I was impressed at how upbeat, optimistic, and energized this conference was. There was general and specific recognition of the current recession, but a general feeling was that innovation and entrepreneurship are the solution. TED was about innovation and entrepreneurship, and thus TED sees itself as leading the country back to better days. These are people of genuine good will, of superior vision, and ample means to make things happen.
I was also struck by some trends across a number of talks. Robotics: surgical robots, artistic robots, military robots, brain science robots, animal robots. In all, I believe there were seven talks that were in whole or in part about robots. This is a trend well worth investigating.
Another trend was human performance. There were several talks about bionics or “smart” prosethics that don’t just bring the disabled back to normal, but give superior abilities to “normal” humans. Bio-engineering is closely related. Not just in growing replacement tissue, but in creating new human tissues that have never existed before. In essence, creating new human DNA for superior performance. Together these two disciplines have tremendous implications for how we will work in the near future.
I have a sense that some of these trends are on a logrithmic growth trajectory. That is the impact seems very small now, but when it takes off, it will engulf us. People and organizations that can hop on to these growth curves ahead of others with have tremendous advantages over their competitors.