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(generated from captions) This Program is Captioned Live. # Theme music I'm Waleed Aly. Hi and welcome to Big Ideas, we've got a selection of talks In this edition of Short Cuts from this year's TEDx Sydney. for activists, big thinkers, It was a very good year and performers. First up is Jeremy Heimans, and motivated CEO of co-founder and highly articulate This is a social enterprise and consumers that sets out to mobilise citizens to help solve global problems. in 2005 He co-founded GetUp! in Australia a potent political force. which, of course, is at times movements to fight cancer, has already built eliminate nuclear weapons the first global organisation and they've launched All Out, transgender people and their allies. for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and Sydney universities He went to Harvard and currently lives in New York. What do we do? three actors Well, there are really only

about climate change - who can do anything meaningful and consumers. corporations, governments So, goverments, governments to solve climate change. we've been trying to organise We tried at Copenhagen, big, binding international agreement we've been trying to get a that's not going very well. and, needless to say, Corporations are moving they're not moving fast enough but the reality is to make a big impact. some really significant pressure And they're not gonna move without or from consumers. either from governments here with consumers. So that leaves us down the bottom I want to talk about today. And consumers are the people I want to talk about you guys. having tried really hard We got thinking, you know, happening around climate change, to get some political mobilisation millions of people around Copenhagen and having tried to mobilise a little bit disappointed, and frankly having left that on the political process well, maybe we should stop focussing and start focussing on consumers. our own hands? What if we took this into we could mobilise consumers What are some ways in which their demand to a low-carbon economy? to much more rapidly shift the organisation I run, And at Purpose, which is all about this kind of work, where we try to look for ways we do experiments people could solve global problems. that large-scale mobilisation of We started researching this problem. share with you today So what I want to research that we're doing right now is some of the results of the could rapidly shift their demand, on whether and how consumers on climate change. enough to make an impact kind of, green deodorant, And I'm not talking here about, shifts we need to make - I'm talking about the big behavioural to private cars, in private transportation to renewable power in the home. could have a transformative impact These are shifts that actually on climate change. So what do we do?

Well, the results of our research I want to share with you today. really are two main conclusions And the first is a little startling of disequilibrium. and it may create a little bit that I think we need to kill And that is the language and imagery of green... scaling sustainable consumption. in order to have any real shot at just isn't working right now, Sustainable consumption as we'll talk about in a moment. as a frame for consumers And we're going to have to kill green that problem. in order to try to rework But once we do that, there might just be a way transition to a low-carbon economy. that consumers could lead the the economy that's very exciting, There's something happening in that we'll talk about. much more participation A movement that is enabling business models and much more rapidly-scaled that if applied to green consumption much more quickly. could help shift our behaviour So let's talk about our behaviour. This is green consumption. The picture is pretty miserable. these very important sectors As you see, and soon electric cars like green power, hybrid cars have very little market share.

have significant market share The only categories that voluntary consumer action, aren't driven by by government regulation. they're driven instead green consumption is super sub-scale, So we've got this problem where so we can try just tweaking the edges with the existing formula but the reality is if we just work there's no way we're on a trajectory in consumer demand to get the kinds of increases as we believe is possible, that might mean that, be addressed directly by consumers. a third to half of the problem could

Let's talk about why that is. The first reason is that: In many ways green is the victim. It's a funny thing. of its own success. The green movement is a victim into the mainstream. Green has kind of crossed the chasm It used to be a totally fringe idea is talking about green, and now everybody a kind of cost of doing business corporations regard green as is massive saturation. and the consequence You know, we just Googled 'green' of green. and we got this enormous vomit it's kind of ugly. And the problem is that and it's all super generic. It's not cool, it's deeply unsexy, has appropriated this. And the problem is that everybody Green has become a lot like Bieber.

He's everywhere. He's over-exposed. very powerful - Bieber - And as a result, what was once has now become just kind of diluted. We don't feel strongly about it. of appropriation. Second problem is the problem is such a nice cultural idea, The problem is that green it's such a handy moniker, that people have figured out oppossed to environmental protection, that even though people who are is actually to appropriate it. that the best way to handle that So this is the Heartland Institute. the United States. This is a think tank in And look at this lovely iPad app. logo is a leaf, It's green, the Heartland Institute's some great tips maybe I'm going to get about energy efficient lightbulbs. But no, this is the institute in the United States, that ran ads two weeks ago and Osama bin Laden featuring the Unabomber saying these people believed in climate change, they are mass murderers, if you believe in climate change you must be like them. So this is obviously a real problem because the reality is everybody is cloaking themselves in green

so, as consumers, when we see these signals, we don't take them seriously. Thirdly, we have the problem of deception and what's happening here is very interesting. This is a real ad that I want to play for you, that I think is worth sharing with the world. VOICEOVER: There's something in these pictures you can't see. It's essential to life. We breathe it out. Plants breathe it in. It comes from animal life, the oceans, the Earth, and the fuels we find in it. It's called carbon dioxide - CO2. The fuels that produce CO2 have freed us from a world of backbreaking labour. Lighting up our lives. Allowing us to create and move the things we need, the people we love. Now some politicians want to label carbon dioxide a pollutant. Imagine if they succeed.

