TED2009

A note on today's talk posting [Updated 6/24]

Posted by: Tedstaff

Update, June 24: After digging further into the issues surrounding this talk, we’ve decided to withdraw it altogether. It wowed, but also misled. Our apologies to those upset by this episode. Our thanks to those who alerted us to the problem. Meanwhile, we’re on the look out for a new, better way to showcase this powerful technology. – Chris Anderson, TED Curator

Below is the content from the original blog post:

Our posting this morning of Chris Hughes’ mini-TEDTalk from TED@PalmSprings has prompted a flurry of aggrieved responses [GIF] from the open source software community.

The talk was a two-minute demo of “augmented reality” software (in which real-world video is combined with computer-generated graphics). Hughes showed it working inside a browser using Flash and won enthusiastic applause from the live audience. But when we posted the video today, commenters felt he was claiming too much personal credit for the software and had not mentioned the two development projects on which it was based, Papervision 3D and the FLARToolkit.

To be fair to Chris:

+ He had not come to TED prepared to give a demo. Instead, he had been showing the software privately, but the excitement it generated prompted a request for an impromptu demo. In two minutes, there is not a lot of time to give out a credit-roll.

+ In an interview he gave right afterward, he acknowledged the toolkit on which his demo was based, describing it as “unbelievably awesome.”

+ On his blog, he has also clarified the extent of his contributions, and has published the code.

Given the controversy, he has agreed that it makes sense to remove the video from the Talks section of the TED.com and repost a new version here on the blog with attributions added. Here it is:

His efforts have brought the excitement and potential of augmented reality to a much wider audience, and We are eager to showcase this technology in more depth at a future TED. Our thanks to all who’ve helped us navigate through this issue.

Sincerely,
Chris Anderson
TED Curator

Comments (47)

  • Blake Callens commented on Jun 24 2009

    5. Just a comment. If this had been my code that Hughes had claimed, and not from a guy in Japan who still might not even be fully aware of this, any mention of Hughes would be gone from this site by now, or several people would be receiving court summons.

  • Blake Callens commented on Jun 24 2009

    4. “His efforts have brought the excitement and potential of augmented reality to a much wider audience, and we are eager to showcase this technology in more depth at a future TED. Our thanks to all who’ve helped us navigate through this issue.” His efforts amount to almost nothing! What “brought the exitement” was TED showing this video to an audience who had never seen any AR before, and nothing more. If they had done their job and properly vetted this guy (read: do a fast Google search) they would have seen that he was full of crap.

    I think that everyone involved in getting this video out is now just busy trying to cover up their blunders without admitting their true culpability in the situation. I think, more than anything, this is unfair to Saqoosha. The man put hundreds, if not thousands of hours into making AR in Flash possible and TED’s solution is to give a two second annotation to the video and a small link in the post, but still throw Hughes up like he’s the man.

  • Blake Callens commented on Jun 24 2009

    3. “He had not come to TED prepared to give a demo. Instead, he had been showing the software privately, but the excitement it generated prompted a request for an impromptu demo. In two minutes, there is not a lot of time to give out a credit-roll.” More omission that falsity here. On Hughes’ blog, he stated how he actively sought out TED officials to show them the demo.

  • Blake Callens commented on Jun 24 2009

    2. “On his blog, he has also clarified the extent of his contributions, and has published the code.” Here’s what he said on the linked to blog post: “I%u2019ve tried hard to re-iterate the fact that the demo is based on FLARToolKit & Papervision in all subsequent mentions but it appears that I could have done a better job of it.” The amount of work he did was literally changing, at most, a couple dozen lines of code. His work isn’t very much based on the two, but a complete rip off of the two; just a barely modified pre-existing tutorial.

  • Blake Callens commented on Jun 24 2009

    I’m sorely disappointed in TED’s “solution” to this issue. I’m taking the time to lay out the glaring falsities in both Chris Hughes’ statements and Chris Anderson’s post. I’ll have to do this in several comments.

    1. “In an interview he gave right afterward, he acknowledged the toolkit on which his demo was based, describing it as “unbelievably awesome.” Completely false. He actually tried to take credit for writing FLARToolkit in that interview. Quote: “Folks ported it from C, which is what it’s written on, onto Java. And then we took the Java port and made it work in Flash.” He had nothing to do with the port to Flash. That was Saqoosha. TED hasn’t even bothered to make a redaction on the post.

  • j lee commented on Jun 24 2009

    TED organizers, where is your due diligence? Shame on you and shame on Chris Hughes.

    The really sad part is that Chris Hughes didn’t even bother to change the AR marker image he used in his TED talk, he is using Saqoosha’s original “hiro” marker. Furthermore, if you look at the code he put up on his blog, it’s a straight copy and paste of Saqoosha’s and Miko H.’s code! Makes me sick, this. Chris Hughes is not even really apologetic, he’s just trying to cover his ass!

    TED should remove Chris Hughes video on their site, it’s just a mockery of everything the open source and FLARToolkit community stands for. It’s people like Chris who cause the real innovators like Saqoosha to have second thoughts on sharing their work via open source, which would be a great loss to the open source community.

