Joe Landolina: This gel can make you stop bleeding instantly

Speaker

Joe Landolina is a young, full time student at NYU, and inventor of a gel that can instantly stop traumatic bleeding — without the need to apply pressure. He is CEO of Suneris, which aims to bring the product to market.

Summary

A soldier shot in the femoral artery can die in 3 minutes. If a medic gets to him, their tools take 5 minutes to stop bleeding, and require the medic to apply pressure throughout. Joe has been working on bio-products that work with the body to stop bleeding quickly.

Cells are the most basic unit of life, but these are surrounded by the extra-cellular-matrix (ECM) which is what is damaged during a cut. A scar is a symptom of poorly formed ECM. ECM is different for different parts of the body, so it is difficult to design a product that is compatible with all the different ECMs. Most technology is only a crude approximation of ECM, but Joe’s gel is derived from plant products and can re-form to replicate any type of ECM once applied. Wherever the gel is applied, it forms the shape it needs. He shows an example of a serious ‘cut’ in a piece of meat, with a pump pushing blood through it. By the time he finished applying the gel (~10secs), the bleeding is completely stopped.

The product is already being used by vets, and Joe hopes it will be used on humans within a year.

My Thoughts

Wonderful product. Reading around, some animal-based products are used in surgeries for a similar effect, but some people refuse for ethical reasons. There are also others that cannot be stored at room temperature, but Joe’s gel seems superior to most alternatives.

If the summary interests you, or you want to hear a 5-minute description of how the body responds to cuts, it is a worthwhile watch. Not too much detail on how it works though.

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Philip Zimbardo: The psychology of evil

Speaker

Philip George Zimbardo is a psychologist and a professor emeritus at Stanford University. He became known for his 1971 Stanford prison experiment and has since authored various introductory psychology books, textbooks for college students, and other notable works, including The Lucifer Effect

Summary

People like to believe the line between good and evil is clear – with them on one side, others always evil. Philip shows that this line is far more permeable – good can go bad, and ‘evil’ people can be redeemed. He defines evil as exercising power to intentionally harm (psychologically), hurt (physically), destroy, or commit crimes against humanity. Philip was part of the trial of US army reservists accused of evil acts within Iraq war, who tortured and humiliated prisoners. He became an expert witness to represent one of these guards, and was given access to the reports, photos, and the guard himself. His hypothesis was that the people themselves weren’t evil, but were put in a system where they were compelled to exercise their power in an evil way. The accused men were military police holding the prisoners in the ‘Intimidation hold’- to soften them up for interrogators to get information later. Interrogators gave them permission to “take the gloves off”.

Philip shows a 1minute montage of graphic & sadistic photos – of prisoners often naked, stacked in strange piles or sexual positions, soldiers posing happily with the prisoners. Some prisoners are covered in wounds, some with faeces. All these photos were taken by the soldiers themselves. TED has apparently edited this video to remove some of the worst.

Secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld asked “Who are the bad apples”, but Philip suggests he should have been asking a broader question in terms of ‘The Lucifer effect’ – what causes people to go evil? The issue could be:

  • Bad apples: a few isolated people committing evil
  • Bad Barrel: the system surrounding the people compelled them to commit evil
  • Bad Barrel-makers: the politicians, economic and legal system creating a system that corrupts people.

Philip illustrates that most people do not see themselves as evil, but could be compelled to do evil in a situation. Most people wouldn’t electrocute a helpless person, but an experiment was devised where a ‘teacher’ was ordered to electrocute a ‘learner’ by the technician – this is the “Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures”. The experiment started at 15Volts (which the learner didn’t feel), and increases at 15V intervals up to 450V (which causes intense pain). The dial was labelled to show how dangerous the highest Voltages were. Importantly, the technician running the experiment said he would take full responsibility for consequences. In the first experiment 2/3s of people went all the way up to 450V shocks – despite psychiatrists predicting only 1% would do it (since only 1% of the population shows ‘sadistic behaviour’). Other experiments show up to 90% of people went all the way to 450V.