What would our lives be like then? Carbon dioxide.

They call it pollution. We call it life. (Audience laughter and applause) (Scoffs) We call it life. Enough said.

So, here's the thing, right, climate change has become very polarising so what was once a kind of a unifying idea, the environment, now, certainly in places like the United States, it's actually a bit of a wedge. So, green consumption. We talked about those very low penetration rates, what do consumers intend to do? Does this mean the consumers don't want to buy green? Well, here's the funny thing, when you ask consumers do they intend to buy those very same green products, on average 75% of them declare an intention to buy green products. So what's happening? Well, I met these guys in Bondi recently who were starting a sustainable fashion brand and I think their answer might give us a clue. So we started a fashion label and, um, it's called... Yeah, it's, like, actually called nothing. No, it's not called nothing, it's just not called anything. Yeah, why waste resources printing labels and all that kind of shit. We're trying to minimise our environmental footprints. Just trying to help the environment. True, true. It's such a claim, like a brand claim, you know. Here's what our name is, you know, we don't need to claim that shit. I feel like we already live our brand already, it speaks for itself. True, and when word of mouth travels, people will be saying, 'Oh, have you heard about the new fashion label...'

So there's this incredible gap, as our friends here point to between what we say, when we ask them, and what we do. When we ask people what they intend to do, they describe themselves as being highly consistant.

'I will buy across a range of green products, I'll buy organic vegies, I'll buy hybrid cars. Yes, yes, I will.' And then we see what they actually do and their consumption's all over the mat. It does no way correlate to their stated intention. So we ran this analysis, and we looked at different categories and basically what it shows is that of all the different levers that might influence purchasing, green is perhaps the weakest of those levers. It's not a lever that's really driving people. So basically, as soon as any friction gets introduced into the purchasing process, be it price, be it lack of clear reward, be it any hassle in switching, people are out the door, right? So they like the idea of green, it's a kind of value that they're happy to cloak themselves in, it's a brand value, but the reality is market share just isn't there because as soon as it's even slightly difficult, they're out the door. So what do we do? Here are some things that I think we can do that might upend this situation. And as I said, it does require starting with killing green as a frame.

We can't lead with green because most of the green products out there start by knocking on the front door and hitting you on the head and saying, 'We're green, do the right thing.' We need a radically different approach to the way we introduce this issue to consumers. We need to put green aside. I think this is an excellent example of that kind of approach. VOICEOVER: Paul and Kathy recently switched to solar with Sunrun. Sure, they've lowered their energy costs but really, they did it to save dolphin babies all over the world. No, it's more the money thing. Yeah. But what about the dolphin babies? Well, that's great too, but we really like to save money. Yeah, we love it. But you love dolphin babies more, right? (Audience laughter) So, this is exciting, right, because solar is one of those industries that actually - perhaps the first big green product that could have a big carbon impact and could reach the mainstream, it could cross that chasm. Very exciting. The reason for that, actually, is because prices of photovoltaics are going way down. The problem is that prices won't usually won't be on our side. So in most cases, where we can use price, do what Sunrun did, that's fantastic, that's highly effective. You're using price as the main frame, but you're subtly reminding people that there's actually altruism as well. But where we don't have price, because in many cases green products will be more expensive to make, we won't be able to compete there. We need to help consumers become more irrational,

we need to help each other become more irrational and so this is a challenge that I'd ask you guys to take up. So these are some of the big, emotional levers, the motivators, that actually drive purchasing decisions, right? So people who buy Louis Vuitton handbags are certainly not buying them on price, right? They're buying them because of status, they want to be associated with them. These are the drivers that make irrational consumerism which is the underpinning of many successful business models, and it's why people go crazy on Gilt Groupe, that is the driver that we want to think about. So here's the exciting news. The exciting news is that new forms of online participation... So I want to give you an example outside of the green space then return to the green space.

That example is a very cool company called KickStarter. in the United States and it's crowdfunding for creative projects. And what Kickstarter does is it's found this amazing way to pool multiple motivational levers at once and create a kind of a social network that really supercharges that. So, on Kickstarter, cool hipsters put up amazing creative projects and people are giving money to support those creative projects. They're getting a little bit in return, so there's a little bit of a transactional element, but they're also feeling like they're helping these hipsters do amazing things, they're part of something much bigger, they're seeing the progress, and it feels to them incredibly cool. There's a real leverage of status. And what's interesting about that

is that because it's a network, because it's technology enabled, when something like that takes off it really goes viral very quickly. And then it can eat up much more market share than these more traditional business models. So, in the United States, it its space, Kickstarter is now approaching the eclipse of the National Endowment of the Arts as the largest funder of creative projects in the United States so it's becoming the dominant market player. How can we apply this to green? Here's a very interesting company Getable wasn't always called Getable. Getable used to be called Rentcycle and you look over there on the left, it's everything we described earlier as the kind of nightmare of green marketing. Getable is the rebranded of Rentcycle but Getable is a very disruptive business, it's not knocking on the front door and saying 'we're a green business' but what it's doing is it's trying to scale rental. The rental market for products. For ordinary household goods that instead of buying, we could rent. If we could turn renting of products into the dominant consumer behaviour, that would have a dramatic impact on the amount of wasteful consumption that we did. And Getable is trying to do that by putting all of that rental inventory online and being the one-stop shop where you can go and rent.

