Today is good, but tomorrow can always be better. There are new possibilities for our future if we use our uniquely human creativity. In a day of talks and performances, 16 leading minds gathered to flip expected thinking on its head and map out how we might build a brighter future.
The event: TED@BCG: Flipside Futures is the fourteenth event TED and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) have co-hosted to uplift forward-thinking speakers from around the globe. Hosted by TED’s head of media and curation Helen Walters.
When and where: Thursday, November 16, 2023 at the BCG office in Paris, France
Speakers: Catalina Lotero, Adam Whybrew, Jessica Apotheker, Diarra Bousso, Hanjo Seibert, David Kwong, Sylvester Chauke, Annalee Newitz, Adriann Negreros, Shruthi Baskaran-Makanju, Slava Balbek, Paul Hudson, Beth Viner, Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak, Sagar Goel, Bonnie Hancock
Opening and closing remarks: Francois Candelon, the global director of the BCG Henderson Institute and TED@BCG 2018 speaker, welcomes the audience while Olivier Scalabre, the head of BCG France and TED@BCG 2016 speaker, closes out the day.
The talks in brief:
Catalina Lotero, purposeful designer
What might Latin America look like if colonization hadn’t broken the evolution of its ancient iconography? Catalina Lotero presents stunning images of “Pre-Columbian futurism” that infuse Latin American design with Indigenous symbolism — a testament to the power of aesthetics to rewrite historical narratives and envision new futures.
Adam Whybrew, depression truth-teller
We can’t get rid of anxiety and depression, so we might as well talk about it, says Adam Whybrew. He shares how talking about his own debilitating mental health struggles with his coworkers created unexpectedly positive outcomes, offering a comforting message of hope for those in need of support.
Jessica Apotheker, marketing expert
Research shows AI is poised to explode marketers’ performance — but there’s a problem, says Jessica Apotheker. AI may make marketers more productive but, if not harnessed correctly, it might also homogenize and clog the marketing landscape.
Diarra Bousso, designer, mathematician
Growing up in Senegal, getting a new outfit for Diarra Bousso was never an impulse purchase; her clothes were made to order by local artisans and designed to last. Through her brand, Diarrablu, she’s working to bring this sustainable fashion model to modern e-retail, using digital tools to crowdsource designs, limit excess inventory and reduce overconsumption and waste.
Hanjo Seibert, economic crime fighter
Hanjo Seibert spends his time fighting economic crime, a wide field ranging from drug trafficking and human trafficking to fraud, cybercrimes, tax evasion and more. He explains how gangsters, criminals and terrorists launder their money through this shady underground economy — and how all of us can take small steps to make it harder for them to do so.
David Kwong, magician
“We live in a time that’s more wondrous than our ancestors ever could have imagined, and technology isn’t the barrier to unlocking that wonder: it’s the key,” says David Kwong. He explores how tech elevates our capacity for bewilderment — and invites an audience member to the stage for some ChatGPT-powered magic.
Sylvester Chauke, branding disruptor
After years of brand building, marketing veteran Sylvester Chauke realized that his industry had sold the world on overconsumption, with devastating consequences. He shares how marketers could instead promote sustainability and responsible consumerism with “honest ads.”
Annalee Newitz, journalist, sci-fi author
“Escapist stories allow us to reimagine our relationship with the places we live,” says Annalee Newitz. Inviting you to the whimsical world of sci-fi, cosplay (short for “costume play”) and goblincore (an internet-born aesthetic that celebrates the “ugly” side of nature), Newitz shares why, sometimes, the best way to solve our problems is to escape them.
Adriann Negreros, change management expert
Nearly three billion people have frontline jobs: work that requires them to be in person, whether it’s as baristas, Uber drivers, factory floor workers or anything else. Adriann Negreros is on a mission to make these jobs more rewarding by getting employees what they need but often lack – like respect, better pay, more flexibility and safety gear that actually fits.
Shruthi Baskaran-Makanju, food systems advocate
Sub-Saharan Africa needs more meat consumption to solve its nutrition challenges, says Shruthi Baskaran-Makanju. Instead of building feedlots, she makes a case for scaling meat and milk production in the region by supporting its millions of nomadic livestock herders.
Slava Balbek, architect, humanitarian
The Russian invasion of Ukraine forced architect Slava Balbek to rethink the nature of his craft. From a tool that develops localized blueprints to rebuild your home to the construction of comfortable, stylish temporary housing, Balbek and his team are exploring the healing power of architecture with a simple motto: “Dignity no matter what.”
Paul Hudson, healthcare innovator, in conversation with Lindsay Levin, the head of TED Countdown
Rather than resisting AI, Paul Hudson has welcomed the opportunity to let it completely disrupt Sanofi, the healthcare and pharmaceutical company he leads. In conversation with Lindsay Levin, he discusses how AI can propel daily decision-making, its impact on data transparency and the role it might play in decarbonizing the pharmaceutical industry.
Beth Viner, culture strategist
We often venerate dreamers: the innovators who smash through barriers. But for every dreamer, says Beth Viner, a team of doers works hard to transform that vision into reality. The best companies succeed by harnessing this synergy.
Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak, economist
Economic models always seem to predict disaster, creating financial losses that could have been avoided if shoppers and business owners were more rationally optimistic, says economist Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak. He calls for everyone to be their own judge, evaluate the doomsday narratives with a careful eye and embrace the inevitable uncertainty.
Sagar Goel, skill-building strategist
People are worried that AI will replace them at work — but upgrading skills and lifelong learning can help. Sagar Goel shares insights from a partnership with the Singaporean government on a digital reskilling program that helped people gain experience for jobs for which they previously wouldn’t have qualified.
Bonnie Hancock, Ironwoman, paddler, record breaker
In 2020, Bonnie Hancock began paddling her sea kayak in a clockwise loop around Australia. It took her 254 days to circumnavigate the continent, breaking the previous world record by more than two months. She shares the ups and downs of her 12,700-kilometer journey — including brushes with crocodiles, sharks and hypothermia — and how she learned to find resilience and beauty in the toughest moments.