What makes us human? | Suleman Shahid | TEDxIslamabad

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In this talk Suleman discusses how technology can empower humans and vice versa. He has worked on diverse projects, ranging from designing human-centered digital solutions for improving governance in public sector organizations to improving visitors’ experience in cultural heritage sites. His research focuses at the intersection of design, technology and well being with applications to

(1) Assistive technologies (mobile apps and VR/AR ) to enhance the quality of life of persons with disabilities (e.g. autism, dyslexia, visual impairment, dementia), and persons with mental health conditions (e.g. anxiety, depression)
(2) Learning technologies for children and
(3) Information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) in the areas of education and health for the next billion users in the emerging markets.

Meet Suleman Shahid, Assistant Professor in Computer Science at Lahore University of Management Science (LUMS), director of the Computer-Human Interaction and Social Experience Lab (CHISEL) and Faculty Lead for the Facebook Innovation Lab at LUMS, which is Facebook’s first Innovation Lab in Pakistan. Join us this November to learn more about his work and polish yourselves with the best from the industry. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx <br> <h3>Auto Generated Captions</h3>

[Music]
so today I’m going to talk about our
future shared future and is it a fiction
or reality and I’m going to talk about
first what makes us human
you know the future is important by the
first most important things to realize
what makes human human you are Harini
explains this very nicely
you could never convince a monkey to
give you a banana by promising him
limitless bananas after death in the
monkey hub you just cannot convince
almost any species to give you something
in your done with this equation but I
think you can certainly convince a human
to give you banana or something valuable
by convincing him to give and limitless
bananas or something else in heaven the
heaven we believe in and that very
nicely explains of how complex we as a
human species are and how do we define
and look at our future and you know we
love our future we love predicting it we
have formed many different creative ways
to know about our future sometimes we
get very desperate and have to rely on
this beautiful parrot to let us know how
the day would pass we’ve been very
creative today you have me it lets you
know about your future good luck with
that so but you know going forward
thinking about your future
the most important thing is that it’s
shared future very exists is it a
fiction can we take off system under
this one earth to live on and one world
to share can we think of something under
this harmonious world framework for the
common destiny can we think of sharing
rights and shouldering obligations to be
honest a path methinks shared future is
certainly a fiction with a current
framework in place the way for example
the capitalism works the way the nation
Theory works the way you know our
different institutions work I think to
take care of that and design and create
a future which is valuable meaningful
and
cher is not that easy it is to me a
fiction like in the case of money like
in the case of democracy like in the
case of other fictions you all Noah talk
about you already talked about in his
sapiens book one of the best weeds but
of course you know as a human you live
on one thing you live in think hope you
just cannot subtract hope because every
day you wake up in the morning you think
that he can bring some change your day
would be different from the the day
which has just passed so that part of me
does tell that we can do something about
it
that part it does tell that you can
still do some fixes but what’s the
biggest hurdle in achieving that shared
future
what future of a different way of living
or be a change agent as this very
interesting framework which we have
introduced over the past and it appears
us versus them
we humans have evolved over time to
think about think in terms of groups
people like us are like us and people
like something else are like them and we
have you know made these groups based on
religion we have made these groups based
on gender
we have nationalism and sometimes you
have these groups based on race smoker
versus not spoken where are you you join
a company and that’s your first day and
you’re a smoker the first friend with
the one who’s also smoking because you
click might not very nicely you click
immediately but then you know all these
boundaries all these verticals all these
walls does not really help us in
building this shared future we all want
to talk about but then you know I do
feel and I do think that there’s a path
forward religion I don’t go into much
difficult area to spend time on one has
to be very careful nationalism
well I live in Pakistan a little area to
comment on an area where I can actually
go forward with and I’m very passionate
about is of course gender and disability
something I’ve started working on so the
first thing you know I’ve been working
on the last five seven years is that to
be disability inclusion in the last six
seven years you know one thing I’ve seen
that the world what is about disability
