TED Conference underway in Long Beach, featuring Bill Gates, Jason Mraz and more


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Among the luminaries converging this week at the TED conference in Long Beach: bold-face names such as philanthropist Bill Gates, singer Jason Mraz, “Super Size Me” director Morgan Spurlock as well as chefs, magicians, roboticists and paper-cutter artists.

The confab, short for Technology, Entertainment and Design, is one of the country’s premier gatherings of so-called “thought leaders.” Think Davos, just more diverse.


Attendees, except for some participants from education or nonprofit groups, paid $6,000 each. Already, they’ve heard from a fashion designer who grows organic clothes, a cellist performing on a Stradivarius and Wadah Khanfar, the head of international news network Al Jazeera.

In sessions with names such as “Monumental,” “Majestic” and “Mindblowing,” guests on Tuesday were remotely visited by a woman who is walking from Siberia to Antarctica and by an astronaut living in zero-gravity at the International Space Station.

The list of speakers continues with musician Bobby McFerrin, director Julie Taymor, Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford and PepsiCo Inc. Chief Executive Indra Nooyi.

Also on the roster: a puppeteer, a deep-sea explorer, a dinosaur digger as well as a self-described “wrongologist” and “futurist.” Oh, and also Stanley McChrystal, the commander in charge of operations in Afghanistan before a Rolling Stone article this summer forced his resignation.

This year’s winner of the TED Prize, an annual $100,000 award for an “exceptional individual,” is photographer-graffiti artist JR. Past winners have included chef Jamie Oliver, President Bill Clinton and rock star and activist Bono.

After more than two decades in Monterey, TED moved to Long Beach’s Terrace Theater and Center Theater in 2009. TEDTalks, videos from past events, are available on YouTube, Facebook and Hulu.


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Top photo: Jason Mraz. Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press