Apr 9, 2022 - Technology

TED conference returns amid COVID, Ukraine invasion

Ina Fried
Backstage as workers prepare for the TED2022 conference in Vancouver.

Photo: Ryan Lash/TED

The TED conference is returning to Vancouver, Canada, for the first time in two years, with Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Al Gore among those delivering talks.

Between the lines: The high-power event was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 and makes its return against the backdrop of both the continued pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"It’s time," TED chief Chris Anderson told Axios in an exclusive interview ahead of the event, which kicks off Sunday and runs through Thursday. "It’s been too long a break, really."

  • Opening night speakers for TED2022 include Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, Olympian Allyson Felix, RNA researcher Melissa Moore and journalist Alison Killing.
  • Other well-known speakers, in addition to returning TED speakers Gates, Musk and Gore, include AI pioneer Andrew Ng, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri and TV show writer/producer Michael Schur, creator of "The Good Place" and a writer for "The Office."

Anderson said the conversation will begin with Ukraine. "In one way or another there will be a new global order because of Ukraine," Anderson said. "Whether we like it or not remains to be seen."

  • From there, the event will cover the usual wide range of subjects from science breakthroughs to climate change to social justice to the arts.
  • "Everything is changing," Anderson said. "That creates huge concern and worry but also opportunity."
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