#TEDatIBM

December 6, 2017

San Francisco, CA

TED@IBM explores the relationship between technology and humanity in a one-day annual event. TED’s mission and model create a premier platform for IBM experts — including clients, partners, and friends — to reveal bold ideas and unexpected insights. Join us as we share these stories with the world.

2017 theme: Why Not?

Two simple, hopeful words whose message is greater than the sum of its parts. They stand as an important reminder that in an increasingly complex and often divided world, the right question can yield fantastic and unexpected results. Can we look to the very foundation of life itself — the atom — and find a new means of storing digital information? Why not? When we all live to be 100, could emotionally intelligent machines hold the key to helping us remain vibrant, fiercely independent, and productive members of society? Why not? Is a new generation of makers, inventors, engineers, philosophers and artists creating an AI-powered renaissance in the arts, science, and body politic? Indeed, why not?

And yet for all of their implicit opportunity and optimism, those two little words also invite us to consider the other side of the equation. Just because we can does not mean that we should, and the right question can therefore inspire us to push boundaries while safeguarding what we hold most dear, be it our privacy, our individuality or our humanity.

Watch the talks from TED@IBM

Binge watching you can feel good about. Whether you missed the event or you just want to watch your favorite talks again, you can find big ideas and inspiring moments in the TED@IBM video gallery.

Featured documentaries

Internet of Things: Transforming the Routine

Intelligence, Knowledge and the Progression of Wisdom in the Age of Smarter Machines

TED@IBM speakers

2017 TED@IBM speakers will be announced by September 22nd. Until then, watch the talks from previous years, including last year’s speakers.

Organizational psychologist

Entrepreneur, lawyer

Behavioral scientist

Cyber crime fighter

Public sector researcher

President of Fox 2000 Pictures

Nano architect

Scientist and philosopher

Spoken word artist

Brain explorer

Cancer fighter

National security expert

Computational geneticist

Sound innovators

Musician, technologist

Media activist

Adam Grant

Adam Grant

Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist and New York Times bestselling author on motivation, generosity, and creativity. In his most recent book, Originals, he discusses how to champion new ideas and fight groupthink.

Why you should listen

Adam Grant has been Wharton’s top-rated professor for five straight years, and has been recognized as one of the world’s 25 most influential management thinkers and Fortune’s 40 under 40.

His TED talk on the surprising habits of original thinkers received a standing ovation and racked up its first million views in five days. His first book, Give and Take, was named one of 2013’s best by Amazon, the Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal.

Adam was tenured in his twenties and profiled in the New York Times magazine cover story, "Is giving the secret to getting ahead?" He is a passionate feminist who writes with Sheryl Sandberg and serves on the Lean In board. He received his B.A. from Harvard and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, and he is a former junior Olympic springboard diver.

What others say

Fresh research, counter-intuitive insights, lively writing, practical calls to action …Grant has a deserved reputation as an original thinker.

The Financial Times

Andrew Arruda

Andrew Arruda

After ten years in the legal industry, Andrew Arruda found a dangerous inefficiency in the justice system: the research process. So he deployed the world’s first cognitive legal assistant to sift through the law for us, and make justice more fair and equal in the process.

Why you should listen

Andrew Arruda is the CEO and co-founder at ROSS Intelligence, the creator of the world’s first artificially intelligent lawyer. ROSS reads millions of legal documents efficiently, understands lawyers’ research questions, and gets smarter each time it interacts with a lawyer.

Before he built ROSS, Arruda worked at a litigation boutique in Toronto, Canada and with the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development in Lisbon, Portugal.

What others say

One successful partnership led to another, and ROSS Intelligence is now working with a variety of firms including BakerHostetler, Latham & Watkins, and von Briesen & Roper.

A.I. Business, August 5, 2016

Bob Nease

Bob Nease

Are we wired to be inattentive and inactive? After all, science has shown that of the 10 million bits of information our brains process each second, we can only apply a fraction - a mere 50 bits - to acting consciously. What if we accepted this fate, and instead of feeling discouraged, leveraged those 50 bits way to achieve our aspirations?