    A tale of two fools this: Chris Hughes and TED organizers. Chris Hughes, a fool for trying to con the world, and TED organizers for allowing TED to be the platform for the con.

  • Chris Anderson commented on Jun 24 2009

    Thanks for these comments. It’s clear we did too little due diligence on this one and accordingly, we are revising a few internal procedures. The original version of this talk has been removed from ted.com and will shortly be off youtube and any other sources we distributed to. We’ll find a better way to showcase this technology at a future TED. I appreciate all the input. We’ve learned from this.

  • cris heir commented on Jun 24 2009

    “there is not a lot of time to give out a credit-roll”

    No need for arrogance. Do your research, assess his contribution, and then please, do not speak of time for credit-rolls. (Hint: the guy has ZERO contribution – there is no software written here.)

    This talk was purposefully misleading.

    • Punit Singh commented on Jun 24 2009

      Mr.Cris one thing is sure, TED is for new ideas concepts and innovations not taking something which is out there and rebuilding it on a different platform.
      I might be something super cool for SW world but I don’t expect to see flash/web based AR on TED.
      If this coding has right to have a place @ TED there are many more revolutionary codes out there.

  • Dmitry Fedorov commented on Jun 24 2009

    “Hughes showed it working inside a browser using Flash and won enthusiastic applause from the live audience.” — That’s understandable. Audience was applauding to other people work, though. “In two minutes, there is not a lot of time to give out a credit-roll.” — But there is some time to lie, eh? He said he ported code, although he didn’t any porting, just compilation of already ported code. “In an interview he gave right afterward, he acknowledged the toolkit on which his demo was based” — Yeah, he acknowledged ARKit, not FLAR, still ignoring Saqoosha’s work and trying to get some credits. “His efforts have brought the excitement and potential of augmented reality to a much wider audience” — His efforts have brought a lot of anger from the flash community and did significant reputation damage to TED itself because of: a) he was demoing stolen stuff and b) he was lying to the audience about his involvement. Now ppl will be in doubt about other speakers too.

  • onliner98 geller commented on Jun 24 2009

    Interesting video, though it’s worth noting that augmented reality has gone further than this in the field of games. The link below includes a video demo of a current augmented reality game, and a pretty amazing demo showing an augmented reality “scene” involving a cityscape that pops up from a table.

    The video is here:
    http://www.pcauthority.com.au/News/148251,altered-vision-researchers-making-augmented-reality-more-than-science-fiction.aspx

  • Pierre Rossouw commented on Jun 24 2009

    Someone likened this to slapping a TED logo on Google and talking about search without mentioning that someone else made the engine. Not acceptable.

  • Blake Callens commented on Jun 23 2009

    The original video is still on YouTube:

  • Ralph Hauwert commented on Jun 23 2009

    As one of the instigators of todays “fuzz” about Chris his presentation, I’d like to follow up on this correction publicly. My issue doesn’t reside only with the fact that Chris conveniently forgets to mention the projects which are about 95% of the work, but does remember his own name twice.

    It’s not only that he says “I wrote”, “We’ve managed”, and “I’m doing this with a browser and Flash”, as well as the fact that he says “We’ve ported ARToolkit to Flash”.

    It’s not his first blog report on his TED experience, where he points out the route of cornering a TED Curator to show him “his” awesome demo.

    It’s not the fact that his awesome demo is factually a modified tutorial, which counts up for the remaining 4% of work, leaving about 1% to him.

    It’s all of that combined that paint an image of someone overly eager (maybe in the spur of the moment) to be on a stage and even to this point in time refusing to acknowledge his blatant rip off. 1% of work ?

    • Martin Heidegger commented on Jun 24 2009

      I think you have to clearify this: When I program something with flash, the flash platform, windows, all those small libraries that make it work, browsers – that was all efforts by others to bring me to the result.

      The point about this presentation is that he did 1% of the new things that he presented. 1% of the work that is new and astonishing and that brings the applause.

      As I mentioned before I think its a human habit to claim things like that which are hard to get under control in extreme situations like TED.

      Everything would be resolved if he really (in a open, not self agreeing way) explained that he is human and that he failed – case resolved.

      Ps.: Right now he states like “Well I should have said it so you don’t blame me afterwards.” – thats just not it.

      • Milan Orszagh commented on Jun 24 2009

        “The point about this presentation is that he did 1% of the new things that he presented. 1% of the work that is new and astonishing and that brings the applause.”

        Actually, NO. Well, two no.

        1, I can tell you that even if you would just download FLARToolKit and compile one of the examples there (comes with Papervision3D) you would just get the same applause as he did.

        The ONLY thing he did was replacing a default cube from the FLAR example and loading a 3D model instead (which takes around 20 minutes to do if you never did that before) and the video “texture” which is like another 20 minutes.

        2, It’s not a new thing. Not only almost every Flash developer who is working with Papervision3D looked into FLAR and most likelly did the EXACTLY same thing just to test it out, but there are far beyond better showcases of FLAR Papervison3D.

