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Second TEDxRANEPA conference: ideas worth spreading (PHOTO)

29 May2019
Second TEDxRANEPA conference: ideas worth spreading (PHOTO)

Prominent speakers have shared their ideas at the official TEDxRANEPA conference at RANEPA the Presidential Academy. The participants included Vladimir Mau, Tatyana Chernigovskaya, Alexander Asmolov, Olga Sviblova and many others.

For the second time, the Presidential Academy has hosted the TEDxRANEPA conference with great success and full house. The knowledge and thoughts shared by representatives of various fields of science and culture kept the audience fascinated for seven hours. Rector of the Presidential Academy Vladimir Mau delivered a report, History teaches or punishes.

“TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design – three huge areas that, according to the organizers, define the image of the future. Currently, TED covers a range of various topics, from science to business, from art to global problems of humanity,” said TEDxRANEPA curator Kristina Ivanenko, associate professor at the Psychology Department of RANEPA Institute for Social Sciences (ISS).

People and digitalization

Tatiana Chernigovskaya – Doctor of Philology, Doctor of Biology, Professor, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Education, Merited Worker of Higher Education and Merited Worker of Science of the Russian Federation, Head of the Laboratory of Cognitive Studies and Head of the Department of Problems of Convergence in Natural Sciences and Humanities at St. Petersburg State University – spoke at the conference. She shared her opinion about the place of humans in the digital world: “Our civilization is changing; we have already moved into the digital world, which is very complex and stressful. The question is – are we aware of this, and how should we navigate in it?” According to her, the world has ceased to be “man-made,” and changes are occurring at a tremendous speed, so we don’t even have time to react to them. “Copies are being made of everything. Is there any certainty that we can figure out which is true and which is false? We depend on it in a world where there are no stable boundaries,” the expert noted. “We need to understand why we are going so fast and what to do about it. Then we will know whom we will teach and how,” Professor Chernigovskaya summarized.

Alexander Asmolov – psychologist, journalist and politician, Professor Emeritus of Moscow State University, RANEPA Director for Humanitarian Policy – continued to discuss the place of humans in the modern world. In his presentation, Don Quixotes against robots, he said: “I have always wanted to make this world better and understand why humanity exists. Our key task is to figure out what is special about humans, because the fear that robots will replace us is not at all new.” According to Dr. Asmolov, the main feature of the human race is their unpredictability, and this is something that cannot be programmed. “The world is beautiful because there is some uncertainty about it. Paradoxes encourage us to make unpredictable decisions,” the expert noted. “We are mortal, but we act as if we expect to live forever.”

The power of art

Art critic, documentary film director, Doctor of Art History, Professor, initiator and Director of the Moscow House of Photography, member of the Russian Academy of Arts, Merited Art Worker of the Russian Federation Olga Sviblova spoke about what she described as post-Internet art. According to her, art is absolutely symbolic, so it all depends on the viewer’s take on it. Anyone looking at a piece of art only sees what they have on the inside. Moreover, their approach changes with time. But humans also have some common, archetypal features, so in some respects our perception is similar.

“Art reflects historical change. Today, anything can be a piece of art. Time will tell how true this is. It is the viewer's communication with themselves,” Olga Sviblova said adding that people have developed a dependence on information and news, so there is even the “Internet art” now. It is up to us what art is and what isn’t, so a good artist is determined by our ability to read their message. Today the world has entered a conceptual race, and we live in an era of great change, the art historian believes. “Art today has no boundaries because civilization has changed. But the most important thing remains – we have emotions, and they are the same as ever. We do not know where we are going, but we know that online has become our second life,” the speaker summed up.

Mikhail Kazinik – art historian, violinist, writer, poet, educator, cultural analyst, philosopher, director, author and host of musical and art history programs, and popularizer of classical music – also talked about the power of art. According to the speaker, to read books, one must first get firsthand knowledge at school and university. Words have power if they are creative and unpredictable, and readers can even hear the musicality of syllables in classic writings. “It is important what books we read and at what level. We must keep in our hearts humanitarian thoughts, light, goodness and beauty. This way the advent of technology will not be so scary,” Mikhail Kazinik said.