Why you should listen

In his recently released book The Power of Fifty Bits: The New Science of Turning Good Intentions into Positive Results, Nease offers seven strategies proven to help anyone apply the emerging science of choice to achieve practical workplace, community and individual goals.

Nease knows how: when he was chief scientist at Express Scripts, the nation’s largest pharmacy benefits management company, he led a team to help guide millions of patients to better health-related behaviors by applying intentional design, framed messaging, and advanced analytics to craft content and user experiences prompting them to make wise health choices. Nease has written more than 70 peer-reviewed scientific publications in addition to numerous articles for non-academic audiences.

What others say

Bob Nease is a pioneer of implementing social science in business and healthcare and we are lucky to have him share his expertise.

Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational

Caleb Barlow

Caleb Barlow

With a front-row seat in the global cybercrime arena, Caleb Barlow has been focused on how we solve the cyber security problem by changing the economics for the bad guys.

Why you should listen

As a vice president at IBM Security, Caleb Barlow has insight into to one of the largest security intelligence operations in the world. His team stands watch protecting the information security of thousands of customers in more than a hundred countries. On a busy day they can process upwards of 35 billion potential security events across their global operations centers. Barlow has been advising chief information security officers, boards of directors and government officials on security practices, frameworks and strategies for risk mitigation on a global basis.  He is a sought-after speaker on the subject of security and regularly appears in both print and broadcast media, including NBC News, CNBC, BBC World Service, NPR, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.  His opinions have been solicited by members of Congress, the NSA, and NATO, and he was invited by the President of the UN General Assembly to discuss his views at the United Nations.  Most recently, Barlow is focusing on building a large-scale simulation environment to educate c-level executives on how to better prevent and respond to a cyber attack so they can maintain business resiliency in the face of crisis.

What others say

Barlow, who spent time in his early career in emergency medicine, likens Watson to a paramedic coming on the scene of a potential head injury. A paramedic looks at structured data—blood pressure, heart rate…but also takes into account unstructured data, like the verbal response…Watson gives IBM the distinction of being the first to be able to try it at scale.

Wired, May 10, 2016

Charity Wayua

Charity Wayua

Charity Wayua grew up in rural Kenya and did not use a computer until she was 17. After earning her undergraduate and graduate degrees in the U.S., she returned to Africa to apply cutting-edge technology to solve problems mainly in the public sector, with the goal of having an immediate impact on people’s lives.

Why you should listen

Charity Wayua and her team at IBM Research Africa work closely with government, university and business leaders to help local businesses improve government services. The World Bank ranked Kenya 3rd on its Ease of Doing Business ranking in part due to the work of Wayua’s team — up 21 places from the previous year’s rank.

Wayua co-creates various public-sector solutions that are commercially viable across IBM labs around the world. Wayua applies cognitive technology to find solutions to teacher shortages and overcrowded classrooms in Africa. When she is not in the lab, she looks forward to teaching her weekly Sunday school class for 5 and 6 year old children.

What others say

IBM Research Africa’s "solving grand challenges" approach could be a harbinger for bigger changes on the continent…it signals tech’s potential role in disrupting development in Africa.

TechCrunch, March 16, 2016

Freddy Clarke and Wobbly World

reddy Clarke and Wobbly World

We all know that our environment is tenuous, international politics are fragile; it’s a Wobbly World out there. But this global collection of musicians has made something strong, dynamic and beautiful in response. The Eastern and Western scales have rarely sounded so natural together.

Why you should listen

Wobbly World is a group of internationally recognized musicians and singers from an ever-expanding list of countries: Morocco, Netherlands, Bolivia, Lebanon, Cuba, Vietnam, Ivory Coast, Palestine, Trinidad and the U.S. Founded by guitarist Freddy Clarke, the music ethno-layers melody, poetry, and poetic meaning from disparate musical traditions. And while each player also brings a unique heritage, the music flows and soars with a deep sense of cohesion.

Wobbly World is built on the idea that the unity of music speaks to the unity of life. The freedom to enjoy music without borders leads us to enjoy people without borders. It is the energy that spins Wobbly World.

