TEDxBerkeley – Gopi Kallayil – Social Innovation for Social Good

this is the 79th organ in the human body are you shocked if you have a cell phone handy please pull it out and hold it in your hands if you're a smartphone you realize that this organ actually responds and behaves like the human body you touch it it responds you speak to it it can understand you and sometimes it even talks back to you and it is an eye you can hold it up and it recognizes objects around for you it clearly has a brain because I know my smartphone does things much better than I can do it's much smarter than I am and it must have a heart and feelings otherwise why would we walk around with this so close to our heart and sleep with it right next to us you can put your phones by but make sure it's close to your heart and silence it while you do it so you find silence in your heart but this is a tiny example of the kind of social innovation that is happening in our society through social media and let me explain this I came to this realization a few weeks ago in a small village in India called shit'll and Giri I realized that there are seven billion people on this planet and there are six billion cell phone connections so that gets us to an inflection point that humanity has never seen before you see chitlin Gerry is this village where my roots go back to it's a rice farming village where my grandparents grew up as poor rice farmers and this is where my parents grew up as well had a modest upbringing without electricity or running water and when I was a kid I would go back to chitlin giri and spend summers with my grandparents and back then in the village of 20,000 people they were just three telephones with two-digit numbers can you imagine that two-digit numbers in the fight for vanity numbers there I considered myself a child prodigy back then because I carry the entire phone book in my head I still do 31 32 and 33 six weeks ago I was back in Suitland Jerry meeting family and relatives there and I was walking down the paddies I realized that most of the village seemed to carry a cell phone in their hand and had struck me suddenly then that anybody in that village now had the capability where they could punch in 15 numbers into the phone and be instantly connected to one of you in this room right here you have this amazing capability where using this magical organ that is proud at the end of our fingers each of us can punch in 50 numbers and carry on a conversation with any one of six billion human beings on this planet this is unprecedented in human history and when you so all of a sudden you see that geography and location are not barriers whether you live in a dense urban area or a small rural community those are not barriers even language is not a barrier supposing one of you does not speak English only you only spoke 52 other languages that I don't speak like Russian or Czech or Spanish I could use this Mart phone and have a back and forth conversation with you this is the power that we are packing this little device in our hand and we are all living examples of enormous amount of social innovation through social media the interesting thing is when you put this level of connectivity and communication capability between human beings something magical happens human beings are now ready to share our collective wisdom and knowledge with the rest of the world and in an era in an age where knowledge is one of the most important resources we need this kind of social sharing of our collective wisdom is leveling the playing field for Humanity let me illustrate that with a small story so from the rice paddies of Langella in India let's go to the small village a potato farm in soy Kenya and listen to the story of Zac met Eric long ago I planted a crop of potatoes then suddenly this little dying one after the other checked out the books and they did tell me much so I went today I did the site but that two diseases one of the websites told me that ants could be the problem it said sprinkle wood ash over the plants then after a few days the ants isn't here I got excited about the internet I have this friend who really would like to expand his business she wanted him to the cyber cafe and we checked out several sites when I met him next he was going to put a windmill at a local school I felt proud because something that wasn't there before go suddenly there I realized that not everybody can be able to access what I was able to access I thought that I need to have an internet that my grandmother can use and so I talked about a notice board a simple wooden notice but when I get information on my phone I remember to post the information on the notice board so it's basically like a computer I use Internet to help people I think I'm searching I'm searching for a better life for me and my neighbors so many people have accessed information but there's no follow-up to that we think a follow-up to that is our knowledge when people have the knowledge they can find solutions without having to be helped as information is tough but it is how we use it that will define us so Zach meter says when people have knowledge they find solutions to their problems and this is an example of social media driving powerful social change in a tiny community in Kenya so from soy Kenya follow me on this journey to North Africa until last year if you just take three countries Tunisia Egypt and Libya between these three countries had witnessed a hundred years of dictatorship and that suddenly last spring in a hundred days the youth of the Arab world had completely overthrown the gunman's and redefined the social structures of those countries how did they do it how would you do it if you don't have an army if you don't have financial resources and you don't have an organization they use the power of social media to express their discontent and organize themselves fact I want to share you would show you one story from Egypt three unknown musicians honey Ella dare a mere ed Hervey and Sharif Mustafa decided to record a protest song called sue tell hurray they then took the song to the streets of Cairo and asked ordinary Egyptians to sing the song and they took the resultant music video and put it up on YouTube so the rest of the wall could see so let's watch a few minutes of this video Bhuvana us Emma Nina Nina Bella still too little then she won't see him enough what the dual Kilmeade Anna regardless this song was recorded during the 18 days of the Egyptian protests it was uploaded to YouTube and by now this video has been watched two million times this became the rallying anthem of the people's protests in Egypt another example of how social media is driving powerful social innovation and change in our times and it's accessible to ordinary people so from North Africa let me take you on a journey to South Africa and to Dharamsala in India the product that I work on at Google is Google Plus a social media product one of its capabilities is that it allows friends and family to converse with each other face to face using