How jails extort the poor | Salil Dudani

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Why do we jail people for being poor? Today, half a million Americans are in jail only because they can’t afford to post bail, and still more are locked up because they can’t pay their debt to the court, sometimes for things as minor as unpaid parking tickets. Salil Dudani shares stories from individuals who have experienced debtors’ prison in Ferguson, Missouri, challenging us to think differently about how we punish the poor and marginalized.

Don't fear superintelligent AI | Grady Booch

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New tech spawns new anxieties, says scientist and philosopher Grady Booch, but we don’t need to be afraid an all-powerful, unfeeling AI. Booch allays our worst (sci-fi induced) fears about superintelligent computers by explaining how we’ll teach, not program, them to share our human values. Rather than worry about an unlikely existential threat, he urges us to consider how artificial intelligence will enhance human life.

Nationalism vs. globalism: the new political divide | Yuval Noah Harari

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How do we make sense of today’s political divisions? In a wide-ranging conversation full of insight, historian Yuval Harari places our current turmoil in a broader context, against the ongoing disruption of our technology, climate, media — even our notion of what humanity is for. This is the first of a series of TED Dialogues, seeking a thoughtful response to escalating political divisiveness. Make time (just over an hour) for this fascinating discussion between Harari and TED curator Chris Anderson.

The racial politics of time | Brittney Cooper

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Cultural theorist Brittney Cooper examines racism through the lens of time, showing us how historically it has been stolen from people of color, resulting in lost moments of joy and connection, lost years of healthy quality of life and the delay of progress. A candid, thought-provoking take on history and race that may make you reconsider your understanding of time, and your place in it.

A robot that eats pollution | Jonathan Rossiter

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Meet the “Row-bot,” a robot that cleans up pollution and generates the electricity needed to power itself by swallowing dirty water. Roboticist Jonathan Rossiter explains how this special swimming machine, which uses a microbial fuel cell to neutralize algal blooms and oil slicks, could be a precursor to biodegradable, autonomous pollution-fighting robots.