Saturday, November 8, 2014

World-changing ideas summit

"Imagination is more important than knowledge." - Albert Einstein

If we agree with Einstein, then the presentations at this summit will certainly serve as inspiration to students in any engineering area. On October 21, 2014 BBC Future presented "the first-ever World-Changing Ideas Summit, which will showcase the power of bringing forward-thinking leaders together to build a better tomorrow. Big ideas and major challenges in science, technology and health will be discussed by top minds."

Event website:

BBC Future website page with article announcing the summit:

The talks presented at the summit were filmed, and a number of them are now available on the BBC Future website:

The talks available so far cover a wide variety of interests and engineering areas, and would probably appeal to most students.

1)  Everybody spies, or nobody does (5:19) - Bruce Schneier, Security Technologist & Chief Technical Officer, Co3 Systems Inc. He talks about why we need to choose between security and surveillance, saying that we can only build technologies that are secure for all users, or are vulnerable to all attackers.

2)  The future of the internet (18:50) - Julius Genachowski, former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and current Managing Director and partner at The Carlyle Group. He discusses what the future of the internet is: dark web, regulation, privacy ...?

3)  Is a robot world good for us? (17:54) - Kate Darling of MIT, Heather Knight of Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute, Andrea Thomaz of Georgia Institute of Technology, and Fernando Orellana of Union College discuss the question of how we will relate to tomorrow's robots.

4)  Empowering the next generation of world-changing ideas (19:33) - Alfred Spector, Google's Vice-President of Research. He discusses the benefits of schooling fuelled by technology, and asks: In a world where information is all around us, how do we educate the next generation of innovators?

5)  Can Tech create a new Renaissance? (8:15) - Alexis Ohanian, Reddit founder, describes the internet's next big trend, citing everything from "To Kill a Mockingbird" to lolcats.

6)  Why colonize other planets? (6:44) - Jeffrey Hoffman, a retired astronaut who spent more than 50 days in orbit on NASA missions. He discusses the challenges facing space colonists.

7)  Why everybody needs a drone (9:07) - Mary "Missy" Cummings, former fighter pilot and current Director of Humans and Autonomy Laboratory, Duke University. Could drones allow us all to become pilots? Missy Cummings says they are a vital step that brings us closer to a world with flying cars.

8)  Just because we can live longer doesn't mean we should (24:35) - Ezekiel Emanuel, physician and bioethicist. He doesn't want to live past 75, and explains why he thinks extending later life is wrong.

The presentations are of varying lengths, but each one is presented clearly, with relevant visuals. Students can either choose which one they want to watch on their own - and report the information to the group - or choose one to watch together as a basis for discussion.

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