Live from TED2014

In case you missed it: Day 2 at TED2014

Posted by: Helen Walters
Chris Anderson interviews Edward Snowden on a telepresence robot.

Chris Anderson interviews Edward Snowden on a telepresence robot. Photo: Bret Hartman

So what went down at TED on day two? Well, a lot, as it happens. As curator Chris Anderson commented rather tiredly later, “that was the most intense day of TED I can remember, ever.” Here, a lightning round-up of some of the day’s key moments.

Edward Snowden trundles onto stage
The first big surprise of the day when a small robot rolled onto stage, operated by the infamous hacker, Edward Snowden. What followed: a fascinating Q&A with Anderson that tackled security, surveillance and society. (We rushed the edit of this talk, so you can watch the whole thing here.) One other only-at-TED moment: a mention of Tim Berners-Lee’s call for an online bill of rights. “Tim’s here. Want to come up onstage?” With that, the father of the web vaulted onto the stage and took part in the discussion too.

David Kwong pulls off the best trick ever
The self-proclaimed “cruciverbalist” (crossword writer) brought a TED attendee onto stage and asked her to color in five animals while he had his back turned. Truth be known, it took a while — and it seemed like he might lose the audience. But then! It turned out that he’d hidden his predictions in *today’s New York Times crossword puzzle*. To prove it, attendees got to pull out the paper from beneath their seats to check, at which point the marveled applause started, and Kwong got to bask in the glow of a trick well done. Also awesome: our interview with Will Shortz about why he decided to take part.

Robert Full releases cockroach robots
We don’t normally celebrate the cockroach, even though it has “wonderfully-tuned legs” that allow it to clamber over uneven surfaces even when injured. At least, that’s biologist Robert Full’s take, explained in a lightning fast talk in one of today’s two All-Stars sessions. Admiring the physical properties of the insect, Full described how he and his team used it as inspiration for their new robots, DASH. Then he released 50 of them into a highly delighted audience (who nicked most of them. If you took one, please return!)

Zak Ebrahim reveals his past
In this moving, powerful talk, Ebrahim told the story of his father, El-Sayed Nosair, who planned terrorist attacks on a dozen New York City landmarks, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York. “I choose to use my experience to fight back against terrorism, against bigotry,” Ebrahim said in his powerful talk. “I do it for the victims of terrorism and their loved ones, for the terrible pain and loss that terrorism has forced upon their lives. For the victims of terrorism I will speak out against senseless acts and condemn my father’s actions.”

Bill and Melinda Gates talk about their relationship. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Bill and Melinda Gates talk about their relationship. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Bill and Melinda Gates discuss their family
We’ve all heard both Bill and Melinda Gates discuss their philanthropic work before, but tonight the uber-couple did something different; they shared stories of their three still-young children and their approach to parenting. This isn’t a topic the pair has addressed in public before — and it turns out the impetus came from the kids themselves. They want people to know that they believe in their parents’ foundation’s mission, said Melinda. For anyone crassly wondering if the kids will be multi-billionaires before they know it? “Nope,” said Bill firmly. “They need to have a sense that their own work is meaningful and important.”

Janine Benyus talks up nature
“We are not the first to manufacture,” biomimicry expert Janine Benyus reminded us today in a special TEDActive session. “Nature did it first.” Benyus explained how nature can provide inspired solutions for designers and inventors, particularly in this era of 3D printing, when all of us are becoming manufacturers . With lyrical words and gorgeous photographs, she offered a range of ways that nature inspires new solutions, like a firefly-shaped lightbulb that burns 50% brighter than a standard bulb.

Rives does his thing
Also in Whistler and at TEDActive, spoken word artist Rives offered a tour-de-force follow-up to his cult-classic talk on the magic of 4AM. In this sequel, he reported back on the hundreds of pop culture references to 4AM he’s received. Fans range from Franz Kafka to Bart Simpson, the Flintstones to the Jetsons… All are now available at the Museum of Four in the Morning.

Charmian Gooch wins the TED Prize
“My wish is for us to know who owns and controls companies, so that they can no longer be used anonymously against the public good. Together, let’s ignite world opinion, change the law, and launch a new era of openness in business.” So spoke this year’s TED Prize winner, Charmian Gooch, and with that, the floor was opened to the assembled TED audience to speak up, to share responses and offers for help. First up? Former TED Prize winner, Jehane Noujaim, who offered to make a documentary film to humanize this difficult, complex topic. Then? Jeff Skoll (whose foundation also gave Gooch and her organization, Global Witness a million-dollar prize this year) stepped up and promised to fund the film.