And it's one of those cool, collaborative consumption businesses that Rachel Botsman talked about on this stage a couple of years ago and so it's a really exciting business. People are getting excited about it and their entry point is 'I'm part of this cool, disruptive sharing business', not 'I want to rent bikes from Rentcycle.' Here's one more business in the green space that I think is very instructive and very exciting. It's called Solar Mosaic and it's a business run by some friends of ours. Solar Mosaic is about community solar. The problem with solar is not everybody has a house that they need a solar panel put on so that limits the large-scale adoption and scaling of solar. So what these guys did is said, 'Let's have a network solution. Let's just put solar on broader community spaces all over America. And when we put that we'll have people pay their little bit to kind of crowdfund like Kickstarter - it's kind of Kickstarter for solar - these solar panels on those roofs. So it's quite exciting because what it means is it scales the adoption of solar and it gives people a sense of community and identity and solidarity in doing that. People aren't primarily driven by this abstract notion of green, they're driven by that solidarity.

Thirdly, we need to build a bigger tent. And building a bigger tent is one of the ways we're gonna enlarge green from this niche thing - that's about that 2% of hardcore people who are changing their behaviour - to something much bigger. And the exciting thing is that the tent is potentially much larger. If you think about a broader conception of the new economy,

of progressive consumerism, you see that sharing economy, fair trade, ethical production, local and even those guys who are creating those tech businesses who don't necessarily see themselves as green or see themselves as progressive are actually all part of a common worldview, they're all trying to remake the economy. So if we can build a movement that organises those people and that takes those people and puts them together

and helps them understand their shared interest, their shared values, much in the way we did in Australia with GetUp!

where everybody came at different issues like refugees and climate change and reconciliation, we helped to put those people together under a common banner. We could build something much more powerful that breaks ourselves out of that 2%. So what's the future that we want to envisage? So, today we're in this small, little dot called green.

We're not getting out of the 2%, we're not scaling.

The answer, we think, is to get behind the businesses that are at this intersection of mass participation where you can get lots of people in a network, you can grow market share very quickly and these new forms of businesses that are green but don't knock on the door and announce themselves as green. If we can do that, if we can create a new economy that takes these models that can very quickly acquire market share, and give people a sense that they're part of something much bigger, we'll build the green economy but we just won't talk about it. And we won't say that we're doing it. So that's a thought for you and very much hope that we can make that happen. That was Jeremy Heimans, activist and entrepreneur at TEDx Sydney.

Next up is physicist Michelle Simmons She's the Director of the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology. She did her PhD in solar engineering and her research group have developed the world's thinnest conducting wires in silicon and the smallest transistors made with atomic precision. She talks here about their application. Have you ever wondered every year computers get smaller and smaller and faster and faster. Have you ever wondered when is it ever going to end? Well, one person that's been looking at the miniaturisation of computers over the last several decades has been Gordon Moore and he has been co-founder of Intel back in the 1960s. And he noticed that the number of components on a silicon chip double roughly every 18 months to two years. Now, for this to happen it means the smallest feature size on a silicon chip

has to decrease at the same rate. And he came up with something called Moore's Law and here it is represented on the screen. This law has been going now for approximately four to five decades. And what started out as an observation by Gordon Moore has now become a law after his name, Moore's Law. This actually continued in time. The interesting thing is that the industry has now set this as their road map of how to make computers smaller and smaller and faster and faster. So you have multi-trillion dollar industries, the semiconductor industry, pouring money in every year to try and beat that law, until now it's become a self-fulfilling prophecy. So if we have a look at where we are at the moment, here is a cross-sectional scanning electron microscope image of a single transistor. Now, the smallest feature size in this transistor

is the distance here between the source and the drain, it's about 13 nanometres. It about 5,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. What's amazing about that is if you look around you now, we all carry around our personal electronics. And within one silicon chip you have over three billion of these transistors and they all have to work reliably so your computer, your mobile phone or whatever you've got with you actually works. That's quite amazing. Just think about that now.

Everybody in this audience has got billions of transistors. There are trillions of transistors in this room.

Well, one of the nice things about Moore's Law is you can you can predict with time what's going to happen. And eventually you'll see out here in roughly 2020,

less than ten years away from where we are now, the size of a transistor will get down to the size where it's a single atom. That's the smallest component of nature. It's very difficult to imagine that you could make a transistor any smaller than that.

