Poverty isn’t one simple, easy-to-identify problem. It’s a catch-all term for droves of problems that stem from many sources. It’s daunting to think about solving such a sprawling issue, but there’s power in that too. Change needs to happen at so many levels that everyone from local communities to big governments can make a tangible difference.
Below, TEDx Talks with creative ideas about how to make a dent in poverty at three different levels — local, national, and global:
**Become the leaders of your own community: Boniface Mwangi at TEDxKibera
Boniface Mwangi calls on his community to demand representation and take charge of it’s own future. Kibera, the urban slum around Nairobi, is the largest in Africa. Despite the creativity of local innovators and entrepreneurs, infrastructure remains unsound and human rights abuses are widespread. At TEDxKibera, Boniface calls on his neighbors to demand justice and take action before outside sources forge their future for them.
**For money, insert human rights: Susan Randolph at TEDxUConn
What’s more important for a government hoping to improve the lives of its citizens: growing its economy or strengthening its social safety net? According to Susan Randolph, one might not work without the other. She measures a country’s human rights achievements, relative to its GDP per capita. She’s found that a country’s economic growth is unstable when it’s not coupled with policies that secure citizens access to the food, health, education, housing, work, and social security that’s within the country’s means. Reducing poverty is hardly just about money; it’s about guaranteeing citizens reasonable levels of dignity and stability, too.
**In defense of foreign aid: Joe Cerrell at TEDxASL
Wealthy countries like the US and UK have impressive aid programs, but many of their citizens view these as a colossal waste of money that ought to be spent solving the problems at home. What that argument usually misses, however, is that foreign aid makes up a near infinitesimal portion of most national budgets and that even those modest investments make a tremendous impact. Concerns about implementation notwithstanding, Cerrell makes the case that the spending is well worth the cost.
Ada Lovelace (via IBNLive)
Today is Ada Lovelace Day, an opportunity to celebrate pioneering women in science, technology, engineering, and math. Who is Ada Lovelace, you ask? Well, just the person who wrote the first computer program, way back in the 1800s, before many women even had the right to vote. The awful thing is — not much progress has been made since then in supporting women in STEM fields.
That’s why Ada Lovelace day exists. Say the founders of the holiday:
It’s difficult to name the women excelling in STEM because they are all but invisible…Despite evidence that girls do well in such subjects at school, few go on to study them at university and even fewer then get jobs in these fields.
But female STEM superstars do exist. To celebrate them, two female scientists, Maia Weinstock and Anne Fausto-Sterling, are organizing a Wikipedia edit-a-thon today to help correct the imbalance between the number of male scientists and number of female scientists covered on Wikipedia. Join in if you have time!
And, of course, we have a few of our own superstars to celebrate today. Below, 7 talks from women who are expanding our scientific horizons:
When Larissa Oliveira arrived in Peru to study a new species of fur seal, she discovered that it was already threatened by the loss of its primary food source due to overfishing and the effects of climate change. She shares her story of taking action to convince governments and communities that the the little-known anchovita fish — and the creatures who depend on it — are worth saving. (Spanish, with English subtitles).
Flowers are astoundingly manipulative, and need to be if they are to defend themselves against predators, find food and reproduce. Heather Whitney sheds light on the invisible tactics flowers use to exploit their pollinators.
The Internet. We all use it. You could be using it right now. Those who follow Silicon Valley’s aristocracy have seen it glorified as the real land of the free — the setting of a self-regulating, radically open, data-dense, utopian wonderland built on the tenants of hacker culture. But is it really that great? Maybe. But it’s also riddled with problems.
Below: The struggle to own the Internet’s future… The fight against trolls… What crowdsourcing isn’t good for…
The battle for power on the Internet: Bruce Schneier at TEDxCambridge
A civil war wages for the Internet. As large institutions, like governments and corporations, try to restrict online behavior, tech-adept Internet cowboys fight for a sovereign world wide web. But if you’re not in either group, and you’re not a world-class coder, you may currently stand in the crossfire. Security expert Bruce Schneier examines your fate and offers three suggestions that could get you out of this unharmed.
The problem with “Don’t Feed the Trolls”: Steph Guthrie at TEDxToronto
As anyone who’s ever been on YouTube knows, Internet trolls are prolific. Racism and sexism are their bread and butter, and their indiscriminate vitriol has led to the blanket mantra, “Don’t feed the trolls!” Steph Guthrie calls that attitude into question. Arguing that the Internet should never be a safe place for prejudice, she urges us to reject the honorific of “troll” and treat vulgar commenters as bona fide bigots.
Can we really trust the crowd? Jens Krause at TEDxGhent
Crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, blah, blah, blah. A lot of Internet elite like to espouse the “wisdom of the crowd,” quite a few TED and TEDx speakers included. But Jens Krause has made a life of studying how crowds, or swarms, make decisions. It turns out that crowds can make terrible decisions sometimes, depending on the type of problems they’re facing. Whether you’re about to launch a big crowd-sourced project at work or simply trying to find the best place to eat tonight, his results are worth knowing.