What others say

The music itself (of Freddy Clarke and Wobbly World) is bright and flowing, full of a hybrid blend of stylistic flavors that expands and contracts in fascinating ways, a bit like a vibrant, sunny river bouncing along on its way to the sea.

AllMusic.com, 2007

George S. Tulevski

George S. Tulevski

George Tulevski is fascinated by objects 10,000 times smaller than a single bacterium, which, he believes, hold the secret to more effective computing. His research illuminates the hidden technological possibilities of the typically unseen, and largely untapped, nano-world.

Why you should listen

Every year for the last 50 years, the size of the silicon computer chip has shrunk by half yet doubled in power. But Moore’s Law will likely soon come to an end. The incredible shrinking chip has enabled computer-enabled devices to become more mobile and accessible, but what happens when our chips can’t get any smaller? What could a post-silicon computer chip look and act like?

George Tulevski researches nanomaterials and develops new methods to utilize these materials in technologically relevant applications, such as chips. Dr. Tulevski’s current work includes advancements in carbon nanotubes that can be used in next-generation computer processors, flexible electronics and sensors. In addition to his research, Tulevski teaches tomorrow’s nanoscientists at Columbia University, where he received his Ph.D.

What others say

In the effort to find a replacement for today’s silicon chips, IBM researchers [Tulevski and team] have pushed carbon nanotube technology a significant step ahead.

CNET, October 28, 2012

Grady Booch

  Grady Booch

As a child, Grady Booch built his first computer from scratch and then charmed an IBM salesman into giving him a Fortran manual and weekend access to a mainframe. So began a lifelong journey to persuade others that one of the most powerful ways to shape the future of the world is by telling stories via the language of software.

Why you should listen

Grady Booch is a scientist, a storyteller, and a philosopher. He is internationally known for his work in software architecture and engineering. One of his greatest missions is reminding developers that their role carries both great privileges and great responsibilities. Developers, he argues, help shape and reshape the world in code. This leads to a tremendous responsibility: developers must understand that creating code has ethical implications.

An IBM Fellow, Booch serves as the chief scientist for software engineering in IBM Research as well as the chief architect for Watson/M. In this role, he and his team shape the future of cognitive computing by building intelligent systems that can reason and learn. These days, he researches the embodiment of cognition and is developing a documentary series on the intersection of computing and the human experience.

What others say

The IEEE Computer Society granted Grady Booch the 2016 Computer Pioneer Award for significant contributions to early concepts and developments in the electronic computer field, which have clearly advanced the state-of-the-art in computing.

IEEE statement, April 2016

James R. Kozloski

James R. Kozloski

15 years of brain research and more than 50 patents in neurotechnology and cognitive computing brought James Kozloski to a startling conclusion: the human brain may not be as complex as we thought. It may be a single circuit.

Why you should listen

Dr. James Kozloski is a primary contributor to IBM’s neuroscience strategy and the principal investigator on the company’s brain modeling projects. His groundbreaking research reframes the brain as a single circuit, potentially reshaping how we find and treat brain diseases.

But the potential impact of Kozloski’s work stretches far beyond healthcare. Today, further demystification of the brain will inform the future of computing, as well as the foundational software and many electronics are increasingly built upon brain-inspired models.

What others say

Kozloski’s research could help speed up development of a treatment for slowing or stopping [Huntington’s] disease…The computer modeling might give doctors ideas on how to adjust dosages, for example, that might not occur to them otherwise…

Forbes.com, January 30, 2016

Joshua Smith

Joshua Smith

After his family grappled with his wife’s cancer, Joshua Smith realized he had both a professional and personal interest in better understanding disease progression. Inspired by consumer electronics, he asked: can healthcare become more personalized, convenient and precise?

Why you should listen

A research scientist and the technical team leader for the Nanobiotechnology group at IBM Research, Smith is passionate about innovative healthcare technologies at the intersection of engineering and biology.