This is the world of digital information so let's understand how that transistor works. Here we have a silicon substrate -

that's what the transistors are made of - and above that we have an insulating oxide and then a metal gate. And what we do is we apply a positive voltage to this top gate here and that sucks up, it attracts all the electrons that are in the silicon up towards this gate, but they can't get here due to this insulating oxide. So they form this two dimensional sheet, which forms a conducting channel between source and drain and that turns the transistor on

and that's the 'one' of digital information. If we now put a negative voltage on this gate we repel all the electrons down here and push them away from that channel so there is no conducting sheet and as a consequence we get the 'zero' of digital information. So that's the ones and zeros as we go down for everything that works around us now and everything is coded in either a one or a zero. And what happens when we go smaller and smaller in size is we actually cross over from what we call the classic age to the quantum age and there things really start to change. In the classical world we understand how things work. So if I had a tennis ball now and I was to throw it at the wall it would hit the wall and bounce back and I'd understand and I'd see it and be able to write equations of motions to describe that. But as I miniaturise things down and you imagine that tennis ball being the electron in my transistor if I made it very, very small and I threw that electron at the wall instead of it bouncing back it actually behaves more like a wave than a particle and it can tunnel through the wall and it can come out the other side. Now that's something that's quite scary. As we make our devices smaller and smaller the wonderful world of quantum mechanics comes in.

Electrons behave like waves and they no longer go in the computer where we want them to go. So a lot of people have predicted that this would herald the end of Moore's Law but in reality it is the start of something new. We are now transitioning to quantum mechanics and if we could control quantum physics we could actually build computers in the quantum regime that are predicted to have exponential speed up over classical computers. So, one of the questions that a lot of people ask me is aren't computers fast enough already? Can't they do all the things we need them to do? Well, obviously everyone wants things to be faster all the time but there are some problems out there that just can't be solved efficiently using a classical computer and one of those is something called the travelling salesman problem.

So here we have a salesman. We want him to travel to lots of different cities and we want to work out what the shortest possible route is. That sounds like an easy problem but it's actually one of those intractable exponentially hard problems. Here we have on the screen the number of possible routes he can take as a function of the number of cities. It's something that grows very, very quickly. So by the time you have 14 different cities, there are now already 10 to the power of 11 possible routes he can take. If I classical computer it works on the gigahertz regimes,

ten to the nine operations per second, and it can work out the shortest possible route in about a hundred seconds, that's no big deal. But now what happens when I go to 22 cities? There are now ten to the 19 possible routes that that salesman can take. And with that same classical computer, it would take 1,600 years. Now, this is amazing, and if you look by 28 cities, it's longer than the lifetime of the universe to work out what the shortest possible route is. Now this, I heard this problem many years ago and just couldn't quite believe it. This is a real problem, it exists out there. So, how can we make a computer that can somehow solve those problems? Well, we have too look at how a classical computer works. A classical computer is very fast, but it searches through all the possibilities one after the other rather like a recipe. So if I was to write down a telephone number on a piece of paper and I'd forgotten who's telephone number it is, I would get my classical computer to start looking through all the A's and then all B's and then all the C's and eventually it would find who's number it is and tell me. If I wanted to go faster, I could get two computers onto the problem, get one searching between A-L, the other between M-Z and it would go faster.

Go faster, I have three computers. Well, that's the digital world. If you could make a quantum computer, the actual calculations are done in parallel, they're all done simultaneously. Now, to try to understand this, I'm going to go back and describe what a classical computer looks like in my mind. I'm imagining I'm sitting at the centre of the Earth and I'm pointing at the North Pole, we had a talk about the North Pole this morning. I could also be pointing at the South Pole, that's the zero of digital information. But in the quantum world, I could be pointing to anywhere on the surface of the Earth, I can be pointing to London or I can be pointing to Tokyo. And as a consequence, I'm in what's called a per superposition,

partly up and partly down and that's an electron-wave function, that's the quantum world. I can be in both states at the same time. But how does that help me in calculations? Well, let's look what happens

as I increase the number of quantum bits, or qubits,

that's what a transistor is called in the quantum regime. So with just one qubit, I'm in two possible states at the same time. If I now add another quantum bit, I can be in four possible states at the same time and if I add another quantum bit I can be eight possible states at the same time. So every time I add a quantum bit to a quantum computer, I double the computational power. So it's been predicted by having just a 30 qubit computer, I'll be more powerful that the world most powerful super computer that exists. And if I could have 300 qubits that would be more powerful than all the computers in the world connected together. Now just stand back for a second - 300 quantum bits or qubits, compared to three billion conventional transistors, that's really the power of quantum computation. So let's consider some of the problems that quantum computers can solve for us. One of the first things that people realise that it could actually be useful for data encryption. Now, data encryption relies on working out what the prime factors of a large number are. So if we have two prime factors, and to remind you, a prime factor is a number that can only be divisible by itself or one. If I times these two numbers together, it a very easy problem for a computer, you can work out the answer in your calculator in seconds. But if I want to work out what the prime factors of a large number are, it's actually a very difficult problem, rather like the one I've just showed you. This underlies - the difficulty of the problem underlies data encryption. So what we do we encode our information in a very a large number

and we give somebody one of the prime factors as a key,

so they can decode the information on the other side. If they don't have the key though, they have to work out what the prime factors are and that's very difficult.

