Invention

What Now… for ingenuity and invention? TEDWomen 2021 Session 5 Notes

Multi-instrumentalist and healer Geminelle performs at TEDWomen 2021: What Now? on December 2, 2021 in Palm Springs, California. (Photo: Gilberto Tadday / TED)

In session 5, we move on to moments of collective joy. Seven speakers and a performer dove head first into the creativity, helping us see the silver lining, embrace art, and boldly map out the world we want to live in.

The event: TEDWomen 2021: Session 5, hosted by TEDWomen curators Helen Walters and Whitney Pennington Rodgers, in Palm Springs, CA on December 2, 2021

Loudspeakers: Emily Pilloton-Lam, Cecilia Aragon, Temie Giwa-Tubosun, Fariel Salahuddin, Emma Hart, Gala Marija Vrbanic, Christina Tosi

Music: Singer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and healer Gemini performs a hypnotic set, with “Everything I Need”, “Find Your Tribe” and “I Am Free”

The interviews in brief:

In a one-of-a-kind TED demo, youth educator Emily Pilloton-Lam uses power tools to build a wooden toolbox on stage… while giving her speech. Speaking at TEDWomen 2021: What Now? on December 2, 2021 in Palm Springs, California. (Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED)

Emily Pilloton-Lam, builder, educator of young people

Great idea: Our image of construction workers is predominantly male – and for good reason, because only four percent of workers on construction sites are women. Through her non-profit Girls Garage, Emily Pilloton-Lam teaches non-binary girls and children (with an emphasis on people of color) the skills to take on this well-paid and satisfying vocation. What will it take to realize a future built (literally) by women as well as men?

How? ‘Or’ What? According to Pilloton-Lam, there are more than 300,000 unfilled construction jobs, and the industry is struggling to fill them. But unlike other fields, the gender wage gap in construction is only 99 cents on the dollar. Given these statistics, it stands to reason that women represent a huge and untapped pool of labor. In addition to the stereotype that women are not strong enough for the job (which, since most work is done with power tools, is absurd), women and non-binary people face many challenges. other artificial barriers, including a work culture that is unwelcoming at best and hostile at worst. To combat this, Girls Garage offers mentoring and education to train and inspire girls and gender youth to take their place in this industry. And, in a one-of-a-kind TED demo, Pilloton-Lam uses power tools to build a wooden toolbox on stage… while giving him a talk.


Cecilia Aragon, teacher, pilot, author

Great idea: Fanfiction deserves a closer look for its creativity, criticism, and community.

Why? At the age of 10, Cecilia Aragon fell on the the Lord of the Rings trilogy but was disappointed with the lack of female characters. So she rewrote the story as she pleased with reimagined protagonists and new scenes reflecting what she wanted to see. Today what Aragon wrote is known as fanfiction (or transformative fiction): a story based on characters or sets taken from the work of another. As an adult, she decided to dive deep into the vast world of online fan fiction to study the impact of the creation of these stories on the writer and his profession. And what she and her research partner discovered was beyond her wildest imagination: over 60 billion words in more than 44 languages, written primarily by millions of young people over the past 20 years. A burst of creativity culminating in a caring, supportive community that is generous with its constructive comments and criticism in a way that encourages and emboldens. Aragon sees this organic network of love for writers as a model of more formal learning tools to help develop students in schools and as an opportunity to foster connections across the country.


Entrepreneur Temie Giwa-Tubosun shares the hero’s journey she followed to start her business. Speaking at TEDWomen 2021: What Now? on December 2, 2021 in Palm Springs, California. (Photo: Gilberto Tadday / TED)

Temie Giwa-Tubosun, entrepreneur

Great idea: Black women entrepreneurs are founding game-changing start-ups in Africa and around the world. It’s time for investors to give them the funding and support they need to grow and scale.

How? ‘Or’ What? Temie Giwa-Tubosun is the founder of LifeBank, a start-up that connects remote towns and villages with vital medical supplies. Since 2016, they have saved more than 40,000 lives. Yet it turned out to be nearly impossible for Giwa-Tubosun to raise funds when she started to set up her business. And she’s not the only one: In 2020, less than six percent of venture capital funds for African startups went to companies with co-founders, despite their proven track records. Giwa-Tubosun challenges investors to think more about deciding which founders to support – and closing the funding gap for startups and innovations led by black women.


Fariel Salahuddin, TED Fellow, passionate about alternative currency

Question: Who decides what is and is not money?