Dr. Smith’s team recently developed a chip-based solution that can rapidly isolate biomarkers to help identify cancer development even before symptoms occur. It’s a significant advancement for cancer diagnostics, as regular monitoring will enable early diagnosis to improve prognosis and treatment options for many cancer patients. When not with his colleagues in the lab, Smith enjoys teaching future researchers and engineers at The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University. 

What others say

IBM scientists [led by Joshua Smith and Benjamin Wunsch] have developed a new lab-on-a-chip technology that can, for the first time, separate biological particles at the nanoscale and could enable physicians to detect diseases such as cancer before symptoms appear…Lab-on-a-chip technologies have become an incredibly helpful diagnostic tool for physicians as they can be significantly faster, portable, easy to use and require less sample volume to help detect diseases.

Phys.org, August 2, 2016

Juliane Gallina

Juliane Gallina

When she was only 20 years old, Juliane Gallina became the first woman to serve as the United States Naval Academy’s brigade commander. Today, as a retired Navy leader with more than 20 years of service, Gallina is exploring how new cognitive systems can help keep the U.S. – and nations around the globe – safe.

Why you should listen

As the world faces complex political and social conflicts, governments are seeking new technological strategies to boost security. Juliane Gallina blends her experience as a thought leader in national security and as IBM’s Director of Cognitive Solutions for National Security to find them.

By applying her experience with first-of-a-kind remote sensing and cognitive computing systems, Gallina analyzes how critical thinkers would solve the national and global crises we face today. Her team is building a valuable and practical approach to capture critical thinking, national security expertise, and sophisticated mental models that leaders can use to improve national security outcomes.

What others say

Juliane is an outstanding leader who genuinely walks the talk every single day. Her business acumen is excellent, and coupled with her people skills, makes her one of the finest leaders I’ve ever known.

Jan Bearce, CEO and Owner, JB Consulting

Laxmi Parida

Laxmi Parida

As a scientist and cookbook author, Laxmi Parida is passionate about food and genomics - and the intersection between them. Using innovative algorithms, she uncovers mysteries of genetic data that will help solve the problems facing global food sustainability and security.

Why you should listen

From genetic testing to GMO crops, our lives are influenced increasingly by genomic science. Dr. Laxmi Parida is a distinguished research staff member in Computational Genomics at IBM and a visiting professor at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. In her work, she applies highly abstract mathematical and computational models to answer urgent human needs, like finding sustainable food supply chains and personalizing cancer medicine.

She recently led a mapping of the cacao genome, improving the plant that provides a livelihood to over 6.5 million farmers. She has published over 150 peer-reviewed research papers and holds over 35 US patents. In her spare time, she teaches and performs Argentine tango. 

What others say

Pattern Discovery in Bioinformatics provides an important message to all bioinformatics students and researchers…Laxmi Parida’s new book makes the crucial point that most bioinformatics success stories require algorithmic and statistical ingenuity. It is a comprehensive and excellent book…

Pavel Pevzner, Ronald R. Taylor Professor of Computer Science, University of California, San Diego, USA

The Holladay Brothers

The Holladay Brothers

Brothers Ryan and Hays Holladay explore the intersection of art and technology with an emphasis on music and sound, with projects ranging from multichannel audio installations to interactive performances to mobile apps.

Why you should listen

The Holladay brothers have done pioneering work in location-aware music composition: music created and mapped to a physical space, and released as mobile apps, that use a mobile device’s GPS to dynamically alter the music as the listener traverses a landscape. Music critic Chris Richards described their first production, "The National Mall," a location-aware piece mapped to the Mall in Washington, DC, as "magical…like using GPS to navigate a dream." You can see the Holladay brothers’ work in San Francisco on the first floor of Dolby’s headquarters on Market Street, where they have launched a new video and sound installation, entitled Prime3. Ryan was a 2013 TED Fellow.

What others say

…a musical Venn diagram placed over the landscape, and at any time you might have two dozen tracks playing in your ears, all meshing and colliding in surprising ways.

The New York Times, December 7, 2011

Tim Exile

Tim Exile

Can electronic music be played as expressively as a sonata on a violin? Tim Exile is making it so, by creating “software instruments” that unlock the magic of musical creation for anybody.