more than the disability will actually
worry about themselves we have this
mental model that they might not be live
a good life issues I don’t know how we
did manage that and they’re not thinking
like that by the way
they are thinking something less about
something a bit differently they are
thinking in terms of how can we
contribute are we valuable how can we
make a good exist in Tuesday’s part of
the society so we have this sort of
reverse mindset we have got bit based on
all the myths and not actual data
because we don’t really interact with
them in the way we should and and the
best has really learned about it they
have tried to find a mechanism that how
can we fix this issue and have to make
society a more inclusive society
unfortunately in the motherland in the
homeland things are not that simple
there is indeed a crisis we don’t really
take disability as a disability we don’t
want to fix that issue because we think
it’s just not valuable and if you want
to fix that issue the numbers don’t
really support us you know because
they’re not that many people and we have
that much money to spend on and that
many people and disability is just not
that enough number enough we play this
number again so in my research at lumps
you know we look at this complete
spectrum we look at people with autism
we try to design visual aids for them so
that we can help them with early
diagnosis we work with people with
dyslexia so that we can help early
diagnosis of dyslexia I have met people
in the last three years in Pakistan who
were diagnosed with dyslexia at the age
of twenty something which have been done
at the age of six and seven when you
start
the market people with visual visual
Eitam visual impairment but in this case
would only help them to improve their
quality of life but also help them to
play games Hawking the play games with
sighted people then we also work with
people with dementia how can you design
we have technologies for them we have
this aging population and dementia is
gonna it’s gonna really really destroy
us that with the number of people who
are being affected by dementia we need
to find this inclusive mindset so that
we can help them we also work with
people but is it physically disabled so
that we can actually support them so
they can become a part of independent
part of the society so they can live
their life independently and more
importantly what discovery which I had
couple of years ago which has really
completely changed the way I look at
disability is the issue with anxiety and
depression ladies and gentlemen if we
don’t pay attention to the station we’ll
be buried under this it is coming West
is looking at it but we’re not ready
we have built this whole system in
Pakistan where when we talk about this
thing you’re because you’re weak man
can’t talk about it
because he’s been raised as a person
because you can’t cry we have over
burden in the society and we’re not
talking about these things a whole
generation in every shift is being
affected by this
exactly and depression and again enough
you don’t pay attention to this at a
national level a human level we’re not
gonna come out of it very soon so of
course we work on designing self care at
work on designing assistive apps to help
these people but this is a real crisis
for example that there’s a study
recently that 7% of graduate students
end in Columbia have some sign of
anxiety and depression schools in the
world most of good half of them is
actually
depression which is chronic you take an
example in any university in Pakistan
you see anxiety depression
it’s just with hard evidence and all we
say famous nanak ego
to us to the younger calm down and that
gets even more so I think we just need
to make sure that we understand this
thing so when you tell somebody that
calm down
it’s gonna come down it’s a signal that
go to help you know maybe we need to
address the which means the most
important thing in this context is not
design technologies of course you know
we do that for a living
and I can get publication out of it and
again become associate professor that’s
very difficult thing to have but the
most important thing at this stage is to
raise awareness how people realize that
this is an issue so that we can actually
start focusing on that it nor even
thinking about a solution just thinking
about that you can actually look at the
problem the false things sort of divide
and slowly when we are so pay attention
to this awareness thing we start looking
at the mindset change and once we have
this mindset to change we become self
inclusive mindset and that is the key
thing when he turns is instilled in this
very context so people talk about where
you work in this area and and the
question is always what is the economics
of number versus economics of well-being
and by the way if you know don’t be
fooled about it the number is not small
the disability in Pakistan that if you
look at a number that’s become more than
the population of most of the countries
I have lived in you know live in Europe
and the number of disabled people we
have in Pakistan actually sees the bit
of of people actually live in many of
the European countries so it’s not about
a number like a monster and it’s not
about that we D we’re talking about very
few numbers a huge Tower and that number
