• Ethan Liebross

TEDx: Virtual Reality, Cybersecurity, and Becoming Inspired

I finally got to attend a TEDx talk. No joke: This has been on my bucket list for years now.

I went to the talk this past Sunday in Schwab Auditorium. It was everything I imagined it to be. Even the red TEDx letters were there.

I learned about virtual reality and how, by 2020, one billion people are expected to be using it. The exciting thing is that its scope stretches far beyond video games. Virtual reality crosses borders into all sorts of disciplines: medicine, education, and even to treat phobias and depression. My next to-do list item is to put on a headset and see what all this craze is really about.

Parham Eftekhari talked about cybersecurity. Before the talk, I cared very very little about cybersecurity. Why would I need to learn about it if I'm not pursuing IST? The thing is consumers (you and I) have one of the most significant responsibilities. What companies we choose to support can have substantial effects. For example, in December of 2013, thieves hacked up to 40 million customer credit cards and around 110 million other sets of personal information from Target. If you didn't already know, it was a pretty big deal. Some may blame the hackers, but the responsibility lies on Target for not having strong enough code/cybersecurity. As consumers, we can speak up, talk to elected officials, and maybe, if we're feeling especially vindictive, stop shopping at Target.

I especially liked Ms. Debbie Reber’s speech. She is a parenting activity, founder of TiLT Parenting, and, did I forget, a New York Times bestselling author. My mom is an occupational therapist, so I felt a particularly special connection to Ms. Reber’s speech. Her speech talked about what it means to have a learning disability or mental illness. Most people say if you have one, you’re not normal. Ms. Reber likes to say “differently wired.” One in five people is “differently wired.” That’s a lot of people. The question becomes, does normal even exist?

I also loved Ali Rothrock’s well-crafted and raw speech. Ali worked as a young firefighter. She poured her heart and soul into the job, a job that’s traditionally dominated by men. A coworker sexually assaulted her and, when Ali built up the strength to leave, she went to another firehouse where the same thing happened. She has since dedicated the rest of her life to preventing and treating victims of sexual violence. In 2010 she published her first book, Where Hope Lives, and she is CEO of an online platform that helps build more resilient first responders.

The cool thing about TEDx talks is that you get a 15 minute or so chunk of what someone thinks. We all have different passions and interests, but the ability to share them in a compelling and engaging way never ceases to amaze me.

That Sunday was not a wasted one. I became more educated and more inspired than the previous day, and I think that’s what it’s all about.

Next bucket-list item: get up on the stage.

Originally published: February 12th, 2019

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