BRATTON Benjamin New Perspectives – What’s Wrong with TED Talks? (2013)

“T – E – D. First, Technology. We’re told that not only is change accelerating, but that the pace of change is accelerating. In terms of the computational carrying-capacity at a planetary level, it is true. But at the same time — and in fact the two are related — we’re also in a moment of cultural de-acceleration. We invest our energies in futuristic information technologies, including our cars, but drive them home to kitsch architecture copied from the 18th century. The future on offer is one in which everything can change, so long as everything stays the same. We’ll have Google Glass, but we’ll still have business casual. This timidity is not our path to the future. This is incredibly conservative. And more gigaflops won’t inoculate us. Because, if a problem is endemic to a system, then the exponential effects of Moore’s law also amplify what’s broken. It’s more computation along the wrong curve, and I hardly think this is a triumph of Reason.”

“Placebo techno radicalism toying with risk so as to reaffirm the comfortable.”

More Copernicus, less Tony Robbins. At a societal level, the bottom line is that if we invest in things that make us feel good but which don’t work, don’t invest in things which don’t make us feel good, but which may solve problems, then our fate is that in the long run it will just get harder and harder to feel good about not solving problems. And in this case, the placebo is not just ineffective — it’s harmful. Because it takes your interest, and energy and outrage, and diverts into this black hole  of affectation. “Keep calm and carry on innovating” — is that the real message of TED? To me it’s not inspirational, it’s cynical. In the US, the rightwing has certain media channels that allow it to bracket reality. Other constituencies have TED.”