October 3, 2011

Students Bring TEDx to Cornell to Spread Ideas

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TEDx, a program that allows local organizers to create an atmosphere to stimulate conversation about new ideas, brought members of the Cornell community together to share their ideas on the topic of “Rethinking Our Society” Monday night.

This was the first TEDxCornellUniversity event organized by Innovate, Design, Educate and Act, a student organization started by a group of TED enthusiasts. With these talks, the students aims to connect accomplished Cornellians to learn about ideas that will shape the next century, IDEA member Ankur Bajaj ’13 said.

At the national level, TED is a nonprofit organization that has become well known for its videos on “Ideas Worth Spreading,” according to the TED website. TEDx allows organizers to use the format, name and concept of TED talks, but it is up to the individual organizers to choose the speakers and theme.

The talk — co-sponsored by the Cornell International Affairs Society and the Cornell University Programming Board — was themed “Rethinking Our Society” because the current generation of college students is “on the brink of something huge,” Bajaj said. Since ideas are spreading faster than ever, Bajaj said, people need to change the way they operate in order to handle the pressures of tomorrow.

Speakers at Monday’s event included Jeremy Blum ’12, who presented about open source sharing, a system of sharing information that emphasises collaboration.

“People love sharing details of their personal lives [on Facebook or Twitter], but in business people want to establish ownership of ideas,” Blum said.

According to Blum, by allowing collaboration throughout the process, anyone can create better products.

“Everybody wins,” he said.

Prof. Graeme Bailey, computer science, spoke about artificial intelligence and the possibility of machines accomplishing what humans can in terms of art and music.

“We can teach humans how to draw, paint, sculpt … so why not machines?” Bailey said.

Other speakers included Jeffery Lipton, grad, who spoke about education reform by integrating technology and engineering into elementary and secondary school curricula.

The conversations were not limited only to discussions of technology. Meril Pothen ’13 performed a spoken word piece she wrote herself on body image, and Jesse Turk ’14 performed a monologue about the bullying of gay students.

The TEDx format was an idea of the creator of TED talks, Chris Anderson. The goal was to “gather in meetings to discuss the power of ideas,” Anderson said in a video shown at the event.

IDEA plans to have at least one TEDx talk or a similarly styled event a year, said IDEA member Aishani Bansal ’13.

Original Author: Caroline Flax