On 5 June, as part of our ten year anniversary we delved into what Limitless means. We heard about the magic behind science and technology and the urge to use both to help the Earth. We also listened to stories that demonstrated how infinite our potential can be if we allow the courage that boils within us to dissolve our fears and pursue what moves us, once and for all. And you know what else happened? We witnessed an indescribable feeling that pulsed through the room; a mixture of uneasiness, wonder, determination. It was the realisation that everything is in fact possible; it simply depends on the decisions we make.
So now we ask you, what is your definition of limitless? What idea would you like to keep spreading?
How did Samantha Gash manage to run 14 hours a day across India with temperatures reaching 45ºC and a buzzing head full of toxic thoughts? How is it that graphene has so many transformative powers? How did Tim Jarvis become a 21st century explorer, travelling around the globe to explicitly show how the Earth is changing?
Questions starting with ‘how’ kept resounding within the walls of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. But the answer was in front of us all along: we can all be limitless if we have the determination, commitment and courage to remove the limits that are halting us. We gathered more ideas on what we need in order to trespass our barriers. We learnt about resilience, understanding that you may need to change your plan along the way. And the importance of making room for people to help you, as well as helping others back.
This year we wanted to celebrate TEDxMelbourne’s tenth anniversary. And we also wanted to honour the positive news sprouting from all over the globe. Humanity is moving forward and Future Crunch opened the night with their characteristic dose of intelligent optimism to remind us just that. Nations are eradicating malaria, making discrimination illegal as well as creating synergies to leverage the clean energy revolution. We were even taken to outer space, from where we could see the Earth. And you know what else we could see? That limits are in fact perceptual.
If the energy was high, Chris Helder doubled the bet. And a powerful message was echoed: there’s no better time to be alive. According to him, ‘if you can’t change your reality, you may as well have a useful belief about it’. In the end, everything is determined by what we choose to believe in.
Technology and science are indeed shaping our perception of what we are able to do. We heard speakers sharing their discoveries that definitely made us stretch the boundaries of our imagination even further.
Dr. Han Lin talked about graphene’s potential. Not only did we find out that it can charge devices in mere seconds in an environmentally friendly way; it can also monitor human health and make salt water drinkable. Can you think of a better example of ‘limitless’?
TEDxMelbourne curator Jon Yeo interviews Dr. Han Lin seen here holding the graphene sample.
Later, Dr. Vanessa Pirotta spoke about how drones are revolutionising the way we gather data from whales (via their snot – her words) without harming them. This is crucial, especially if we keep in mind that ‘changes in whale population may reflect changes in our environment’. They are monitors of our ocean’s health; she encouraged us to reflect on how often we think about our oceans, undeniable foundations of our lives on Earth.
Dave King challenged the belief that technology can put our jobs at risk and spoke about the limitless potential of combining creative industries with AI. Machines are progressing at an unimaginable pace, learning moves that weren’t even previously taught by humans. If separately we have immense possibilities, imagine what we could do together. The challenge: dealing with a new set of inspiring questions, like who has credit on these creations and how can we make the most of both ends.
Dave King on creativity in AI
Those tools are at our fingertips; we’re the ones that decide how we want to use them. Change still needs to start within us. Samantha Gash walked us through her story and how the minute she started saying ‘yes’ to adventures, her life changed. The extent to which she pushed her body taught her the importance of taking care of herself. And that circumstances will take us by surprise, leading us to drop our expectations and craft our ‘next best plan’. Life is indeed full of surprises; having the flexibility to cope and accept will equip us better to what’s to come.
Kylie Walker’s body wasn’t always strong. But after recovering from cancer, she emerged more determined than ever; she learned the importance of making room for others. And since then, through Superstars of STEM, she’s been working to build a future that’s shaped by diverse voices that reflect how communities truly are. ‘I don’t want a future created by only one kind of person’, she said.
Kylie Walker – Found of Superstars of STEM
Kylie reminded us that the future depends on all of us. That’s why –now more than ever– Tim Jarvis urges us to take action against climate change. If this sounds overwhelming because we don’t know how or where to start, we can break our final objective into smaller tasks. In fact, it’s all about simply doing something. Some ideas? Saying no to plastic straws, eating less meat or using reusable bags. From his experience, Tim realised that guilt and fear are not enough to spread change. Instead, we need to find a way of making it tangible, meaningful to others, bearing in mind that we’re all different, with individual motivations.
Tim Jarvis AM – Conquering climate change
The Earth cannot wait; it’s our home. Although, there are professionals designing what the future could look like on Mars. With the help of 3D printers, Xavier De Kestelier and his team are making plans based on three premises: using local materials, traveling as light as possible and recycling. But he’s still standing here, like all of us. That’s why Xavier asked:
What would our cities be like if we used those principles while we’re here?
Imagine this: a birthday party with over 2000 guests. And if you’re reading this or if you had the chance to see some of the snippets we shared on socials you were part of it too. Because in the end that’s what TEDxMelbourne is about: spreading big, challenging ideas to our community. Each idea is a potential catalyst for change; it’s on us to make it a reality. It’s on us to cross that bridge and become limitless.