This past week was a very exciting time, as a team from the university organized this year’s edition of TEDx Delft at the Aula Auditorium at TU Delft. This being the 6th edition at Delft, has had prominent people lighting the stage up with their ideas and prompting discussions which we, as a society, should hold. The theme for this year – “As a matter of faith”, sounded very intriguing, and so I chose to attend the event! The fact of a student early-bird discount only affirmed my choice, and I believe it was a very sound decision from the organizers to attract future engineers, as they design tomorrow’s world.
The entire evening was planned out, to my surprise – beginning from 4PM, right until 10 in the night! The very first talk was given by Arjen Kamphuis, who affirmed our fears about the lack of cyber-security and its far-reaching consequences. He also encouraged us to think of security as a personal issue, and how to protect oneself online. It was followed by an inspiring speech by Vreneli Stadelmaier, who showed us the deep-rooted effects of the imposter syndrome, how it has repressed women in the current workplace, and how we can identify the parrot inside our head feeding us lies! It was followed by a brilliant vocal+guitar performance by Semimo.
While I could go on and on about all the events, I would like to mention the few that really struck a chord with me. The second half, which started after a scrumptious spread of innovative vegan food, go everyone on a happy note. Only to be crushed by the reality in this presentation by Jonathan Schoenmaker, who talked of his experience with years of depression, and how his friends helped him fight it. As an international student living 7,500 kilometers away from home, it is very easy to fall into the vicious trap of self-loathing and depression. This is where the support group of your friends comes in. As someone who has personally gone through a phase, helping my mates who might go through the same was why the presentation caught my eye.
The other presentation which caught my curiosity was on the shortfalls of AI by Dr. Mata Haggis-Burridge. As a game developer, he has developed a knack for finding solutions and patterns faster than an average human. AI, which has infiltrated most of our lives, often does not deal well with outliers, who are either really good or really bad at what they do. How do we develop a new set of rules for AI of the future to be inclusive, free from racial and social bias, and create a better future was the crux of his talk. As an engineer, the social aspect of technologies we use is often overlooked, despite it being a major, if not the most important part of the technology.
After a night which sparked a lot of conversations, this was one night one should not forget. Not because how grand it was, or how accomplished the speakers were, but because the people who were up on the stage wanted to make a difference to our society for the better. Isn’t that what all of us want to do, in our own way?