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Is your business successfully innovating to succeed in frontier markets? How are robots and wearables poised to transform health care? Do you have a strategy for living a happy life?

These important questions are the subjects of five new TED Talks by disruptive innovation expert Efosa Ojomo, AI scientists Ayanna HowardRosalind Picard and Arnav Kapur, and leadership expert Karen Dillon. The insights offered by these TED speakers can help organizations both better understand the present and chart a better path for the future.


How do companies expand to low- and middle-income countries? Trying to sell products and services that are beyond the financial reach (and perceived need) of the world’s poor is difficult, but innovation can turn millions of non-consumers into active customers. Earlier this year, the highly acclaimed book, “The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty” (Harper Business, January 2019), proposed a radical new framework for looking at innovation, urging entrepreneurs to emulate successful examples to forge new markets where none previously existed. Now, Efosa Ojomo has delivered a provocative TED Talk drawing on this book, which he co-authored with legendary innovation expert Clay Christensen and best-selling writer Karen Dillon. This illuminating presentation reveals how to grow and thrive in unexpected places.


Are robots trustworthy? Recent concerns over racial and gender bias have joined longer-standing fears of automation taking human jobs to create an atmosphere of mistrust around the coming “robot revolution.” But Ayanna Howard, renowned AI expert and roboticist, has argued consistently that the key to making humans trust robots is to make them more emotional – and human. Now, Howard’s recent talk at TED Women, “Why We Need to Build Robots We Can Trust,” can help audiences understand the enormous potential of AI to make our lives better. From health care to education, robots will improve our way of life and allow humans to focus on more complex, creative tasks across industries. But for robots to gain widespread acceptance and trust, they must be programmed to be more relatable, emotive and – crucially – fair and equitable in how they interact with humans. Ayanna Howard is one of the world’s leading experts in designing this new kind of AI.


In her TED Talk, “An AI Smartwatch That Detects Seizures,” MIT Professor and expert on “Emotion AI” Dr. Rosalind Picard offers an example of how AI wearables have made a difference in the lives of people with epilepsy. By actively monitoring multiple signals from the wearer’s skin and movements, and using AI, this wearable can alert caregivers to come to the aid of a person having a grand mal seizure, making it less likely to be fatal. Such technologies, which rely on intelligent machines, are being applied across health care and in multiple other industries. Dr. Picard shows audiences the potential of AI to impact organizations and individuals – and possibly save lives.


AI is often portrayed as a technology that will replace us – especially in the workplace. But Arnav Kapur, rising star of the MIT Media Lab, imagines a future where our human strengths – creativity and emotional intelligence – are combined with a machine’s ability to process and memorize information. In “How AI Could Become an Extension of Your Mind,” his recent, critically acclaimed TED Talk in Vancouver, Kapur revealed his new AI wearable, AlterEgo, which uses AI to translate internal word formation into audible speech. Particularly useful for stroke and ALS patients who have lost their ability to speak, users can silently ask questions of their wearable and receive answers, just as we do with our current digital assistants. Kapur’s work has also been featured on an episode of 60 Minutes covering the wonders of the MIT Media Lab, called “The Future Factory.” AlterEgo is an early example of how AI can increasingly become extensions of our own minds and bodies, not diminishing our humanity but allowing us to express ourselves and learn in unprecedented ways.


Though unhappiness is rarely intentional, our life and career choices often lead to lives that are unfulfilling. How do we plan to avoid this common trap? Karen Dillon, best-selling writer of four books, including “How Will You Measure Your Life?” co-authored with Clay Christensen, and “HBR Guide to Office Politics,” argues that just as companies’ strategies are less about grand visions and more about the numerous choices they make on allocating resources to different priorities, the same is true for individuals. In this TED Talk, “Do You Have a Strategy for Your Life?,” Dillon outlines the problem many people face that leads to their feeling of discontent – and puts forward a different perspective for measuring and evaluating your life.

5 Insightful Keynotes: A Spotlight on TED Talks was last modified: July 19th, 2023 by Brian Sherry