What if…it’s over? 2

A day of outgrowing our dimensions of reality is over. At the TEDxVienna conference we dived into the world of “What if…”. We asked ourselves without limitations what would happen if…

To explore the possibilities and freely think the impossible, speakers from artists, scientists to survival artists, ranging from 14 to 90 years-old, let us catch a glimpse at their ideas by sharing critical, personal and empowering stories.

There, on the stage, suddenly we all saw our own grandchild. What will be the question of our generation and how will our impact on the world be judged in retrospect? Representing the next generation, our grandchild living in 2055, was standing in front of us, confronting us with the situation in 2015: Nationalism is back and the idea of the European dream is on the verge of collapsing. Although we were seen as the generation that no one expected much from us, we tore down the walls of apathy and changed direction of history, because we realized that no one writes history FOR us.


Creating awareness

Currently we have multiple crises that urge us to take action NOW if not already yesterday. Filip Malinowski pointed out that humankind is on its way to extinction due to the every rising problem of climate change. Closely following the climate change negotiations for one of his films, he is convinced that not the politicians, who have met already for 21 years on this issue, will find the solution but by changing the normative society from a national interest to a global responsible citizenship it might be possible.

Matthew Cooke

Matthew Cooke

The filmmaker Matthew Cooke stated that we are all in the same game and reminded us of the objective of the game, the game of life: peace. In the light of the current refugee crisis this seems to be more important than ever. Alexander Betts from the University of Oxford demonstrated us once and for all which negative myths about refugees are plain wrong.

But how can we deal with this catalogue of unpleasant challenges? What if we can radically change our current system?

At the moment success is measured with money and financial profitability does not necessarily go along with taking care of our planet. Christian Felber suggests an alternative economic model, the economy for the common good, which asks how much a company contributes to the common good.

“As we have a holistic view, money is not longer a goal of economy. It becomes a means. The goal is the common good.” Christian Felber

How? His solution is Sovereign democracy, which he demonstrated on stage and in a nutshell a form of democracy in which citizens are the highest instance.

Several of our speakers also intended to empower the individual to change his or her habits and make a conscious choiceIndustrial designer Katharina Unger set her goal to empower people to grow their own food. Her suggestion: insects. They are protein rich, we find them en masse and compared to meat production breeding them does not contribute to climate change. For this purpose she designed farms to rear for example mealworms, that could be tasted by our attendees.

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Katharina Unger & her livin farm





George Nimeh, digital marketing guru, made us aware that the internet in its present state is not sustainable. Those contributing most of the content are either cannot make a living from it or loose their authenticity by introducing banner ads. He made a call to think twice and support websites like brainpickings or Wikipedia by donating money for consumption of their content.


Personal insights

Olga MurrayBut not everything is about global and international problems. Sometimes we also have to sort out our inner conflicts. Speakers like Jannike Stoehr took us on her journey of testing 30 jobs within one year to find happiness or Salah Ammo who ended up in the Traiskirchen refugee camp and had to cope with being treated like a refugee rather than a musician. But after his performance on stage this perception changed for sure! Michael Herold has lived with spinal muscular atrophy for over three decades and shared with us his very personal moment when he decided to work on his bucket list despite all obstacles. Our youngest speaker, the 14 years old Lalita Prasida invented a low-cost water purifier or student Cosmos Scharf who co-founded The Virtual Reality Foundation, which, the world’s largest virtual reality expo or 90 years old Olga Murray who is fighting for the rights of kids since 30 years are also great examples that show clearly once you found your inner passion and motvation, go for it! You might be surprised by yourself! Poetry slam champion Vanessa Kisuule and mathematician Eugina Cheng just confirmed this by showing us live their passions and talents! And if you think you cannot live from your passion than you might want to ask Kyle MacDonald how he traded a paperclip for a house.

“The reason I love mathematics so much is because I never stopped being that two-year old that asks: Why? Why? Why?” Eugenia Cheng

In times of social and economic confusion, how can we not consider art as the only medium for writing the legacy of our feelings to future generations? Vanessa Kisuule


Future challenges and great opportunities

Yep, the possibilities and challenges of the present are already lots of. But what will the future bring? Gernot Groemer told us that the first person going to Mars is already born, Matt Wall introduced us to the wonderful world of neurons and what we can read from their activity and quantum physicist Gabriela Lemos fascinated us with the possibility of being at to positions at the same time. However the future awaits us not only with choices but confronts us with new challenges. Scientist Paul Knoepfler introduced us to the world of genetic engineering and what consequences we will have to face. Bio-artist Eduardo Kac asked: “What if we could realize the ultimate dream of art and truly create biological life?” It will be in our hands to decide if we want to have genetically modified children or to which extend we want to interfere with nature. Medical doctor Oskar Aszmann knows what it means to tinker on what has been made by nature: the body. He and his patients Patrick Mayrhofer, who got his arm replaced by a bionic one, explained what it means to substitute what nature has given you by technology.

Oskar Aszmann

                                                     Oskar and Patrick shaking hands

We hope that you enjoyed the day as much as we did and took the possiblitity to try out some of our interactive experiences that ranged from joining the Origami experts from Katokami, testing VR-lounge from vrei, exploring the Metalab or getting to know new people in our Citizen check. Thank you also to Topfreisen and Rita bringt’s who spoiled us with food!


More photos and memories can be found on the TEDxVienna facebook page.

Thanks to all attendees, partners, sponsors, team members and volunteers and exhibitors for making it such aspecial day!


But don’t worry about the conference being over, we provide you the whole year with fresh ideas on our blog, soon the talks will be online and next year we are back with new surprises!


15.11.2015: Finally you can find the talks online here!



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About Lisa Landskron

Being a scientist in the field of molecular biology & leading the TEDxVienna Blogger team, Lisa loves to do biochemical as well as digital experiments to create and spread ideas.

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