Category Archives: World

The future WE will create: after TED notes & thoughts

I am already back home from an amazing experience, the TED conference. It is one of the two best conferences I have been with Davos and as many speakers joked all week long, I agee, “it does something to your brain”. Here are a few ideas and notes I will keep in mind from the conference.

The world is getting flat and smaller. We’re all citizens of the world and borders and nations matter less.

More and more of us

-population growth.

The facts. 6.5 billion, growing at 77 million a year, 2.4 people every second, in 2050 10 billion people in the world. Population is aging and by 2050 the number of old people will exceed the number of young people for the first time in history.


We have limited resources in food, water and energy and population growth means increasing needs, for example, we need to double the food production to satisfy demand

Globalization is good

Globalization means increased wealth around the world, the gap reduces fast: the chinese economy is already the 4th largest economy. 4 countries will get most of the growth: Brazil, Russia, India and China will create a deep shift. These countries will by 2025 create 50% of the G6 Countries, overtake the G6 by 2040.

Hans Rosling gave his amazing speech on how countries evolve with globalization and how the Internet helps. Again, check it if you don’t know these animations, it is very straightforward, it has been designed to be understood by kids !

Key challenges we talked about

Environment. Al Gore gave a mind blowing speech I had already heard in Davos. I podcasted it but unfortunately the TED organisers asked me to take it down for copyright reasons. I understand and apologized to them for my podcast, I regret not being able to help spread the word faster on such an important topic and trust TED or Al Gore will share it online soon with the non-TEDizens.

Al Gore suggested also that we all started to help now, here are a few suggestions:

-reduce emissions in your home

-reduce emissions from your car

-buy the most energy efficient appliances and other products: be a green consumer

-live a carbon neutral life: you can calculate your own carbon production level at

-make your business carbon neutral (it’s not as hard as you think)

-invest sustainably in companies and funds that are part of the solution

-become a catalyst change in your community

-help raising awareness by promoting an inconvenient truth

let’s rebrand global warming: climate crisis and planetary emergency

Al Gore updated us on the last day as January 2005 was the record-high ever month in human’s history in temperature showing that the global warming trend continues.

Poverty. The 225 richest people in the world have accumulated the wealth of 2.7 billion individuals at the bottom of the pyramid.


Larry Brilliant, a public health visionary who did an extraordinary job at eradicating smallpox in the world and who was just appointed head of Google’s philantropy, Larry described world’s health challenges, how smallpox was eradicated and the importance of “early detection early prevention“. It took 4 million people going door to door in affected countries to come to grip with polio. He explained pandemic bird flu and the scary fact that we will not have a vaccine if it occurs in the next three years. Larry explained that bird flu is already at stage 3 on the WHO scale and if it reaches stage 4 (pandemic) there will be no planes and no traveling anymore, people will stay home and avoid any contact whatsoever with others, avoid movie theatres, it would be a total disorder and disaster. Larry pointed us to a survey they have conducted amongst the top specialists of bird flu in the world and asked them a very simple question: what is the likelihood ? 15% said a pandemic will happen in the near future and 90% said it will happen within their children’s life. Up to 650 million to 2.8 billion people will be sick, there will be $1 to 3$ trillion in costs and 25 million to 165 Million deaths.

Larry explained as well the epidemic curve and how any virus can touch the entire world within three weeks. SARS did not occur because it was found 3 months before WHO announced it thanks to web crawling !!! (GPHIN). Up do now the WHO would learn about a virus from the governments sending reports but it takes ages to identify the viruses. GPHIN crawled the web and especially the local press of all countries and searched reports about children deaths, sudden illnesses appearing, etc and these reports were way faster to identify the viruses. Very quickly these reports were treated as very important by the WHO and now they account for 75% of the reports sent to WHO with a budget close to 0 (in the past 100% of the reports came from the states at high cost of production). Nobody would have every thought before that you can find diseases early by crawling the web ! Larry made an interesting point about the fact that the search should be totally multilingual: “these bad viruses really don’t have an intention to show up in english, spanish, french or in the other main spoken languages in the world, they just show up in any language and we need to adapt”.