  • No Dice commented on Jun 23 2009

    More quotes:
    “In my mind, I’d pretty much convinced myself that I was gonna rock this one.”(not particularly incriminating, but he definitely had a lot of confidence in someone else’s technology)

    “Life goals:
    Get Invited to TED – done
    Speak at TED – done”

    Honestly, the best course of action is to note clearly before clicking on the video exactly how much work he did. Such as “This is a presentation of existing work at (x) using (y) toolkits.” Follow that up with inviting the *original* authors to TED to make a real presentation to replace his, and it could be considered a professional resolution.

    Editing in some “attributions” which don’t clearly show that he presented someone else’s work is hardly sufficient. Had he done this at an academic institution, he’d be up against a plagiarism tribunal, facing possible failure and expulsion. But apparently TED isn’t that concerned.

  • No Dice commented on Jun 23 2009

    I’m sorry, but a huge majority of the community that this technology applies to already knew about the toolkit. There is little excuse for Chris’ “part” in this, which is nominal at best. His contribution was tracking down an organizer and forcing them to acknowledge something that already existed.

    He should not have been invited to speak on it at that very same conference. Indeed, had he been forthcoming with the organizer in that he had done absolutely no original work at all, I sincerely doubt that he would have been invited to speak at all. Reading his own blog entry (at http://spazout.com/ted_2009_and_why_it_was_the_best_thing_ever) it is clear that he approached this as an opportunity to sell himself, more than as an opportunity to share the technology. Quotes:
    “Is today the day that I build something cool enough to get my [redacted] invited to TED?”
    “something that I would tell a TED organizer in the hope that I could pique their interest in seeing a demo of my work.”

  • Oliver Lardner commented on Jun 23 2009

    I can see how a simple case of withholding the full story (“I didn’t actually build this”) could get out of hand and I appreciate that there might be circumstances I’m not aware of. But Chris didn’t “forget” to mention his own name, twice, which is a name far less deserving than the names of the people who actually built the demo or even the name of the port.

    FLARToolkit while being great on flash, is actually not a very good example of “Augmented Reality” of which he was touting.

    Check this out (look ma, no marker!): http://www.t-immersion.com/

  • Jonas Grimfelt commented on Jun 23 2009

    TED is in most cases on the edge when it comes to technology, but AR is far from new technology (in labs already in the 80s-90s) – actually the open-source toolkit was released years ago and is ported to plenty of platforms/languages already. I actually met the guy behind it on my university – cool dude that should have demo it on TED like he did on my uni. I feel this guy is taking some sort of technology leader role, which he is not – nothing new, and I’m chocked that people in the crowd get so impressed. AR is all over the web and YouTube – u been sleeping in the classroom? =)

  • A TEDster commented on Jun 23 2009

    Thanks Chris. This is far better.

  • Martin Heidegger commented on Jun 23 2009

    I am happy to see that the TED team responses to the – maybe too – harsh reaction from the community(me included). I am very happy that the Flash AR could find a big audience, and I am glad he lended his voice.

    Explanation for outsiders: AR is really a pushed topic on Flash conferences around the world which is why its treatend so much tension: Everybody knows its not Hughes effort at all.

    I don’t want to sound fussy but he stated “unbelievably awesome” to the ARToolkit which is from 2006/07, written in C and can not be used on a browser in contrary to the FLARToolkit which was itself a huge amount of work. Using a ted talk video to make a ordinary video texture(as offered by the tools) are a very simple thing to do – same goes for publishing.

    I want to state that I have no personal anger against Chris Hughes. It can happen that you loose your nerves when you are really excited about such a great opportunity and I am sure that he has some great abilities. Pride can be a hard enemy

    • CLAUDIO ABRAHAMSOHN commented on Jun 23 2009

      I wholly agree with Chris Anderson’s comments. I was privileged to spend some quality time talking to Chris Hughes after his presentation. I did not detect any pride. Much to the contrary. While delighted with the opportunity to present at TED, he was almost surprised at all the fuss over his presentation, and gave full credit to the fantastic tools he had used to create it. I also found him to be a profoundly ethical and moral young man. If there are any sins to be found in this story, don’t look for pride in Chris Hughes’s presentation. Jealousy and sour grapes in some of the miffed reactions is more fertile ground

      • Martin Heidegger commented on Jun 23 2009

        I am pretty sure that your discussion with Chris was good, I am also sure that he is competent. At the TED stage its common sense to present something revolutionary – something new – and beeing able to present something so – uhm – moving like AR sure makes you proud of presenting that.

        To bring up the honesty and say: “Actually I didn’t do a single stroke on that” takes for sure some power in that situation. Since he seems to be aware about all the things he used, it looks like a small lie for pride which we bloated.

  • Punit Singh commented on Jun 23 2009

    I have used something similar long back with a free software that comes as a bundle with Logitech webcam series.
    A similar video of what i am talking about http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7Gn2TyEyHw.