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Now You See Me…

Our world is one of near-total visibility. Whenever we log onto the internet, we know that data collectors can see our shopping habits, our calendars, or what we had for breakfast. We can easily find images of places thousands of miles or even light years away. We know what celebrities look like, not just in the movies, but at their makeup tables backstage, or in their homes. Our government has a camera trained on it at all times.

We expect this level of visibility because we believe that with more information, we will make better decisions. Targeted ads based on data collection help us find things we’re interested in. Given the ability to watch their lawmakers argue, citizens may become more informed about political issues and vote for someone who really represents their interests.

With all this information available to us, and all the faith that we put in it – all the millions of dollars that we invest in making it available – wouldn’t we like to know more about ourselves, as well? Wouldn’t we like to know more about our own bodies? What would seeing more help us do?

Last year, we had a great talk by Albert Redo-Sanchez of MIT about a new technology he developed to help us see more. Albert’s work helped him uncover a secret drawing by Francisco Goya, the famous Spanish painter. Albert’s wish to see more than the world showed him led to the development of technology that will help us learn more about priceless artworks without harming them.

This year, Guy Satat, also of MIT, is working on another new type of imaging. Guy’s work is on decoding the light ray patterns caused by opaque material like milky glass, fog, or human bodies. If developed further, Guy’s images could replace ultrasounds and X-rays in some places, showing us a more detailed view of our bodies without the risk of radiation. What could we learn from that kind of visibility?

At TEDxBeaconStreet, visibility is the name of our game. We want you to see the amazing things happening in the world: the groundbreaking research, the brave social revolutionaries, the brilliant minds at work. But we want to do more than see these amazing things: we want to inspire action on them. With all the information at your fingertips, and the visibility of the world increasing every day, what will you do?

To start hatching some ideas, join us at TEDxBeaconStreet 2016 on November 19-20! Come talk to Guy, Alberto, and others about what you want to see in the world.