Outraged by the injustices she witnessed against minorities in her home country of Bahrain, Al-Shafei created Mideast Youth in 2006 as a platform for open discussion on a wide range of taboos and underrepresented issues. Since then, the platform has been internationally recognized and has launched a number of other initiatives, including Ahwaa, a forum for discussions about LGBTQ issues affecting Arab youth; Mideast Tunes, which showcases underground musicians in the Middle East and North Africa who use music as a tool for social change; and Migrant Rights, which documents abuses against migrant workers in the Gulf. In 2015, Esra’a was the recipient of the Free Press Unlimited award for “Most Courageous Media.”
Marwa Al-Sabouni was born in Homs, a city in the central-western part of the country, and has a PhD in Islamic Architecture. Despite the destruction of large parts of the city, she has remained in Homs with her husband and two children throughout the war. In her just-released book The Battle for Home (Thames & Hudson, 2016), she explores the role architecture and the built environment play in whether a community crumbles or comes together, and she offers insights on how her country (and a much-needed sense of identity) should be rebuilt so that it will not happen again.
Chris Anderson is the Curator of TED, a nonprofit devoted to sharing valuable ideas, primarily through the medium of 'TED Talks' -- short talks that are offered free online to a global audience.
Chris was born in a remote village in Pakistan in 1957. He spent his early years in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where his parents worked as medical missionaries, and he attended an American school in the Himalayas for his early education. After boarding school in Bath, England, he went on to Oxford University, graduating in 1978 with a degree in philosophy, politics and economics.
Chris then trained as a journalist, working in newspapers and radio, including two years producing a world news service in the Seychelles Islands.
Back in the UK in 1984, Chris was captivated by the personal computer revolution and became an editor at one of the UK's early computer magazines. A year later he founded Future Publishing with a $25,000 bank loan. The new company initially focused on specialist computer publications but eventually expanded into other areas such as cycling, music, video games, technology and design, doubling in size every year for seven years. In 1994, Chris moved to the United States where he built Imagine Media, publisher of Business 2.0 magazine and creator of the popular video game users website IGN. Chris eventually merged Imagine and Future, taking the combined entity public in London in 1999, under the Future name. At its peak, it published 150 magazines and websites and employed 2,000 people.
This success allowed Chris to create a private nonprofit organization, the Sapling Foundation, with the hope of finding new ways to tackle tough global issues through media, technology, entrepreneurship and, most of all, ideas. In 2001, the foundation acquired the TED Conference, then an annual meeting of luminaries in the fields of Technology, Entertainment and Design held in Monterey, California, and Chris left Future to work full time on TED.
He expanded the conference's remit to cover all topics, including science, business and key global issues, while adding a Fellows program, which now has some 300 alumni, and the TED Prize, which grants its recipients "one wish to change the world." The TED stage has become a place for thinkers and doers from all fields to share their ideas and their work, capturing imaginations, sparking conversation and encouraging discovery along the way.
In 2006, TED experimented with posting some of its talks on the Internet. Their viral success encouraged Chris to begin positioning the organization as a global media initiative devoted to 'ideas worth spreading,' part of a new era of information dissemination using the power of online video. In June 2015, the organization posted its 2,000th talk online. The talks are free to view, and they have been translated into more than 100 languages with the help of volunteers from around the world. Viewership has grown to approximately one billion views per year.
Continuing a strategy of 'radical openness,' in 2009 Chris introduced the TEDx initiative, allowing free licenses to local organizers who wished to organize their own TED-like events. More than 8,000 such events have been held, generating an archive of 60,000 TEDx talks. And three years later, the TED-Ed program was launched, offering free educational videos and tools to students and teachers.
Monica Araya is the founder and director of Costa Rica Limpia (Spanish for "clean"), a citizen group that promotes clean energy. Costa Rica Limpia tracks governmental pledges on key issues such as renewable energy and public transport investment, and it hosts citizen consultations to give visibility to people's preferences on these topics. Araya is also the founder of Nivela, an international thought leadership group that advances narratives on development and climate responsibility by combining senior and millennial perspectives from emerging economies.
After earning a master's in economic policy from Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, Araya obtained a PhD in environmental management from Yale. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs named her 'Personality of the Future' in 2014.
