What’s really in the air we breathe – Vicki Grassian at TEDxSanDiego 2017

Vicki begins by asking the question, “what do you think is in the air that we breathe?” Aerosols are rarely talked about, yet they are having a significant effect on the quality of the air we breathe.

These particles are typically a thousand times smaller than the width of a hair, and they come from a variety of sources, such as car exhaust and factories, as well as volcanoes and wildfires. The ocean also contributes to the story, with viruses, bacteria, phytoplankton and enzymes present in sea air.

In addition, dust particles from Asia find their way to the shores of the United States. Airborne particles such as these can negatively affect the upper respiratory tract, and recent research indicates that they can affect our brain.

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Machine learning plus neuroscience equals biologically feasible computing – Benjamin Migliori at TEDx San Diego 2017

Benjamin begins by saying that it is not possible to make a correct assessment without perception. He argues we can train computers to identify, but humans make decisions based on personal experiences. In essence, the combination of human and artificial intelligence will define humanity’s future.

He shares a personal journey with his son who was born premature, and as a result of his untimely birth, his son’s experiences were different than those of other babies, in fact, some would say extraordinary. The algorithms of which his son perceives the world are different, as a result of his experiences, so his perception of the world is different as well. When Benjamin introduced his cat to his baby for the first time, he did not know what to expect, because each of them had a reason to be fearful of the other.

However, their connection was instant because both sets of algorithms were already established and able to respond, based on each of their experiences. He goes on to say that the process is much slower in teaching machines intelligence, as they need to process hundreds of algorithms to come up with the correct response in humans. But together, human and artificial intelligence will have an explosive effect on society.

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Designing cities for sustainability, resilience and happiness – Paulina Lis at TEDx San Diego 2017

Paulina begins her talk with a quote from Jane Jacobs’ book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, “cities provide for everyone when they are created by everyone.”

The book is a critique of 1950’s urban planning policy, which holds responsible for the decline of many city neighborhoods in the United States. Going against the modernist planning dogma of the era, it proposes a newfound appreciation for organic urban vibrancy.

Paulina emphasized that our city of San Diego is growing, and that it is our vision which is driving the future, so we need to address our common goals when designing urban spaces so that all communities can thrive. For example, alleys are a common area that are underused because they are often associated with danger, crime, and filth.

But there is a movement going on that is committed to restoring these spaces by adding plants, lights and other amenities to create an environment that is inviting and attractive. Los Angeles is one city that is looking to reinvent alley spaces so they are conducive to the populations they serve, and create positive impact.

She ends by saying that if we work together, then everyone can enjoy our beautiful city.

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