TEDxKassel 2019

Our 2019 Speakers

Machine Learning for Human Flourishing | Wladimir Nikoluk

After fleeing as a child from the chaos of post-Soviet Union Ukraine to Germany Wladimir and his family didn’t have much. But a small library he discovered contained the world to him and made him thrive. Inspired by John Locke’s book „On Liberty“ today he’s wondering why despite the trillions of dollars spent on aid and social investment the progress to human flourishing is still so little. Wladimir believes Machine learning can help us to better understand and address the individual needs of humans for reaching their full potential. However, algorithms can also be biased and dangerous. In his talk, Wladimir presents four important principles to follow for using machine learning for human flourishing.
Wladimir Nikoluk studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford and finished his master in Public Policy at Harvard. In 2018 he founded ImmerLearn, which builds data science models and machine learning algorithms to improve public and social sector decision-making.

Building a sustainable community around dirt | Rani Sahay

Her love for her hometown river made Rani study geography. When she later returned to the place of her childhood memories she was struck by sadness and anger. The once beautiful river has turned into a landfill. Together with her team, she examined the sources of this heartbreaking development. And with the local community, they have developed livelihood opportunities to address these sources of pollution. The result is a truly sustainable business for reviving the river and a thriving community. Rani Sahay studied Geography at the Delhi School of Economics. She was the Senior Research Office of the National Disaster Management Authority India and has worked as a Governance Consultant at UNICEF India. She is the founder of Peepal The Resilience Lab.

It‘s the people, stupid! Tales of a thriving economy | Silja Graupe

The idea that the invisible hand of the market is the best solution to address all of society’s problems has caused a lot of epistemic violence. Violence to our shared human knowledge. Because the predominant narrative in the field of economics is to not question the mysterious workings of the market. As both an economics professor and a philosopher Silja is challenging the myth of the market. In her talk, she advocates for a pluralistic discourse encompassing all of humanity’s knowledge instead of the singular story of markets.
As Professor for Economics and Philosophy Silja is also co-founder and Vice President of Cusanus University in Bernkastel-Kues, Germany. Founding Cusanus University allowed her and her colleagues to establish a viable alternative to academic education, which since the Bologna reforms has become increasingly modularized to facilitate fast-track education. Silja’s goal is to provide an environment for independent thought and reflection in order to resolve urgent issues of humanity. She wants to make sure that what she does serves the common good and contributes to how we and future generations successfully master the challenges of our times.

Ugly Sketching – how good „Denk-Hand-Werk” makes you happy | Oliver Gerstheimer

A designer who can’t draw discovered the beauty and more importantly the usefulness of ugly sketching. Oliver describes why we must tap into our natural talent of ugly sketching to catch the vast amount of ideas our brain generates. And how we can produce more meaningful work by inviting others to engage in this messy and creative process.
Oliver Gerstheimer is the founder and design director of the digital co-innovation and design-thinking agency chilli mind, established in 2001. He studied the triple of system design, visual communication as well as innovation management at the University of Kassel. With over 20 years of design thinking practice Oliver Gerstheimer has been an enthusiastic and well-known evangelist for “human-centered design (HCD)”. Since 2002 he has taught “on site” at German and Swiss Universities of Design for a total of 15 semesters. Furthermore Oliver is a member of the jury of the international iF Design Award since 2015.

The great energy transition in two decades; pipedream or reality? | Pierre-Pascal Urbon

To reach the goals of the Paris climate agreement we need to make a shift from crude oil and increase our production of renewable energy dramatically. In his talk, Pierre advocates for a carbon tax and shows how all of us can contribute to the energy transition we urgently need.
Pierre-Pascal Urbon studied economics and is an INSEAD alumni. He is the former CEO of SMA and until 2018 Pierre-Pascal served on the board of Tigo Energy, a Silicon Valley venture for solar module level power electronics. After 13 successful years in the solar industry he decided to take a sabbatical in 2019. Pierre-Pascal is also an investor of European start-up companies active in the field of artificial intelligence (AI).

