6 must-see techie TED talks

Augmented reality, blockchain, AI, Linux and phone encryption are among TED Talk topics that can get you up to speed in just a few minutes

Ideas forum TED ended its year by picking its top 10 TED Talks for the year, and we'll start 2017 off by selecting a handful of techie ones we figure might be of particular interest to Network World readers.

These talks, published during 2016, touch on subjects ranging from AI to the Blockchain to Linux (as discussed by Linus Torvalds himself). One nice thing about the TED YouTube channel is that videos are now captioned, so yes, you can digest these videos even when you're not in a position to actually listen to them...

MORE: 9 tantalizingly techie TED Talks

The mind behind Linux

This isn't quite a typical TED Talk, but rather a more traditional interview, as TED curator Chris Anderson discusses open source with Linux kernel pioneer Linus Torvalds. Among other things we learn that Torvalds really likes to work alone, maybe with the exception of his cat hanging out on his lap.

Can we build AI without losing control over it?

Neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris describes how "The gains we make in artificial intelligence could ultimately destroy us." An uplifting message for sure.

How the blockchain will radically transform the economy

Researcher/educator Bettina Warburg says blockchain technology is fairly new, but is also "a continuation of a very human story." Here she explains how this complex technology could simplify the economy in many ways.

Is your phone under surveillance?

In the wake of the big Apple-FBI encryption tussle at the end of 2015/early 2016, privacy expert Christopher Soghoian dives into the big security difference between iPhones and Android phones -- and addresses what he calls "the digital security divide" between those who can afford iPhones and those who cannot.

A glimpse of the future through an augmented reality headset

Meta Founder/CEO Meron Gribetz, whose company makes augmented reality products, shows off ways to use machines that exploit neuroscience to work in a more natural way than current computers and gadgets (and let you do cool things with holograms). "The future of computers is not locked inside one of these screens. It's right here, inside of us," Gribetz says.

Your company's data could help end world hunger

Mallory Soldner says private sector companies' data could be useful in solving big problems such as the refugee crisis and world hunger, and must join forces with academic and government institutions to do so.

By the way, if you have any interest in experience one of the big annual TED conferences this year, they take place in April in Vancouver and in August in Tanzania.

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