So to give you an example, very recently, they've broken the code in 2010 of RSA-768, that's a 768 bit number and it took them three years using the most powerful classical computers that existed. Now what they're encoding is 1,024 bit number. And using those same classical computers, it will take 3,000 years. If you had a quantum computer, you could solve it in minutes. So there's an example of how quantum computers, when they're realised, are going to change the way that we do computing. Let's look at some other examples. I've talked about data security. Another thing that quantum computers are great at is searching large amounts of databases. Large amounts of information. Or for modelling systems where there's lots of variables. So we can start to imagine climate modelling, modelling of the economic system. We can start to imagine how chemicals form, how reactions form. How new things start to evolve, how the human body forms. Where quantum computation will take us is something we just don't know, but it has huge potential. As a consequence, there's a massive international race to build a quantum computer. And I'm proud to say that here in Australia, we've decided to do this in silicon..

Now,the reason why we've chosen silicon, is silicone is one of those great materials. The industry's been using it for years. If we want to make a quantum computer in silicon, we have to engineer single atoms - but not just a single atom, but the electron, the individual electron on a single atom, in silicon, and encode our information in that quantum bit or cubit. Now silicon is great because the industry's been working on it for years, but it means we're going to be pushing on the end of Moore's Law to make those single atom transistors. Silicon's also great because it's a material that doesn't interact with the electrons. It's a nice pure house material to protect that fragile quantum state. But to realise this quantum computer, we have to put these individual atoms in position within a silicon crystal and then we have to align electrodes to that single atom. Which means everything has to be incredibly small. Well, how do we image, or manipulate atoms? The only technology that exists out there is the scanning tunneling microscope. This is something that has a very fine metal tip that it brings down to your atom surface. When you bring it down very, very close, you apply a voltage and you get a current. And what you try and do is keep that current constant and move the tip over the atom.

And as it moves it deflects in height, and from that you can actually image the atoms on a surface. And then you raster scan it, rather like a television screen. And you can build up an image of what the atoms look like on the surface. Now I'm blown away by this image,

these are individual atoms here of silicon,

sitting on the silicon surface that transistors are made on. That's pretty phenomenal. Now you might imagine the machinery that you use to actually image those atoms is very small, which is just a very small tip. But in reality, this is what it looks like. They're very large systems, they take up about the size of a room. They're basically huge chunks of stainless steel with a very high vacuum inside, rather like the vacuum you find in outer space. And within that vacuum you put your samples in and you control the atoms, and you have mechanical control, pumping control and electronic control to be able to image those atoms on the surface. But you can also connect them here with crystal growth systems, where you can actually put different atoms down on the surface. So you can actually start to create new materials that just don't exist in nature. And to give you an idea of one of those, here's the world's smallest logo. These are xenon atoms on a copper surface,

it was done in the 1990's by the IBM group, by Don Eigler. And literally, they used that tip to pick up individual atoms and put them down to form the world's smallest logo. Well, what we want to do now is make devices in silicon, using this technology. But it's not as easy as just manipulating what happens on the surface. There's two key problems. The first one is you can only see the device inside these systems, inside these microscopes. You can't see them once you take them outside. So we've had to develop that technology. The second one is that you can't just manipulate atoms and silicon very easily. They actually bond very strongly together.

So as a consequence we had to come up with a radical strategy to build these devices. The first thing we do is we have to make a marker in the silicon substrate, before we put it into those systems. We then take it in there, we put down a layer of hydrogen on the surface. And this layer of hydrogen acts as a mask. We're going to come along with our scanning probe tip and dissolve some hydrogen, thereby exposing the silicon underneath. And this is how we're going to bring our atoms in. We dose with phosphine, that brings our phosphorous atoms in. These are going to be our cubits, And they only go in these regions that we've depassivated. We then incorporate them into the surface, we encapsulate them with silicon so they're nice and robust and we can actually go back and image them at this point, and show that they haven't moved. And then once we've done this, we take it out of the vacuum system. We use those registration markers to bring down metal contacts to the device. So when we first presented this proposal about 10 years ago, a lot of people said 'Well, look, none of that's been realised, each one of those stages is incredibly hard to do.' But I'm pleased to say in Australia, over the last 10 years, we've actually started making these devices and systematically building bit by bit, those components of a quantum computer. We've made very narrow conducting wires, one atom tall, four atom wide.

