Artificial Intelligence or artificial stupidity?

Seven speakers took to the TED Global stage in Vancouver on the 13th April 2018. The theme for day was: The Age of Amazement. One of them was our very own journalist and artist, James Bridle. His talk explored our collective insanity — the algorithmically-assembled extremes of the Internet — and our humanity — the values and desires that extremists astutely tap into. Here is what TED said about his talk: 

 Photo: Ryan Lash / TED

Photo: Ryan Lash / TED

How does a sweetly-narrated video of hands unwrapping Kinder eggs garner 30 million views and spawn more than 10 million imitators? Welcome to the weird world of YouTube children’s videos, where an army of content creators use YouTube “to hack the brains of very small children, in return for advertising revenue,” as artist and technology critic James Bridle describes. Marketing ethics aside, this world seems innocuous on the surface but go a few clicks deeper and you’ll find a surreal and sinister landscape of algorithmically-assembled cartoons, nursery rhymes built from keyword combos, and animated characters and human actors being tortured, assaulted and killed. Automated copycats mimic trusted content providers “using the same mechanisms that power Facebook and Google to create ‘fake news’ for kids,” says Bridle. He adds that feeding the situation is the fact “we’re training them from birth to click on the very first link that comes along, regardless of where the source is.” As technology companies ignore these problems in their quest for ad dollars, the rest of us are stuck in a system in which children are sent down auto-playing rabbit holes where they see disturbing videos filled with very real violence and very real trauma — and get traumatized as a result. Algorithms are touted as the fix, but Bridle declares, “Machine learning, as any expert on it will tell you, is what we call software that does stuff we don’t really understand, and I think we have enough of that already,” he says. Instead, “we need to think of technology not as a solution to all our problems but as a guide to what they are.” After his talk, TED Head of Curation Helen Walters has a blunt question for Bridle: “So are we doomed?” His realistic but ungrim answer: “We’ve got a hell of a long way to go, but talking is the beginning of that process.”

James' Bridle new book, NEW DARK AGE,  will be launching on 19th June 2018Pre-order and find out more here.

This article was originally posted by Rebekah Barnett, Tom Carter, Chelsea Catlett, Brian Greene, Lauren McAlpine and Emily McManus on April 13, 2018 on the TED platform.

In the News: Indy Johar


How would our cities go vegan to support a fully post carbon economy? How would we transition to a radically inclusive, integrated automated economy? Propela Superhero Indy Johar discusses the Moonshots of our modern age in his latest post authored on 

Read Moonshots & Mission Capital here

Indy Johar is a firework of ideas. He envisions a society with conditions for radical hope built in – a system with inherent audacity. He can talk like that, because he walks like that. He’s co-founded a number of socially-led businesses, and he places emphasises on the “co” in front of all his roles. That is one of the things that makes Indy stand out as a serial and social entrepreneur.

Happy #InternationalWomensDay

Need more women on your line up? Forget 'token' females. These women are headliners. No one wants a backlash like CES, so this week we're celebrating diversity with an amazing list of headliners to infuse your programme with estrogen. 



Lauren Bowker
Material Magician | Colour Alchemist

Three reasons to book Lauren…
1. British Fashion Council Award winner
2. Voted top 50 Creative Leaders by both Wired and Dazed + Confused
3. Board member for the European Council for the Internet of Things

Find out more about Lauren


Dr Leyla Acaroglu
U.N Champion of the Earth

Three reasons to book Leyla…
1. Her TED Global presentation has the highest views of any sustainability-led talk
2. The only female (and designer) to win the United Nations Champion of the Earth in 2017
3. She's the founder of CO Project, a rural studio for visionary changemakers

Find out more about Leyla


Marije Vogelzang
The Grand Dame of Food Design

Three reasons to book Marije…
1. ICON design magazine’s Top 100 Talents
2. Selected by GOOD magazine as one of the ‘Most Creative People in Business’
3. Voted one of Fast Company’s ‘Most Creative People’

Find out more about Marije

Marije Vogelzang

Alexa Clay
Digital Prophet | Amish Futurist

Three reasons to book Alexa…
1. She's best-selling author of the Misfit Economy
2. Shortlisted for the Thinkers50 Award for Innovation
3. The Misfit Economy was voted 'the best business book to read' by The Telegraph

Find out more about Alexa

alexa clay.jpeg

Lucy Mcrae
Body Architect | Sci Fi Artist

Three reasons to book Lucy…
1. Over 1.6million TED Global talk views
2. Winner of TIME’s ‘Best Inventions’
3. Winner of the World Technology Award

Find out more about Lucy


Dr Kate Stone
Circuit Subverter | Digital Storyteller

Three reasons to book Kate…
1. Described by Bloomberg as a ‘Game Changer’
2. Voted top 20 women in tech by The Drum
3. Winner of the European Printed Electronics Award

Find out more about Kate


Kate Stone.jpg

In the News: James Bridle

 Image: The Oval, a commercial property under construction in Limassol, Cyprus, in 2017; courtesy of The Atlantic

Image: The Oval, a commercial property under construction in Limassol, Cyprus, in 2017; courtesy of The Atlantic

"Citizenship and its varying legal definition has become one of the key battlegrounds of the 21st century, as nations attempt to stake out their power in a G-Zero, globalized world, one increasingly defined by transnational, borderless trade and liquid, virtual finance."

This week, Propela Superhero James Bridle authors "The Rise of Virtual Citizenship' for The Atlantic

James Bridle is an interdisciplinary artist, journalist, and technologist. He takes current technologies (like drones, driverless cars and streaming services) and explores their possibilities via hypothetical objects, installations and thought pieces. Through these speculative scenarios, he’s creating a provocative space where we are forced to challenge, question, wonder at and critique our relationship with technology.

In The News: Neil Harbisson

  Neil Harbisson, the world's first cyborg.

Neil Harbisson, the world's first cyborg.

This week, Propela Superhero Neil Harbisson made the international headlines again for his new ability to receive images and sounds directly into his head from other people, effectively carrying an internet connection inside his skull. 

“Selected people – one from each continent – can send images or sounds to my head using their mobile phone cameras or microphones. This separation of my body and my sense makes me feel as if I have an eye and ear in each continent. Sometimes I might be facing a boring brick wall, yet I will be receiving a beautiful sunset from my 'Australian eye'". 

"I see this as a body part, not a device, but as an organ," quoted him. "And I don't wear an antenna, I have an antenna. So I see this as part of me."

Neil is the world’s first cyborg. Born with a rare form of colourblindness (where the world is only perceived in shades of grey), in 2004 he embedded an ‘antenna’ into his skull that would allow him to re-tune his senses. 

International press coverage includes The Mirror (UK), Gulf News, India Today,  El Sol De Parral (Meixco), Daily Mail (UK) amongst many others.