We’ve just finished the second session, and are out for a lunch break. So, here’s your second update from TEDxTelAviv.

Yair Tauman – “Serious Games”
Yair Tauman is a game theorist. He discussed with us how to apply game theory to auctions. Why auctions? They’re important, he says, because they allow for an efficient mean of transactions. There are four types of auctions which he described, which are essentially of two types, ascending and descending. In ascending, you start with a low price, and continue increasing the price until there is only one buyer left. This includes the English, Japenese, and E-bay versions of auctions. The second form, descending, is one where the clock tics down starting from a high point, until someone claims the good for a given price. This is known as the Dutch descending option. What’s the best strategy to bid as a buyer. For the ascending methods, assign the object a value, and bid up to that value, and at that price, quit. This is known as the “dominance strategy,” and makes other bidders actions irrelevant. For the descending method – well, that’s just way too complicated and involves way too much math, so just avoid that type of auction. The best auction for the seller in the ascending auction, as it guarantees the highest revenue one can extract for the good. Tauman then, briefly, described two other theories – “sophisticated collusion,” in which two players outbid each other by at least 20% guaranteeing that they control the market, and the “winner’s curse.” For more information on these game theory auction theories, look up Yair Tauman.

Hedy Schliefer – “The Power of Connection”
The child of Holocaust survivors (her parents escaped from a concentration camp in Vichy France, climbing the Alps, and smuggling themselves into Switzerland, where she was born in 1944), Hedy Schliefer spoke of the important of connecting with others, and three “invisible connectors.” They are “the space,” “the bridge between worlds,” and “the encounter.” In brief, Schliefer argues that our relationships exist in the space between us, and that in order to encounter each other, we must leave aside our baggage and cross over the space and connect. Our brains, she says, resonate in relation to others, and that “mirror neurons” become active during “the encounter,” yielding new pathways. Quoting a Sufi poet from the 13th century, Rami, “Beyond right thinking and beyond wrong thinking there is a field; I will meet you there,” she expressed her intent to organize an international “Crossing the Bridge Day” in November 2012.

Bruno Giussanis – “Ideas About Spreading Ideas”
Bruno Giussanis is the European Director of TED. He described three essential elements which TED has pursued to spread ideas. The first is access. Describing their attempts in lowering the access barrier, he described how TED is translated into over 70 languages (with subtitles, translated by volunteers in the TED community) and, also, employs a full transcript of the video clips, so that they can be read quickly, and easily searched in search engines. Second, is “scale and impact,” which creates “spaces for engagement and action/” For example, TED created the TED Prize, which is given once a year to an individual, based upon their past achievements and future visions. $100,000 is given, and a platform to describe their “TED Wish” (their pet project which they which to establish that would, in some small way, change the world). Third is the “democratization of ideas.” Giussanis explained that the ideas is to “let people use your brand and content to create their community.” This is, of course, in reference to TEDx. There have been over 300 conferences int he last 3 years, when the concept was kick-started. It has spread around the world, and even, to unbelievable places, including Kiberia, a shanty town in Nairobi; and Fathepur, Rajestan, a small town in India, where it was organized by a young, single, Muslim woman, and held at a Hindu school. Concluding, he said, “when you share, community happens.”

Unfortunately, I missed her name, but a Palestinian woman from Jordan spoke briefly about organizing TEDxHolyLand, which would be open to both Israelis and Palestinians. If anyone has more information about this, please comment

Paul “Pablos” Holman – “Hacking the Future”
A self-described hacker, Pablos runs the Intellectual Ventures Lab. “Hackers,” he said, “have the mindset to discover what’s possible.” He gave four examples of the amazing innovations coming out of the lab. 1. Malaria. Malaria used to be solved by use of DDT. However, since DDT is dangerous to pretty much everything, not just to mosquito, its use has been discontinued, and malaria continues to kill people around the world, primarily in Africa and South America. The Lab used a computational model with climate data, human movement, etc. to plot an eradication model. The idea is to create a laser beam perimeter of areas which shoots down mosquitoes. It can be modified to protect crops, as well. He even showed a few videos of mosquitoes being shot down in slow motion (pretty awesome!). 2. Hurricanes. Hurricanes are caused when the surface temperature of the water is warmer than the lower levels. The Lab came up with the idea of putting gigantic tubes in the water which would create a current from the lower levels up onto the surface to cool down surface temperatures to prevent hurricanes. 3. Global Warming. The Lab suggested spraying Sulfur Dioxide into certain parts of the atmosphere, via really long hose, to deflect sunlight and cool down the planet a bit. 4. Stockpile of Nuclear Waste. At the moment, depleted Uranium is stockpiled in steel casts. The Lab’s idea? Use it to power reactors (i.e a “travelling wave reactor”). He argues that just one stockpile could power the world’s power needs for a couple of hundred years. For more information visit intellectualventurelab.com.

Well, that’s about it for now. Check back in later for the third update. Over and out.

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  • Pablos was definitely a good speaker just for the entertainment value alone. Shows what could at least potentially be possible when one thinks outside the box.

    No idea if any of these things actually work, but lasers killing mosquitoes as a way to end malaria? Cool.