TEDx Barcelona: Avances – A summary.

Given the high frequency with which I am attending TEDx events, I feel that maybe they should offer me a platinum membership or something similar, am I right? 🙂 Anyway, I attend these events because I find them inspiring and one can discover so many ideas just by standing in the crowd during an afternoon.

This was the case with the Avances edition of the TEDx Barcelona series, which I happily attended a week ago.

Despite the organizers´ best efforts to destroy my sense of joy by a horrific management of the crowd, a huge line handled by 1 (one) person asking for each and everybody’s name just to send each and everyone to a desk where nobody had any idea what to do and the participants were to be found manually on a printed list (and there were many participants, the event took place in a huge auditorium), I finally entered the TEDx world for some hours. I am sure they meant well and the vast majority were volunteers, I am sure they worked a lot, but it truly is a shame to handle such a great event with so sloppy hands, hence I hope they’ll advance to better versions soon enough 🙂 I thank them for their work, anyway.

Back to the event itself, I’ll share some of the ideas and projects who took my breath and occupied my mind. I have to admit that each time I witness people talking about such high achievements and so beautiful projects I tend to fall in a introspective state which is both positive and negative, such am I always, a bit bipolar: I feel that there is so much out there and we can all find a way to advance in life, career etc. But I also feel that I failed somehow, because, look, there are so many people doing amazing stuff while I scroll on Instagram or something. With introspection and doubt comes growth, though, or so they say…

I’ll try to sum everything up as much as possible, but we all know I’ll fail 🙂 Here it goes:

undefinedEstrella Núñez, from Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia, talked about regenerative medicine and epigenetics. She presented some of the work they are undertaking – they managed to “create” healthy skin in 18 days in rats with a certain underlying mutation, they use multiple techniques by which they increased the life expectancy in rats with progeria and so on. The development of all these technologies allows the scientists to rejuvenate cells, organs and tissues in humans also. And, by this, to cure diseases with no current treatment. She explained everything in a very scientific manner, but also “user-friendly” so to speak. I enjoyed her talk and most of all I enjoyed understanding once again the huge relevance of good research.

Carla Abdelnour is not only a neurologist, but also works for the ACE foundation, coordinating their study group of Social Technology and Robotics Research. She is as smart as they come and she presented her personal family story with dementia and then talked about the burden of this disease (more frequent than we like to think – each 3 seconds there is 1 new person diagnosed with a type of dementia somewhere it the world and it is estimated that by 2050 there will be 152 million patients with dementia). She described a project – RAMCIP and SOCRATES – investigating the help that robots can offer in the care of dementia patients, from practical tasks like remembering the medicines’ schedule or closing the fridge door (apparently the most complicated type of task for robots is the one using “hands”) to cognitive stimulation. One special guest, a robot, came on stage with her and I was amazed:

Carla believes, like many people in the field, that a significant “boom” in the robots use will appear as soon as within some years. I think that this robot truly does wonders for dementia patients and I truly cannot wait to see the development and the results. More information about this you can find here or in this video:

Josep Maria Font Llagunes, Director of the Biomechanical Engineering Lab en CREB-UPC, Co-founder and Scientific Director of ABLE Human Motion described their project of creating the first lightweight, easy-to-use and affordable exoskeleton restoring the ability to walk for people with lower-limb paralysis. It truly was impressive! In only 3 years they managed to get from the idea to a functional prototype.

Check it out:

Tomy Megna, director of Learning by Helping, talked about the importance of companies and initiatives with a social impact. He thinks that the start-ups of the future will all have a social impact and he raised a question on which I meditate quite a lot on a daily basis – Do we continue being a part of the problem or do we want to start becoming a part of the solution?

It was then time for TEDxBarcelonaYOU, which consisted of a series of pitch presentations of start-ups made in Barcelona and with a high potential (I understand they were also presented during the coffee break, but there were so many people in the hall that I was unable to find them or more details 😦 ).

I was impressed by the KIBUS one, which is basically the first home appliance designed to cook dehydrated pet food at home. As the presenter called it, “A Nespresso for dogs”, if you wish. I am still waiting for something similar in terms of cooking for us, humans:

There were other interesting ideas, such as the Greta Eco Play In, an educational project meant to infuse the young students with important notions about environment or Psious, which seems too good to be true – an innovative and fast-growing health tech start-up making virtual reality accessible to mental health professionals so that they can improve their therapies in order to help their patients overcome anxiety disorders:

Xavier Ginesta, Managing Director at Conscious Capitalism Foundation, debated over conscious capitalism. Conscious Capitalism is an international movement created by Raj Sisodia and John Makcey that wants to flourish confidence, compassion, and collaboration and add value to the fundamentals of Capitalism – voluntary exchange, entrepreneurship, competition, freedom to trade and the rule of law. According to the Conscious Capitalism Credo, “conscious businesses have cultures built in trust and innovation and are authentic and affectionate. They are a source of personal growth for their employees and they endeavor to create financial, intellectual, social, cultural, emotional, spiritual, physical and ecological wealth for all their stakeholders”. Sounds great, right? His talk was maybe too complex for my level of understanding of this topic, but I think I am not too wrong if I consider the current situation to be pretty far away from this conscious goal.

Rafael Lopez, President of Fundación Universitaria Behavior & Law talked about behavioural economics and how we make decisions in an automatic manner almost every time – as I found out, we are being played by the popcorn sellers when we buy the packs at the cinema. Franc Ponti talked about creativity, its myths and its beautiful mechanisms. Marc Masip Montaner has created a day hospital meant to treat our addiction to the new technologies. Most of us are unaware of the extent and consequences of our addiction, but it is important to understand the risks we are facing.

David Campos pleaded for an education centered on art and dance.

As a general conclusion, the world advances, too slow or too quick, but what is certain is that it simply does not stop or wait for us to be prepared or to feel ready or to overthink. What we can achieve depends on the human intelligence, empathy and instinct. It always did, I guess.

Photos: Featured one by me, the others from TEDx Barcelona website.

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