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TED’s Chris Anderson on How Ideas Change the World (Online)

We were joined by Chris Anderson online for an Intelligence Squared+ event to explore how ideas, and the power of the spoken word, can change the world.

TED’s annual conference has been described by The Times as an ‘intellectual Mardi Gras’, ‘one of the most exclusive clubs in the world’ and ‘Davos for optimists’. Delegates pay $10,000 to hear presentations from the world’s pre-eminent scientists, artists, entrepreneurs, political leaders and CEOs – each with one big idea to share. Tickets sell out many months in advance and many of the talks go viral, receiving tens of millions of views. Just look online and you’ll see talks such as ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?’ by educationalist Ken Robinson (62 million views) and ‘Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are’ by social psychologist Amy Cuddy (54 million views). TED has hosted speakers from Elon Musk on building a sustainable civilisation on Mars and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on feminism to Bill Gates on climate change and Monica Lewinsky on bullying.

So how did a little-known conference that started in Monterey, California, become a media colossus and viral video phenomenon? According to Chris Anderson, the Head of TED, it’s all about exploring revolutionary new ideas and a commitment to seeking out the most interesting people on the planet and inviting them to communicate their passion. For Anderson, a carefully prepared speech can be more powerful than anything in written form – it can stir excitement in a room full of people, spread knowledge and inspiration, and transform the views of millions of people around the world. And not only that, where else are you going to learn about a radical scientific theory explaining the origins of the moon or hear the incredible story of a dissident who escaped North Korea?



Chris Anderson

Curator of TED

Curator of TED, a media organization that explores the power of ideas to make a difference in the world. Under his stewardship, over 2,500 talks and animated lessons have been released free on the TED website, with 100,000 more on YouTube. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling book TED Talks and has overseen the introduction of TEDx, TED-Ed, TED Translators, the TED Fellows, and the Audacious Project, a collaboration between a leading group of nonprofits and social entrepreneurs driving a new philanthropic model to inspire change at scale.

Samira Ahmed

Journalist, writer and broadcaster

One of the most recognised voices in British broadcasting. Her work spans news and the arts – from working as a reporter and presenter on Channel 4 News to presenting the Proms. She presents Front Row on BBC Radio 4 and Newswatch on BBC One. She hosts the award-winning Intelligence Squared podcast, How I Found My Voice


Speakers are subject to change.