Networks

Update: 2017-01-132
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Networks surround and sustain us, in nature, in our bodies, in relationships, in the digital world. This hour, TED speakers explore how we rely on networks and how we have the power to shape them.

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support for this podcast in the following message come from Morgan Stanley who helped First Solar raise capital to expand into new markets capital creates the lights in new places Moore and Morgan Stanley dot com slash First Solar Morgan Stanley and Coe LLC member s IPC this the is the Head Radio Hour each week the groundbreaking Ted talks Technology Design at Stanford delivered and Ted conferences around the world gift of the human imagination we had to believe in impossible the true nature of reality beckons just beyond those talks those ideas adapted for radio NPR and Guy rise and today showed ideas about the power of networks how those connections and those pathways to find the world around us in our cities in our relationships in our bodies and especially in nature so about twenty five years ago forest ecologist Suzanne Smart had a hunch yes the three she thought that trees could talk the Imagine like when you're walking through the forest you might you hear the crunching of the twigs under your feet in the rustling of the least that what if there's more going on because big chattering going on that we can't hear that they're attuned to each other we now at the time and again this is about twenty five years ago a team of scientists in England were wrapping up an experiment where they'd grown in the laboratory these pine seedlings together in little brood boxes that you could see through and the scientists to two of these pine ceilings these baby trees that were in the same box in the saying dirt and then the exposed one of the ceilings to a radioactive carbon dioxide gas carbon fourteen radioactive carbon what they found was that some of that radioactive gas carbon fourteen made its way into the second the ceiling you can visualize it you can see it and so from this experiment it seemed that somehow these two plants in the same dirt the more connected than I thought Wow maybe this is what's going on in my fourth maybe some art that maybe all the trees in a forest or connected in a kind of network like our airport system or transportation system home our social networks and maybe she thought all this was happening underground when we walk through the forests we see is human beings we do see these beautiful trees growing out of the ground but we don't see that they're actually completely linked underground in this superhighway so Sam decided to prove this underground network existed she device an experiment using some of the same radioactive gas the Geiger counter to measure it and a patch of Birch and fir trees the urchin the fur would be connected in the below ground web the shoes and pics of the story from the Ted stage I gathered my apparatus plastic bags and duct tape and shake off P pursued a respirator and then I borrow some high tech stuff from my university a Geiger counter them after Tom under microscopes the first and experiment we got out or plot and I pulled on my weight P pursuit I put on my respirator to put the plastic bags over my trees I got my giant syringes and I injected carbon fourteen the radioactive gas into the bag of Birds I waited an hour I figured it would take this long for the trees to suck up the CEO to through photosynthesis Senate down into their roots and need be shuttled out carbon below ground to their neighbors I went to my first bag with paper tape holding the bag off I ran my Geiger counter over its leaves perfect the birds had taken up the radioactive gas then the moment of truth I went over to the fir tree I pulled off its bay around the Geiger counter up its needles hurt the most beautiful sound it was the founder of Birch talking to fir and Birch was saying he hoped for thing ah family from here Kirby I was so excited I ran from plot to plot and I checked all eighty replicates the evidence was clear people are virgins other for two way conversation it turns out that time of the year in the summer the Birch was sending more carbon to further for sending back to Birch especially when the fur was shaded and then later experiments me from the office said the firm was sending more carbon to burst in purchasing defer this is because the firm is still growing over Birch was leaf lettuce so it turns out the two species are interdependent like Yin and yang and at that moment everything came into focus for me I knew I'd found something big something that would change the way we look at how trees interaction for us from not just competitors to the whopper eaters the the the fam at Suzanne's discovery was pretty revolutionary because up until this point most psychologists believe that trees competed against each other that their world was like a Darwinian struggle with winners and losers yes you know that they are competing for light and water nutrients and that the strongest trees were the ones that grew tall the ones that dominated the canopy and took all the resources that was like Oh I'm going to get what I want and I don't care what my neighbor needs but Suzanne's experiment showed that something else was true there are actually sending messages back and forth the balance is the resource distribution among the community the gorgeous trees aren't just connected actually sharing resources with each other for what we found one tree had a lot of of water in it or a lot of nitrogen are high for synthetic rate and if one tree E is sick then the neighboring tree you shuttles more of those nutrients to that suffering tree when you say communicated to actually communicate what other Valley of Fire or invasive species or something yes so if one tree gets damaged by sea mountain pine beetle injured ceiling will up its defense enzymes and then receiving tree will then