The experience of preparing and giving a TED talk has been profoundly transformational and energizing. The feeling of discomfort that a speaker has to overcome is not insignificant, yet I would encourage everyone who has the chance to do it to push through. The feeling of accomplishment, of authentic presence, and of powerful purpose is unparalleled.
A TED talk is not just 12 minutes of public speaking. With a TED talk, you cannot just talk the talk; you walk the walk. While it is a modest individual contribution to the vast TED legacy, it’s a beginning of a journey for the speaker. The implicit mission of TED to draw out all ideas worth spreading now becomes a mission of a lifetime. Personally for me, it is the launch of the first of three career projects that I want to accomplish over the rest of my career: build an artificial general intelligence agent as a personalized learning assistant for any human learner of post-secondary age, for any scientific subject or technical discipline.
The ancient Spartans supposedly believed that one’s actions determine one’s feelings as opposed to vice versa. This experience has been like this for me. Perhaps because of my particular goal and my deep conviction that humanity needs it, perhaps not, but I find myself a different person. I feel genuine love for people around me, and gratitude for being. I have always felt better when I give than when I receive, in distinct disproportion, and going through the preparation of the talk and the intense event itself has broken down a lot of walls and barricades in my soul. I feel like I have thrown off an unseen burden and that the mindspace in its place is accelerating toward the next milestone in my life.