Responnse: Fariel Salahuddin’s favorite way to be presented at social gatherings is to be “Pakistan’s tallest goatherd”, a vocation she acquired through a combination of fate and curiosity. She works with small farmers in developing countries, enabling them to use their livestock as bargaining chips. After visiting a small town in Pakistan where people live without access to basic necessities like water, she took a chance and asked a village elder if he would be willing to pay for a solar water pump. (which is very expensive in Pakistan) with goats. (which are abundant there). This idea turned into a booming business, making goats a form of currency and helping to deliver much-needed water to remote areas – and causing Salahuddin to wonder how money actually works. Tracing the history of Sumerian money trading from barley to central bank backed paper money to blockchain, it shows how the value and how it is traded has changed over time – and what there are great opportunities to leverage the economic assets of various communities.


In a mind-blowing talk, computer scientist Emma Hart explains how robots could evolve like biological organisms, autonomously optimizing over time. Speaking at TEDWomen 2021: What Now? on December 2, 2021 in Palm Springs, California. (Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED)

Emma Hartcomputer scientist

Great idea: What if we could create robots that evolve like biological organisms, autonomously optimizing over time?

How? ‘Or’ What? Think of it as a robot that builds itself, says Emma Hart. She and her collaborators are working on a radical new technology that would make it possible to create, “reproduce” and evolve robots in real time, by successively “multiplying” increasingly optimized versions of themselves. This would allow robots to design themselves on the fly when sent to distant, unknown, or dangerous places (think: an asteroid, the ocean floor, or the melting of a nuclear reactor), potentially saving years of ‘unnecessary efforts and creating machines specially adapted to the environment and the task at hand. So how exactly does a robot evolve? Hart and his team look to nature for help, replicating the three essential ingredients of biological evolution: a population in which individuals exhibit physical variation; a method of reproduction in which the offspring inherit traits from their parents (and sometimes acquire new ones by mutation); and natural selection. Using a mixture of software and hardware, they are able to guide the evolution of robots. For example, they develop digital versions of DNA that combine and mutate; use 3D printers to create skeletons; and overseeing a virtual version of “survival of the fittest” in which robot designs are scored and prioritized based on their ability to perform tasks. By repeating this cycle over and over again, scientists could produce successive generations of new robots that, just like in nature, are better than the previous ones. Call it ‘digital evolution’ – a revolutionary new process that could unlock new designs freed from the constraints of our current understanding of engineering, science, and design.


Gala Marija Vrbanic, digital fashion maven

Great idea: With the advent of virtual and augmented reality, avatars are becoming more and more complex, requiring an unusual tailoring that is untied from physical reality. Gala Marija Vrbanic is at the forefront of this brave new world.

How? ‘Or’ What? Gamers have been dressing their video game characters for years. The next logical step, Marija Vrbanic tells us, is the advent of virtual clothing for social media and VR spaces – and in fact, that latest step has already become a reality, with virtual Gucci bags now selling for more than theirs. physical counterparts. As the founder and CEO of virtual fashion house Tribute Brand and YCY, Marija Vrbanic put Croatia on the fashion map with her weird and wonderful AR and VR clothing.


Christina Tosi shares the sweet twist of her first food memory – and the vision behind Milk Bar. Speaking at TEDWomen 2021: What Now? on December 2, 2021 in Palm Springs, California. (Photo: Gilberto Tadday / TED)

Christina tosi, Baker

Great idea: Break the rules to create delicious magic.

How? ‘Or’ What? Most people think of magic as a trick, says Christina Tosi, a seemingly impossible act done for fun. But Tosi wants to question this belief: real magic, she says, is not an illusion, but the feeling of experiencing the transition from the ordinary to the extraordinary. It can be found in the spark of an instant, the simple act of believing, belonging, understanding or being understood. And she found that magic is often created by breaking some sort of rule: pushing boundaries, questioning standards, asking why or why not. Seeing people experience the magic of eating baked goods, Tosi was inspired to recreate that feeling with her original and unexpected confectionery combinations. Simple, affordable, accessible and nostalgic flavors – rooted in known, sure and loved delicacies – form the basis of her desserts, almost as if “fancy is the enemy of delicious”. By rebelling against the conventions at the heart of his business and his creative philosophy, Tosi has developed a brand recognized for its ingenuity, invention and generosity of spirit. “That’s what you do when you benefit from what came before you and plan to pass it on long after you – when you know you’re here to give and not to take, and you leave this place better than you do. you didn’t find it, ”she said. And it all starts with a decision to act: see the magic, capture it before it’s gone and share it… maybe one bite at a time.