Bacha started her filmmaking career writing and editing Control Room (2004), a documentary about the inner workings of the Arab satellite television channel Al Jazeera. She then wrote and co-directed Encounter Point (2006) and directed Budrus (2009), both stories of courageous bridge-building between Palestinians and Israelis in a highly volatile environment. Her most recent film, My Neighborhood (2012), follows a Palestinian teenager struggling to reclaim his home in East Jerusalem from Jewish settlers. She is now directing a film about the Palestinian women who secretly led the First Intifada, for which she was awarded a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship.
In media and in public debate, refugees are routinely portrayed as a burden. Professor Alexander Betts argues that refugees, who represent a wide spectrum of professional backgrounds, are in fact an untapped resource that could benefit nations willing to welcome them into their economies.
Betts is the director of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford, where he spearheads research on refugee and other forced migrant populations. His book, Survival Migration, explores the predicaments of people who are fleeing disaster yet fall outside legal definitions of refugee status.
An exciting talent, Biali has toured with Chris Botti, Paula Cole and Suzanne Vega, recorded with Sting, and performed across the world, from Peru’s El Festival Internacional de Lima to Carnegie Hall in New York City. She was named “Composer of the Year” and “Keyboardist of the Year” at Canada’s National Jazz Awards. Her first album of entirely original music, House of Many Rooms, was released in 2015, and she’s now finishing work on her new record. Biali has also been invited to join the faculty for the Stanford Jazz Workshop at Stanford University, where she has spent several summers teaching and performing.
Rachel Botsman is an author and a visiting academic at the University of Oxford, Saïd Business School. Her work focuses on how technology is enabling trust in ways that are changing the way we live, work, bank and consume. She defined the theory of "collaborative consumption" in her first book, What's Mine Is Yours, which she co-authored with Roo Rogers. The concept was subsequently named by TIME as one of the "10 Ideas that Will Change the World" and by Thinkers50 as the 2015 Breakthrough Idea.
Named a "Young Global Leader" by the World Economic Forum, Botsman examines the growth and challenges of start-ups such as Airbnb, TaskRabbit and Uber. She is regular writer and commentator in leading international publications including the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, The Economist, WIRED and more. She is currently writing a new book that explores why the real disruption happening isn’t technology; it’s a profound shift in trust.
Boushnak's documentary project I Read I Write explores the barriers women face accessing education and the role of literacy in improving the lives of women in Egypt, Yemen, Kuwait, Jordan, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. For the project, Boushnak encouraged women to write their thoughts on prints of their portraits, engaging them directly in the artistic process. Boushnak’s images have been widely published, and her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. She is a co-founder of Rawiya, a collective that brings together the work and experience of female photographers from the Middle East.
Ed Boyden leads the Synthetic Neurobiology Group, which develops tools for analyzing and repairing complex biological systems such as the brain. His group applies these tools in a systematic way in order to reveal ground truth scientific understandings of biological systems, which in turn reveal radical new approaches for curing diseases and repairing disabilities. These technologies include expansion microscopy, which enables complex biological systems to be imaged with nanoscale precision, and optogenetic tools, which enable the activation and silencing of neural activity with light (TED Talk: A light switch for neurons). Boyden also co-directs the MIT Center for Neurobiological Engineering, which aims to develop new tools to accelerate neuroscience progress.
Amongst other recognitions, Boyden has received the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2016), the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2015), the Carnegie Prize in Mind and Brain Sciences (2015), the Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award (2013), the Grete Lundbeck Brain Prize (2013) and the NIH Director's Pioneer Award (2013). He was also named to the World Economic Forum Young Scientist list (2013) and the Technology Review World's "Top 35 Innovators under Age 35" list (2006). His group has hosted hundreds of visitors to learn how to use new biotechnologies and spun out several companies to bring inventions out of his lab and into the world. Boyden received his Ph.D. in neurosciences from Stanford University as a Hertz Fellow, where he discovered that the molecular mechanisms used to store a memory are determined by the content to be learned. Before that, he received three degrees in electrical engineering, computer science and physics from MIT. He has contributed to over 300 peer-reviewed papers, current or pending patents and articles, and he has given over 300 invited talks on his group's work.