Why you should listen

Tim Exile is a classically trained performer and composer who chops and loops sound into unexpected electro-pop creations. In addition to his CD releases, Exile programs his own performance and improvisation tools, based on the Reaktor software, to expand on the live DJ format. He’s toured North America with another TEDster adept at exploring the future of music: Imogen Heap. In addition, he’s performed live on every continent, with renowned musicians such as Nitin Sawnhey and Nile Rodgers.

Because one of Exile’s deepest wishes is for us all to be more musically creative in our daily lives, he designs software—such as his recently launched FLESH program—that makes the experience of creating electronic music so much more than simply staring at a screen.

What others say

[Tim Exile’s FLESH instrument] is no vanilla production tool: using a set of advanced algorithms, it’s designed to transform rhythmic source material into basslines, melodies, chords, harmonies and more. It encourages improvisation, and can be used both live and in the studio.

Musicradar.com, November 18. 2015

Villy Wang

Villy Wang

Stereotypes surround us. And often, we stereotype ourselves. Villy Wang shattered hers. She grew up in New York City housing projects and went on to graduate from an Ivy League university.

Raised by an immigrant single mother who worked three jobs a day, Villy Wang is deeply familiar with the power of stereotypes. Wielding media as a tool, she challenges us to look beyond stereotypes and get to know both the subtle nuances and unique strengths that make us who we are.

Why you should listen

Villy Wang has applied her experience from a 25+ year career that spanned banking, law, education, media, arts and non-profit management to found BAYCAT, a San Francisco-based non-profit that offers education and jobs for low-income, diverse youth.  Wang and the BAYCAT community use digital storytelling as a powerful tool to illuminate the experience of those typically unheard and unseen members of our society. Together, they fight to bridge the digital divide that separates the underrepresented from participating in technology, business and society fully and fruitfully.

What others say

Feel inspired as you learn about Villy Wang, who went from working in a sweatshop and living in the New York projects to achieving her dreams as a Wall Street banker and lawyer…she left a big job title and paycheck to start BAYCAT.

Huffington Post, August 22, 2012

Ise Lyfe

Ise Lyfe

Spoken word artist Ise Lyfe and master cellist Michael Feckses examine the impact of displacement in American cities.

Why you should listen

Ise Lyfe is an award-winning spoken word artist and performer, in addition to educator, community organizer and activist, from Oakland, California. He currently lives in Los Angeles. His latest conceptual art project, Brighter Than Blight, transformed a blighted condemned housing project into a life-sized exhibition and artistic narrative on housing as a human right. His one-man show based on his book, Pistols and Prayers, addresses American apathy and resilience through the lens of the generation born into the crack epidemic. Lyfe is a guest lecturer and resident at over 50 universities a year, where he galvanizes discourse and student action to build environments for personal and communal growth.

What others say

He often has a witty comparison or insight—observations that shift one’s perspective and reframe the debate in a humorous, but profound way. He incorporates a variety of voices into his descriptions of Oakland.

The Rumpus, September 14, 2011

Elizabeth Gabler

Elizabeth Gabler

Is it rare to make movies that have smart scripts, are fun to watch, feature unforgettable characters—and are profitable? Not if you are Elizabeth Gabler, who consistently delivers intelligent, entertaining hits.

Why you should listen

Elizabeth Gabler is the President of Fox 2000 Pictures, a division of Twentieth Century Fox. In her 16-year tenure there, she has overseen the production of a string of both critically acclaimed and commercially successful films. The list is staggering in its range and depth: Mrs. Doubtfire, Unfaithful, Walk the Line, The Devil Wears Prada, Man on Fire, Marley & Me, Water For Elephants, The Book Thief, The Fault in Our Stars, Joy, Life of Pi, Bridge of Spies, and Hidden Figures. A graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara and a former competitive equestrian, Elizabeth lives on a horse farm in Santa Barbara with her husband and daughter.  

What others say

Gabler is known at Fox for her tenacity and drive for excellence … Every year she delivers a breakout or two.

Indiewire, Dec. 30, 2015