Get Smart: TED Talks That Will Make Your Brain Expand

Welcome to the sixteenth installment of Queer Your Tech with Fun, Autostraddle’s nerdy new tech column. Not everything we cover will be queer per se, but it will be about customizing this awesome technology you’ve got. Having it our way, expressing our appy selves just like we do with our identities. Here we can talk about anything from app recommendations to choosing a wireless printer to web sites you have to favorite to any other fun shit we can do with technology.

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It’s Saturday, and you know what’s better than Saturday morning cartoons? Some TED talks. About technology. TED is a conference designed to bring together people from three worlds: Technology, Education and Design. Since their inception in 1984, they’ve taken our brains by storm – I don’t know a single friend who hasn’t posted a TED talk on their facebook wall, who doesn’t recommend certain TED talks with the same fervor they’d recommend their very favorite author or TV show. And TED is one of the things that inspired me to get into technology in the first place: the sheer amount of what’s possible is astounding. Technology lets us go places that we couldn’t even a year ago. Even a day ago. Hell, sometimes even a few hours ago. So here’s a roundup of some of the technology-related TED talks that have made my jaw hit the floor, inspired me to push boundaries and encouraged me to see what technology can really do, what world it can transport me into. Happy Saturday, everyone.

Here’s one printer we didn’t cover in the printer buying guide. The kind of printer that can print a kidney. Yes. Anthony Atala can print a transplant-ready human organ. He. Can. Print. One.

[ted id=1088]

Daniel Schnitzer wants to use small-scale solar products to solve the problem of energy poverty in Haiti.

As I’ve barely had internet in my apartment for the past two months, I’ve been wondering quite a bit about what the internet is really made of. Andrew Blum has an answer for us. He was inspired to look for this answer when a technician told him, “A squirrel is chewing on your internet.”

[ted id=1576]

You’ve probably heard of Aimee Mullins. A lot of people don’t realize they have. She talks about marrying technology and aesthetic value in the form of prosthetic legs.

[ted id=482]

How do Copernicus’s remains lead to finding planets similar to Earth? Dimitar Sasselov will tell us.

[ted id=920]

This technology that Christopher deCharms presents can let us look inside our brain. And not the just matter…our emotions, our movements. In real time. Apparently chronic pain patients can use this fMRI to control their pain? WE ARE THE FUTURE.

[ted id=236]

Edith Widder is a bioluminescence expert. (That means the fish that make light.) There are some cray cray ocean exploration gadgets in this one. It makes me want to be Indiana Jones underwater.

This last one is near and dear to my heart because I write on the internet, and it might be near and dear to your heart too. Because you read on the internet. Joe Sabia tells us about the technology of storytelling.

[ted id=1282]

This is by no means a definitive list of all the greatest technology TED talks ever. As I write this conclusion I can think of at least 7 more that I could have included, so feel free to share if you think there’s one I missed.

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. OMG stoppit I literally just paused my Ted Talk marathon to pop onto AutoStraddle and see if there was anything new to check out. You’re killing me smalls!
    Also also also yesterday I watched Aimee Mullen’s talk, and it was fantastic.
    And last but def not least, I’d like to recommend ‘Mary Roach: 10 things you didn’t know about orgasm’ ( I think it sheds a lot of light on the possibilities of queer sex, on how and why non-heternormative sex can be, and is, super awesome.

  2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE TED TALKS. My favorite is also The Danger of a Single Story. Thank you for posting.

  3. Watched the entire “funny” TED talks collection on netflix while organizing/excelling receipts for taxes. Best idea I’ve ever had.

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