Recap 2016: Looking back through seven TED Talks

2016 has been a turbulent year, with global events shaking the very core of our fundamental beliefs and principles on humanity, democracy, governance, innovation, and privacy. While it would be an exaggeration to say 2016 was ‘the worst’, it definitely was not a very inspiring year with global institutions failing to protect and promote the very principles they were designed for.

Here are my 7 favourite TED Talks from 2016.

1. Chinaka Hodge: What will you tell your daughters about 2016?

With words like shards of glass, Chinaka Hodge cuts open 2016 and lets 12 months of violence, grief, fear, shame, courage and hope spill out in this original poem about a year none of us will soon forget.

2.  Ameera Harouda: Why I put myself in danger to tell the stories of Gaza

When Ameera Harouda hears the sounds of bombs or shells, she heads straight towards them. “I want to be there first because these stories should be told,” says Gaza’s first female “fixer,” a role that allows her to guide journalists into chaotic, war zone scenarios in her home country, which she still loves despite its terrible situation. Find out what motivates Harouda to give a voice to Gaza’s human suffering in this unforgettable talk.

3.  Alexander Betts: Our refugee system is failing. Here’s how we can fix it

A million refugees arrived in Europe this year, says Alexander Betts, and “our response, frankly, has been pathetic.” Betts studies forced migration, the impossible choice for families between the camps, urban poverty and dangerous illegal journeys to safety. In this insightful talk, he offers four ways to change the way we treat refugees, so they can make an immediate contribution to their new homes. “There’s nothing inevitable about refugees being a cost,” Betts says. “They’re human beings with skills, talents, aspirations, with the ability to make contributions — if we let them.”

4.  Dalia Mogahed: What do you think when you look at me?

When you look at Muslim scholar Dalia Mogahed, what do you see: a woman of faith? a scholar, a mom, a sister? or an oppressed, brainwashed, potential terrorist? In this personal, powerful talk, Mogahed asks us, in this polarizing time, to fight negative perceptions of her faith in the media — and to choose empathy over prejudice.

 5.  Ian Bremmer: How the US should use its superpower status

Americanization and globalization have basically been the same thing for the last several generations. But the US’s view of the world — and the world’s view of the US — is changing. In a fast-paced tour of the current state of international politics, Ian Bremmer discusses the challenges of a world where no single country or alliance can meet the challenges of global leadership and asks if the US is ready to lead by example, not by force.

6.  Sam Harris: Can we build AI without losing control over it?

Scared of superintelligent AI? You should be, says neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris — and not just in some theoretical way. We’re going to build superhuman machines, says Harris, but we haven’t yet grappled with the problems associated with creating something that may treat us the way we treat ants.

7.   Wanis Kabbaj: What a driverless world could look like

What if traffic flowed through our streets as smoothly and efficiently as blood flows through our veins? Transportation geek Wanis Kabbaj thinks we can find inspiration in the genius of our biology to design the transit systems of the future. In this forward-thinking talk, preview exciting concepts like modular, detachable buses, flying taxis and networks of suspended magnetic pods that could help make the dream of a dynamic, driverless world into a reality.

Hopefully, 2017 will be much more inspiring than 2016. Happy new year !
Photo: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to an overflow crowd during a campaign rally on Sept. 6, 2016, in Greenville, N.C. (TIME.com)