increase its defense and limes because it knows now that there's some kind of damaging agent around how how they are they doing this is how the communicating through through an underground network so they are physically connected by these microscopic fungi and so mushrooms yes you're right we call them high she or my see Liam in fact if you were to peel back the surface of the forests or you'll see the fungi that are linking these trees together they're very visible and it's these white and yellow different colored threads that or they look like you know sewing threads but their fungal threads and their criss crossed and going off and multiple directions and they work together to create a very very complex web and there in Casa communication between all the trees the network is called Micah Rizal network and to NY to see how intricate it actually was she built a massive massive interconnected map where each tree represents the circle note the big iftar cliff notes we call those hug trees or more finely mother tree because it earns those that those hub trees nurture their young ones growing in the under story if you can see those yellow dog if those are the young seedlings are there without just within the network of the old mother trees and I think the forest a mother tree can be connected to hundreds of other trees we have found that mother trees will send their excess carbon through the mike horizon that were to the under story feelings we've associated this with increased seedling survival by four times no we know we all favor and children and I wondered could the Gopher recognize its own kin so we thought about an experiment we groom other trees with kitten strangers seedlings and it turns out they do recognize there can mother trees colonize their kin with bigger my horizon that works they send the more carbon below ground they even reduce their own root competition to make room for their kids when Mother trees are injured or dying they also send messages of wisdom on to the next generation of seedlings and these have increased the resistance of those feelings to future strife of the the the it's almost like like with these trees and especially with the mother trees are doing it's almost like a selfless act well it it feels like at the surface but when you start digging down into the multiple interactions going on in the forests it's not really a selfless act because trees need a complex are a diverse community to thrive and they need no other plants that can psycho new chance more quickly or they can access nutrients and different dishes they need other neighbors that are resistant to insects and diseases so it's actually in their self interest to be sharing these resources with their neighbors to make sure their neighbors their diverse community is vibrant because that feeds back to them and then there are more vibrant and healthy yet it's almost like they need each other yes I think you know one way for us to think about this you know we live in communities of doctors and teachers and people that are running the coffee shops and bakeries and there's a whole range of skills that meek a thriving community we need each other if you take away the baker then we've got no breath we take away the banker where we get our money so it's the same in a forest the the there's all these different species and they're all part of this holistic functioning ecosystem we all have a role to play just like in our human communities and if you lose one of those key individuals then the whole thing is to reorganize itself to make up for what's missing the the collections of trees are complex systems with hubs and networks overlap and connect reason allow them to communicate and they provide revenues for feedbacks and adaptation and this makes the fourth resilience because there are many hug trees the many overlapping networks but they're also vulnerable because hug trees are not unlike rivets in an airplane you can take one or two and the plane still flies we take it one too many or maybe that one and the whole system collapses well you know the great thing about forests of complex systems we have enormous capacity to self heal and our recent experiments we found with pretension of hug trees every generation to have diversity of species and genes and your times that these Mike arise or metrics they recover really rapidly we need to regenerate our forests with a diversity of feces and Gino types and structures by planting in allowing natural regeneration we have to give Mother Nature the tools she needs to use her intelligence to self heal and we need to remember that forests are just a bunch of trees competing with each other for super co operators the thank you the forest ecologist Dan Smart Taste University of British Columbia can see her entire talk at Ted dot com The Show today is about the power of networks with this guy rise and listening to the Ted Radio Hour from NPR all I have one just a quick thanks to two of our sponsors who helped make this podcast possible first to learn best they're an online financial advice company that believes you should give your finances the same attention you give to the health of your mind and body learn best believes in wellness in all forms and they can help you 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worked at her studio apartment for years before anyone cared about her purses or that it took Herb Kelleher four years of fighting off the big airlines before he was able to launch Southwest well if you want to hear stories of incredible perseverance hustle and optimism check out how I built this it's another show I host its about the stories behind the most amazing entrepreneurs you thought you knew you can find it on I tunes at NPR dot org slash podcasts or however you get your podcasts the the it's the Ted Radio Hour from NPR and I rise and set a the power of networks the forces that connect s and the connections we build for ourselves key to me by your like your typical morning driving