TED – “Ideas worth Spreading”

Media and technology issues are often quite overwhelming for people who are a little out of tune with some of the more recent developments. One resource that can be very informative is TED, a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading modern findings and ideas related to Technology, Entertainment, and Design. TED conferences are held several times a year in various places around the world, and the organization hopes to celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2014 by hosting a special series of talks in Vancouver, from March 17-21. No one from MTAC expects to attend, though, as the visitors must pay a $7500 registration fee and answer questions demonstrating merit as an attendee.

While a lot of TED talks unfortunately show a clear anti-biblical bias, there are some talks visitors will find educational and may want to check out. Below are a few talks that relate to technology and the internet in particular. We may periodically share other relevant talks in the future.

One sobering talk is from Sherry Turkle, a psychologist and sociologist who has studies the impact of mobile devices on our lives, and argues that these have completely changed who we are and how we interact with others: Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone?

In case you are wondering what the internet really is anyway—which seems a simple enough question but not so easy to explain—have a look at what tech writer Andrew Blum has to say about it: What is the Internet, really?

Most of us know that when you go online you lose all privacy. All your internet browsing is tracked. The extent to which this happened is illustrated poignantly by Gary Kovacs, one of the founders of Mozilla and creators of the popular Firefox search engine, in Tracking the trackers. It makes you wonder who is out there watching what we do when we go online, and why they are so interested.

The first internet viruses were created some 25 years ago, and were pretty basic. Today internet viruses are created by government agencies and used for espionage and terrorism, and can threaten to shut down communication and transportation networks, energy suppliers, national defence systems, and other systems vital to national and international wellbeing.

Computer security expert Mikko Hypponen discusses how far internet viruses have developed over the years in Fighting viruses, defending the net, and argues there are Three types of online attack.

Cyber security expert Ralph Langner has a fascinating talk on how Stuxnet, one of the most complex computer viruses used as a cyberweapon to date, was cracked: Cracking Stuxnet, a 21st-century cyber weapon.

In case you wonder if hackers can compromise and disable other things besides your computers, have a look at what computer science prof Avi Rubin has to say. It turns out virtually every digital device you own can be hacked, including many devices you are not aware had a digital component (your car, your pacemaker, etc.).  Avi Ruben: All your devices can be hacked.

TED has hundreds of interesting, even ‘jaw-dropping’, talks, and it is easy to spend hours watching and learning from them. But there is a danger in that too, as we are to redeem our time and use it prudently. Time is short and we are to strive to take every thought captive.