videos of format so last September I wrote an intention on a piece of paper and the intention was I wanted his Holiness the Dalai Lama to join Google+ and have a conversation a dialogue on peace and compassion with Archbishop Desmond Tutu sitting in South Africa and loud the rest of the world to participate in this dialogue now when you write these kind of crazy intentions down somehow the universe mystically aligns because four days after that my phone rang at 1:00 a.m. in the morning the caller was someone called Jonathan rad enough somebody had never met before he works for Google in Johannesburg and this is what he said Gopi I'm so sorry to call you at 1:00 a.m. in the morning but have this urgent request we just had a call from the Desmond Tutu Peace Center the Desmond Tutu Peace Center is organizing Bishop tutus 80th birthday and the Dalai Lama has been invited to speak and give a lecture on peace and compassion unfortunately the local government has not responded to his request for a visa to travel to the country and the Desmond Tutu Peace Center called us and asked if we have some technology by which we could solve this problem so ask him how and why did he pick me oh and this was his response he said I searched through the internal directory I came across your photograph and my intuition told me I need to call you and you also asked him how long do we have to organize this event and to even see if this is feasible and he said three days three days to which I responded well Jonathan let's see around here the impossible we do in a day or two the miracles take a little longer like three days so leave it with me so when back into office the next day sat down with Lauren gross my product manager for Google Plus hangout and asked him is this even possible can be pulled us off and nothing motivates our team than being the champions for democracy and free expression so we decided we go for it 60 hours after that meeting took place just 60 hours after that meeting the Dalai Lama stepped in front of he got a Google+ account and he stepped in front of a computer in Dharamsala India half the world away Archbishop Desmond Tutu stepped in front of a computer at the University of Cape Coast in Cape Town and this is what the world witnessed I really very much enjoy he although physically long-distance but I can see your face I just wanted to find out from you why does the Chinese government fear you some Chinese officials describe me as if demon I immediately respond yes how do we learn how to build a culture of peace it's actually very straightforward live let women over your holiness I would like to ask you one more thing if you want to give a gift from your heart to your very special 80 year old friend here please live long your ninth eighth birthday I'm looking forward at that time don't forget Stanley invitation of us that then we can test test your as you can see we broke through borders and geopolitics to make this happen and this medium the power of this medium is that Laos to world leaders Nobel Peace Laureates who come together like two old friends and be able to banter and allow the rest of the world to participate there's something very significant in my mind about this particular conversation the first 12 dalai lama's had never traveled outside the landlocked country of Tibet the 13 Dalai Lama traveled just once to New Delhi for a few days and here was the 14th Dalai Lama bringing his humor and this message of peace and compassion and loving ordinary citizens like us to participate in this dialogue from our living room from our home office from our offices this is an example of the power of how social media is driving social innovation in world affairs so from South Africa follow me on this journey where I want you to take take you next to ken turkey in the US I often tell people working on my team our my mentees to find meaning and context in the work because if you find meaning in context you show up for work every day completely passionate about what you're doing and I want to end with a story that gives me great meaning and context in the work I do in the products that I built last year there was an unfortunate shooting incident in Kentucky a little child was involved in the shooting incident and urgently needed hip and spinal surgery without which this child would be faced with permanent paralysis down below the neck now this town only had a general surgeon in the hospital and he knew time was of the essence and he didn't have the expertise to perform the surgery so he consulted a well known orthopedic surgeon in Chicago now the Chicago surgeon had heard that there was this new social media product called Google Plus that allowed people to see each other and communicate using video so poor Matt so he tapped two other orthopedic surgeons had a computer wheeled into the operating theater in Kentucky and together the four of them consulted on the surgical procedure that guided the general surgeon so you can imagine the scene for surgeons four locations using social media as a vehicle with one of the surgeons right in the midst of the action of the operating theater and they were able to conduct a very successful hip and spinal surgery today as a result that child instead of being faced with a life of paralysis now walks and this is another example of the power of social innovation through social media in a very very human situation and when you realize that the product that you're working on saved somebody's life that is a source of tremendous meaning and context in my own life in closing what I want to tell you is this each of us in this room has an enormous amount of power through the social networks we are connected to and through things like this amazing organs that we seem to be sprouting at the end of our fingertips it puts so much power in our hands the question I want to ask you is this in your lifetime what kind of social innovation will you choose to drive using this power in your hands and I look for the reading about it of course on Google+ thank you you

7 thoughts on “TEDxBerkeley – Gopi Kallayil – Social Innovation for Social Good

  • The key to changing the world around us is better communication. This will lead to increased caring, helping and support. Ask not what the world can do for you. Ask what you can do for the world.

  • Had attended one of his sessions in an entrepreneurial meeting at TieCon KERALA 2015 where he explained the innovative gadgets made by Google which was truly amazing. Good job sir you are a great inspiration to all the Indians especially Keraliets.

  • Just came across this Impressive stuff, Gopi. Flying the Chittilancheri flag….power of social innovation through social media powerfully and convincingly presented. Keep it going. All the best.

  • Your speech is amazingly inspiring and I really like the way you ended it- " what can you do…" Which gives a trigger to the brain as to how do we want to reach put to the world of what we are doing. Thanks.

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