QuoTED 2015

Some of our favorite quotations from this year's conference

In our last five years of attending the conference, TED 2015 might have been the best yet. Now firmly settled in its new Vancouver, BC home, this year’s production was deep, meaningful and overall more simple than in years past. Performances were moving, but not shocking. Talks were grouped in a manner that kept us in a cohesive headspace throughout each session. And the flow of events, exhibitions and conversations fostered serendipitous interactions and intellectual explorations. Over time, all of the talks will roll out at TED.com, but in the meantime, here are some thought-provoking quotations from the week in the order that we heard them.


In the future, we could breed domestic service rodents.

Biologist and TED Fellow Danielle N Lee reflecting on the bigger potential her bomb-sniffing rats represent.

A message gains value when it is physically transported as opposed to digitally delivered.

Artist, designer and TED Fellow Sarah Sandman summarizing the intention behind her work that takes design out in to the world.

In all of human history, any time a war has been waged against science, science has won.

Foreign policy strategist, David Rothkopf.


There are mushrooms that grow faster than some 3D parts are printed.

Chemist Joseph DeSimone pointed out one of the many benefits of his unveiled-at-TED Carbon3D CLIP 3D printing technology.

You should never bet against babies, chimpanzees or technology.

Cognitive scientist, Laura Schulz discussed her work at MIT’s Early Childhood Cognition Lab to better understand how babies learn.

Even this TED is just in your head.

Cognitive scientist, Donald Hoffman suggested that reality is simply a set of phenomena our brains construct to direct our behavior.


Who would have guessed that the programming of the black box flight recorder on the supersonic Concord was done by a bunch of freelance women working from home?

Entrepreneur and philanthropist, Dame Steve Shirley proudly sharing one of the many accomplishments of her ’60s software firm.

I change my gender as often as I change my hairstyle.

Inventor and Transhumanist, Martine Rothblat paralleled her path to inventing Sirius Satellite Radio and founding United Theraputics with reflections on her gender identity and transition.

Together we can create an archive of the wisdom of humanity.

TED Prize Winner, David Isay launched the StoryCorps app to take his passion and purpose of collecting oral history to a new level by enabling anyone to participate.


We’re changing evolution from something that happens to something we choose.

Audience member and Managing Director of Excel Venture Management, Juan Enriquez responded to Maryn McKenna’s discussion about the declining effectiveness of antibiotics.

It’s easy to solve a problem that everyone sees. It’s hard to solve a problem that no one sees.

Designer and product creator, Tony Fadell shared his three keys to successfully creating simple, yet powerful products: look broader, look closer, think younger.

Can the floor that you walk on change the way you walk and the footprint you leave on the world?

Architect, Elora Hardy discussed the importance of locally-sourced sustainable materials and contextual design with gorgeous examples of her Balinese bamboo projects.


I believe that beauty is a basic service.

Artist and change agent, Theaster Gates is bringing culture and purpose to Chicago’s abandoned south-side buildings and in turn transforming the community.

Talking about virtual reality is like dancing about architecture.

Music video director and technologist, Chris Milk helped us understand that VR has the potential for humanitarian value and can break out of its gimmick as an empathy tool.

History convenes a tribunal of our grandchildren.

Human rights activist, Gary Haugen taught us that “compassion” in Latin translates to “suffer with” while revealing the realities of violence and consequence in our poorest communities.


The internet is the superhighway of the Id.

Social activist, Monica Lewinsky re-emerged in to the public eye in the most poignant and positive way. Her talk on the price of shame hit straight to the hearts of everyone in the audience.

We mother earth.

Architect, designer and head of the Mediated Matter research group at MIT, Neri Oxman eloquently presented her team’s work rethinking biology, form and manufacturing.

Good design and democracy simply do not go together.

Writer and radio host, Roman Mars, used flags to illustrate design thinking in a live audio-visual episode of his 99% Invisible show and podcast.


If your intentions are to get the big applause at the end, then you are taking and not giving.

Faroe Islands-based singer-songwriter, Teitur spoke and performed to embody his philosophy of art being greater than fame.

Let death be what takes us, not lack of imagination.

Palliative caregiver, BJ Miller ended the week offering a fearless and loving perspective on death and dying.

Images courtesy of TED