TED Talks of 2017

The 4 superpowers of design

Design veteran Kevin Bethune argues that designers' talents are often undervalued in business. He says that all designers have four key superpowers: x-ray vision, shapeshifting, extrasensory perception (ESP) and the ability to make others superhuman. Sound unbelievable? Watch and learn what can happen when designers are given space in the workplace to thrive and grow.


The human insights missing from big data

Well, we have a new oracle, and it's name is big data, or we call it "Watson" or "deep learning" or "neural net." And these are the kinds of questions we ask of our oracle now, like, "What's the most efficient way to ship these phones from China to Sweden?" Or, "What are the odds of my child being born with a genetic disorder?" Or, "What are the sales volume we can predict for this product?"

Now, despite the size of this industry, the returns are surprisingly low. Investing in big data is easy, but using it is hard. Over 73 percent of big data projects aren't even profitable, and I have executives coming up to me saying, "We're experiencing the same thing. We invested in some big data system, and our employees aren't making better decisions. And they're certainly not coming up with more breakthrough ideas."

You have to keep in mind, iPhones had just come out, it was 2009, so this was, like, eight years ago, and Androids had just started looking like iPhones. And a lot of very smart and realistic people said, "Those smartphones -- that's just a fad. Who wants to carry around these heavy things where batteries drain quickly and they break every time you drop them?" But I had a lot of data, and I was very confident about my insights, so I was very excited to share them with Nokia. But Nokia was not convinced, because it wasn't big data. They said, "We have millions of data points, and we don't see any indicators of anyone wanting to buy a smartphone, and your data set of 100, as diverse as it is, is too weak for us to even take seriously." And I said, "Nokia, you're right. Of course you wouldn't see this, because you're sending out surveys assuming that people don't know what a smartphone is, so of course you're not going to get any data back about people wanting to buy a smartphone in two years. Your surveys, your methods have been designed to optimize an existing business model, and I'm looking at these emergent human dynamics that haven't happened yet. We're looking outside of market dynamics so that we can get ahead of it." Well, you know what happened to Nokia? Their business fell off a cliff. This -- this is the cost of missing something. It was unfathomable.


Using corporate data to improve our lives

Technology researcher Stefaan Verhulst thinks there might be a potential silver lining to the fact that corporations will collect all our data until the end of time. Citing examples like Twitter helping to data-map flooding in Indonesia and Uber helping Boston plan public transportation, Verhulst explains how corporations can serve the public interest and unleash insights while also protecting privacy.


Why our screens make us less happy

What are our screens and devices doing to us? Psychologist Adam Alter studies how much time screens steal from us and how they're getting away with it. He shares why all those hours you spend staring at your smartphone, tablet or computer might be making you miserable -- and what you can do about it.