Sixth session of TED2006: running notes.
This is the session where this year's winners of the TEDprize will express their wishes (that's their prize, on top of money - see the background post, with updates on last year's winners).
The winners of this year's TEDprize, are: Cameron Sinclair, the founder of "Architecture for Humanity"; public-health advocate Larry Brilliant (his most recent work is on bird flu), who was just named two days ago executive director of the Google foundation; and Jehane Noujaim, the filmmaker behind "Control Room", the controversial documentary following events at Al Jazeera at the beginning of the Irak war. The prize is presented by Peter Gabriel.
Cameron Sinclair tells his story. In 1999 with a friend he started the organization "to get architects and designers involved in humanitarian work: not only in disaster relief, but in systemic issues. We believe that innovative architecture and design can really make a difference". They worked on housing for returning refugees in Kosovo: they started a website, put out a call, and in a few weeks received dozens of entries from around the world from designers and architects. By 2004, through several projects and "design competitions", the movement grew touching every corner of the world. "At a certain point we couldn't manage the number of people that wanted to help anymore, so we decided to embrace an open-source model of business: everybody in the world could start a local chapter and get involved locally. We used meetUp
and other Internet tools, and ended up having 40 chapters and thousands of architects involved in over 100 countries". "There is a grassroots movement of socially responsible designers that believe that we have the opportunity of really get involved and making change". The total staff of AFH is 3 people, all runs through the website. He runs through a few of the projects. Kosovo: transitional shelters that can last 5 to 10 years; design ideas ranged from inflatable house to redesigned shipping container, using rubble from destroyed homes to create new homes. Africa: "within three days of being there we realized that the problem was not housing, it was HIV/AIDS", so they started engaging locals in trying to come up with mobile healthcare clinics, extending them to community centers, or with shelters for HIV-positive kids that are also youth sports centers. Hurricane Katrina: 370 USD easy-to-assemble shelters (compare that with the billions spent by the US government for trailers), 1500 volunteers rebuilding homes, working with residents.
So here comes Cameron's TEDprize wish: "I wish to develop a community that actively embraces innovative and sustainable design to improve living conditions for all". It's a huge vision. "I'm fed up with talking about making change: it's time to do it". Sun Microsystems has already committed to support this project.
Jehane Noujaim is then presented the prize. "What we would like is world peace", she says, but she's not naive. "I would like to talk about a way for people to travel and meet people in a different way". She refers to photography and movies. She tells how she realized, as a teenager, the power of images. And she recounts her motivation for doing the "Control Room" documentary (in the picture: Josh Rushing, one of the characters in the film, a spokesman who then left the US military and took a job with Al Jazeera). She says she was overwhelmed by the response to the film. "I don't know if a film can change the world, but I believe it has the ability to take you across borders, into another world, and maybe that has the ability to transform".
How can we use this feeling of transformation to create a movement through film, Jehane asks. Which leads to her TEDprize wish: "Imagine a day when you have everyone coming together from around the world and sharing a communal experience of watching a film all together, all at the same time, from Times Square to Ramallah to the side of the Great Wall of China. If we can create this global day of film, it can create momentum and provide a platform for independent voices and independent filmmakerrs to get out there". She suggests that the day the world comes together through film could be called Pangea Cinema Day - from the time when all the continents were still together in one single landmass.
Third winner: Larry Brilliant. This is how he summarizes his biography: "I'm the luckiest guy in the world: I got to see the last case of smallpox in the world, and recently in India I may have seen the last cases of polio". How did smallpox get eradicated? "Mass vaccination was not sufficient: early detection and early response are key" - the same applies to polio. Dr Brilliant discusses bird flu, for which, since we don't have a vaccine, early detection and warning systems are crucial. "If the disease evolves to human-to-human transmission, that's not like Katrina: the world as we know it will stop, there will be no airplane flying". He did a private survey of epidemiologists: 15% said that they think there would be a pandemic of bird flu within three years, and 90% that there would be a pandemic in our children or grandchildren's lifetimes.
His TEDprize wish is about early detection and early response: "It is so obvious that the only way to deal with these diseases is to find them early and contain/respond, so my wish is for you to help build an Internet-based global early-warning system to protect us against humanity's worst nightmares. A transparent, non-governmental, open, non owned by any single country or company, multi-lingual system, hosted in a neutral country, built around the existing Global Public Health Intelligence Network GPHIN. Call it INSTEDD: International System for Total Early Disease Detection, and let it be a moral force in the world".
UPDATE 1st March: a full video webcast of the session is available on the TED site.