to work absolutely terrible for my new means for one thing lasts at least an hour and half and interesting thing is that six years ago over the same distance my commute was forty five minutes this is one E's Weisz and director of the strategy at UPS nice work sit ups headquarters in Atlanta and guests every day he spent many hours in his car going to and from work so so what is a distance from your home to your office every morning drive for twenty five minus twenty five miles to our house everyday yes yes what is the problem is just more people as it is just more people who don't know how to drive or the I think it's the success of a system that was invented in the in the late nineteenth century beginning of twentieth century reaching the point where the productivity of this system is going down and and the basic problem is that the idea that's most people living in a city can use their own individual car to go to work it's just impossible with the infrastructure that has been built yet what happens to know a lot about transportation networks of course he works at UPS a works mainly with health care clients or customers that need UPS to deliver medicine all over the world exactly that it goes from very familiar process of distributing flu vaccines every year at that flu season two things that are very unpredictable like the oboe the crisis or where you have to intervene very quickly with no infrastructure and you have to come up with solutions the more you talk to these companies the more when he started to change the way he thinks about transportation networks I work with pharmaceutical companies and the occasionally talk about drug delivery and when it took about a drug delivery with a Yeah we can do that we are all sorts of drugs and the customer would typically say Number No we're not talking about the truck deliveries to the patient for talking about the drug delivery to the cells inside the body and so this type of conversation just made me realize that you know you have a fascinating transportation system within our budgeted where if you ingest a pill it would go from your digestive system to your bloodstream and ultimately needs to go to potentially a specific area to produce an effect the the the human body has a pretty efficient network to move things around inside of us in this idea and made one nice thing maybe we could take some of those lessons from biology and use them to improve the transportation networks in our city's twenty eight states biology has been in the transportation business for billions of years it has been testing out the solutions to move nutrients guess Fifth and fourteenth it really is the world's most sophisticated sport a celebratory so what if the solution to our traffic sentences was inside us I wanted to know why is it that blood flows in our face most of our life when our big cities get clogged on a daily basis each of us has sixty thousand miles of blood vessels in orbit and sixty thousand minus two and a half times the circumference inside you what it means that blood vessels are everywhere inside us not just under the surface of our skin but if you look at our cities yes we have some underground subway systems tunnels and bridges but the vast majority of our traffic is focused on the ground on the surface so in other words what our vascular system uses the three dimensions inside us our urban transportation is mostly today much to know the reason it is so incredibly efficient is that our robots us are not dedicated to specific organs or tissues otherwise we would probably have five exams in our veins know their shared shared by all the cells of our body and because our network is so extensive each one of our thirty seven trillion cells get its own deliveries of oxygen precisely when it gets the nod is both collective and individual form of transportation but for our cities we've been stuck in an endless debate between creating a car centric society or extensive mass transit systems all money really is amazing when you think about it like how incredibly efficient the human body is moving things around great absolutely I mean it is absolutely incredible one think that I was courteous about was the heart the heart pump and no scores to estimate how much it would cost us to operate it you know if we plugged it on the electrical grid and made some calculations and the estimate that I filed in order to operate your heart for your on the electrical grid system it would cost you a dollar and ten cents wow I just was mind blown by how little energy our body uses to transport oxygen to transport nutrients and he just was an impetus for me to dig into it and try to learn more about different components of the transportation system so I mean what could a bleak the future look like a future where streets and highways were built like our bodies to like if if you took a city like Atlanta in a hundred years from now one of the transport options be like it if you think about a city like Atlanta that has a very dense core with a very high buildings and high rises one first striking thing is that you would see more and more vehicles in the air it doesn't make sense that we've built higher and higher buildings in order to create density but that our transportation is still mostly flat mostly horizontal so you will see flying vehicles companies like Airbus today are working on flying carbon taxes you have more and more ventures working on drones that can transport people you may have other layers horizontal layers of Transportation beside the roads you may have suspended magnetic trains or parts that transport people so I think that's one component a second component is that you would have or less punts that people can use move very fast pace in a very smart way to communicate with each other communicate with infrastructure so it would be mesmerizing but it would be fast moving and definitely more fruits and in the system I mean once driver less cars are real these cars presumably will be network