TEDxHamburg - visions for a better world

3 June 2019
Global ideas for new education methods, robots, AI and tangible urban development

Ten international speakers presented Saturday (June 1, 2019) their dreams and solutions in very different thematic fields – from robotics and AI to globalised education and tangible urban development at the TEDxHamburg in the Laeiszhalle. Solving problems across borders, thinking education more ambitiously and freeing artificial intelligence from the inhibitions surrounding it are the key to finding answers.

“Good Country Index”

But no matter what the challenge – environmental protection, justice or the clever use of new technologies – the most promising approach seems to be to change or at least adapting people’s behaviour. Focusing on children is the best approach, according to Simon Anholt, a British anthropologist and former policy advisor, who noted: “The solution to all problems lies in education. But we have to think about them in a new and more ambitious way. Everything we do has an impact on others, on people as well as on countries.” The Good Country Index, initiated by Anholt, shows how clever action by a single country can influence the whole world. The ranking measures how many individual states contribute to the common good of the world.

An entrepreneur who says “DO NOT buy our product!“

Unusually, Jesper K. Strange Kjeldsen even urged consumers not to buy his product. The co-founder of the Danish water company "Postevand" (Danish for tap water) fills tap water into environment-friendly FSC cartons and prints a message on them urging people to drink tap water rather than buying bottled water. "The quality of Danish tap water is excellent and yet a significant amount of mineral water in plastic bottles is imported." This comes amid mounting plastic waste. "In 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish," which Kjeldsen termed a “sad state of affairs”.

AI everywhere and for everyone

Kenza Ait Si Abbou Lyadini is committed to improved “education” for self-learning algorithms. “Artificial intelligence is everywhere. It decides what we see on Netflix, hear on Spotify and buy on Amazon and whether we get the desired job.” Despite excellent training in application procedures, the Moroccan-born national, could not outwit the gatekeeper AI as her dark skin colour was not associated with “success”. Kenza, who is now Senior Manager Robotics and Artifical Intelligence at Deutsche Telekom, commented: “It’s not even racism, but inadequately trained algorithms.” Advancing diversity issues is a top priority to her. To uncover how automated recruiting processes can become fairer, Kenza organized an international AI hackathon for women and is committed to the Women in AI initiative. “Artificial intelligence is for everyone,” she stressed.

VR – ultimate “empathy machine”

Other speakers highlighted technology as well. The Swedish national Håkan Lidbo used “True Bots”, three musical robots that sing about the coexistence of humans and robots in future, to outline the possibilities of virtual reality technology: “Robots can be all that we are not and they allow us to be completely human.” Another speaker, Annekatrin Brünig, who is based in Hamburg, relies on virtual reality to gain more profound knowledge. “VR is the ultimate empathy machine,” she noted.

Future belongs to self-sufficient cities

The Australian national, Ross Harding, concurred. However, Harding relies on a combination of techniques and culture to facilitate a new kind of participation. “Today, more than half of all people live in cities and this is 2050 is expected to be two thirds by 2050. The development towards environment-friendly and self-sufficient cities is therefore inevitable.” Harding wants to make the required changes to the urban infrastructure a tangible experience using prototypes thereby living up to the moto of this year’s TEDxHamburg “Dreamers – Prototyping Tomorrow”.

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