Pastor, Chef and Robot Walk Into a Church

At TEDxHarlem, diverse speakers (and an android) revived the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance.

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Michael A. Walrond Jr.

Walrond, senior pastor for First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem, opened the conference with an inspirational speech calling for everyone to unleash their creativity and find the "passion for the possible," which is also the title of a book by former Riverside Church pastor William Sloane Coffin. Waldron said Coffin "reminded us that all of us who have wonderful ideals, who are innovative thinkers who are people who believe not in what is but what can be, must all enlist in a rebellion. To rebel and enlist in the fight in the abolition of the impossible."

Bruce Duncan With Android Bina48

Duncan is the project leader of LifeNaut, an online project where people can create a "mindfile," a personal digital archive that serves as a "backup" to each person's own mind. Duncan said LifeNaut hopes to one day upload those mindfiles into avatars or robots to re-animate everyone's personalities, which is how the robot Bina48 was created. As Bina48 answered questions from the audience, one couldn't help thinking of Siri, iPhone's digital assistant. But unlike Siri, whose gets information from the Internet, Bina48 was sharing data from an actual human being.

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Duncan also noted it's important to recognize that we're sharing our personal data on sites that have their own agenda. "There's so much being uploaded onto the Internet for other businesses. Facebook is a platform for marketing; you're just going along for the ride," he said. "We think the time when people should be the stewards of their own life information is now."

Jake Barton

Barton and his company, Local Projects, were asked to develop a better way for communities to share and execute ideas. "The key is to look at cities not as places of scarce resources that need be fought over but to look at cities as places of communities with shared goals." This idea of finding a common ground led to Change by Us NYC, an ambitious project that gives New York residents a platform to help make their city better.

Scott Belsky

Belsky, founder and CEO of Behance, offered tips on how people and companies can push ideas forward, starting with a simple equation: "Creativity times organization equals the impact you'll make with your ideas. You can have the greatest ideas and creativity in the world but if you have zero organization, you'll have no impact." Focusing and organizing around one great idea is better than bouncing from one idea to another, Belsky said. He pointed out that one of the most creative companies in the world, Apple, is also one of the most organized.