Over the following months, while doctors insisted her condition was psychosomatic, Brea became bedridden. She started filming herself and the community that she discovered online, collecting the first footage of what would become a feature documentary about myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), often referred to as chronic fatigue syndrome. The film, Unrest, which will premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, tells Jen's story as well as the stories of four other patients living with ME.
Brea is also the founder of #MEAction, an online organizing platform for ME patients around the world, many of whom cannot leave their homes.
During the 2015-16 season, Candillari is conducting the world premiere of Stefania de Kenessey’s opera Bonfire of the Vanities at Museo del Barrio in New York City. She is also conducting three new operas: Beowulf by Hannah Lash for New Works Opera Showcase, The Wild Beast of the Bungalow by Rachel Peters for Center for Contemporary Opera and Unfinished by Joshua Groffman for Vital Opera.
That led to an intensive investigation by the FBI. After months of interrogations, Elahi was finally cleared of suspicions but advised to keep the FBI informed of his whereabouts. Which he did -- fully, by opening up just about every aspect of his life to the public. What started with a practicality grew into an open-ended art project, with Elahi posting photos of his minute-by-minute life online (hotel rooms, airports, meals, receipts, bathrooms), tracking himself on Google Maps, releasing communication records, banking transactions and transportation logs, and more. The project questions the consequences of living under constant surveillance, and it has been presented at Centre Pompidou in Paris and at the Venice Biennale, among others. He is an associate professor of Art at University of Maryland, roughly equidistant from the CIA, FBI and NSA headquarters.
A broad thinker who studies the intersections of these fields, Enriquez has a talent for bridging disciplines to build a coherent look ahead. He is the managing director of Excel Venture Management, a life sciences VC firm. He recently published (with Steve Gullans) Evolving Ourselves: How Unnatural Selection and Nonrandom Mutation Are Shaping Life on Earth. The book describes a world where humans increasingly shape their environment, themselves and other species.
Enriquez is a member of the board of Synthetic Genomics, which recently introduced the smallest synthetic living cell. Called “JCVI-syn 3.0,” it has 473 genes (about half the previous smallest cell). The organism would die if one of the genes is removed. In other words, this is the minimum genetic instruction set for a living organism.
Fisher's several books lay bare the mysteries of our most treasured emotion: its evolution, its biochemical foundations and its vital importance to human society. Fisher describes love as a universal human drive (stronger than the sex drive; stronger than thirst or hunger; stronger perhaps than the will to live), and her many areas of inquiry shed light on timeless human mysteries like why we choose one partner over another. Her classic study, Anatomy of Love, first published in 1992, has just been re-issued in a fully updated edition, including her recent neuroimaging research on lust, romantic love and attachment as well as discussions of sexting, hooking up, friends with benefits, other contemporary trends in courtship and marriage, and a dramatic current trend she calls “slow love.”
Anand Giridharadas is a writer. He is a New York Times columnist, writing the biweekly "Letter from America." He is the author, most recently, of The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas, about a Muslim immigrant’s campaign to spare from Death Row the white supremacist who tried to kill him. In 2011 he published India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation's Remaking, about returning to the India his parents left.
Giridharadas's datelines include Italy, India, China, Dubai, Norway, Japan, Haiti, Brazil, Colombia, Nigeria, Uruguay and the United States. He is an on-air contributor for NBC News and appears regularly on "Morning Joe." He has given talks on the main stage of TED and at Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Yale, Princeton, the University of Michigan, the Aspen Institute, Summit at Sea, the Sydney Opera House, the United Nations, the Asia Society, PopTech and Google. He is a Henry Crown fellow of the Aspen Institute.
Giridharadas lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Priya Parker, and their son, Orion.
Sam Harris is the author of five New York Times bestsellers. His books include The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, The Moral Landscape, Free Will, Lying, Waking Up and Islam and the Future of Tolerance (with Maajid Nawaz). The End of Faith won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction. Harris's writing and public lectures cover a wide range of topics -- neuroscience, moral philosophy, religion, spirituality, violence, human reasoning -- but generally focus on how a growing understanding of ourselves and the world is changing our sense of how we should live.
