Dozens of people took the TED stage in 2016 to share their wisdom, wit, curiosity, and creativity, and TED’s curator, Chris Anderson, and other members of the team have compiled the best TED talks of 2016 for your edification. Here’s a few hand-picked nuggets that will help you handle 2017 with intelligence, inquisitiveness, and joy:
INSIDE THE MIND OF A MASTER PROCRASTINATOR
Tim Urban knows that procrastination doesn’t make sense, but he’s never been able to shake his habit of waiting until the last minute to get things done. In this hilarious and insightful talk, Urban takes us on a journey through YouTubebinges, Wikipedia rabbit holes and bouts of staring out the window — and encourages us to think harder about what we’re really procrastinating on, before we run out of time.
GENE EDITING CAN NOW CHANGE AN ENTIRE SPECIES – FOREVER
CRISPR gene drives allow scientists to change sequences of DNA and guarantee that the resulting edited genetic trait is inherited by future generations, opening up the possibility of altering entire species forever. More than anything, the technology has led to questions: How will this new power affect humanity? What are we going to use it to change? Are we gods now? Join journalist Jennifer Kahn as she ponders these questions and shares a potentially powerful application of gene drives: the development of disease-resistant mosquitoes that could knock out malaria and Zika.
A PROSECUTOR’S VISION FOR A BETTER JUSTICE SYSTEM
When a kid commits a crime, the US justice system has a choice: prosecute to the full extent of the law, or take a step back and ask if saddling young people with criminal records is the right thing to do every time. In this searching talk, Adam Foss, a prosecutor with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in Boston, makes his case for a reformed justice system that replaces wrath with opportunity, changing people’s lives for the better instead of ruining them.
HUNTING FOR DINOSAURS SHOWED ME OUR PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE
What happens when you discover a dinosaur? Paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara details his unearthing of Dreadnoughtus — a 77-million-year-old sauropod that was as tall as a two-storey house and as heavy as a jumbo jet — and considers how amazingly improbable it is that a tiny mammal living in the cracks of the dinosaur world could evolve into a sentient being capable of understanding these magnificent creatures. Join him in a celebration of the Earth’s geological history and contemplate our place in deep time.
YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHERE CAMELS REALLY COME FROM
Camels are so well adapted to the desert that it’s hard to imagine them living anywhere else. But what if we have them pegged all wrong? What if those big humps, feet and eyes were evolved for a different climate and a different time? In this talk, join Radiolab’s Latif Nasser as he tells the surprising story of how a very tiny, very strange fossil upended the way he sees camels, and the world.
THE GOSPEL OF DOUBT
What do you do when your firmly held beliefs turn out not to be true? When Casey Gerald’s religion failed him, he searched for something new to believe in — in business, in government, in philanthropy — but found only false saviors. In this moving talk, Gerald urges us all to question our beliefs and embrace uncertainty.
Full list here.