QUEEN’S ROAD: After a whirlwind event last year that saw designers, entrepreneurs and thinkers come together to exchange ideas and challenge the status quo, TEDxBangalore is back for its second edition with the theme ‘All or Nothing’. This time, be there to debate everything from artificial intelligence to interplanetary life.
The conclave, which will take place at MLR Convention Centre, Whitefield, on October 4, will explore themes like space entrepreneurship, generative art, grassroots journalism and more. City Express caught up with organiser and curator Sartaj Singh Anand to find out more.
“Last year, things worked out better than we thought they would. Our theme, which was ‘Challenge ______’, resonated with a lot of people,” he said. According to him, what stood out in the first edition was the story of
‘The Ugly Indian’, a city-based volunteer group that works to clean up the streets. “The Ugly Indian story definitely kicked things up a notch. It became one of the few takeaways from the India leg and was a story received well globally. The talk got more than a million views. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted about it. Doordarshan is now making a short TV series with The Ugly Indian,” Sartaj said. Once the talk went viral, almost 30 cities across the country started their own Ugly Indian chapters.
This year, the organisers will throw the floor open to the public through ‘The Next Big Thing’ programme. Those who wish to share their
ideas or talk about the social, technological or design impacts their organisation is making can fill up the application form on the TEDx website and upload a 30-second video introducing themselves. Five people will be selected and given two minutes on the TEDx stage.
In another first, the TEDx prize will be awarded this time. “TED has its own prize, which is a million dollars. We obviously do not have a million dollars to give away. But what we’re offering might be even better — a million people,” Sartaj said. The speaker who wins the prize will get the help of a million people to galvanise his or her idea. “This could be as simple as getting together a million people to evangelise your product or idea. Or maybe five people who will fund your idea to take it to a million people. The possibilities are endless.”
The list of speakers gets more impressive this time. For instance, there is Yonatan Raz-Fridman, co-founder and CEO of Kano, a computer kit designed to help people assemble their own computer from scratch and start coding. “What Kano is doing is basically democratising the coding industry. According to Yonatan, everyone knew carpentry a few centuries ago. Coding is the carpentry of the 21st century and he wants to take it to everyone,” Sartaj said.
TEDxBangalore 2015 will also include a talk on artificial intelligence by Stephen Larson of OpenWorm. “At OpenWorm, they have managed to transfer the consciousness of a worm into a robot. If we cannot build a computer model of a worm, the most studied organism in biology, we don’t stand a chance to understand something as complex as the human brain. This is the premise of the OpenWorm project,” Sartaj said.
To keep the gender equation on an even keel, the organisers have made sure half the speakers are women. One of the speakers not to be missed is spaceship designer and entrepreneur extraordinaire Susmita Mohanty, who made it to the Financial Times’ 2012 list of ‘25 Indians to Watch’. A protege of Arthur C Clarke, the late science fiction writer who authored 2001: A Space Odyssey, Susmita continues to blur the boundaries between science fiction and reality through her orbital enterprise. “She is going to talk about designing habitats for humans in outer space. There is a lot of talk about how humans are an interplanetary species. And Susmita’s talk will be directed at how space can be made to resemble home when the inevitable happens,” Sartaj said.
For more information on the event, visit www.tedxbangalore.com. Tickets, priced at Rs 2,000, are available on the website.