Live from TEDGlobal

TED Global newsmakers: Alessandro Acquisti on facial recognition, Thomas Dolby jams with Buzz Aldrin and more

Posted by:

TEDGlobal 2013 will bring dozens of speakers to the stage with ideas to make you “Think Again.” As the conference begins in just four days, here is a look at some of the slated speakers who made the news this week. Plus, a few notables from TEDGlobals of the past.

  • Alessandro Acquisti studies the tension between our desire for privacy and the wealth of information we freely share online. One of his areas of expertise: facial recognition technology. So we wanted to get his opinion on this article from IEEE Spectrum titled, “Will Face Recognition Ever Catch Criminals?.” It looks in detail at where we are with facial recognition technology and why it wasn’t more useful in identifying the Boston Marathon bombers. Acquisti tells the TED Blog, “The obstacles which make facial recognition hard are not systemic but transient: every year the databases of identified facial images get larger, the accuracy of recognizers get better, and the speed of computers get faster. In my opinion, the question about real time, mass-scale facial recognition is not ‘if’ but ‘when’ – whether we like it or not. Unless of course some rather dramatic change occurs.” Read more in Acquisti’s recent interview with And don’t miss his talk on Friday June 14, during the session “Tech Impact.”
  • Thomas Dolby is TED’s former musical director, who premiered his new record at TEDGlobal in 2010. Here watch him playing “She Blinded Me with Science.” With Buzz Aldrin:
  • A solar-powered aircraft? At TEDGlobal 2008, adventurer Bertrand Piccard shared his plans to fly around the world in one. So we are very excited to see him piloting the Solar Impulse in test flights over San Francisco. See gorgeous images at
  • Chrystia Freeland, author of the book Plutocrats, was awarded the 28th annual National Business Book Award last week. Look for her talk on Wednesday, June 12 in the session “Money Talks.”
  • Andreas Raptopoulos, co-founder of the startup Matternet, which is building a network of flying drones to bring supplies to locations where roadway infrastructure isn’t available, will speak on Tuesday, June 11, in the session “Those Flying Things.” Here, read his description of the project to Singularity Hub.
  • Speaking of, the session “Those Flying Things” will look at both the potential and enormous issues surrounding drones. On the extremely light end of that spectrum, this Domino’s pizza delivery stunt got us excited for the demos ahead.
  • Richard Wilkinson gave a blockbuster talk at TEDGlobal 2011 about why economic inequality decays societies. The new documentary, The Spirit Level, is based on his book and looks wonderful. Here’s the trailer:

Find out more about TEDGlobal 2013, “Think Again,” including how to attend or watch it live from home »

Not able to attend or get a TED Live membership? This year, we are doing special outdoor showings on big screens in 7 cities around the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. These outdoor viewing parties will take place through all five days of the conference, and will bring spectators curated programs of classic TED Talks, plus a few new talks from this event. Stay tuned to the TED Blog for more information on these events.