Tag: TED

Health talks at TEDxBrussels

When I wrote my last post, videos of health talks at TEDxBrussels were not out yet. Now they are and you can watch them below …

First Andrew Hessel started by talking about synthetic biology, biotechnologies and his participation in the open source biology movement. One day, there will be an org (organism) for the things you want to do.

Then Jack Tiszynski followed with the drastic idea of replacing doctors by software for diagnostics and brought the idea that we will have a “virtual double” in our future smartphones. This double will know our predisposition to diseases and suggest prevention methods and cures.

Finally David Duncan talked about extreme ageing and some of the important issues brought by prolonging life and being healthy for a longer period of time than before.

But among talks I didn’t attend, Peter Hinssen presented his idea of S-curve for the future and especially the future of healthcare. For him, the flip in healthcare didn’t occur yet. But he can already predict that health will become more personal, more numerical, more proactive, more community-oriented. That’s funny because he put words on part of what we are going to say at the closing ceremony of the International Year of Chemistry, this Thursday in Brussels. Hope to have the same vibrant words 😉

TEDxBrussels in tweets and videos

TEDxBrussels is a local, self-organized event that brings a TED-like experience to Brussels. I already often mentioned videos and presentations from TED (for instance here, here or here). When I read that it will again be organized in Brussels in 2011 I decided to attend this edition. Here is a short summary of this intense day with my tweets and the just-released videos. It would be very time consuming to write about each and every talk. Here I will just highlight speakers I like the most (you can have a look at TEDxBrussels website for the complete list of speakers).

22.11.11-09.09: Tell people you work in a #pharma company and you immediately get questions on #ethics. Yes it’s an ethical business!

One of the nice thing about a TED event is that you get to see many new people, most of them very interesting with cool background, strange or simply something nice to say. And, yes, when you tell people you are working in the pharmaceutical industry, questions on ethics immediately pop up 🙂

22.11.11-09.40: Nice sweet talk from Cuartielles at #tedxbrussels #arduino. Learn by doing.

One of the first talks was from David Cuartielles on the Arduino project. His talk was like a reminder that life is still very physical and the Arduino project is a good example of “open source hardware” and of “leaning by doing”. It reminded me that when I will have time, I would really like to play with the Arduino!

Also embedded in physical life were talks by Henrik Scharfe (F-Geminoid) and Ken Haase (E Pluribus Unum). Hasan Elahi (Hiding in plain sight) and Kaliya Hamlin (Identity) introduced concepts of radical transparency and participatory totalitarianism (respectively). And during that time, many people were logged in Facebook, Twitter and many other social networks, updating their status, giving everybody parts of their lives and, for most of them, using their unique identity given at birth.

22.11.11-10.28: #eyeborg Spence at #tedxbrussels: I’m not an expert but I have a camera in my eye

Then we went back to hardware with Rob Spence talking about the camera he used to have in place of his eye. It was also interesting to discover how people improved a lot prosthetic arms, legs (and eye thus). I found also cool the augmented reality that was displayed in the fireman mask as well as the simple way a fireman can change this display.

22.11.11-11.16: #smartcars are not just cool tech projects, they can solve some current issues. Waiting for #collaboration between them. #tedxbrussels

Raul Rojas presented his team’s “car that think”. Again, it was very interesting to see how technology evolved: this VW can drive all alone in the traffic in Berlin! It seems that cars are becoming “smarter”. But I thought he would touch the fact these smart cars can autonomously collaborate between themselves (once they are more than one). Then these smartcars could one day outperform human drivers in heavy traffic.

22.11.11-11.27: High concentration of #apple products at #tedxbrussels. Feeling a bit lonely with my #moleskine and #pen 🙂

And if we stay in hardware, there was an awful lot of MacBooks, iPads, iPhones, IObjects in the audience. And even some speakers brought Apple products on stage. I just had a moleskine and a pen to take some notes. My Android phone was way enough to update Twitter 🙂 (but it was definitely not good at taking pictures in the feeble light during talks).

