:: Manifesting My Passions ::

on November 21st, i had a rehearsal in my apartment with Sameer Parekh of Falkor Systems and his flying robot, Ary. while getting reading for them to arrive, i found this:

TED Invitation

three years ago i put this post-it note on my desk. on that day, i realized why we have dreams.

Sameer invited me to come and be a part of his TED talk! okay, so it’s TEDxSiliconAlley, but it is a step in the direction of so many dreams—speaking at TED, dancing with robots, you know, the usual. no small order, but it helps to reaffirm my deep belief that we can all dream big and make those dreams our reality.

so on December 3, we took to the stage. Sameer gave a high-energy speech, getting the attention of the audience and painting the picture of a future where robots are our companions. this is a future where our own personal robots can help us live fulfilling, exciting, and more connected lives.

and then, we danced. Ary is an autonomous flying robot who can perform via motion tracking. but he is so autonomous that it sometimes seems like he wants to do his own thing. the technology is still in its very early stages and there are a million factors to account for Ary’s success. so if you were expecting us fly through the air together like the robots in Wall-E, then you might have to wait a few years. but Ary didn’t take anyone’s head off or tear down the projection screen, and his refusal to conform to the stage was both scary and exciting. he came back right in time and we celebrated the success of trying something bold and not ending in disaster. there are future collaborations to come with Sameer and Ary, so here’s to dreaming of soaring to greater heights!

and the whole day was so inspiring. being surrounded by so many great thinkers and creators was completely energizing. to be counted among those visionaries who are committed to making the world better, asking the hard questions, and following their passions no matter how big and crazy they may seem, is a humbling gift.

below are some notes from the day—a  cross-section of those in attendance, the themes they addressed, and some thoughts they inspired. thank you, TED. thank you, Universe. after this, i think we’re gonna need a bigger post-it note.

Notes from TedxSiliconAlley

Ken Segall – Creative Director of Apple’s “Think Different” campaign

  • The Simplicity Principle
  • Apple’s design is clean, there are not too many options of different models, and no one is complaining that they don’t have enough choice
  • It takes a lot of hard work to be simple.
  • P.S. Steve Jobs wanted to name the iPod “Podman.” Good thing he let go of that one. The man hires a smart team and then picks his battles (though he dost conquer many a village).

Vanessa Dawson – Founder of Evry – a social payment and planning app

  • Technology becomes a part of me and of my behavior
  • “Part of the fabric of our nature”
  • She discusses how we sleep with our cell phones. I wonder: how are we connected to them as we sleep? while we dream? does their wireless technology affect our brain at such a close distance???

Foy Savas – CEO & Co-founder of Loudly – creates technology for emotive speech synthesis (for gaming developers)

“What I cannot create

I do not understand.”

~Richard Feynman~

  • What we have left from ancient civilization, although sometimes unable to attribute to an author, is language. How to articulate ourselves better through speech, through technology. If we are using technology to speak for us, what are we having it say?

Francesca Ferrando – Philosopher of Post-Humanism and visiting scholar at Columbia. Writer of Belle Anime Porche.

  • Historical Exclusivism
    • Some humans were considered to be human
    • Others were considered non-human and undisciplinable
      • ex: witch hunts, slavery, etc
      • But evolution moves towards diversity – difference is one of the main marks of humanity
      • “Herstories” (vs. Histories)
      • The “now” is a revisitation of ancient concepts where time is not realized
      • “The cyborg has hybridized the inner and outer space.”
      • “We don’t need an Other because we are the Other.”
      • In the Posthuman world, everything is hybridized.
  • Human Rights à Existential Rights
    • We want to connect everything because everything is, indeed already connected.
    • Our visions are affecting our existence.
    • Let’s envision desirable futures, expanding our perception from the human/cyborg/post-human standpoint to one of existing beings

Jincey Lumpkin, Esq. – CEO and Chief Sexy Officer of Juicy Pink Box.

Sex columnist for The Huffington Post

  • It is critical to think about both sides of the coin. How does design, creation, marketing, implementation, etc. influence people’s thoughts and behavior? How are we thinking as we interact with and create this new technology?

Ding Ding – Founder & CEO TunTunTuTu – a mobile app that enables language learners to practice speaking anytime through asynchronous voice messaging with people around the world.

  • Her talk was confusing, as it was mostly a heartwarming tale about busking with her violin in China at age 14, but she mentioned the phrase “technology for cultural immersion.” I like that, and it deserves more thought as to what that might mean.

Juan Enriquez – Biotech venture capitalist, best seller author and futurist.

  • Data changes the nature of immortality
  • Tattoos tell stories
    • But eventually even they fade away
  • What if Big Data and tattoos are making us immortal?
    • Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. are forms of electronic tattoos.
  • Only celebrities used to be chased by paparazzi, but now there are cameras everywhere (cell phones!)
    • Rodney King was a milestone and a harbinger
    • Now you are being chased by technology – GPS, security cameras, etc.
  • Face Recognition!
    • Your iPhone can now identify you across weight, age, etc.
    • It most often only confuses you with relatives, but the technology is more accurate than we are necessarily aware of.
  • Does Google, et al. = Immortality?
    • What if Andy Warhol was wrong and it’s not just our 15 minutes of fame?
  • “How else can one threaten, other than with death? The interesting, the original thing, would be to threaten someone with immortality.”  ~Borges~
  • He talks about how the last remnant of us becomes our name, which is searchable. That part of our identity lives on in the virtual world, far past the point after our biological bodies have left the physical one. Are we really gone once our name gets deleted from the system? Is this possible that we could disappear without a trace or does this, in fact, make us immortal?

Ray Kurzweil – Inventor, best seller author and futurist. New Book: How to Create a Mind.

  • The Law of Accelerating Returns
    • Technological change is exponential despite most things having a linear rate of growth
  • Human genome project was exponential
    • Everyone thought it would take an eternity until it’s rate of growth spiked suddenly
    • Reprogramming Biology
  • Reverse Engineering the Brain
    • The neocortex, which does most of our thinking specializes in Pattern Recognition
    • We have tremendous redundancy built in
    • Patterns create our thoughts, thoughts create our brain
    • Only mammals have a neocortex
  • We are already a part of our technology – it is a part of us and it will go inside us
  • It will allow us to improve our health and back up our mind file

Fireside Chat Moderated by Arik Hesseldahl – with Ray Kurzweil & Juan Enriquez

  • Three Types of Death

1. Physical

2. Memory

3. When your name is spoken for the last time

  • Quantity vs. Patterns of Data
  • Intersections of Digital Code and Life Code
  • How do you de-materialize stuff?
  • Kurzweil believes that “fundamentally, we are information.”
  • Biotechnology vs. Neural Nanotechnology
  • KZ – Human beings have an innate impulse to be creative
    • Soul = Consciousness
  • KZ – doesn’t like the term transhumanism because he believes that we are transcending the limitations of our biology not our humanity
  • Tweet by @b9punk: “What are the current odds in the race between the “rise of the machines” and the decline of the planet? #tedxsa long future, bad weather”
  • Narrow Scarcity à Narrow Abundance
    • If you think about 20th century technology, we actually have quite a lot
  • KZ – “Policies set by Google & Facebook have more implications than those set by a dysfunctional Congress.”
  • KZ – look at Sebastian Seung’s talk: “I am My Connectome.”
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