Philip contrasts this with a pastor who ‘killed’ 912 people by convincing followers to murder their families and commit suicide. This shows the danger of blind obedience, in forcing people to commit evil. He also talks of his own study – where 24 normal college boys were divided arbitrarily in 2. Some were designated guards, some prisoners. The prisoners were dehumanised and degraded, while the guards had symbols of authority to make them more important. The guards forced prisoners to simulate sodomy, and do degrading tasks like cleaning toilets with their bare hands. It quickly got out of control, and Philip cancelled the experiment early due to 5 psychological breakdowns of previously healthy people.

Anonymity is a factor – anthropologists studied warrior cultures – those who go to battle as themselves as opposed to those who wear masks, paint, uniforms to change their appearance. Of 23 cultures, those who changed their appearance were far more likely to maim, torture or mutilate their enemies. This is one of the 7 slopes to evil in new situations.

  1. mindlessly taking the first small step
  2. dehumanizing others
  3. de-individualize self (anonymity)
  4. diffusion of personal responsibility
  5. blind obedience of authority
  6. uncritical conformity to group norms
  7. passive tolerance of evil through indifference.

Most of these are systemic issues, and should be treated with more of a public health model. But they can still be broken by a ‘hero’ – people who refuse to conform to the evils. Children can be trained to think of themselves as heroes waiting or the right situation to rescue. We just need to reframe heroes away from people with supernatural powers and make it clear that ordinary people can be heroes. He talked of the private who blew the whistle on the Abu Ghraib jail, and the woman who convinced him to cancel his own experiment on prisoners and guards (who he then married a year later).

My Thoughts

Fascinating look at how evil works. Nothing more to be said – if you can stomach the shocking photos, this is a very worthwhile talk.

Some additional reading on the two experiments mentioned

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment

Andrew McAfee: What will future jobs look like?

Speaker

Andrew McAfee is the associate director of the Center for Digital Business at the MIT Sloan School of Management, studying the ways information technology (IT) affects businesses and business as a whole.

Summary

Prophecy is hard, but it is easy to see that in the future there will be more things that sound like science fiction, and fewer jobs. Even in the near future drivers are being replaced with automated cars, something similar to Siri and Watson will take over customer service jobs, and automatic trolleys can automate warehouses. Replacing workers with technology has been happening for 200 years, but most people still had jobs. However, now machines are picking up skills they haven’t had: to understand, speak, think. Jobs will be replaced with machines, but this is wonderful economic news for 2 reasons.

  • Technology is the reason that economies can grow, prices can come down, and quality continue to increase all at the same time.
  • Machines mean that people don’t have to do these jobs any more. No more drudgery or toil, we can evolve society in a new way – to become innovators and explorers and thinkers.

So what are the challenges in this transition?

The first is Economic: it is tough to sell your labour in a world full of machines. Over recent decades company profits have increased while their labour costs (and jobs) have decreased. In the future companies will rely on a prosperous middle class to sell their wares, but the middle class is now under threat. Median income is currently decreasing, while inequality in society is increasing. To take examples of a standard white male US blue collar worker and a similar white collar professional, in the 1960s they were quite similar at 80 and 90% employment. Since then (when automation was starting), the blue collar worker’s employment rate has dropped below 60%, blue collar marriages have become much less happy (from 60% in the 1960s to 20% now), blue collars have disengaged from politics, and they are 5 times more likely to be imprisoned now than 50 years ago. White collar trends have stayed close to where they were in the 1960s.

So how do we deal with the disengagement of blue collar workers? The simple short term solution is to build infrastructure, encourage entrepeneurs and educate to create people who can be employed. But to deal with a more total replacement of workers with machines needs a deeper reaction: such as a guaranteed minimum income. This is often decried as socialism or encouraging laziness, but the US has lower social mobility than European countries with social safety nets.

Education is one solution to the major issues. Primary school education is currently pitched to create factory workers or blue collar clerks – Andrew wants to retool it to aim at a different goal. Andrew is optimistic that things will improve, but the issues need to be embraced, confronted and radical solutions devised. The facts are now becoming more widely known: that the machine age is coming. Abraham Lincoln stated that “if given the truth they (people) can be depended on to face any national crisis”.

My Thoughts

The talk was forseeing a world very different to the one we know now, and was optimistic that humanity could work out the challenges posed by massive unemployment (at least in the jobs we now can see). Personally I am disappointed it only focussed on the decline of blue collar jobs, as I am interested in what would happen if professional jobs were made redundant as well.