They're very similar to the copper wires that you have in conventional transistors. We've made the smallest precision transistors, where we've been able to watch individual electrons hop on and off an island of phosphorous atoms. We've been able to move to three dimensional architectures, and for me this is amazing. All the transistors we have at the moment, all the electrons travel in one two-dimensional plane. We don't use the Z direction at all. So we found a way we can actually make vertical transistors. And this is something we're going to use for our computer architecture. Our computer architecture. And also, very recently, we've been able to isolate a few of these phosphorous atoms. And we've actually used another transistor patterned nearby to actually measure the electron's spins, so we can readout the quantum states in our quantum computer. But perhaps one of the most difficult challenges for us today has been to isolate a single atom in a device. And just last year we were able to form the world's first precision single atom transistor. So that really is an individual phosphorous atom sitting in the silicon substrate. We've aligned these electrodes to it, taken it out of the vacuum system, and made contact to it. And we can actually measure the electronic signature of that single atom directly. So rather like the human beings in this audience, we each have a well defined defined, identifiable fingerprint. A single atom also has a well And this is what the electronic fingerprint of that single atom is. The amazing thing about this is we could change the atom,

we'd get a completely different fingerprint. So it really is unique. So what we've demonstrated over the last decade, and we're leading this field in Australia, is we can make devices out of single atoms. This has taken us all the way down to the end of Moore's Law. So the question now is, is that the end of computing? And what I'd like to leave you with today, is the thought that it's not the end, it's just the beginning. So instead of miniaturising transistors over the last 50 years, from the bottom. And we're now going to start to build upon computers, where we add individual cubits, one at a time. Every time we add a cubit, we double the computational power. So that's the international race, to try and build a large scale quantum computer that can do calculations you simply cannot do with a classical computer. I'd like to leave you with the outstanding group of people that I've got working with me in Australia to achieve this dream. So thank you. (Applause) That was physicist Michelle Simmons at this year's TEDx in Sydney. And last up in this line up in Short Cuts, is psychologist, Evan Kidd. He's a senior lecturer in psychology at the Australian National University.

And his research interests include first language acquisition, and the role of play in children's language, social and cognitive development. He's done some great work on kids, and their imaginary friends. Although he claims never to have had an imaginary friend of his own. Kingadingadee was a tall, flame-haired, freckle-faced girl,

who was friends with a boy and his younger sister. One day the boy and his sister heard Kingadingadee playing in their older sisters' room. They pleaded with their older sisters to let Kingadingadee come out to play. But their older sisters said that she couldn't. They had cooked Kingadingadee in the oven. Actually, I thought that would get a bit of a laugh. (Laughter) Then there was the five year old boy, who was married, With two children. Where are they? Where are the children? Here they are. The mother of his children wasn't his wife, but a nurse who travelled internationally. (Laughter) After a while the boy became a sole parent. He divorced his wife because she spoke too much. Alright, they're my best imaginary friends, so I'm not going to get any more laughs out of you for that. So, as you may have guessed, these aren't entirely real life scenarios.

They're instances of children's imaginary friends. Or in the last case of the boy, imaginary worlds. Which is also known as paracosms. Imaginary friends aren't always invisible, sometimes they're called personified objects, teddy bears or dolls that children treat as real or animate. Probably the most famous personified object is Hobbes, from the cartoon strip, Calvin and Hobbes. Now to Calvin, Hobbes is a real life tiger with whom he can go on adventures. But to the rest of the world, Hobbes was a stuffed toy, and a pretty mangy one at that. Imaginary friends are quite common, up to 65% of children at one point in their development may invent one.

Princess Margaret had an imaginary friend called Cousin Halifax. Frida Kahlo painted her twin imaginary friend in one of her many self portraits. And even one of Brad Pitt's and Angelina Jolie's many children is reported to have an imaginary friend, so you know they must be fashionable. (Laughter) So beyond giving you something to chuckle about, what possible value could having an imaginary friend have in childhood? Well, as it turns out there are many benefits associated with having an imaginary friend. Some of which extend to adulthood. What I'm going to argue today, is that these benefits are symptomatic or derived from one of childhood's most pleasurable but beneficial activities. Play. So, what kind of benefits are associated with having an imaginary friend? Well, first of all, children with imaginary friends have been shown to pass theory of mind tasks before children who don't have them. Now, a theory of mind is the understanding that another person's behaviour is driven by the internal mental states. By their thoughts, beliefs, feelings and desires. Psychologists typically test to see if a child has a theory of mind using what we call 'the false belief task'. Now, in the false belief task,

a child who's typically around 3-5 years of age, might be introduced to a character. Let's call her Sally. So Sally loves playing with her doll,

but after a while she gets a little bit bored of playing with her doll, so she puts the doll away, into the doll's house. Then, Sally's friends come to play and they go outside. But lo and behold, behind the curtain is Sally's devious younger brother, who's going to play a trick on Sally. He takes the doll out of the doll's house and puts it into the cupboard. Then Sally's friends and Sally return back to her room, and they want to play with her doll.