22.11.11-13.16: Great talks from Ashdown, Meyer (entrepreneurship), Hypponen, Janah (microwork) & Chakrabarti (education+) this morning at #tedxbrussels 🙂

The end of the morning was filled with interesting presentations from Paddy Ashdown (Why the world will never be the same …),  Mikko H. Hypponen  (Definding the net), Julie Meyer, Leila Janah  (see below for the previous 2 people’s videos) and Kushal Chakrabarti (What does education mean to you?). While both have their own qualities and bring work to the world, it was interesting to compare the personnalities of Julie Meyer (more formal, on the financial side, “money follows ideas”, presentation with the logo of her company on top right, helping individual entrepreneurs) …

and Leila Janah’s (less formal, playing more with emotions, “technology must serve humanity”, more “web 2.0” presentation, being an entrepreneur and helping individuals getting jobs in the same company (hers)).

22.11.11-07: Wonderful and breathtaking para-music #tedxbrussels

The afternoon indeed started with a beautiful concert by disabled people with Charles Hazlewood as conductor. It was then followed by a serie of science-fuction authors where they explained to us a part of life (and its adaptability to a changing world): David Brin (Target 2061), John Shriley (False singularities …), Rudy Rucker (Beyond machines …), Jacques Vallée (Theory of everything else), …

22.11.11-15.41: Strange talk about death bed visitors by Fenwick #tedxbrussels

And it continued with a very strange presentation (imho, ymmv) about dying well by Peter Fenwick!

22.11.11-16.45: I should have danced my PhD 🙂 #tedxbrussels

Then we saw an effective way to present what Ph.D. students are doing: dance (John Bohannon and the Black Label Movement)!

22.11.11-16:57: From Oxford or not, a video link is unfortunately still less powerful than a live talk #tedxbrussels

The Science section started with a video conference from David Deutsch (The Unknowable …). His talk was very interesting but nothing will beat a real, live talk, especially if the professor on the other side of the video link is … well, teaching like a professor.

22.11.11-18.31: @xprize I would prize simple delivery system and tech that drastically improve basic sanitation+health issues for 10mio people #tedxbrussels

Deutsch was followed by a presentation of what does the XPrize Foundation by Eileen Bartholomew. In the end, she asked for feedback and what we would like the XPrize Foundation to support. I think that tackling basic health issues will not be very difficult; getting money for less developed countries can be the problem and that’s where the Foundation can help. Solutions submitted to this hypothetical prize won’t necessarily be using the latest, cool hi-tech of the moment but I’m sure they can be very effective. Leveraging power, they said.

22.11.11-17.16: Interesting futuristic story from Marc Millis #tedxbrussels

And after these two high-level talks we went back to science fiction with Marc Millis telling his story going to other planets (“colonies”) in space. That was relaxing (btw, he was sitting on a sofa).

22.11.11-17.39: Great session on the future of biology and health – at least for a biologist #tedxbrussels

22.11.11-18.35: Intetesting perspectives on bioengineering (Hessel), fut medicine (Tuszynski) and ageing (Duncan) #tedxbrussels

Then, as a finale, 3 talks on biology and health! Yippee! Andrew Hessel started by talking about synthetic biology, biotechnologies and his participation in the open source biology movement. One day, there will be an org (organism) for the things you want to do. Jack Tiszynski followed with the drastic idea of replacing doctors by software for diagnostics and brought the idea that we will have a “virtual double” in our future smartphones. This double will know our predisposition to diseases and suggest prevention methods and cures. Finally David Duncan talked about extreme ageing and some of the important issues brought by prolonging life and being healthy for a longer period of time than before. (I wish the videos were already on the website!)

