His point is that TED is to cosmopoliticans what FOX is to conservatives:"TED of course stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and I'll talk a bit about all three. I Think TED actually stands for: middlebrow megachurch infotainment." Yes and No.
The whole thing is worth reading, but a couple of grafs from the close to give you a sense of where he's going:
One TED speaker said recently, "If you remove this boundary ... the only boundary left is our imagination". Wrong.
If we really want transformation, we have to slog through the hard stuff (history, economics, philosophy, art, ambiguities, contradictions). Bracketing it off to the side to focus just on technology, or just on innovation, actually prevents transformation.
Instead of dumbing-down the future, we need to raise the level of general understanding to the level of complexity of the systems in which we are embedded and which are embedded in us. This is not about "personal stories of inspiration", it's about the difficult and uncertain work of demystification and reconceptualisation: the hard stuff that really changes how we think. More Copernicus, less Tony Robbins.
At a societal level, the bottom line is if we invest in things that make us feel good but which don't work, and don't invest in things that don't make us feel good but which may solve problems, then our fate is that it will just get harder to feel good about not solving problems.
As before, yes and no. No, in that I think that Bratton is too hard on imagination. In fact we need a transformation of our collective imagination, which is impoverished by its materialistic assumptions and its spiritual banality. Yes, in that the materialistic and spiritualy banal is too often celebrated at TED talks. The task demands the intellectual rigor to which he points, but in the end it is an act of imagination that effects the transformation, that changes a geocentric cosmos into a post-Copernican one.
The problem for us now is that too many of us are are living in a late 19th-century social imaginary, and our collective imagination hasn't caught up with what we know. There are many people, maybe more than at any time in history, who are doing the hard work of thinking about complexity. But no one who understands complexity has been able to effectively pull of the Copernican trick for a post quantum theory age. If some have been able to do it for themselves they have not had an impact, at least yet, on the broader collective imagination.
Yes, there's a lot of self-absorbed, Neoliberal-tinged drivel spewed through TED, but the role that TED or the RSA and other popular education venues can play, and have played when they are at their best, is to take the complexity and to synthesize it in imaginative ways that help reshape our thinking rather than to just reinforce what we already think, as these talks too often do.