And at this point, the children asked the question, where will Sally look for the doll. Now if the child has a theory of mind, what they will say is that Sally will look in the doll's house for the doll.

This indicates the child has an understanding that Sally has a representation of reality, a false representation of reality in this instance and will act upon that false representation of reality by looking in the wrong place. Children who failed the task often say that Sally will look in the cupboard, that her mental representation of reality matches reality. So, having a theory of mind is being able to take another person's perspective and research in my own lab shows that -

or has found that developing perspective taking ability derived from having an imaginary friend comes in handy during conversational interaction. We conducted a study where a child sat opposite an experimenter and they were separated by a barrier. In front of both the child and the experimenter

was an array of pictures, just like these scary clowns here. Now, the child's task in this particular experiment was to describe one of these pictures, in this case, the clown in the red box or red border to the experimenter using only spoken language. Now, there's a problem here, and the problem is that this one target picture differs from the other pictures on only a few dimensions. Firstly, the type of hat that the clown has. Secondly, the colour of the clown's collar. What the child has to do in order to be good at this task is to take the perspective of the experimenter, understand what unique information the experimenter needs to know about that particular picture and provide it to them using spoken language. And what we found is that children with imaginary friends were better able to do this than children without them. But the benefits of having an imaginary friend don't stop there. Children with imaginary friends have been shown to be more creative than children without them and some of my own research suggests that this creativity extends to adulthood. Children with imaginary friends have been shown to produce more complex spoken narratives than children without them which is to say they're better storytellers. Not surprisingly, creative writers have a higher than normal incidence of childhood imaginary friends. So, having an imaginary friend is associated with early understanding of other peoples minds, high creativity, and good language skills. These are all high level, complex, cognitive skills that many would say are unique to humans.

But why does having an imaginary friend result in these benefits?

The answer, or at least a big part of the answer, seems to be play. By their very definition, children who engage with imaginary friends, or who invent them,

engage in large amounts of what we call pretend or fantasy play. Now, pretend play is - let's get those clowns off the screen - pretend play is creative, it's creative play. And involves sequencing events, just like you would do if you were telling a story. So, good creativity and good narrative language or story telling skills seem to fall directly out of playing lots. But what about theory of mind, or perspective taking? What children are doing when they're playing is they're behaving in a manner that contravenes reality, they're taking the real and possibly mundane and they're twisting it to yield new perspectives on objects and people and events. They're inventing new characters and they're role playing -

so they're impersonating or pretending to be other people. And it's this ability to switch perspectives on the world and inhabit someone else's skin that seems to result in an early understanding of other people's minds. So, given these benefits, one question that parents often ask me is 'how do I get my child an imaginary friend'? (Laughter) Well, that's not really the point and I don't really think you're going to be able to buy one anytime soon, not even on the internet. But, fear not, there seems to be a more sensible way to satisfy that consumer urge. Two lines of research suggest that these benefits might be available to all of us. There's some fascinating work being conducted at Yale University which shows that actors have advanced theory of mind skills.

So acting is an advanced form of pretending. An actor has to get inside the skin of a character but has to fool the audience to believe that the performance is itself, believable. This group's also shown that participating in acting classes improves theory of mind skills in teenagers. So, you don't have to invent an imaginary friend to get some of the benefits associated with having one.

The other line of research comes from my own research that my friends and my colleagues are conducting on children who attend schools that have a play-based curriculum. Now, there are many variations of play-based curricula, but for our purposes it's sufficient to know that children who attend play-based schools, as I'll call them, learn through the medium of play. This is a mixture of self-directed and teacher-scaffolded play. The idea is that if play is beneficial, then learning through the medium of play should not only be fun but should also result in or beneficial developments, in the kinds of domains that I've been talking about. So, what we've done, we've conducted two studies, where we've compared children who attend schools, or play-based schools,

and compared them to children attending mainstream schools with a more traditional didactic curriculum. Like many of us would have had when we were going to school. In one study we've compared these two groups on their creativity and we've found that the children attending a play-based school have higher creativity. So, this is consistent with the research on imaginary friends where we see this association between play and creativity. In the second study we've followed two groups two similar groups, so a group attending a play-based school,

and a group attending mainstream schools and we followed these children over the first six months of their first year of school. So, their kindergarten year or their prep year, or their exception year, depending on where you're from. And we've tracked their growth in their play skills, but also their narrative language skills, so their storytelling abilities. And here's a sneak peak at some of the results that we found.

They coming up? OK, so this graph here shows the growth over the first six months of school in the two groups, in their narrative language, so their storytelling ability and their play abilities. As you can see from the blue bars, we see rapid and significant gains in both both play skills and narrative language abilities in the children attending the play-based school. The children attending the traditional schools show some growth but it's not nearly as rapid

as the children attending the play-based school.