signals that we of course need to think
about economics but then well V is also
a pretty important something I’ll come
back to this at the end of this talk
well you know while working on this one
because I do that for living
we also offer at loans so in different
projects and every year I ask students
that you have to come up
videos so three years ago you know I had
different ideas and one of the groups
came to me and told me that they want to
work on the University class men and
women harassment on space and public
spaces I told them look you know let’s
focus on something more serious
something which is more relevant because
I don’t think that that that happens in
Pakistan and they told me you know we
have a couple of females in our in our
group and they think that it’s an issue
I said okay fine you go home
you’ve spent three weeks you conduct
some user research you print the data
for me that is actually a problem and
you show in the data and allow you to
work on the project so they went back
they conducted interviews they went to
hospitals they went to schools they went
to different stores the interpret people
on females on on streets and they came
up with the data and told me it is a
very serious issue I looked at it I
looked at the data and I said yeah but I
have not seen that myself could you
please go back and bring audio
interviews so they went back they
conducted about 12 interviews they came
back to me
I understood the audio I listened to the
first audio from some hospital she was a
worker in a hospital and after about
seven or eight minutes maybe I stopped
it and I said he start working on his
project it was a crisis it was
unbelievable and many of us will think
and sit here especially the other half
of the gender maybe one-third of the
January we think that’s not an issue
talk to other people and you will see
what is happening so that gave birth to
this man who is on a project we talked
about we we started developing this
application where you can actually
report harassment what you can do you
can actually record the complete episode
if you were encountered by a man in a
very different scenario unfortunate
scenario and of course you can report it
and then you can panic button and police
will come
[Applause]
we were close I have a job Safety
Authority and they like the work and
they said we should collaborate and
maybe make this a for the world burn job
so what we did actually we launched this
a possible Punjab bonus which is
indicated with 1:5 and now with this
applicant actually called 1:5 at the
time of incident so that were integrated
so you know we start at a very basic
level but if there is a heart this is
the right mechanism in place you can
actually promote and go all the way but
that project was just not a project from
you that really changed the way I
started looking at the other side of the
mirror that may be behind the minute
something I never looked at in this way
before this project I was in complete
denial that things are just working fine
you know things are just not like that
and why I mean if there isn’t more that
maybe I never contributed that part of
the problem I was never part of the
system where I thought that a female in
curry or uber would feel unsafe and on
the other side I also thought that if
I’m a driver how the hell can I do
something to a female because there’s a
camera in place she’s shaken to all
those things but we realized that enough
morons out there who are ready to do
these things and also that really
changed the way I started looking at
this whole perspective and also looking
at disability I when you look at
disability in trustingly tells you that
it’s a condition that makes it more
difficult for a person to do certain
activities and if you combine that with
my previous thing I’m not saying that
being a woman is a disability but it
does bring some of the disadvantages
just because as a part of the context
you’re unable to do certain things which
otherwise we’ll be able to do just
because you have a different gender and
a nicely put you know one is not born
but rather becomes a woman and there is
this whole discussion that you want to
be likable we want to be ambitious you
want to be obedient or you just want to
serve the purpose and look at this
picture here this is a cocoon a hawk in
the ever Azad Nagar Masada vodka ideal
way that a lady should spend her day off
is yoga
kitchen cleaning house cleaning offer to
prayer of course Carissa pie again
prayer chai
three but Joe keeper hi a TV namazi shot
and breakfast for the morning and in the
school book I think they forgot that
they never it was I think she’s about to
order so that is what you expected my
son in the school that’s just that’s a
job of your wife so of course he would
be mark instead of read out to the you
in also I’m not Street is finding the
road for the lady who had I will
redefine this rule the whole idea is she
should be allowed to define for her
selves
you know defined so and that’s really
changed that way for me you know you are
the game’s favorite author said Japanese
arrays in which some of the runners
compete only for the bronze now because
we have dishonored the world in this
faithful tell that it is not complete
from the gold because you want to be
likable and being ambitious were very
bad idea you know so I think that really