Harris's work has been published in more than 20 languages and has been discussed in the New York Times, Time, Scientific American, Nature, Newsweek, Rolling Stone and many other journals. He has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Economist, The Times (London), the Boston Globe, The Atlantic, The Annals of Neurology and elsewhere. Harris also regularly hosts a popular podcast.
Harris received a degree in philosophy from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA.
Lesley Hazleton has traced the roots of conflict in several books, including compelling 'flesh-and-blood' biographies of Muhammad and Mary, and casts "an agnostic eye on politics, religion, and existence" on her blog, AccidentalTheologist.com.
Her newest book, Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto, celebrates the agnostic stance as "rising above the flat two-dimensional line of belief/unbelief, creating new possibilities for how we think about being in the world." In it, she explores what we mean by the search for meaning, invokes the humbling perspective of infinity and reconsiders what we talk about when we talk about soul.
Hazleton's approach has been praised as "vital and mischievous" by the New York Times, and as "a positive orientation to life, one that embraces both science and mystery ... while remaining intimately grounded and engaged."
Hersman is the CEO of BRCK, a rugged, self-powered, mobile Wi-Fi device that connects people and things to the Internet in areas of the world with poor infrastructure. He leads a number of web and mobile projects through organizations including iHub, a Nairobi community center that’s an epicenter for Kenya’s booming tech industry. The mobile app Ushahidi, which he co-developed, allows users to share breaking news through text messaging and continues to revolutionize and empower journalists, watchdog groups and everyday people around the world.
The Holladay brothers have done pioneering work in location-aware music composition: music created and mapped to a physical space, released as mobile apps, that use a mobile device’s GPS to dynamically alter the music as the listener traverses a landscape. Their first production, “The National Mall,” a location-aware piece mapped to the Mall in Washington, DC, was described by music critic Chris Richards “magical...like using GPS to navigate a dream.” They went on to create similar works for Central Park in New York and for SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas, and are engaged in a long-term project of sonically mapping the entirety of the Pacific Coast Highway. Ryan is a 2013 TED Fellow.
In twelve books, covering everything from Revolutionary Cuba to the XIVth Dalai Lama, Islamic mysticism to our lives in airports, Pico Iyer has worked to chronicle the accelerating changes in our outer world, which sometimes make steadiness and rootedness in our inner world more urgent than ever. In his TED Book, The Art of Stillness, he draws upon travels from North Korea to Iran to remind us how to remain focused and sane in an age of frenzied distraction. As he writes in the book, "Almost everybody I know has this sense of overdosing on information and getting dizzy living at post-human speeds ... All of us instinctively feel that something inside us is crying out for more spaciousness and stillness to offset the exhilarations of this movement and the fun and diversion of the modern world."
In 2009, after many years of working as a molecular biologist in the biotech industry, together with TED Fellow Oliver Medvedik, Jorgensen founded Genspace, a nonprofit community laboratory dedicated to promoting citizen science and access to biotechnology. Despite criticism that bioresearch should be left to the experts, the Brooklyn-based lab continues to thrive, providing educational outreach, cultural events and a platform for science innovation at the grassroots level. At the lab, amateur and professional scientists conduct award-winning research on projects as diverse as identifying microbes that live in Earth's atmosphere and (Jorgensen's own pet project) DNA-barcoding plants, to distinguish between species that look alike but may not be closely related evolutionarily. Fast Company magazine named Genspace one of the world's "Top 10 innovative companies in education."
Kelly has been publisher of the Whole Earth Review, executive editor at Wired magazine (which he co-founded, and where he now holds the title of Senior Maverick), founder of visionary nonprofits and writer on biology, business and “cool tools.” He’s renounced all material things save his bicycle (which he then rode 3,000 miles), founded an organization (the All-Species Foundation) to catalog all life on Earth, championed projects that look 10,000 years into the future (at the Long Now Foundation), and more. He’s admired for his acute perspectives on technology and its relevance to history, biology and society. His new book, The Inevitable, just published, explores 12 technological forces that will shape our future.
As the Senator John Heinz Professor of Management Practice in Environmental Management, Retired and current Senior Fellow at Harvard Business School, Joe Lassiter studies how high-potential ventures attacking the energy problem are being financed and how their innovations are being brought to market in different parts of the world. In the MBA and executive education programs, he teaches about the lessons learned from these ventures as well as potential improvements in business practices, regulation and government policy. Lassiter also supports University-wide efforts as a faculty fellow of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program and a faculty associate of the Harvard University Center for the Environment.