Portrait photographer, traveler, author of the Alchemical Portrait project Valery Latypov spoke about his dream: “I would like everyone to be able to see the beauty in themselves and other people. I want everyone to realize that they are beautiful in the first place.” He has traveled to more than 25 countries, where he photographed people and shared his impressions. “Even where life is difficult, people can be full of the moment and full of life; their eyes can shine and there is depth to them. Beauty has nothing to do with the place they live in, but it is visible when people live their lives openly and confidently,” the photographer said. We always remember emotional events. “It is important to harmonize your mind with your consciousness and not compare yourself with others, to be versatile – it will help live a full life,” he said.

Universal problems and first aid

Alexei Starkov – instructor of the Russian Union of Rescuers, resuscitator, head of the department for training aeromedical teams, and teacher at the Russian Center for Disaster Medicine – promotes raising ​​universal competence in first aid. He reminded the audience how important it is for everyone to be prepared and competent to be able to behave properly with a victim of an accident, without relying on others. First, one needs to make sure that the victim is safe and not bleeding and then call the ambulance (by dialing 103 or 112). In case the affected person is unconscious, check their vital signs and breathing. More than 20,000 people die in traffic accidents every year in Russia; a quarter of them could have survived with first aid, the speaker said. Very simple skills work in difficult situations, Alexei Starkov said, so he and his team do first aid training through special quests.

Dmitry Fotiyev, co-founder and managing partner of Brightmore Capital, discussed the question of “whether money can do good.” In his report, Socially transformative investments and PE/VC in emerging economies, he noted that about 1 billion people in the world live in poverty, lacking food, clean water, education, and medical care – the basic benefits of modern civilization. We seem to take these things for granted. Every minute we lose 23 hectares of land, which is turning into a desert – this is one of the main problems in Africa. We live in a modern, comfortable and convenient cosmopolitan city, but even here, life is not perfect, the speaker noted. “There is philanthropy – it is very important – and if a disaster hits, help will be provided to those in trouble. About 95% of global investment goes into the financial market, but these funds do not bring real benefits. So why does such a small part of investment go to the benefit of society? “Many modern companies are beginning to cut their investment in gas, oil, or fuel and, under pressure from the public, decide to join forces to achieve better goals.”

Professionals and freedom of awareness

Danil Blinov, who heads the immunological and anti-inflammatory drugs division at Pfizer, Netherlands, believes that a career is no longer relevant, because a person’s true feelings and experiences are almost always unrelated to their work, where status and power are important. In business, it is no longer possible to plan ahead – and a career depends on this. There is a huge difference between a careerist and a professional. Only a professional can navigate in the massive flow of information, so it is professionals who really need knowledge. “We need to be real and not forget where we are going,” the speaker summed up.

TEDxRANEPA was attended by a representative of a rare profession – impresario. The founder of the Impresario independent theater and production company, member of the Russian Union of Theater Workers, Fyodor Yelyutin shared his success story of promoting foreign productions in Russia: “I’m in search of a balance between the world of experimental theater and entertainment.” In his opinion, it is very important to constantly improve the quality of your business. Fyodor Yelyutin published a book in which he shared his rules of life, describing them as a sensible person’s manifesto. “Whatever I do, I know for sure that these rules will be with me always,” he concluded.

Politician and psychologist Leonid Gozman, President of the Union of Right Forces national public movement, chose the topic of freedom, which, in his words, “implies the absence of meaningless restrictions, and is the most attractive phenomenon of all.” Freedom encourages a desire to look for opportunities; a free individual is not annoyed by diversity. Freedom is a prerequisite for happiness, but it always carries the risk of losing. He believes that intelligence, social skills and knowledge are necessary for true freedom. “Freedom is a story of liberation from uncertainty. But most importantly, we are free to choose our own identity and the way we think and feel. And we must build our lives in accordance with free will,” the speaker summed up.

Film actor, producer, jeweler and artist Konstantin Kryukov chose the topic Life without fear of death for his report. He spoke about changes in multiplayer computer games. Artificial intelligence has learned to read human behavior. “Why are we trying to create virtual reality – is this world still limited?” the speaker asks. “In a game, we are free from the fear of death and from moral boundaries; we do not feel pain; there is no public condemnation and no consequences at all.” We need to think about how our attitude toward ourselves will change after a long period in the game and how to make informed choices today, Konstantin Kryukov said.

The audience at TEDxRANEPA was truly inspired by the performance of Anton Lavrentyev – musician, poet, actor, and TV and radio host – who prepared a musical show where he recited his own poems accompanied by an electric guitar.

Official website of the event

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Second TEDxRANEPA conference: ideas worth spreading

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