Finding Zero Days & Reading Your Mind in the Year 2052

A number of months ago, I was approach by the organizers of TEDxNaperville to speak at their next event. Until this time, I was loosely familiar with TED* and had heard many other people talk about the great talks they watched on their website or via their iOS app. I had never attended a TED event nor had I really watched a talk in its entirety before, so I wasn't sure what would excite this audience.

Obviously, the topic I was asked to speak about was security and privacy, but there wasn't anything more that was required of me. As someone who often speaks at various events each year, I didn't want to do a talk based directly upon topics I normally speak about. I was also encouraged by the organizers to reach outside my comfort zone and really challenge myself. So I made a list of the items that I was not comfortable doing or talking about on stage (or to anyone for the most part):

  1. Giving a talk without slides or speaker notes
  2. Talking about my personal life
  3. Discussing my medical history
  4. Talking about religion and/or politics
  5. Making predictions about the far off future
I'm sure for many people the above items would be places you would not want to go in a conference talk. It is uncomfortable enough getting on stage in front of a large group of people in the first place.

I decided to focus on a particular topic I was interested in and had been seeing more about in the media lately - mind/computer interfaces. To me this was something that many science fiction movies included over the last 30 years and was finally becoming reality to those who wanted to give up a few hundred dollars for a device.

So I combined the topic of mind/computer interface and all the items I wasn't comfortable doing or talking about. The end result is a talk that I feel can related to people of many different backgrounds or interests:

  1. Privacy Folks
  2. Hackers
  3. Religious People
  4. Evil Dictators
  5. Everyone Else

This talk was filmed on November 9th, 2012 at TEDxNaperville 2012.

In the end, by letting go of my normal presentation style and stepping into uncomfortable territory, I feel that of all the talks I have given in the past several year this one turned out to be the most rewarding to present and share with the audience. I hope you enjoy it!

*For those who are not familiar with TED events, it stands for Technology Entertainment and Design. Their mission statement is: We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we're building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world's most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other. The first TED was held in in 1984 as a one-off event that has spawned into an international series of events held each year. The TEDx events are independently organized and funded events in the spirit of TED and must abide by very specific certain branding and content rules.

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