gave birth to a very different project
in my lab we started working on it
general intuition we’re working on
harassment in Street sensitivity in
context stealth robotics the rule of
gender interactive systems for pregnant
women and gender bias and newspapers and
dramas and social media when you look at
the dramas Pakistani dramas
if you really quantify that that what is
happening in a dramas this extreme
scenarios from the worst ever to move to
the worst ever sauce to the to the road
of the woman that you know where you
won’t have to the duration bar so that
she had she served husband for the forty
years so at the end she has a to the how
to be an obedient nice make you know
life all those things are will not help
in the next generation
neither the male nor the females because
we’re selling all these very fierce here
types with the help of this media which
is going to have a home so and people
also talk about you know Salman ethos of
birthdays fashion you know articles Yogi
Berra important
but inland you look cool when you talk
about these things but that’s not the
very case why because look at the
numbers and just give you what the
breath
lots of numbers I can share with you
this is how that the mainstream media
gives space to females and newspapers so
you would expect what is 57% e-mail for
sure and you would say that’s twenty six
person would be female male and female
here and is neither and female is a
person that is a space the main media
gives to females and then what they
decide to give that space to females one
of the things that talk about in the
case of children magazine men is being
talked about as brave care silly money
female husband of course
fearful afraid and please in the case of
sports male is man top team cricket
female picking of course but very merry
husband
we’re very trusted in the success of
Shia 3d we’re very interested in the
personal life of son Amir how come as a
nation we can’t really decide can escape
me the Kaurava chin hair and we need to
pay attention do of how much he has
played and you talk about male and
female personalities noir series in Ron
Shaw bilaval you know representative
baby
Zanna I could not read that word here
because I was not brave enough because
these verses are just not right words
but then pushed on unfortunately we have
fun unfortunately Nika marriage by ausma
Geneva the only one outlier out there
you know brave fearless symbol and
marina vows look at that water by
innocence is this the only thing we can
think about how to think about her role
in the politics but that’s how we have
built all these associations so I think
the most important thing is not to fix
these things you know
the shared future at the universal level
I don’t even know the shared future is
at least at the home level you can
always go back to home and start fixing
there and then maybe it can help you to
progress upwards and if you can have a
change or a little bigger level but it
has to begin somewhere else and and I’m
not really worried about the future
I think no super pursuit is a bad idea
we were never able to predict and then
we have predicted we have done a very
good job so we might want to forget
about that and the most important thing
is that picture on Becky for me the
future of shared future is about
well-being it’s about the to sickness
it’s really about making sure that you
can take the emotional path with a
rational back you know it’s not about
showing sympathy oh I see for you it’s
about showing empathy that I can put
myself in your shoes and I feel that
they’ve been and will take something for
you so it’s really taking this journey
from empathy to sympathy and really
making sure that you can see the pain
and the journey begins with me and I you
know if I’m not able to make sure that I
can change myself there’s absolutely no
way we can even think about any future
let alone shared future and you know we
charted this revolution mindset as a
nation authority cook the Li IAE
which hyah will change that they got all
of a sudden we have this good golden
days and everything would change and the
most important thing as said we’re an
extract that nobody stops you from
changing yourself nobody stops you from
starting it today for yourself in your
own severe and then all of a sudden you
become a change agent and you start
contributing and the first duties also
as a person think of yourself if you are
not strong emotionally socially and
physically if you know sometimes self
selfish enough about yourself there’s no
way you can think good about the rest of
the world the community if Barnabas
ratata
at least you know
another level I think that’s the
starting point that’s where the
conversation begins and then not it
nestled but which indicates the dark an
article before yesterday in so know
anything about me
I’ve been anime in sorrow joy but I
think most of our issues might get
solved and the church which it might be
a way to move forward I leave you with
this beautiful lady beautiful girl
beautiful message benefit on music and
with a very important message she talks
about up Netanyahu Pinar who could be
chobe here what could anybody here
that’s up to you to define but the idea
is that you define for yourself and you
start contributing to it
[Music]
thank you very much
[Applause]
[Music]

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