Following a 20-year career leading technology businesses, Lassiter joined HBS in 1996. He has taught courses in entrepreneurial finance, entrepreneurial marketing and innovation in business, energy & environment. For Harvard University, he taught courses in innovation & entrepreneurship to undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows across the University and its affiliated hospitals. From its founding in 2010 until 2015, Lassuter was Faculty Chair of the University-wide Harvard Innovation Lab (Harvard i-lab).
Lassiter received his BS, MS, and PhD from MIT and was awarded National Science, Adams and McDermott Fellowships. He was elected to Sigma Xi.
Lidsky runs a big construction services company based in Florida, has co-founded an Internet startup and a nonprofit and is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO). He graduated in math and computer science from Harvard and then added a law degree magna cum laude from the same university, clerked for US Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and argued a dozen cases in federal court on behalf of the US Justice Department, not losing any. Earlier, he was a child television star in both commercials and series.
Lidsky's rich biography disguises a secret, which can be summarized in the title of his forthcoming book Eyes Wide Open: Overcoming Obstacles and Recognizing Opportunities In A World That Can’t See Clearly.
Rebecca MacKinnon is the director of the Ranking Digital Rights project at New America, which recently released its inaugural Corporate Accountability Index, ranking 16 Internet and telecommunications companies on their commitments, policies and practices affecting users’ freedom of expression and privacy. (An expanded Index will be released in 2017.) She is the author of Consent of the Networked, a book investigating the future of liberty in the Internet age, and has been engaging in the debate about how to fight global terrorism while keeping a free and open Internet. A former head of CNN's Beijing and Tokyo bureaus, MacKinnon is an expert on Chinese Internet censorship and is one of the founders (with Ethan Zuckerman) of the Global Voices Online blog network.
Emma Marris has written among others for Nature, Discover and the New York Times. She challenges the notion that nature can only be preserved in its pristine, pre-human state, a too-narrow characterization "that thwarts bold new plans to save the environment and prevents us from having a fuller relationship with nature." Humans have changed the landscape they inhabit since prehistory, and climate change means even the remotest places now bear the fingerprints of humanity. In her book Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in the Post-Wild World, she argues that we need different strategies for saving nature and champions a blurring of the lines between nature and people for a responsible care of our humanized planet.
How do we understand what others think and feel? An associate professor in the department of psychology and the interdisciplinary neuroscience program at Georgetown University, Abigail Marsh focuses on social and affective neuroscience. She addresses questions using multiple approaches that include functional and structural brain imaging in adolescents and adults from both typical and non-typical populations, as well as behavioral, cognitive, genetic and pharmacological techniques. Among her ongoing research projects are brain imaging and behavioral studies of altruistic kidney donors and brain imaging studies of children/adolescents with severe conduct problems and limited empathy.
Okonjo-Iweala was the Finance Minister of Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, from 2003 to 2006, and then briefly the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister, the first woman to hold either position. From 2011 to 2015 she was again named Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy of Nigeria. Between those terms, from 2007 to 2011, she was one of the managing director of the World Bank and a candidate to the organization’s presidency. She is now a senior advisor at financial advisory and asset management firm Lazard, and she chairs the Board of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization. At the World Bank, she worked for change in Africa and assistance for low-income countries. As Finance Minister, she attacked corruption to make Nigeria more transparent and desirable for investment and jobs, an activism that attracted criticism from circles opposed to reform.
There may be hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of undiscovered ancient sites across the globe. Sarah Parcak wants to locate them. As a space archaeologist, she analyzes high-resolution imagery collected by satellites in order to identify subtle changes to the Earth’s surface that might signal man-made features hidden from view. A TED Senior Fellow and a National Geographic Explorer, Parcak wrote the textbook on satellite archaeology and founded the Laboratory for Global Observation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her goal: to make the world's invisible history visible once again.