Shift happens – about social business, letting go and coming home | Carsten Waldeck

We live in a time of great transformation. How this transformation will look like depends on the values we choose to be guided by. In his talk, Carsten advocates for a shift from the narrow mindset of profit orientation to an inclusive mindset of purpose orientation.
In 2014 Carsten Waldeck and his brother Samuel founded Shift GmbH. The company designs and produces fair and sustained Smartphones, which can be easily repaired by customers within seconds. They decided that 100% of the company’s profit will be donated to different social and sustainability projects. Thanks to them, it has never been easier to buy high-end products, while supporting good causes and strengthen the region of Northern Hesse.

Purpose-driven Safaris | Sandra Claassen

We all love to travel but often our way of travelling is neither fulfilling nor sustainable. Sandra tells how she reconnected to her childhood dream of becoming a wildlife veterinarian by creating purpose-driven safaris where travellers are not merely tourists but engage with the local community and make a contribution to wildlife preservation. It does not matter which places we travel to but that we do so in a responsible way which respects the environment and the communities and adds meaning to our journeys.
Sandra Claassen, founder and managing director of safari operator Elela Africa, grew up in Germany where she studied economics and cultural and media management. Thereafter, she successfully pursued a career in marketing management. Fifteen years ago she moved to Cape Town to pursue her passion for travel, nature and animals. Today Sandra is well-known for her award-winning, sustainable safari concept, with numerous travellers from all over the world. This unique concept of Safari with purpose, has attracted international media attention also. With great passion, Sandra gives travellers a glimpse behind the scene of the adventurous safari world to ensure that it will be a lasting experience for travellers and the country.

The power of taking risks that matter | Viola Gerlach

As a risk researcher Viola is looking at the threats caused by climate change. However, understanding alone is not enough. We must act. With conviction and urgency. In her talk, she explains how we can take the risks that matter to make a difference by tapping into our true potential and sense of responsibility.
After having studied politics and sociology, Dr. Viola Gerlach dealt with climate protection at DIALOGIK (a non-profit institute for communication and cooperation research). Apart from that, she collaborated on the project ‘energy systems of the future’, an initiative for putting the energy transition into practice, from 2013 to 2016. Currently, Dr. Gerlach works at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, focussing on risk awareness and risk communication in connection with climate change. Moreover she‘s the founder of UnitedUnique.

Why collective? | farid rakun

As part of the art collective ruan grupa which is going to curate the documenta 15 in 2022 – the largest exhibition of contemporary art worldwide – farid and his team think a lot about creative collaboration. He presents their approach of an inclusive narrative in collaboration instead of a colonial one.
Farid Rakun is an artist, writer, editor, teacher and instigator based in Jakarta. Trained as an architect, he currently serves as editor and researcher for the artists’ initiative ruangrupa, who will be operating as curators of the documenta15. In his 10 years of his formal education (BArch, University of Indonesia, 2005; and MArch, Cranbrook Academy of Art, 2013), Farid became an expert in operating slowly as a strategy within a fast-paced and growth-obsessed society. Farid has designed and built buildings, products, installations, and interventions, as well as writing and editing books and various publications.

Democratizing money for a stable, sustainable and fair future | Christian Gelleri

Christian is convinced that without changing our monetary system there will be no true change. By having launched the successful regional currency “Chiemgauer” he shows that feasible alternatives exist. In his talk, he presents how regional currencies can lead to more stability, fairness, and sustainability.
Since he initiated the “Chiemgauer” with only 6 of his economics students in 2003, Christian Gelleri has decisively shaped the distribution of regional currency in Germany. Thanks to him, the “Chiemgauer” is the most profitable and most famous regional currency in Germany today.

Technology won’t save the world – citizens will | Amitabh Thakur

It is easy to become enchanted by the narrative of technological progress as the solution to all of humanity’s problems. However, while technology did bring enormous improvements to human life it never came without consequences. A lot of technology aims to merely solve the problems created by previous technology. Amitabh illustrates that we can no longer ignore the societal and environmental costs of technological progress. Disadvantaged groups disproportionately bear these costs. This is why he calls especially the young generation to join politics and be involved in the process of technology assessment.
Amitabh is an expert in strategic planing and due dilligence across several industries such as automotive, chemicals, logistics, media & IT. He is passionate about teaching and has been a university lecturer on international trade and economics. Moreover he’s the Co-Founder of Project Gamchha which makes handwoven silk scarves and is founded on humanist principles that place the dignity of the people and care for the environment at the core of their values.

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