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Speaker Rehearsal Blast!

Last night, innovators, movie-makers, Sparkplugs, and others gathered at the Cambridge Innovation Center to practice talks for TEDxBeaconStreet 2016! We had presentations from a tax leader at EY, a lawyer from Ropes & Gray, two MIT researchers, a youth ski champion, a filmmaker, a social activist, and the founders of VisiCalc and Bootstrap. Sound like fun?

Hunter Henderson talks about slopestyle training

Bob Frankston, a founder of VisiCalc, talked about thinking about the way people learn, and building frameworks to solve problems, led him to found one of the most impactful tech companies of all time. He got the audience thinking about how we assign properties to objects because of their context, and how separating the two helps us think outside the box.

Bob had some great feedback for Joscha Bach of MIT, who explained that researchers in artificial intelligence is asking the wrong questions: He wants a machine that can administer the Turing test to a human, not just pass it. Joscha told us that “the world that we experience is a dream anchored and constrained by sensory perceptions,” and given meaning by our motivations. We’re excited to hear these brilliant researchers talk to us about how to understand our world.

We’re also excited to see Naomi McDougall-Jones’ work progress. Her films are unusual — but she argues that they shouldn’t be. Naomi  writes, directs, and produces films by women, about women and their stories, which are sadly underrepresented in Hollywood. Naomi explained how stories are an intrinsic part of our humanity, so it is crucially important that they reflect all of humanity. (See our post about great stories!) Everyone in the room agreed to work on changing their movie habits to support the diversity of stories being told.

We were all wowed by Hunter Henderson, who showed us a video of his freestyle slope skiing tricks; Hunter is  only 13, but his abilities were beyond our imaginations! He talked about how grateful he is to his family, his trainer, and his school, as we all wondered, “Could I do that?” (Maybe….maybe not.)

Naomi McDougall-Jones in Imagine I’m Beautiful

The atmosphere in the room changed when Sara Beaulieu gave her talk. Several people were brought near to tears by the emotional weight of her message: Acknowledge and help the men who want to support victims of sexual violence. Change the assumptions you make, so you can have a conversation about this difficult and uncomfortable topic, so we can all show up and support those who need us.

Our Speakers got great support from our Speaker Sparkplugs, who listened carefully and commented helpfully on their talks. We had first-timers and old hats, team members and enthusiasts, past speakers and current ones. We’re very lucky to have such a supportive community show up for our Speakers; we hope you’ll be among them next time! Click here to register for our rehearsal on Tuesday, October 11th!