Regardless, his suggestion of a minimum income seems to be the only solution to massive unemployment. Nothing else makes sense in a world where (most) people aren’t needed to do jobs – the alternatives are insane: either compelling people to apply for jobs that don’t exist or to stifle innovation so the jobs still exist.

Kare Anderson: Be an opportunity maker

Speaker

A columnist for Forbes, Kare Anderson writes on behavioral research-based ways to become more deeply connected.

Summary

Kare grew up with crippling shyness, and was stuck observing others. She found some people wanted recognition and so talked about themselves. However others talked about the mutual ‘us’ – grow the connections between them and those they were talking to. Kare is calling to all of us to use our best talents with others, to make opportunities happen. Everyone is the best at something.

Kare met an actress who believed every new building in Los Angeles should have public art in it. This will let people connect, pose in front of it, and socialise. Kare referred the actress to a soon-to-be-released inmate with a passion for art and charisma to make things happen. She also found an architect to help them. The unexpected team were startling, compelling and credible, and together met with lawmakers to get art in every new building.

When she was a writer looking to spot trends, Kare had to build contacts from worlds very different to her own. She then had to translate this to relate to the reader – how these big trends affect them. While most people get more insular and connect with only those who feel the same as them, opportunity makers build connections with different people. They’re not affronted by differences, they’re excited by them.

It isn’t always the first connection with another person that is the best. Once you have worked together with someone and built a trust, more unexpected opportunities will arise. She related another story with the ex-con and actress from the public art job – the ex-con was fit and started teaching racquetball. When people work together, more opportunities will arise in the future.

3 Traits of opportunity makers

  • Opportunity makers keep honing their key strength.
  • They become pattern seekers. They deal with people outside their normal circle to find wider patterns.
  • Communicate to connect.

The world is hungry for opportunity makers to unite together and use our best talents in a team. We can accomplish greater things together than we can. “You can’t succeed coming to a pot luck with just a fork”

My Thoughts

My takeaway is to network and communicate. Help others build their ideas, and let them help you.

Clifford Stoll: The call to learn

Speaker

Clifford Stoll is an American astronomer and author. He is best known for his pursuit of hacker Markus Hess in 1986 and the subsequent 1989 book, The Cuckoo’s Egg, which details his investigation.

Summary

Clifford is a scientist – once a scientist does something once, it becomes engineering, and once that has been mastered it is operated by a technician. With that in mind, he can’t stay on the same project for too long (and throughout this talk, can’t stay on a single topic for long). His talk is written in a series of messy notes on his palm (written shortly before the talk). What he discusses is:

  • Tracing a hacking attempt on his network to the KGB.
  • To understand the future – don’t talk to a technologist or engineer or scientist – they can only tell you what things will exist. Instead talk to an experienced kindergarten teacher – they can tell you what society and the people will be like.
  • Klein bottles – he is fascinated with Moebius loops (one sided strips of paper – in the shape of a ring with a kink) and Klein bottles (one sided bottles, that exist inside themselves). He has made Klein bottles, and designed variations to drink wine from. In 4 dimensions, a Klein bottle should hold no fluids, but limited to 3 dimensions it can.
  • His mother’s passing and Robert Moog. Robert was a pioneer in electronic music, who invented the Moog synthesiser.
  • Children: Clifford teaches 8th grade science, but teaches it at a college level experimentation (skipping the high level calculus needed for college). They have measured the speed of light (within 25% – not bad for 8th graders). They also worked out how to measure the speed of sound – by using an oscilloscope, they found frequency and wavelength, then multiplied them. He showed how they did this on the studio, and were within 10m/s of the true number.
  • Running from police during the Vietnam War – he was chased around uni during riots by students, hit by teargas and started fleeing up a bell tower. He got to the top (distracted slightly by the pendulum) and looked below – seeing students with bricks and police fighting. To this background, he remembered bells are cast with inscriptions and read it

    “All truth is one in this light. May science and religion endeavour here for the steady evolution of mankind from darkness to light from narrowness to broadmindedness from prejudice to tolerance. It is the voice of life which calls us to come and learn”

My Thoughts

A very tough talk to summarise. I spent a while thinking “Lets see where he goes with this”, but not sure it was going anywhere. It is an insight into an eclectic and very entertaining man, flitting from topic to topic while deciding what he was going to talk about. Still, it was enjoyable – his excitable “mad scientist” persona was fascinating. He talks at high speed, which gets more amusing when you manipulate YouTube’s speed settings to make it even faster 🙂

For the curious, he gives you a lot to think about and research more.

