Brilliant and me

Larry Brilliant

You remember me mentioning the chat I had with Larry Brilliant, the man who helped to eradicate smallpox, at our (The Economist‘s) recent “innovation summit” in Berkeley?

The video of it is now on our site.

It’s about 14 minutes, and after a brief warm-up we talk about how to think about the worst threats facing the world.

As usual, there were some snafus: I had recorded an “intro” and “outro”, but we lost the recordings, so the voice you hear at the beginning and end is not mine. But then it’s me talking to Larry.

Larry is a bit of a Renaissance Man — interested in many things, like The Hannibal Blog — so it took us a bit to focus the conversation. Regrettably, some of the most interesting parts of our chat occurred after we turned off the camera. It turns out that Larry, like me, is fascinated by the Bhagavad Gita and Arjuna, so we discussed that for a long time.

Anyway, if you have 14 minutes and want to be scared, check it out.

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Feast of ideas

In case you’ve been wondering whether I might have disappeared: No, I haven’t altogether disappeared; I’ve merely been deeply immersed for several days in our “innovation summit” at Berkeley’s Haas School.

Somewhat to my surprise, I found it to be easily the best conference by The Economist ever, and one of the best conferences anywhere. More intimate than TED, and just as stimulating. I’m still processing all the ideas I got.

Here is the line-up —¬†from the likes of Jared Diamond (above) and Clay Christensen to Arianna Huffington; from WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg (below) to Pixar’s Ed Catmull.

And even including yours truly: I got to give a 13-minute “Flash of Genius” about … my book.

Matt Mullenweg

My friend Vijay Vaitheeswaran conceived, put together and moderated most of the conference. He did a fantastic job — suave, funny, incisive.

I’ll be decompressing intellectually in several subsequent posts.

Larry Brilliant

Among my personal highlights: I did a “Tea with The Economist” (ie, a short video chat) with Larry Brilliant (above) about the Bhagavad Gita, eradicating smallpox, the worst threats to humanity today and … optimism.

All sessions will be out on video shortly, and I’ll point you to them.

Throughout, the atmosphere was characteristic of The Economist: insightful, thoughfult, intellectual but also humorous, spontaneous, irreverent and quirky. Here, for instance, is our logo, propped up professionally behind Larry as I was interviewing him:


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