dubbed communicating with each other the B note traffic they'll be no accidents no slow downs the car will know exactly where to park I mean won't want that sort of fix the problem I think it would be a major solution to our problem their origin studies that are being made around sharing platforms to vehicles that are shared by multiple users and we already can see that it has a very positive effect on the congestion level in cities that one shared vehicle can replace five to seven individual vehicles on the road that's a big improvement and the perspective of having his vehicle's driver less would push to save banks even even for once we have these large driver less infrastructure built in an available the Just imagine very familiar see you've been driving for forty two minutes to two kids behind you are getting restless and your date just that slow car in front of you always comes when your late right that driver is looking for parking there is no parking spots available in the area but how would he know it is estimated that up to thirty percent of urban traffic generated by drivers looking for parking hundred cars around you eighty five of them only have one passenger by Richie would never do this space inside our arteries is fully utilized and the tiny space inside the red book itself is not wasted either in healthy conditions more than ninety five percent of their oxygen capacity is used to just read blood cells are not flowing feelings they never stop at red lights in the first driver to cities you would have no red lights and moldings and when all the cars are driving less and connected everything is predictable and reaction time minimum that can drive much faster and can take a new Russian initiative that can speed them up or the cars around them so instead of rigid traffic rules for always be regulated by a mesh of dynamic and constantly self improving the Gordon's the result a strange traffic that mixes the fast and smooth trigger of Truman took a bath and do creative vitality fifteen for sections of Mumbai traffic will be functionally exuberance it would be liquid like our blood and biased rants products to more robots eyes are tough agreed would be more organic and alive its movements would fill the The e g think that in your lifetime in my lifetime do you think will be able to see these networks of connected driver less cars do you think will be will be able to actually solve the transit problem in inner cities so if today you can hop on a driver less car in Singapore and have a ride in Singapore you have a city like Dubai that is committed to test response to transport people and I are sort of buses that are modular so different you think that we're going to see that problem is big enough to congestion problem is big enough and has such high economic cost that I think the incentive would be pretty high for some very competitive cities to implement innovative solutions so the combinations of Intelligence Capital and the magnitude of this problem just makes me convinced that we are definitely going to sin in our lifetime driver the cities that are more fluid I'm absolutely convinced of it the the twenty stash lives in Atlanta you can see his entire talk at Ted dot com on the show today ideas about the power of networks how those connections those pathways to find the world around us well in my house my doorbell is connected to my cell phone which is connected to my laptop which is connected to his computer scientist be ridden the thermostat which is connected to the alarm system and I concert in my bathroom after taking a shower and before I got undressed and got my phone and turn on the heat my car and then turn on the coffee maker in the toaster and we're all headed in this direction right Amy Holmes and are places that they basically becoming extensions of us yes it's known as the Internet of Things and all these devices are not only connected to each other but they're connected to pretty much every other device on the internet soo I should probably mention here that Hobbes area of expertise is computer security which means he understands how all of the sky activity can also make us incredibly vulnerable is everything that we own that's connected to the Internet all of that in theory be hacked I would say that that's a fair assumption Matt Stoller crazy yes if you had internet trouble this morning you weren't alone hackers disrupted series of cyber attack today against the Internet you might remember this is a few months ago some of the biggest sites on the internet like Amazon and Google went down across large parts of the U S attacks began early this morning as websites from Twitter to Netflix and disruption was caused by an attack an attack that actually began inside the Internet of things inside the devices we use everyday unbeknownst to us hackers out there we're able to put malicious software on these devices by taking advantage of bugs in the software when these things are manufactured basically you everyday household things experts say cheap generic devices are usually the most susceptible routers security cameras DVR some attacker sent the command that all these devices at the same time saying attack the attacks focused on dying in an internet switchboard for numerous major websites the attacks continued throughout and so that attack was able to produce a situation where a lot of users were not able to communicate with some of the services that they rely on the most like Twitter and Google and other sites the service simply wasn't available just not available and it's not in most people's threat model people don't say Well I watch Netflix if it's available to someone's nephew assume it's going to be there was the losing the flakes for a day or two at the end of the world right but what hobby is worried about is that hackers can exploit our growing dependence on the Internet of Things to do some really serious damage which she explained that stage
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