Category Archives: TED Talks

Jorge Soto – Future of early cancer detection

Jorge Soto in this intriguing TED Talk describes his team’s efforts in developing a diagnostic tool for early detection of cancer.  The highlights from his talk are:

  • The tool is minimally invasive as it requires 1ml of blood sample for analysis.
  • The tool is also designed to be affordable and inexpensive relative to time and money. It takes about an hour to complete blood analysis.
  • Finally, it claims higher accuracy compared to conventional approaches as it relies on microRNA as opposed to DNA assay testing for cancer detection.

Regardless of whether the tool and technique lives up to the claims, I applaud the focus, effort, and approach by his group to try and develop an accessible, affordable and high quality cancer detection tool.  We need to support and promote such groups and encourage others to do so. Innovation happens everywhere and when cultivated will benefit everyone.

Angela Duckworth: The key to success?

A thought provoking TED Talk by Angela Lee Duckworth (psychologist) about what it takes to be successful in life. So what is a good predictor for future success? Good looks, social intelligence, physical health, IQ?  None of the above. As it turns out, the key attribute is grit.

What is grit? To quote Angela – “Grit is passion and perseverance for long term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in and day out, for years and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like its a marathon, not a sprint.

So how does someone build grit? There is no definitive answer yet, but gritty people intrinsically believe that failure is not permanent, rather, a stepping stone to eventual success.

Julian Treasure – How to speak so that people want to listen

An educational  TED Talk by Julian Treasure about being an effective communicator.  He takes the first principles approach, beginning with our attitude.  Some of his insights include

  1. Avoid the 7 “sins” of communication – gossip, judging, negativity, complaining, excuses, lying, dogmatism.
  2. Embrace the 4 “cornerstones” of effective communication – Honesty (be clear & straight), Authenticity (be yourself), Integrity (be your word), Love (wish them well)
  3. Work with a voice coach on the different aspects of speech including – register, timber, prosody, pace, pitch & volume
  4.  He also shares a few vocal exercises to do warm up your voice before a speech

If you are interested in improving your communication skills, there is a great platform  – Toastmasters International with clubs all over the world, that can help you hone in your communication & leadership skills. I highly recommend it.

Joi Ito: Want to innovate? Become a “now-ist”

An entertaining and educational TED Talk by Joi Ito (Director,  MIT Media Labs) about how innovation has evolved after the introduction of the internet.  Here are a few of the insights he shares:

  • Innovation has moved from the MBA model (create a business plan, acquire resources, hire engineers to build a product) to the Designer/Engineer model (build something first then focus on   funding and business plans). Think Agile model applied not only to software engineering, but other engineering fields as well including bioengineering, electronics etc.,
  • Pull vs Push.  Pull resources as and when you need them, rather than focusing on acquiring all the resources first.
  • Deploy or Die. All innovations have to make it into the real world, for it to count
  • Education is something others do to you. Learning is something you do to yourself.
  • Compass over map. Don’t try to plan out everything before hand.  One cannot account for everything and as a result, the effort will be expensive and inaccurate.  Instead, focus on the end goal and learn along the way.

I am  in lockstep with his ideas about innovation and would also add couple more to the list including:  Being curious and seeking to learn every day, and being flexible and adaptable to the ever changing environment.


Nicholas Negroponte: A 30 year history of the future

A fascinating TED talk by Nicholas Negroponte (Founder, MIT media labs) revisiting the last 30 years of technology and the predictions he made along the way, many of which came to fruition including:

  • Buy books and newspapers on the web
  • Wearable electronics
  • Touch sensitive interfaces
  • Pervasive wireless access
  • GPS navigation

Many of these predictions are obvious and common place today, but were ridiculed at the time of the predictions. So what does he predict this time around? Interestingly, he believes that in the next 30 years, we will move away from learning using our eyes to learning via ingestion. Think Matrix, take a pill to learn English or Math for example. The blood stream will transfer the knowledge to the appropriate locations in our body. Far-fetched? Ridiculous? Fantastic? perhaps, but from my point of view, a better question to pose is: why not? 😉