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Recent TED rundown

Jun 27, 2014

Recently I re-watched some of my favorite TED talks and as often is the case discovered new ones. Here is a quick run down of the ones most interesting to me.


Having small children does wonders to your imagination. Many times I told my partner: “Can you believe she figured that out?”. Even babies’ minds makes you wonder. Turns out Alison Gopnik did a presentation about that. My biggest take away is that young children learn by trying all possible inputs, regardless of expected output. This also explains to me why, after my daughter has learned something she will try to accomplish the same thing in different ways. This leads to lots of parents exclaiming “No, don’t do it like that, you already know how to do that!”.

We are raising our kids bi-lingual (English, Dutch) and as I am sure many bi-lingual families wonder we asked ourselves the question “What is the best point in time to introduce multiple languages?”. It should come as no surprise that this has been studied as well. Patricia Kuhl presents this nicely at TEDxRainier. Spoiler: scientifically proven to start during gestation. Favorite quote: “So, what have we done to their little brains?”.

Hybrid Thinking

“About ten billion humans are alive in the solar system, each mind surrounded by an exocortex of distributed agents, threads of personality spun right out of their heads to run on the clouds of utility fog – infinitely flexible computing resources as thin as aerogel – in which they live.” – Accelerando, Charles Stross, 2005

Since reading Accelerando years ago, I think it would be fantastic once we bridge the human brain and interface it with external systems. Another word to describe this concept is Exocortex. In this context, the advance of mobile phones or Google Glass in recent years are just crude steps into that direction. You still have this extremely crude, and above all, non-private interface. Ray Kurzweil’s presentation explores some of this idea. What is more, it places it in a biological context as well.

There is also this Google I/O 2014 talk on Biologically inspired models of intelligence by Ray.


And after watching a decent amount of TED Talks, you end up on something expected. For me that was this talk by Sarah Kay from back in 2011. She is a “performing poet” and her performance touched me immensely, without me being able to articulate exactly why. Most likely some combination of the beauty of her words and the disarming way she beams them towards you.