Notes from TEDxSkoll

Some thoughts immediately after attendance at TEDxSkoll in Oxford on 7th April.

Wonderful new website of the day and @doverview – go look!
Food for thought of a digital variety: understanding that some of the standardised algorithms for face recognition simply don’t recognise black faces because they were omitted from the training set – giving rise to the Algorithmic Justice League and the notion of the “coded gaze” – an allusion to the notion of the male gaze in art, I assume. More here:
The notion of the power of the citizen witness in a world of a video camera in every pocket. Amazing stuff at


The interesting statement by a psychologist that when people were shown footage of protesters and told that they were campaigning against a cause that the people in question support, that they are reputed as showing more violence than identical footage shown to a control group with no attribution of the protestors’ motives.  For example liberals told that the protesters were anti-abortion reported them as being more violent than neutral observers.
It was great to hear from the truly extra-ordinary Dr Agnes Binagwaho who has done an enormous amount to rebuild Rwanda – and to build scientific and objective truth into public health and decision-making. A special human.
Hearing Deborah Lipstadt – the woman who David Irving accused of libel for calling him a holocaust denier and who had to fight it out in the courts, but to a very high standard proving him wrong and eviscerating denier arguments, showing how lies become filtered by being opinions and then into the domain of alt-facts. A privilege to be in the same room as her, and she gave a wonderfully impassioned call to the defence of truth. “We must do it now, later will be too late”.
A speaker (anonymised) from the civilian defence volunteers in Syria known as “the white helmets”. I knew they were a thing but I had no idea how organised and well trained and equipped they were, or frankly how powerful a political force they can be if and when they want to. The “I suddenly got something in my eye” moment was when the speaker finished by saying that before the war, the young children in the streets played soldiers. They now play White Helmets.

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