In Brief

Two TEDsters nominated for Oscars and more TED community news

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As usual, the TED community is making headlines. Below, some highlights.

A close look at the beauty and pain of hospice care. End Game, a short documentary that follows the last few days of terminally ill patients, is up for an Oscar this weekend. The heart-rending film highlights the work of doctors and caregivers — including BJ Miller — reimagining what palliative care and hospice work can be. In a column for Hollywood Reporter, Motion Picture and Television Fund head Bob Beitcher says, “End Game’s Dr. BJ Miller embodies the commitment and compassion that is crucial to cutting-edge palliative care, helping families and patients travel the difficult journey together.” The film is streaming on Netflix. (Watch Miller’s TED Talk.)

Also up for an Oscar? Period. End of Sentence. Entrepreneur Arunachalam Muruganantham kickstarted a cultural revolution in India with his sanitary pad machine, and now the tale is a compelling Netflix documentary. The Oscar-nominated short doc explains how Muruganantham’s invention empowers rural women, providing them with both clean sanitary napkins and reliable employment, while reducing stigma. “The strongest creature created by God in the world is not the lion, not the elephant, not the tiger … the girl,” says Muruganantham in the film. (Watch Muruganantham’s TED Talk.)

Nita Farahany co-leads AI seminars for congressional staff. Alongside Vincent Conitzer and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, ethicist Nita Farahany kicked off the three-part Duke in DC seminar series on artificial intelligence for a congressional audience. Farahany, a professor of law and philosophy at Duke University, spoke on the potential impact of AI and human collaboration on policy. Questions ranged from predictive policing methodologies to the role of government in AI development. As quoted on Duke’s website, Farahany said, “Because AI is still in such a nascent phase of its development, and because we as a society are going to increasingly face ethical and legal dilemmas from its use and development, there is an important role for government in the field.” (Watch Farahany’s TED Talk.)

Stroke of insight: A choral work based on Jill Bolte Taylor. Identical twin composers the Brothers Balliett have written a new three-part piece for a choral orchestral and mezzo soprano called Fifty Trillion Molecular Geniuses — based on neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor’s book and TED Talk. The Cecilia Choir of New York will premiere the piece with soloist Amanda Lynn Bottoms at Carnegie Hall in early May. Tickets are available now. (Watch Taylor’s TED Talk.)

Mark Kelly runs for US Senate. Retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly has launched a campaign in Arizona’s 2020 senatorial special election. Kelly and his wife, former congressional rep Gabby Giffords, announced the campaign with a video highlighting Kelly’s career as an astronaut and pilot, his family roots and his pivot toward gun control activism following an assassination attempt on Giffords in 2011. Kelly describes the issues he cares for most including health care, job and economic growth and the environment. “We’ve seen this retreat from science and data and facts, and if we don’t take these issues seriously, we can’t solve these problems,” he says. (Watch Kelly and Giffords’ TED Talk.)

The Explorers Club Medal awarded to Kenneth Lacovara. For his discoveries of some quite remarkable dinosaur fossils, paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara will be honored at the 115th Explorers Club Annual Dinner. The Explorers Club Medal, the group’s highest award, is presented to those who have made “extraordinary contributions directly in the field of exploration, scientific research, or to the welfare of humanity.” Other TEDsters who have received the honor include Sylvia Earle, Jane Goodall and James Cameron. In a statement for Rowan University Lacovara said, “I’m honored and humbled to be joining a group of medalists that includes so many of the heroes and adventurers who inspired me as a child … I am fortunate to have played a small role in uncovering our wondrous past.” (Watch Lacovara’s TED Talk or see his TED Book, Why Dinosaurs Matter.)

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