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.

Chris Anderson
TED Curator

Comments (47)

  • j lee commented on Jun 26 2009

    TED organizers, it is your responsibility to set the record straight on this issue. You need to state clearly that Chris Hughes tried to take credit for work that he did not do in his TED talk, then lied in his post-talk interview trying to cover up his ass.

    Look at the evidence, it’s 100% clear that Chris Hughes tried to pass himself off as some kind of Flash AR guru, when all he did was modify someone else’s code and then pretended as if he was responsible for the Flash AR technology, including the specialized Papervision3D and FLARToolkit libraries needed to make Flash AR work.

    Until TED makes it crystal clear what Chris Hughes did, this issue will remain contentious and unresolved. This is the least you should do for not carrying out your proper due diligence in the first place and allowing this mess to happen.

    The people at HIT Lab USA and HIT Lab NZ are the real brains behind ARToolkit. You should contact one of the true pioneers like Mark Billinghurst to talk about AR at TED.

    • Jan Friedman commented on Jun 26 2009

      Oh my gosh, just drop it already. It is very clear to everyone what happened, the video was removed and Chris by now must know he made a mistake. There is no need for any further actions or comments from anyone. Everyone keeps making the same points over and over again. We get it. I think he has been humiliated enough, and whether you think he deserves it or not, why kill with a thousand stabs? A statement from TED that harsh against Chris would be going completely overboard. What’s done is done and proper actions were taken. At this point you are just being mean.

      • j lee commented on Jun 26 2009

        The fact is, Chris Hughes refuses to admit what he has done. Just take a look at his blog. Does he seem sorry for what he did? Look at the code he makes available for download, does he even give proper credit to the tutorials that he ripped off?

        None of these “mean” comments would have been posted if Chris Hughes would just behave like a man, own up to what he has done and give a full and unreserved apology for trying to mislead people that he is the brains behind Flash-enabled augmented reality.

        See: http://www.unitzeroone.com/blog/2009/06/23/ideas-worth-taking-credit-for-the-ted-augmented-reality-hoax/

        • Christian Giordano commented on Jun 27 2009

          I understand you J Lee, but I think you are exaggerating now. It’s clear to everyone that Chris did a huge mistake and he didn’t learn the lesson yet. But I think TED did already enough, considering their delicate position, and posting a severe comment every few hours won’t help to make them going any further. I would rather see Chris admitting his mistakes, but this is not gonna happen, is it?

      • j lee commented on Jun 27 2009

        Christian, my concern is that it’s not really clear to everyone what Chris Hughes has done, especially those not familiar with FLARToolkit. There are still people criticizing TED for taking down the talk. This is why TED must make it 100% clear what Chris Hughes has done, so that his “mistake” can no longer be defended by anyone. There is just no excuse for his behavior.

        It’s not that I want to be mean or vindictive, but Chris Hughes is just brushing all the criticism aside without owning up to what he tried to do: take credit for the creation of Flash AR.

        What if Ralph hadn’t spotted this and raised the issue with TED organizers? Chris Hughes would have continued on with this lie. He had 4 MONTHS from Feb 2009 to put things right – doesn’t this bother you at all? What has he been telling people about Flash AR these past 4 months? Why does he only start to make excuses in June 2009 when his TED video is posted online and the open source community has been alerted to his “mistake”?

  • Yuri Syrov commented on Jun 26 2009

    What the hell? Overreaction, anyone?

    Do not remove the talk and tech demo because he

    Edit it, redact, or whatever, just dont remove it completely.

    I can understand if it’d be sensitive or violating agreements, but none of that !?

    Now that I have seen whole talk, it’s out there, thankfully.
    I can tell you: “there’s NOTHING in the talk that warrants this reaction”.

    If anything warrants negative reaction is this TED actions and absolutely non-professional handling of the situation. One word – unbelievable.

    • j lee commented on Jun 26 2009

      Yuri, you missed the whole point why people are angry at Chris Hughes. He tried to take credit for other people’s work on stage at TED, and then made things worse by lying in his post-talk interview to cover his ass.

      How would you like it if you spent hundreds of hours creating an invention, only to find out that someone else presented your invention at TED as their own? This is exactly what Chris Hughes did.