So, what these data suggest is that learning through the medium of play not only improves your play but improves your spoken language or your narrative language abilities as well. So, I've come here today with the message that activities involving play, such as inventing an imaginary friend or learning through the medium of play at a play-based school lead to some significant and important developments in some higher order complex cognitive abilities. The take home message that I want to tell you is that play matters. But it's important to point out that not everyone thinks this way. We've seen an increasing trend in Western, English speaking countries for the early introduction of formal academic instruction in early years education in subjects like mathematics or numeracy and literacy. In countries like Australia, the United Kingdom and the USA, we've seen the introduction of standardised tests or examinations to quantify these efforts. Now, this has lead to some frightening trends, the most frightening one that I've heard is that many elementary schools in the United States have cancelled recess so they can fit in more formal academic instruction. Outside of the educational context, we see many products now being marketed to parents, these are educational products which aim to introduce concepts like reading to children as young as 18 months. Now these products appeal to parents who want to give their kids the best start in life it's understandable that you'd want to do that. But the problem is a lot on these products have no empirical bases and time spend memorising flash cards means less time engaging in pleasurable and beneficial activities, like play. The net outcome is that we've come to devalue play, which is a mistake. Here are some quotes from some leading organisations and scholars that underline this point. This is from the Alliance for Childhood, a US based organisation.

'We've seen increased academic pressure in childrens' lives through inappropriate standards, and have managed to undermine their primary tool for dealing with stress

freely chosen, child directed, intrinsically motivated play. This is from the American Academy of Pediatrics in their flagship journal, Pediatrics. 'The American Academy of Pediatrics links increases in depression and anxiety to a lack of unstructured playtime. It recommends that children spend at least 60 minutes each day in open-ended play,' Finally, in a wide ranging review of the scientific literature Hirsh Pasek and colleagues have stated, 'Both free play and playful learning should command a central role in high quality education.' To conclude, I want to leave you with a question,

or pose a question, and this is a question that every generation should ask themselves, what kind of adults do we want today's children to become? Do we want children who are well tutored in test-taking but who are susceptible to stress and disorder? Or do we want creative, socially competent children who are well-equipped to tackle the problems of tomorrow? If we want the latter then I suggest we start taking play a little bit more seriously. Thank you. (Applause) That was psychologist, Evan Kidd, at this year's TEDx, in Sydney. And you can view all of these talks on our website. And of course, we've still got a great range coming up over the next few weeks. That's all in this episode of Big Ideas, remember you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter, as well. I'm Waleed Aly, catch you next time. # Theme music Closed Captions by CSI * VIVALDI: The Four Seasons Summer - Presto Have you ever sat in the sunshine eating a lovely ice cream, wondering where it came from? Perhaps you have, perhaps you haven't. Anyway, you're about to find out. Real ice cream comes from real cows. (COWS MOO) Cows are vegetarians and like to eat grass. There's a little bit they've missed. They turn the grass into milk and store it in their udders. These Guernsey cows come originally from the Channel Islands and are especially bred to give rich, creamy milk. Perfect for making ice cream. (MOCK GRUFF VOICE) Come on, Ermintrude. It's winter now and as there isn't much grass about, the cows are given a snack of silage before they're milked. Silage is made by sealing up summer grass in plastic. Over the months, it breaks down or ferments into a nourishing but smelly feed for the winter. And so to the milking parlour itself where each cow has her own milking stall. When they've settled in, the farmer gives their teats a quick squeeze to check the udder is working properly. Then it's on with the suction pumps. The milk is pumped into these big glass jars. This is how the farmer can tell how much milk each cow is producing. Like the cow, the milk in the jars is warm. It has to be pumped into this huge tank to be cooled so it won't go off. And this, believe it or not, is an ice cream factory. Here, the milk we have just seen goes into these machines. It gets a dash of sugar, dextrose, skimmed milk powder and double cream.

The mixture is heated to 80 degrees centigrade to kill of any germs that are left in a process called pasteurisation. The fat is broken down in a homogeniser. Suddenly the mixture is cooled to just two degrees and left to thicken. And it's all taken care of by this computerised monitoring machine. When it's ready, the button is pushed and out comes a basic form of liquid ice cream. It takes half an hour to fill this tank. When it's full, there'll be enough liquid ice cream to make 150,000 cornets. And it is at this stage you can add your flavour. Today it is strawberry. But there are literally hundreds of flavours that you could use. The liquid ice cream is pumped into plastic tubs. And now for the final stage. The tubs are taken away to a giant freezer where the ice cream will be hardened up. You wouldn't want to hang around here for too long. At least not without a very warm, furry coat. For the temperature is an icy cold 30 degrees below zero. Brr! And here is a selection of just some of the many and varied flavours you can buy in the shops. Yummy! This little girl's having vanilla. But she could have had coffee, chocolate, raspberry ripple, or strawberry. But if you don't fancy any of those, you could always try another shop. I think I'll have a mint choc chip. Certainly. This little boy's favourite is mint chocolate chip. There you go. De-licious! And all thanks to the farmer's cows. Closed Captions by CSI * This Program is Captioned


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