22.11.11-18.37: Overall, loved this first #tedxbrussels experience! 🙂

I unfortunately didn’t have time to attend the last part of the session (damn!). But anyway, thanks to the organizers for this edition of TEDxBrussels! Even if all of them are not relevant to your job or will not be applicable before a long time, it gives you lots of ideas and it will take me some time to explore more in details some (many) of them. I started by collecting direct links to presentations above on Pinboard. Feel free to use them as starting point too!

Wearable electronics/communication

I became recently interested in wearable electronics and wearable communication. I think we usually don’t need a computer at home. But I also think that electronics, sensory / storage / communication / helper devices will invade our world (privacy) at one point.

A few months ago, I liked Phillip Torrone’s retrospective collection of wearable electronic devices (for Make:). It will be quite fun to wear some of the stuff he showed. However most of the current applications shown are mostly designed to collect information from the body they are attached to or to communicate with this body. This is very much self-centered.

Recently (tonight), I watched Kate Hartman’s TED talk: The art of wearable communication. As the title implies, Kate Hartman goes one step further and designs wearable communication devices. I must admit I’m not sure I would want to wear the devices she designed. But I admire how simple these devices can be and yet some of them create an effective embryo of communication with others.

Kate Hartman and her wearable communication devices
Kate Hartman and her wearable communication devices

The full video is just below:

Jamie Oliver: Teach every child about food

In the latest TED Prize wish, Jamie Oliver, the “Naked Chef”, talks about teaching every child about food. His wish is:

I wish for your help to create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.

Although I have a child and I’m obviously interested in his idea, I was also interested in the simple bar chart depicting the leading causes of death in the USA. In the tiny Flash video, the text is unfortunately barely legible and I was interested in knowing where he got his data from.

Leading causes of death in the USA from Jamie Oliver's TED talk

The answer is really easy: the leading causes of death in the USA are compiled every year by the (American) National Center for Health Statistics and the results are available on their FastStats website. So, for 2007 (the latest results at the time of writing), the 15 leading causes of death in the USA are (ordered by decreasing number of cases):

Rank Cause Number
1. Diseases of heart * 616,067
2. Malignant neoplasms (cancers) * 562,875
3. Cerebrovascular diseases * 135,952
4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases 127,924
5. Accidents (unintentional injuries) 123,706
6. Alzheimer’s disease 74,632
7. Diabetes mellitus * 71,382
8. Influenza and pneumonia 52,717
9. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis 46,448
10. Septicemia 34,828
11. Intentional self-harm (suicide) 34,598
12. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis 29,165
13. Essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease 23,965
14. Parkinson’s disease 20,058
15. Assault (homicide) 18,361

The exact ICD-10 codes are in this report ; you can find their exact meaning here. Causes with an asterisk are related to food intake, according to Jamie Oliver.

Now you have the numbers, the origin of the data and the methodology used to collect these data. You can watch the presentation:

You’ll find a critique of Jamie Oliver’s talk by Presentation Zen.

David McCandless on information visualisation

Tonight, I realised that David McCandless was behind informationisbeautiful.net, a blog dedicated to information visualisation which I often mentionned before on this blog.

David McCandless speaking at TED, July 2010

Last month, David McCandless gave a talk at TED, a NGO “devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading”. And it was very interesting to hear him, to put a living face on a blog and to apprehend the amount of work to make such great infographics simple to understand. Here is the video (thanks to the license: CC-by-nc-ndon this page, there is a link to download the high quality video):


Why do I blog this? I was always and I am still interested in information visualisation, could it be from others (like the flu tracker or, more modestly, my own attempts (to stay in the flu topic). As David said, everyday, everyone of us is blasted by information design, it’s being poured into our eyes, it’s a “dormant litteracy”. And I am curious of new ways of visually presenting large datasets like at the Hack.lu 2009 InfoVis Contest or results of time-consuming models of disease spread.
But of course, on the other hand, you have to ask the right questions, look from the right angle: the one who master information design may also influence the minds of those who see this information and, more importantly, its interpretation. David McCandless didn’t say anything about this: the responsability of the designer regarding the interpretation of his/her design.