. His example of learning to play ukulele from its 4 most common chords was good. Also very inspiring – the idea to just learn what you want – you don’t need to become an expert.

I then went to think about what I want to learn. That’s when it gets tricky. It should definitely work to get to a beginners level for artistic or performance skills – eg music, drawing, photoshop, juggling, martial arts, language.

It’s harder to imagine for tasks which take longer to do or rely on more theoretical knowledge, where you can’t rely on feedback and practise so much. eg learning chemistry, electronics, building. I’d be keen to see an example or a wiki of more people deconstructing and performing a skill, to see if it can be done.

In the end though, his ‘can do’ attitude is inspiring and I recommend the talk.

Welcome

TED talks are about ideas worth sharing! They can teach, inspire, and entertain. Most importantly, they can expose us to a field of knowledge we don’t usually think about.

However, there are a lot out there, and it can be difficult to choose which one to watch next.

The goal of TEDSummaries is to

  1. Summarise the core idea of the talk into a couple of sentences. If the summary interests you, the talk should as well.
  2. rate and tag each video, for easy browsing and “what should I watch next”?
  3. briefly analyse each idea – does it stand up to scrutiny?

In rating a video, the important points are:

  • How interesting is the idea?
  • How well do they “prove” the idea? Is it convincing?
  • Did I learn something, see the world differently, or was I inspired by the video?

I want to learn all I can from TED, and make it easy for others to follow in my footsteps through TED. Please join me on this journey.