In Egypt, Parcak's techniques have helped locate 17 potential pyramids, and more than 3,100 potential forgotten settlements. She's also made discoveries in the Viking world (as seen in the PBS Nova special, Vikings Unearthed) and across the Roman Empire (as shown in the BBC documentary, Rome’s Lost Empire). Her methods also offer a new way to understand how ancient sites are being affected by looting and urban development. By satellite-mapping Egypt and comparing sites over time, Parcak has noted a 1,000 percent increase in looting since 2009. It’s likely that millions of dollars worth of artifacts are stolen each year. Parcak hopes that, through her work, unknown sites can be protected to preserve our rich, vibrant history.
As the winner of the 2016 TED Prize, Parcak asked the world to help in this important work. By building a citizen science platform for archaeology, GlobalXplorer.org, Parcak invites anyone with an internet connection to help find the next potential looting pit or unknown tomb. GlobalXplorer launched on January 30, 2017, with volunteers working together to map Peru. Other countries will follow, as the platform democratizes discovery and makes satellite-mapping rapid and cost-effective.
For the first time in human history, couples aren’t having sex just to have kids; there’s room for sustained desire and long-term sexual relationships. But how? Perel, a licensed marriage and family therapist with a practice in New York, travels the world to help people answer this question. For her research she works across cultures and is fluent in nine languages. She coaches, consults and speaks regularly on erotic intelligence, trauma, sexual honesty and conflict resolution. She is the author of Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic. Her latest work focuses on infidelity: what it is, why happy people do it and how couples can recover from it. She aims to locate this very personal experience within a larger cultural context.
Reshef is the president of University of the People, an online school that offers tuition-free academic degrees in computer science, business administration and health studies (and MBA) to students across the globe. The university is partnered with Yale Law School for research and NYU and University of California Berkeley to accept top students. It's accredited in the U.S. and has admitted thousands of students from more than 180 countries. Wired magazine has included Reshef in its list of "50 People Changing the World" while Foreign Policy named him a "Top Global Thinker." Now Reshef wants to contribute to addressing the refugee crisis. "Education is a major factor in solving this global challenge," he says. UoPeople is taking at least 500 Syrian refugees as students with full scholarship. Before founding UoPeople, Reshef chaired KIT eLearning, the first online university in Europe.
Gerard Ryle is the director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington, DC.
When journalists at the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in Germany got hold of the documents from a whistleblower, their volume and complexity pushed them to turn to the ICIJ, which brought together 376 investigative journalists from more than 100 news organizations in 76 countries.
The reporters spent months collaborating in researching and checking the documents, using protected communication channels, bespoke search engines and other specialized tools built by ICIJ, and ICIJ coordinated the release of the information across the world. It was the biggest cross-border collaboration in journalism history. The Panama Papers resulted in resignations or political outcries in Britain, Iceland, Spain, Malta and Pakistan and triggered dozens of official inquires around the world.
Before joining as the ICIJ's first non-American director in September 2011, Ryle spent more than 25 years working as an investigative reporter, author and editor in Australia and in Ireland. He has more than 60 journalism awards from six countries, including honors from the George Polk Awards, Harvard University and the University of Liege. Reporters Without Borders has described his work with ICIJ as "the future of investigative journalism worldwide."
(Photo: Le Monde / Melissa Golden)
Born in Paris to Tunisian parents, eL Seed travels the world, making art in Paris, New York, Jeddah, Melbourne, Gabes, Doha and beyond. His goal: to create dialogue and promote tolerance as well as change global perceptions of what Arabic means. In 2012, for instance, he painted a message of unity on a 47-meter-high minaret on the Jara mosque in Gabes, Tunisia. This piece and others can be found in his book, Lost Walls: Graffiti Road Trip through Tunisia
Most recently he created a sprawling mural in the Manshiyat Naser neighborhood of Cairo that spans 50 buildings and can only be viewed from a local mountaintop. Intending to honor the historic garbage collectors of the Manshiyat Naser neighborhood, the piece reads, "Anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly needs to wipe his eye first."
As a producer, a DJ and a musician, Blinky Bill Sellanga captures the boom and pop of modern Kenyan city life in impossibly infectious grooves. He came to fame as part of the Kenyan musical collective Just A Band, whose debut album, Scratch to Reveal, was released in 2008, and who found critical success and popularity exploring various musical directions such as, but not limited to, jazz, hip-hop, disco and electronica. The video for their single “Ha-He,” featuring a character known as Makmende, has been called “Kenya’s first viral internet sensation.” Just A Band took a break in 2016, and Sellanga is forging ahead as a solo artist, making new connections wherever he goes. Sellanga is a TED Fellow.
