The second section of TEDxUGA started with a performance by the Athens Tango Project, a group of international performers from the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, whose mission is to bring authentic tango music to the United States.

The group of four comes from Poland, Nicaragua, Argentina and the U.S.

Laura Camacho, a veteran of the Athens Tango Project, said music was a way for people to connect with one another.

Most tango songs refer to love, but Camacho said the one performed at TED was about the silencing of speech in Argentina she is from.

Spencer Hall

The senior statistics major followed the Athens Tango Project with a presentation focused on the power of statistical analysis.

Much like the Rosetta Stone, a stone with Greek and Egyptian writing on it, was used to help decode Egyptian hieroglyphics, so can statistics be used to understand the world’s deadliest diseases, Hall said.

Understanding DNA and how genes work is important for understanding disease, Hall said, but for much of history too much information existed to go through all of the data manually.

Hall said statisticians developed a new subfield called bioinformatics to help weed through the large amounts of data.

Hall said a statistical test called a T-Test is used to determine an association between disease and genes.

Hall, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, a disorder which causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe from a buildup of mucus, said he and others with genetic diseases need bioinformatics to discover cures.  

“Our lives depend on a better understanding of how genes work,” he said.

He said we must use bioinformatics to “save lives and end suffering” and “push medicine into undreamt of frontiers.”

Mehrsa Baradaran

The third presenter during part two of TEDxUGA said, like Hall, she wanted to improve the use of a system and proposed a change to the banking system in the U.S.

The U.S. is underbanked, the associate professor in the UGA School of Law said. Nearly 40 million Americans spend 10 percent of their income because they do not trust a bank enough to invest their money in one, and about half of Americans have less than $500 in savings, Baradaran said.

And for many low income Americans, the debt becomes a cycle between different loan sharks who charge between 200 to 300 percent on loans, leading to bankruptcy, she said.

“Trust is the currency of banking,” Baradaran said. “And historically the only institution to provide this trust is government.”

Baradaran said the postal office may be the solution to America’s distrust of banking.

Postal banking was first suggested around the time of the American Civil War, and during the Great Depression created a culture of banking, she said.

And the postal office has never left the low income areas, the banking deserts, Baradaran said. About 60 percent of postal offices are found in low income areas, she said.

And public service is the mission of the postal office, she said.

“People trust the postal service,” she said. “It might be seen as a dinosaur but not as shark.”

Mingshu Wang

The fourth presenter during the second round of TEDxUGA and Ph.D. student at the Center for Geospatial Research in the Department of Geography shared his ideas on something much less archaic than the postal service — Google Maps, or more specifically geotagging techology.

“I am the geographer,” Wang said.

And whoever has used the app Tripadvisor or Google Maps is also a geographer, he said.

Geography is always evolving, he said. It is the relationship between humans and environment.

“You receive benefits from what others provide,” he said.

At the end of his presentation, Wang shared a use he had discovered for geotagging — mapping the price of marijuana around the country.

Because it’s illegal you have to rely on end users generated data and geotagging, he said.

Marc Gorlin

Roadie entrepreneur and the final presenter of the second round of TEDxUGA, said an inability to pick up ladies was never a concern because he could make something out of nothing and coax people to believe in magic.

As a youth, Gorlin had a special interest in magic and tricks, which he said stuck with him into his years as an entrepreneur later in life.

“In both, you have to make something out of nothing and make people believe stuff that they wouldn't believe and shouldn't,” he said.

Gorlin said this skill is how Airbnb’s were able to convince homeowners to let random people stay in their houses.  

And today Airbnb’s have “booked more rooms than Hilton, Intercontinental and Marriott,” he said.

For Gorlin’s latest entrepreneurship project, Roadie, an on-the-way delivery service, he said he had to convince users there was more to the app than there really was by partnering with Waffle House and scoring a promotion from Jimmy Kimmel.

“It was a powerful illusion,” he said, one that brought in tens of thousands of users who made the community work.

“When you start something from scratch you have to make something every day,” Gorlin said. “Make all the plates spin even though some will break.”

Entrepreneurship takes hard work, grit and believing anything is possible, he said.


See more coverage by The Red & Black of TEDxUGA here and here.