Larry concluded his speech with a wish to help “early detection early prevention”: build an early warning system to protect us agains humanities worst nightmares, that he would call INSTEDD. He got a standing ovation by the TEDizens in the room and let’s hope he reaches his goal, I bet his new role at the Google fundation will help and that’s good.

Creative ideas and projects

Burt Rutan was very insipiring as he explained his company’s program to develop and produce a commercial suborbital spaceship system, intended for routine flights outside the earth’s atmosphere. These are being structured for a high level of safety and with operating costs intended to support flying a large number of the public. Burt explained how the military would be outpaced by the civilians in suborbital flight.

Design. There were many design projects presented, it is very difficult to just write about them so I’ll pass, but it was very inspiring.

Richard Baraniuk – Connexions wants to set knowledge free by launching a platform for authors around the world to get the books they write for free and in as many languages as possible. Very interesting, I have to check it again.

 Blog Wp-Content AnimalcopyrightAnimal Copyright. One of the craziest idea of TED was Gregory Colbert’s speech. His analysis is that animals’ image is constantly used in advertising and else through in pictures and videos. When we always recognize the importance of copyright for brands, artists and the like, we don’t for animals because they have no means to claim and defend them. His idea is to create a Animal Copyright that would be devoted to preserve animal life on earth and funded without charity each time a photo or video of an animal is used and especially in advertising. The room agreed that it was so crazy it may actually work. Ethan has more.

Aging ! One of the most provocative presentation was given by Aubrey de Grey, a biomedical gerontologist. Aubrey claims that aging is both ghastly and potentially treatable. He works towards such treatments. Ethan also has much more.

3 minutes speeches from participants. I loved this idea, anybody could have the opportunity to submit a 3 minutes presentation about… anything. Ethan gave us “12 great reasons to learn Mandarin” and was brilliant as always, Peter Skillman gave an amazing presentation on the genius of kindergarten designers, performing better on the same simple design test than business school students or people in corporations. He demonstrated how our mind was losing creativity as we grew up. Scary thought but so impactful and true, how can we get it back ?

Find a purpose for your life

Do we need God ? One of the best moment of TED was “the Jesus guy” just followed by “the anti-Jesus guy”:

Rick Warren, author of the #2 nonfiction selling book in history after the bible, -the purpose driven life- and pastor has become one of the most influential Christian voices worldwide. The Saddleback Church, which began as a small group in his home, now averages over 20,000 in attendance each weekend.

Rick Warren explained that spiritual emptiness was our largest disease: most humans are not living they are just existing and worse, they “feel like a fake” and always have to pretend they are more than they really are. People need to understand what they are betting their lives on. They need to understand their worldview, it determines everything they do, their behaviour, what they become. We all have to test our worldviews and the best way to do that is not in good times, it is how you act the days before your funerals, what you believe makes a big difference. Materialims is all about getting, is all about more.

good life is about looking good, feeling good and having the goods ! The wealthiest people in the world are not the happiest. Look at your shape, what are you wired to do ? What are you doing with what you have been given ? If you are influential it is not by chance, use it to speak-up for others and make the world a better place.

Dan Dennett, philosopher and atheist challenged Rick’s views, it was very interesting. Dan explained we should all (especially the kids at school) study all religions, without influence, the facts, the history, the texts, music, requirements… He says “democracy depends on an informed citizenship”, misinformed consent does not count.

Now about Rick’s book. Dan finds the base goals good: “to bring purpose to the lives of millions is a good deal” and Rick’s book is “a brilliant redesign of traditional religious themes updating them and has excellent insights into human psychology”. However Rick then criticizes strongly Rick’s statements about the necessity of God when he says “if there was no God, we would all be accidents, the result of astronomical random chance in the universe”. Dan claims that “we don’t need a meaning in God to be good”. He also pointed us to

4. wishes and achievements

TED Wishes. I liked to see the achievements of TED wishes last year (Bono’s to fight poverty). We also talked about the initiative launched by Jamais Cascio. Worldchanging is a weblog focusing on the intersection of sustainable design, emerging technologies, global development and collaborative networks. Check this year’s wishes as Ethan reported them:

Larry Brilliant Wish

Jehane Noujaim’s Wish

Cameron Sinclair’s Wish

Topics we covered that I did not write about: plenty, including love, sex, war and death ! That’s all for now, more later, congrats again to the TED team for an amazing event that will keep me thinking for a long time.

