Students pitch TEDx Talk ideas

Christine Wang, Contributing Writer

Six students competed in a TEDxNYU event titled “The Pitch: What’s Your Angle?” for the chance to present their TED Talk at the club’s annual spring conference. The competition was held in the Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life’s Grand Hall on Nov. 22.

The students presented their pitches for full-length TED Talks. Three judges chose the student they thought had the most innovative and interesting presentation.

CAS senior Blazej Gawlik, who won the competition, discussed the future of artificial intelligence and its challenges. He addressed the need to build artificial intelligence that can accurately interpret sentences, make decisions and learn like a human.

“I’m currently working with a small team of people on a data structure that will actually allow an AI to effectively do this,” Gawlik said. “But more importantly, what we’re trying to build is something that will eventually be able to learn like a child and go over and actually learn new things.”

Other speakers included CAS junior Isabel Baker who discussed the faults in the current system of generalized medicine and how bacterial diversity is necessary for strong immune systems. Baker advocated for awareness of ancestral descent and access to microbiome mapping.

CAS sophomore Mohamed Hassan spoke about unchaining students from their parents’ unrealistic expectations and demands, encouraging dialogue within families.

Problems regarding unpaid internships were also discussed at the event. Tisch senior Christina Isnardi said that for an unpaid internship to be legal, employers must follow federal standards.

CAS junior Howard Huang discussed Hanfu, a movement that aims to reclaim some of China’s old traditions, and its relation to the LGBTQ movement. Huang spoke about the desire to be normal, but questioned what normalcy really is. He categorized normal as WEIRDS — Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic, Straight.

“Only 12 percent of the world’s population fits into WEIRDS,” Huang said. “I believe communal and parental education can help people realize they do not have to fit into the 12 percent.”

The last speaker, CAS junior William Holley, discussed strategies to improve education in America, explaining that the country needs to focus more on skills necessary to compete in a globalized economy.

CAS senior Thomas Arce, who attended the event, said TED talks are important for students to be able to share creative ideas.

“I think TED talks are an interesting idea to come up with new plans to share with people and move forward,” Arce said.

LS freshman Shivani Mafatlal agreed and said the students were inspiring.

“With all the negativity in the world we need positive thinkers like them,” Mafatlal said.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 24 print edition. Email Christine Wang at [email protected].