Kamal Meattle: How to grow fresh air

Speaker

Kamal Meattle is an Indian environmental activist and CEO of Paharpur Business centre & Software Technology Incubator Park based in New Delhi, India.

Summary

Kamal is allergic to Delhi’s polluted air. He discovered a combination of 3 indoor plants that can filter it, and give him all the fresh air he needs.

  • Areca Plant in the living room: converts CO2 to Oxygen during the day. You need 4 shoulder-high plants per person, and need to wipe the leaves daily in Delhi (maybe weekly elsewhere).
  • Mother-in-Law’s Tongue in the bedroom: converts CO2 to Oxygen during the night. You need 6 waist high plants per person.
  • Money Plant where necessary removed formaldehyde and other volatile chemicals from the air.

With these 3 plants, you can live indefinitely in a sealed room by rebreathing the air. Kamal had these plants installed in a 50,000 sq ft office building in Delhi. While in this building for 10 hrs, 42% of people’s blood oxygen increase by 1%. It is the healthiest building in New Delhi, and its occupants have

  • 52% less eye irritation
  • 34% lower incidence of respiratory issues
  • 24% fewer headaches
  • 9% less asthma

Human productivity also increased by 20%, and energy reduction by 15% (due to less air requirements). As more humans move to buildings and buildings are one of our largest energy sources, this recipe for fresh air could reduce that significantly.

My Thoughts

Good recipe if you live in a polluted city, and useful conclusion for all offices with large air-conditioning requirements.

Dan Buettner: How to live to be 100+

Speaker

Dan Buettner is a National Geographic writer and explorer.

Summary

Only 10% of what it takes to live to 100 is genetic. He first looks at some longevity myths:

  • If you try hard, you can live to be 100. False. Humans are designed to die – evolution only allows us to be old enough to procreate.
  • There are treatments that can stop or reverse aging. False. As we get older, our cells fail to replicate, damage accumulates.

So there are body-imposed limits – roughly 90 years is achievable, but the average American lives to be 78. So we could get those 12 years back with minimal loss of life quality.

Dan worked with National Geographic to look at areas where people frequently live to be 100.

  • Sardinian highlands (off Italy) for example have 10 times the US rate of centenarians. There are a number of lifestyle and dietary differences, but also cultural. Dan focuses on the way they treat the elderly – they show great respect for their wisdom.
  • Okinawa archipelago (Japan) – the oldest female population, and the oldest disability-free life expectancy in the world. Lower rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease and average age of 85. They eat mostly vegetables and tofu, and have a few strategies to prevent overeating. They have smaller plates, serve food before they eat it (making it harder to go for seconds), and have an adage to stop eating before they are full. The elderly also stay active – they form tight and old friendship groups (staying together in groups for 90 yrs or more), and always keep a reason to get up in the morning rather than just retiring to do nothing.
  • In USA the oldest population were 7th Day Adventists in Loma Linda California. Average age of 11 years older than the average American. One key is the 7th day itself – a day off without stress, nature walks are common. They also are a tight knit community, and their gatherings reinforce their wholesome values. Dan shares stories of 3 centenarians, all still working or staying active.

So what can we learn from these groups:

  • Move Naturally – these people do not exercise in the usual sense, but keep walking and gardening, moving up and down stairs. Active movement is build into their lifestyles
  • Positive outlook – the 3 groups take time out – to pray or talk. They also have a sense of purpose in retirement.
  • Eat wisely – they have a plant based diet, though usually not purely vegetarian. They often have a drink in the evening, and keep from overeating (stop eating when 80% full).
  • Connect – these cultures are tribal and stick together. They tend to respect the elderly and have a sense of belonging. Their friends also have the same healthy values, so reinforcing a good lifestyle.

My Thoughts

Interesting talk. He says it all, not much to add.