2 Key Reflections from a Day of Cognitive Workout


Sajani and I had the privilege of attending TEDxSeattle this year and it reminded us how important the mission of connecting people and ideas really is. Looking back at everything we learned there, it's clear that the future depends on our ability to share knowledge, ideas and technologies around the world and making it equally available to everyone. If these ideas resonate with you, then you're perfect for Colombo Coop.

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Knowledge sharing, enhanced connections and empathy fueled through technology is where we are headed. As I reflect on a day of TEDx talks these themes take me on thought-provoking adventures of imagining our future. TED Talks are inspiring whether you watch them online, listen to a podcast or especially when experienced live. Being surrounded by 2500+ individuals with the energy and hunger to learn, share and think is inspiring by itself.  

TEDxSeattle held in McCaw Hall on Nov 18, 2017 was also nothing short of thought-provoking. An impressive list (some more than others for sure) of 15 speakers and performers embraced the stage and I walked away excited for the future. These are my top reflections:

1) The Power of Enabling Access to Knowledge

We know that the playing field is not level when it comes to access to information. Jennifer Hansen of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation shared that 30 years ago a European medical journal had published an article on Ebola and the possibility of outbreak in the region. However, when the recent outbreak of Ebola took place it took us months to understand what was going on and take necessary actions. Why did it take so long? Let's assume the doctors in Libya found this journal published 3 decades ago, there's another obstacle: the doctor would have to pay half his or her weekly wage to access the content due to the fact that this information is only available via an academic journal, behind a paywall. The research is freely available if you are a part of a university or other institution which can afford a subscription at a hefty price but most underprivileged communities are not a part of such institutions, and thus don't have access.

This was a powerful thought to think through; the system tends to be stacked against underprivileged communities, thus imposing further barriers to advancement. If local knowledge could be paired with scientific research, we would build upon each other's work and accelerate to success much faster. If we can empower more communities with access to useful knowledge and technologies with no added obstacles we create more connection around the world and open up everyone for brighter futures. More importantly, we will create a level playing field.

2) The Power of Connection Enabling Empathy through Hyper-Transportation & Mixed Reality

The Hyperloop is cool; the idea of using magnetic levitation inside a vacuum tube is exciting (especially to us millennial wanderlusters out there). But if it becomes a reality it will enable us to be connected like never before. Charlie Swan came up to talk about the 20-minute Hyperloop ride from Seattle to Portland and the possibilities this brings about. Every new country, city and new culture I have experienced has made me a more knowledgeable person with a wider view of the world, as I have been able to see the world through someone new I had met. Empathy and transportation seems an unlikely pair but a positive one. More human connection, wider networks of friends from different walks of life, access to diverse talent with diverse thought leadership, opening the doors to see the world through another. Now that is a real game-changer.

Sandy Ciofi is a journalist working with mixed reality to tell stories through embodied narratives in simulated worlds. Imagine being able truly swap your body with someone (yes, like a Hollywood movie) and look at the world through their eyes, or in this case, through virtual reality technology.  Sandy talked about the work BeAnotherLab is doing to increase empathy through embodied virtual reality and it was truly fascinating. Using technology as an accessory to enhance positive human qualities is remarkable if put to use well.


As the day ended I was energized by all the possibilities and motivated to be a part of the next phase of where we are headed. Life as we know will be drastically different in 10 or 20 years from now, it will move faster, we will be submerged in simulated worlds, we will have technology which will have transformed the way we work, what we focus on. But one thing was clear knowledge sharing and empathy must be key to make these advances.

Roshane Silva