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Podcast: Al Gore’s speech on environment and the current emergency to act and save our planet

update: podcast taken offline at TED’s request.

Al Gore has an amazing speech on how the world is in danger if we don’t act now to preserve it. I can only urge you to listen to it if you haven’t, it is really rich and interesting. Be careful this speech will have an effect on you and your vision of our world. I listened to it twice, once in Davos and the second time yesterday and I got scared like hell each time. You can either download the podcast as an mp4a, mp3 or just listen to it directly on this post.

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Containing a global Pandemic ?


(Davos session podcasted with authorization from the speakers and the WEF media team)

This session was extremely informative on most questions that we all have about bird flu and pandemic viruses. It is really worth listening to if you are interested in these topics. The room was packed, it has been one of the most popular sessions in Davos this year.

With confirmed cases in Turkey, the menace of a potential bird flu pandemic has raised questions about the ability of the international community and national governments to respond to a severe global health crisis.

1) Can the global community adequately prepare for a global pandemic, and how ?

2) Who should take the lead and where can collaboration bear most fruit ?

3) What steps can companies take to protect their employees and activities when it comes to a health crisis ?


Ira Flatow, executive Producer and Host, Science Friday, National public radio, USA

Anthony S. Fauci, Director, National Institue of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, USA

David Nabarro, UN System Senior Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza, United Nations, New York

Elena Salgado, Minister of Health of Spain

David Stout, President, Pharmaceuticals, GlaxoSmithKline

Rebecca goes after Cisco because they sell routers to the Chinese Security Bureau

Rebecca about Cisco training the Chinese Public Secutiry Bureau on how to filter the Internet for political reasons:

“The fact that Cisco clearly has no qualms about doing business with the Chinese Public Security Bureau is odious. We should change the law to make it illegal for companies like Cisco to sell networking and telecommunications equipment to police agencies in countries like China where the practice of law enforcement includes things like beating up little old ladies who demonstrate peacefully for their religious rights in Tiananmen Square, routine torture of people jailed without due process, and ongoing crackdowns against political dissent of all kinds.”

Thomas Dahlgren, one of Rebecca’s readers, says in comments:

“Apalling, but unsurprising. Cisco is engaged in business that is morally odious but potentially quite lucrative. Corporations do not have a conscience and it is unrealistic to expect them to limit their behavior in the absence of legal or financial consequences.”

I remember Nestlé’s CEO, Peter Brabeck, saying in Davos a few years ago that “the only goal of a company is to increase value for its stockholders”.

Rebecca, what do you think then of Philip Morris killing millions every year ? Probably worse than Cisco selling routers to the Chinese Governement, as a company, they just do their job: increase sales and drive growth.

It is the business based model that is flawed, not Cisco. However, I have no suggestions for a better one at that time, being myself a business person…

Muslim blogosphere reacts to London Blast

Rebecca reports what bloggers are saying in Arabic, Farsi and other languages. Mahmood at Mahmood’s Den sends his condolences to the bereaved and calls the terrorists animals:

“The way to beat them is not to give in to them, and more democracy and democratic institutions, a complete overhaul of the education system in the Arab and Muslim worlds and the full separation of Mosque and State.

The time is now. We have to get this done. Otherwise we will be completely left behind and will suffer much more at the hands of these terrorists. My heart and thoughts go to the people of the United Kingdom in this very difficult time. ”

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Global Voices Online needs your help as a european blogger

If any of you is interested, I would do it with pleasure if I was not so busy, Rebecca MacKinnon says:

Global Voices Online is looking for European “bridge-bloggers.”

