The TED Conference officially kicks off today in Monterey and already this small town is abuzz with the good intentions and lofty goals of the actively curious and benevolent who find their way here each year. There is a palpable energy, with ambitious and inspired social entrepreneurs preaching their messages and appealing for support and collaboration.
Last night, at a pre-party thrown by Google (thanks for the invite!) I was treated to a host of intriguing conversations aimed at addressing social problems including personal health, disease, fossil-fuel addiction, drug discovery and the like. One after another, TEDsters shared staggering insights from their work and research and were now hoping to start projects to get this information more widely disseminated to the masses so we can all start taking care of ourselves and our planet and living better.
Despite the laudable aims of these efforts, I have a major concern and it has taken me a while to admit it: I don't think we, as humans and citizens, have been trained to be good decision-makers. In fact, any instincts we did have to make good choices have been systematically neutered. In an advertising-driven realm, we have consistently been programmed to allocate our thoughts, resources, and energy to satisfy perversely short-term cravings, invariably at the expense of longer term benefit and this behavior has been rewarded by the delights of instant gratification and pleasure-associative feedback.