A month after news of the info fiasco at Facebook dampened enthusiasm for the indisputable fact that innovation can cure all ills, the tech dream was still alive at the big-ideas TED Conference this week.
TED attendees were keenly alert to recent tech troubles, from Facebook being called before Congress over user privacy to a self-driving Uber car’s accident that killed a woman pushing a bicycle across a street.
“The beautiful story we told ourselves when we just connected the entire world together everything would get better is not training,” TED curator Chris Anderson told the gathering which ends Saturday.
But even when the dream has been shaken, it’s not broken, according to a lot of those attending the week-long deep-thinker conference.
“Our situation with technology is complicated, nevertheless the big picture is rather simple,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Max Tegmark said in a TED talk.
“We can either be complacent about the future, drift in a rudderless ship to our personal obsolescence or be ambitious and consider how you want to steer our technology to an age of amazement.”
Jaron Lanier, an author and technologist credited with pioneering virtual reality, contended so it was clear decades ago that “we were facing a knife-edge future” where the technology we love could be our undoing.
“We’ve difficult,” Lanier said throughout a talk on the TED stage. “We’ve to create a culture around technology that’s so beautiful, so meaningful, so deeply filled with infinite potential so it draws us from committing mass suicide.”
Even amid the gloom of recent weeks, some TED speakers remained upbeat on the prospects for artificial intelligence to help enhance the democratic process; for satellite technology to save lots of marine life, and medical tech that delivers new mechanical limbs and organs.