Celebrities mingle with visionaries

Comedian Robin Williams scrutinises grim images of abuses perpetuated by US soldier guards at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Actress Cameron Diaz twirls a lock of her blond hair with a finger as she leans back in a bean bag chair and listens to a vaunted paleontologist speak of an inevitable end to humanity’s golden age in the cosmos.

Queen Noor of Jordan debates with Google co-founder Serge Brin and legendary Watergate scandal reporter Carl Bernstein whether the Internet is changing news coverage for the better or worse.

Acclaimed actor Forest Whitaker exchanges views with a Ugandan journalist after hearing a renowned geneticist tell of engineering a new life form that will feed on climate-ruining carbon dioxide.

The powerful, famous, influential and brilliant mingle casually, finding inspiration, hope and challenge in mind-bending themes at the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference in California.

“TED is wonderful,” Diaz said as the four-day gathering ended over the weekend. “It changed my life.”

Veteran attendees describe the gathering as a friendly retreat where visionaries, geniuses and achievers put aside life’s daily distractions to collaborate on tackling the world’s woes.

Former US vice president Al Gore, Microsoft founder Steve Wozniak, singer Paul Simon, and actress Goldie Hawn are among the TED “citizens.”

TED speakers each get 18 minutes to address “big questions” that this year included “Will evil prevail?” and “How can we change the world?”

“I compare TED to a healthy young brain building new connections and reaching out for new information,” said neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor.

Source: The Times

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