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6 intriguing TED Talks for the new school year

6 intriguing TED Talks for the new school year

1. Why lunch ladies are heroes
Children’s book author Jarrett Krosoczka shares the origins of the Lunch Lady graphic novel series, in which undercover school heroes serve lunch…and justice! His new project, School Lunch Hero Day, reveals how cafeteria lunch staff provide more than food, and illustrates how powerful a thank you can be.

2. Want to innovate? Become a “now-ist”
“Remember before the internet?” asks Joi Ito. “Remember when people used to try to predict the future?” In this engaging talk, the head of the MIT Media Lab skips the future predictions and instead shares a new approach to creating in the moment: building quickly and improving constantly, without waiting for permission or for proof that you have the right idea. This kind of bottom-up innovation is seen in the most fascinating, futuristic projects emerging today, and it starts, he says, with being open and alert to what’s going on around you right now. Don’t be a futurist, he suggests: be a now-ist.

3. Where’s Google going next?
Onstage at TED2014, Charlie Rose interviews Google CEO Larry Page about his far-off vision for the company. It includes aerial bikeways and internet balloons … and then it gets even more interesting, as Page talks through the company’s recent acquisition of Deep Mind, an AI that is learning some surprising things.

4. You don’t need an app for that
Are the simplest phones the smartest? While the rest of the world is updating statuses and playing games on smartphones, Africa is developing useful SMS-based solutions to everyday needs, says journalist Toby Shapshak. In this eye-opening talk, Shapshak explores the frontiers of mobile invention in Africa as he asks us to reconsider our preconceived notions of innovation.

5. What is so special about the human brain?
The human brain is puzzling–it is curiously large given the size of our bodies, uses a tremendous amount of energy for its weight and has a bizarrely dense cerebral cortex. But: why? Neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel puts on her detective’s cap and leads us through this mystery. By making “brain soup,” she arrives at a startling conclusion.

6. Saving the silver bullet
Education is the silver bullet that has the power to disrupt poverty. It has the potential to break the cycle of poverty in just one generation. At the core of the American spirit is the ability to look at any child, no matter their social status, and say to them, “If you get your education and work hard, you can have the American dream.” It feels like that’s getting harder and harder to say. We are in danger of losing the power and potential of the silver bullet and our very future depends on saving it.

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