  • j lee commented on Jun 26 2009

    Look at this post that Chris Hughes made on January 15, 2009:

    So on January 15 2009, Chris Hughes clearly knew that Papervision3D and FLARToolkit was needed to create Flash-enabled augmented reality.

    So, how is it that in February 2009, on the TED stage, Chris Hughes CONVENIENTLY forgets all about Papervision3D and FLARToolkit, and dishonestly claims to be the brains behind Flash-enabled augmented reality?

    Be a man and tell the truth, Chris Hughes.

  • j lee commented on Jun 26 2009

    Note that Chris Hughes TED talk was recorded in February 2009, but only placed on the TED website a few days ago. This means that Chris Hughes had 4 MONTHS to put things straight and yet he CHOSE TO LIE THROUGH HIS TEETH, including lying on his post-talk interview.

    Chris Hughes says that he “ported the Java version of ARToolkit over to Flash.” AR Flash developers all know CHRIS HUGHES IS LYING. FLARToolkit was ported over from the Java version by Saqoosha (Tomohiko Koyama), an interactive developer based in Japan.

    Chris Hughes claims all this is a mistake and he didn’t mean it. However, if you look at the evidence, it’s clear that everything Chris Hughes did was PREMEDITATED. He planned then carried out his fraudulent scheme: from lying to get on TED, to lying on stage at TED, to lying at his post-talk interview – all on the back of other people’s work, believing he would not get caught. And he hid this lie for 4 MONTHS.

    Chris Hughes, you did get caught. YOU ARE A LIAR AND A FRAUD.

  • j lee commented on Jun 26 2009

    If you want to learn how to use FLARToolkit to make Flash-enabled augmented reality, just read the following tutorials:



    If you download the code that Chris Hughe’s put on his blog for his TED talk, you will realise that he just modified the code from the above tutorials, and then went on TED claiming that he created Flash-enabled augmented reality.

    The bottomline is, Chris Hughes lied to get on TED. Once on the TED stage, he further lied saying that he was responsible for the technology behind Flash-enabled augmented reality, when he knew all along that he had nothing to do with creating the FLARToolkit or Papervision3D software libraries.

    Chris Hughes tried to take credit for work he did not do. And now he is refusing to acknowledge that he lied on stage at TED.

    Just imagine at the next Augmented Reality or Adobe Flash Developer conference: Chris Hughes is going to be a huge laughing stock.

  • No Dice commented on Jun 25 2009

    Thank you, TED, for reconsidering and dealing with this in an honest, open manner. Please keep in mind that the issue is not completely resolved until someone who has actually contributed to the technology is invited to TED to do a proper presentation. I would suggest contacting the makers of the tutorial, FLARToolkit and PaperVision3D and having them work out amongst themselves who will attend. Once again, thank you for listening.

  • Blake Callens commented on Jun 25 2009

    I want to take the opportunity to thank TED and Chris Anderson for redacting the portions of this post that we in the AR community took offense with. That being said, I think, not deliberately, they have forgotten about this post where some of the offenses take place.:


    This is the page that is at the top of the results when searching the site for “Chris Hughes.”

  • allister brizan commented on Jun 25 2009

    I agree that the talk didn’t give enough credit BUT I feel strongly compelled to make a fundamental point:
    TED is interested in this technology only because Chris Hughes was demoing it at TED. So, If in the future, a better talk is done you STILL have to thank Chris Hughes.

    I look at the posts and I still see an angry, vocal minority (even if rightly so). I think it unfortunate that the video is completely removed, the second version I think was the best thing for the FLARToolkit who are getting no exposure at all right now (papervision is widely used already). Do remember that when this talk is redone by some great-but-boring coder that FLARToolkit has to thank ARToolkit for doing the really hard work and ARToolkit has to thank Sun for java and sun has to thank….. welcome to open source.

    • Martin Heidegger commented on Jun 25 2009

      I thought I don’t want to write anything about that anymore…

      This reads like: Doing a bad thing is good to get another good thing done.

      But: If Hughes would have been honest from the start he might have done the best thing to the community possible and he would have been a hero.

      Lying is something that does harms all involved parties: TED’s name has been put to custody; Other speakers will be watched with critical eyes in future; The flash community became angry(anger isn’t really healthy); The public will find out about this tech a lot later and last but not least Hughes name has a pretty dirty image right now and as you mention: The video has been removed: His initial action was worthless.