Michael Shellenberger is co-founder and Senior Fellow at the Breakthrough Institute, where he was president from 2003 to 2015, and a co-author of the Ecomodernist Manifesto.
Over the last decade, Shellenberger and his colleagues have constructed a new paradigm that views prosperity, cheap energy and nuclear power as the keys to environmental progress. A book he co-wrote (with Ted Nordhaus) in 2007, Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility, was called by Wired magazine "the best thing to happen to environmentalism since Rachel Carson's Silent Spring," while Time magazine called him a "hero of the environment." In the 1990s, he helped protect the last significant groves of old-growth redwoods still in private hands and bring about labor improvements to Nike factories in Asia.
A professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia's Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences in Vancouver, Suzanne Simard studies the surprising and delicate complexity in nature. Her main focus is on the below-ground fungal networks that connect trees and facilitate underground inter-tree communication and interaction. Her team's analysis revealed that the fungi networks move water, carbon and nutrients such as nitrogen between and among trees as well as across species. The research has demonstrated that these complex, symbiotic networks in our forests -- at the hub of which stand what she calls the "mother trees" -- mimic our own neural and social networks. This groundbreaking work on symbiotic plant communication has far-reaching implications in both the forestry and agricultural industries, in particular concerning sustainable stewardship of forests and the plant’s resistance to pathogens. She works primarily in forests, but also grasslands, wetlands, tundra and alpine ecosystems.
TED Fellow Christopher Soghoian is a champion of digital privacy rights, with a focus on the role that third-party service providers play in enabling governments to monitor citizens. As the principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, he explores the intersection of federal surveillance and citizen's rights.
Before joining the ACLU, he was the first-ever technologist for the Federal Trade Commision's Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, where he worked on investigations of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Netflix. Soghoian is also the creator of Do Not Track, an anti-tracking device that all major web browsers now use, and his work has been cited in court.
In 2008, Sukhdev took a sabbatical from Deutsche Bank, where he'd worked for fifteen years, to write up two massive and convincing reports on the green economy. For UNEP, his “Green Economy Report” synthesized years of research to show, with real numbers, that environmentally sound development is not a bar to growth but rather a new engine for growing wealth and creating employment in the face of persistent poverty. The groundbreaking TEEB (formally “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity”) report counts the global economic benefits of biodiversity. It encourages countries to develop and publish “Natural capital accounts” tracking the value of plants, animal, water and other “natural wealth” alongside traditional financial measures in the hope of changing how decisions are made. In his book, Corporation 2020, he envisions tomorrow’s corporations as agents of an inclusive, green economy. He is now the CEO of Gist Advisory, a sustainability consulting firm.
A leading analyst of innovation and the impacts of technology, Don Tapscott has authored or co-authored 15 widely read books about various aspects of the reshaping of our society and economy. His work Wikinomics counts among the most influential business books of the last decade. His new book The Blockchain Revolution, co-authored with his son, Alex, discusses the blockchain, the distributed-database technology that's being deployed well beyond its original application as the public ledger behind Bitcoin. In the book, they analyze why blockchain technology will fundamentally change the internet -- how it works, how to use it and its promises and perils.
Tapscott is an adjunct professor of management at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, a Senior Advisor at the World Economic Forum and an Associate of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.
The Swiss magician began his performing career as a stage magician and manipulator, winning awards and establishing an international reputation. His interest in computer-generated imageryled him to incorporate video and digital technology in his work — and eventually to the development of a new form of contemporary illusion. The expansion of the Internet and social media provided more opportunities for digital illusions and ways of interacting with audiences and creating magically augmented realities. Tempest is a keen advocate of the open source community, working with artists, writers and technologists to create new experiences and research the practical uses of the technology of illusion. He is a Director’s Fellow at the MIT Media Lab.
Jonathan Tepperman is the managing editor of Foreign Affairs, the bimonthly journal published by the Council on Foreign Relations.
