March 15, 2013 Grosvenor Auditorium, National Geographic headquarters in Washington D.C.
Revive & Restore, with the support of TED and in partnership with National Geographic Society, convened a day-long conference to showcase the prospects of bringing extinct species back to life, along with a discussion of the ethical issues that will raise.
National Geographic has often been a leader in shining a light on emerging areas of scientific inquiry. In this role, the National Geographic Society was keenly interested in supporting a deeper understanding about the emerging field of de-extinction. In October 2012, the Society helped Revive & Restore organize and host a private symposium of leading scientists working on issues related to bringing back extinct species. As an outcome of that private meeting, the Society offered to host a public forum to further explore the science of de-extinction and promote dialog on the ethical issues surrounding it. The result was a TEDxDeExtinction conference.
TEDxDeExtinction explored a bold topic: reviving extinct species and re-introducing them to the wild. Can it be done responsibly? Should it be done at all? The full-day conference brought together a range of speakers to dive into the emerging idea of de-extinction. TEDxDeExtinction was held at National Geographic headquarters in March 2013.
De-extinction was the subject of the cover story of the April issue of National Geographic magazine in March 2013.
“Other scientists who favor de-extinction argue that there will be concrete benefits. Biological diversity is a storehouse of natural invention. Most pharmaceutical drugs, for example, were not invented from scratch—they were derived from natural compounds found in wild plant species, which are also vulnerable to extinction. Some extinct animals also performed vital services in their ecosystems, which might benefit from their return.”
Longtime TEDsters Stewart Brand and Ryan Phelan have organized two private research workshops to dig into the practical side of the issue, and to explore whether molecular and conservation biologists were interested in working further on the idea. The success of these workshops proved to Brand and Phelan that the idea of de-extinction merited further exploration. Together, they began Revive & Restore.
The TEDx platform is a unique one to examine de-extinction through the ideas of its key players — conservationists, genetic technology practitioners, scientists on current species-revival projects, ethicists — and an exciting opportunity to explore the possibilities and boundaries of science.
x = Independently organized TED event.
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 25 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. The annual TED Conference invites the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes. Their talks are then made available, free, at TED.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Long Beach, California, along with the TEDActive simulcast in Palm Springs; the annual TEDGlobal conference is held each summer in Edinburgh, Scotland.
TED’s media initiatives include TED.com, where new TEDTalks are posted daily, the recently launched TED-Ed platform for students and educators, the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as the ability for any TEDTalk to be translated by volunteers worldwide, and TEDBooks, short e-books by speakers that elaborate on a single idea originally presented on TED’s stage. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world are given the opportunity to put their wishes into action; TEDx, which offers individuals or groups a way to host local, self-organized events around the world, and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to become part of the TED community and, with its help, amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.
TED2013, “The Young. The Wise. The Undiscovered,” will be held February 25-March 1, 2013.
Founded in 1888, the National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest membership-based nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Throughout its 125-year history, the Society has encouraged conservation of natural resources and raised public awareness of the importance of natural places, the plants and wildlife that inhabit them, and the environmental problems that threaten them. The Society also encourages stewardship of the planet through research and exploration, and through education. As part of National Geographic’s focus on revealing and celebrating the wonders of our planet, it has funded more than 10,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects around the globe.
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Photo image from “Gone,” by Isabella Kirkland, depicting 63 species that have gone extinct since the 1700s.