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How a video game might help us build better cities | Karoliina Korppoo

With more than half of the world population living in cities, one thing is undeniable: we are an urban species. Part game, part urban planning sketching tool, “Cities: Skylines” encourages people to use their creativity and self-expression to rethink the cities of tomorrow. Designer Karoliina Korppoo takes us on a tour through some extraordinary places users have created, from futuristic fantasy cities to remarkably realistic landscapes. What does your dream city look like?

A black man goes undercover in the alt-right | Theo E.J. Wilson

In an unmissable talk about race and politics in America, Theo E.J. Wilson tells the story of becoming Lucius25, white supremacist lurker, and the unexpected compassion and surprising perspective he found from engaging with people he disagrees with. He encourages us to let go of fear, embrace curiosity and have courageous conversations with people who think differently from us. “Conversations stop violence, conversations start countries and build bridges,” he says.

What intelligent machines can learn from a school of fish | Radhika Nagpal

Science fiction visions of the future show us AI built to replicate our way of thinking — but what if we modeled it instead on the other kinds of intelligence found in nature? Robotics engineer Radhika Nagpal studies the collective intelligence displayed by insects and fish schools, seeking to understand their rules of engagement. In a visionary talk, she presents her work creating artificial collective power and previews a future where swarms of robots work together to build flood barriers, pollinate crops, monitor coral reefs and form constellations of satellites.

Students at National Air and Space Museum to Speak with Space Station Astronaut

Students at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington will speak with a NASA astronaut living, working and doing research aboard the International Space Station at 12:25 a.m. EDT Wednesday, Sept. 27, as part of a “STEM in 30” broadcast.

The most Martian place on Earth | Armando Azua-Bustos

How can you study Mars without a spaceship? Head to the most Martian place on Earth — the Atacama Desert in Chile. Astrobiologist Armando Azua-Bustos grew up in this vast, arid landscape and now studies the rare life forms that have adapted to survive there, some in areas with no reported rainfall for the past 400 years. Explore the possibility of finding life elsewhere in the universe without leaving the planet with this quick, funny talk.