What is a bridge-blogger? Somebody who acts as a “bridge” between their blogging community and the rest of the world. Lots of blogospheres are springing up around the world, in lots of languages, but many of them don’t communicate with each other, which is too bad. We’d like to help change that. For examples of bridge-blogging, here’s a post I did summarizing Chinese blogs:

Here’s one on Mexican blogs, bridging between Spanish and English:

And here is some bridge-blogging about the Kenyan and Kiswahili blogospheres:

If you’re interested in bridge-blogging from your country’s blogosphere to the outside world, we’d love to know. The best way to start is by doing some bridge-blogging posts on your own blog (for example: write a post in English with links to the original posts about what the Polish blogosphere is buzzing about this week, or tell us what the German bloggers are saying about the latest vote, what the Portugese blogs are talking about lately, or what the Francophone blogosphere is currently reacting to). Once you’ve done this, please email us with the link at: globalvoices DOT dailylinks AT gmail DOT com, and we’ll be sure to point to it.

Then, after doing this a few times, if you like the response to your work and feel that this is something you have the time and energy to do regularly on the Global Voices site, please let us know at globalvoices DOT online AT”

Off to Zermatt at the Young Global Leaders summit

 Photos Uncategorized 24062005008I am in Zermatt, Switzerland for 4 days at the World Economic Forum’s Summit of Young Global Leaders. It is amazing the concentration of forward-looking minds I met tonight. I had a great conversation with Nicklas Zennstrom, founder of Skype and I learnt a lot, Skype has around 40 million users now, 140 people worldwide (even one person in France I’d love to meet too) and growing. I congratulated Nicklas for his Skype official blog, Niklas says the company is really interested by blogs and understands how it helps getting closer to customers. Skype has raised around $20M and has now more money that wants to be invested in it than needed, how surprising. We talked also about how Skype IM and voice was encrypted at 256 bits making it difficult to for anybody to listen to these conversations, probably more from the volume of data transferred than the complexity to break the encryption. Interesting to insist on the fact that Skype is a european startup spreading around the World like wildfire.

Anyway, a few days out of the daily business to think about where we are going and to broaden our views can only help get the big picture. I’ll post more about the sessions and the participants I discuss with. Off-to bed now.

Three Iranian bloggers jailed, one faces court date with no legal representation, Hossein goes to Tehran

According to the Committee to Protect Bloggers

Omid Shekhan was arrested last year and faces a court date of October 8 without the benefit of representation Arash Sigarchi was sentenced to fourteen years in prison and Mojtaba Saminejad to two years

Unlike Sigarchi and Saminejad, Shekhan does not have a lawyer.

Our friend Hossein Derakhshan who blogs as Hoder is off to visit Tehran and posted a request that we keep an eye on him.

“While I’m doing all this, I may get into trouble. It could vary from polite questioning for a few hours to days of detention in secret places, less than politely.”

Related links

Committee to Protect Bloggers

sign the Petition to free Motjaba Saminejad, I just did.

English blog for Mojtaba

The association of Iranian Blogwriters (Penlog)

Blogger Mojtaba gets two-year prison sentence

BBC: the price paid for blogging Iran

It is difficult to blog in English

Nir Ofir, who invited me to have breakfast in Tel Aviv recently, has just started to blog in English (he has one in hebrew, too). Nil joins the friends I have there who blog in english (along with Ouriel).

“I’m a little frustrated that the stuff that we are doing here stays here. I mean that almost no one can get information about Digital lifestyle, Social software, Blogging and Internet Innovation in Israel.”

That is one of the reason I blog in English, too. I have always been frustrated to feel late compared to the US on too many things so sharing in english helps you catch up and stay in permanent touch with your friends around the world. The problem is to do it daily. It is not natural, not as natural as to express yourself in your mother tongue. I have three to four times as many comments on my French blog as my English blog and this says something. Of course my english is much worse than my french but also when I have a joke it comes in french and is always difficult to translate. Keep going Nir, you’ll see on the long run it is worth the time you spend writing in English.