Tepperman started his career in international affairs as a speechwriter at the UN in Geneva, and he has written for publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic and Newsweek. He has interviewed numerous world leaders including Syria's Bashar al-Assad, Japan’s Shinzo Abe, Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Mexico's Enrique Peña Nieto, Indonesia's Joko Widodo and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame.
Tepperman's new book The Fix: How Nations Survive and Thrive in a World in Decline explores ten of the world's more pervasive and seemingly intractable challenges (such as economic stagnation, political gridlock, corruption and terrorism) and shows that, contrary to general consensus, each has a solution, one that has already been implemented somewhere in the world.
Josh Tetrick asks: What would it look like if we started over in food? He is the founder and CEO of Hampton Creek, an American food innovation company with a mission to create a "just" food system where sustainable, healthy and delicious food is accessible to everyone. Tetrick’s team of chefs, engineers, molecular biologists, data scientists, and food scientists works with farmers around to world to identify plant species that have never been exploited for their food value and hold the promise of making our food better. Hampton Creek is best known for its first product, Just Mayo, an egg-free mayonnaise launched in 2013. Its formula took almost two years to create, with a specific variety of the Canadian yellow field pea replacing the eggs. In 2015 Tetrick and his company were the target of a concerted campaign by the US egg industry lobby, which considered them a “major threat.”
We've entered an era of digital connectivity and machine intelligence. Complex algorithms are increasingly used to make consequential decisions about us. Many of these decisions are subjective and have no right answer: who should be hired, fired or promoted; what news should be shown to whom; which of your friends do you see updates from; which convict should be paroled. With increasing use of machine learning in these systems, we often don't even understand how exactly they are making these decisions. Zeynep Tufekci studies what this historic transition means for culture, markets, politics and personal life.
Tufekci is a contributing opinion writer at the New York Times, an associate professor at the School of Information and Library Science at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a faculty associate at Harvard's Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.
Her book, Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest, was published in 2017 by Yale University Press. Her next book, from Penguin Random House, will be about algorithms that watch, judge and nudge us.
Packed full of Nigerian princes, can't miss investment opportunities and eligible Russian brides, James Veitch's correspondence with email spammers leads to surprising, bizarre and usually hilarious results. Out of this experiment came his first book, Dot Con. In 2014, his first solo comedy show The Fundamental Interconnectedness of Everyone with an Internet Connection, premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe to wide acclaim. His second show, Genius Bar, focussed on his time working for Apple, chronicles his attempts to fix his relationship using the same troubleshooting techniques he’d been using to fix iMacs, iPhones and iPods. He is currently writing his third show and preparing to tour the UK.
He lives in London with his full body pillow.
A graduate of both Georgetown and Oxford, Bettina Warburg started her career as a political scientist and public foresight researcher at a prominent Silicon Valley think tank. Today, she has taken her skills as a researcher and scientist and is applying them toward an entrepreneurial career by co-founding a venture studio business called Animal Ventures. There, she spends most of her time incubating new startup ideas, advising Fortune 500 clients, governments and universities in developing minimum viable products, and strategizing around blockchain, artificial intelligence, industrial internet of things and digital platforms.
Warburg is the executive producer of a Silicon Valley tech show called Tech on Politics, interviewing some of the world's most influential political operatives, entrepreneurs, government official, and the creators of some of the most exciting digital products on the market.
Warburg recently launched a new Blockchain education course called "The Basics of Blockchain." The hope is that this course will help spread the body of blockchain knowledge, inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs and get more people ready for the coming revolution.
Ione Wells is a student at the University of Oxford in the UK, where she just started her third year reading for a degree in English Language and Literature, and a keen writer and journalist.
After being the victim of an assault in London in early 2015, she published a letter to her assaulter in a student newspaper, which went viral, attracting enormous attention and prompting the sharing of countless experiences by others around the world on social media.
That reaction prompted her to set up the international #NotGuilty campaign against sexual violence and misdirected victim-blaming, which has a website providing a platform for people to speak out. Since then, she has written about these issues for multiple publications, commented on radio and television, spoken at several festivals, hosted support groups and workshops for survivors of assault, and led workshops in schools.
She is the former editor of Oxford University’s student magazine, The Isis, and has an active interest in human rights, international relations, theatre, and wild swimming.