      All just for 2 minutes of fame? I do not thank Chris Hughes for presenting it that way. I am thankful that someone enlightend TED to a topic which is hot on youtube…

      btw.: If I remember Saqooshas talks: He always refers to the great work done by the ARToolkit.

      • allister brizan commented on Jun 25 2009

        You all sound like the RIAA because you miss the ethos of open source.
        I don’t mind much that you all burning Chris at the stake, after all, in my opinion he did lie about his involvement but who, exactly, does he owe an apology (other than maybe TED). Which one person owns this great technology? The person who started ARToolkit? The person who has the most code is papervision?
        If these projects are truly open source then we all own it (i am checking licenses). Everyone who is angry is angry because they believe that they own papervision/FLARToolkit and something has been stolen from them.

        I am trying to look at the bigger picture. How do you present the work of an open community? That is a much more productive discussion to have.

        • Martin Heidegger commented on Jun 25 2009

          He should apology to all the people that he misled (the audience). He should apology to TED for the misleading. He should apology to those persons who’s authorship he ignored.

          Open source has its limits when you earn money with it and when its about authorship. The GPL license is a great example. When people publish source, they have most times just the honor of the community – this is a very sensible topic. That might be a major reason why open source licenses treat authorship as important part.

          For the discussion: Important is WHAT you present!
          He presented the “AR using flash in the Browser; made simple”. He didn’t present “Flash Player in a Browser” or “AR on a Tag Basis”. This leap was made by not the ARTK or PV3D. Making AR work in a browser has been archieved by Saqoosha (which code he used). Simpler to use by Mikko. He took the credit for the presented leap all(!!!) for himself. If you present something you didn’t do, don’t state that you did it and everything is fine.

    • cris heir commented on Jun 25 2009

      I disagree with the nature of your protest. This technology HAS to be displayed, but the talk made everything possible to obfuscate the actual availability of the technology. No mention of the underlying tools (available to everyone [ideas already shared]) resulted in zero-sharing of the message.

      As simple as that: this technology is available, open-source. If TED wants to display it, it should provide space for a new talk, better explaining the possibilities, and explicitly pinpointing where the technology can be obtained.

      Chris made a selfish attempt at self-promotion. There is no room for gratitude.

    • No Dice commented on Jun 25 2009

      It’s all nice that you want to be forgiving at the end, but if people try and find the video, I’m sure they’ll find the legions of angry posts explaining that this isn’t Chris’ technology. Many of those posts tell what the real technology is. Hence, no need for the video.

      I hardly think Chris was necessary for this technology to get coverage. Most of the people who need it already know about it. And the technology will keep advancing and improving. I’m sure that it was just a matter of time before it gained the spotlight somewhere in the mainstream eye.

      I will give no credit to any entity that claims all credit for itself. Let the public shame people and corporations who do this, so that it isn’t done again. The last thing we need is a famous script kiddie.

  • Ryan Richards commented on Jun 25 2009

    I think I have seen this before. But thanks for sharing this one up!

    Timeshare Relief

  • Christian Giordano commented on Jun 25 2009

    I have to admit, I am impressed by the courage and effort of Ted people to response and analyze further the issue which headed to the point of not defending any more Chris H. position, and removing that shameful video. All without removing all these nasty comments (including mine) by angry people. Well done TED!

  • j lee commented on Jun 24 2009

    At least the TED organizers are humble enough to admit their mistake and apologize.

    Meanwhile, look at Chris Hughes’ blog posting, boasting about how he cornered TED organizers into letting him talk at the conference, and how he achieved his dream of speaking at TED. Enjoy it Chris, because it’s unlikely you will EVER AGAIN be invited to speak at ANY conference after this moronic fiasco.

    It’s a good thing that Ralph Hauwert called Chris Hughes out on this con, otherwise who knows how much more damage this egomaniac would have caused. If I was Chris Hughes’ boss, I would sack him for bringing my company’s reputation into disrepute.

    People like Chris Hughes are the poster childs for the ills of modern day America: love of celebrity without any CHARACTER. American Idol contestants are more important than the millions of people who dedicate their lives to real useful and valuable contributions to society.

    Grow up, Chris. Grow a pair of cojones.